• Wendy

My First Year as a Full Time Influencer, 2020 in Review

2020 was the year I lost my job and was thrust into a new adventure. I became a content creator/ Influencer full time. And to be honest, I would have never chosen to do so.

Before I launch into my recap, I want to say that I know there are a lot of people suffering and that I am very blessed. This post is not meant to brag about accomplishments nor is it to incite pity. It is simply a diary entry that I'm sharing with you as I look back on my year.

Usually, I would look at my goals of 2020 and report back here to let you know how it all went. But that seems laughable in light of how the world turned upside down. None of the goals and predictions that I made in December of 2019 would have prepared me for the storm of 2020. So instead, I'm going to be very honest and give you a breakdown of what went on behind the scenes this year.

Working with Mitzi for a Bedroom Refresh Photo Credit: Janet Kwan

There were a lot of really cool things I got to do this year. But I got to confess, I never had big plans or dreams for any of my social media platforms. It was a hobby that I took very seriously. But last year, I decided to go full steam ahead with thekwendyhome on Instagram and focus on growing my platform. And boy was I glad I did because in March of this year, I flew my last flight for the foreseeable future.

At first it was a temporary leave I chose to take because flying as a flight attendant during a pandemic seemed like a very bad idea with vulnerable people in my life who could become very ill or even die. But soon the voluntary leave became a layoff. And as months wore on with no sign of a recall and employment insurance dried up, the reality settled in. I was without a job.

Working with a dream brand MUJI Photo Credit: Janet Kwan

Little did I know that investing all that time in 2019 on my Instagram platform of 44.5K followers would become my only source of income in 2020. In 2019 I started working with companies and getting paid to do so. You can read about it here. The handful of experiences I had negotiating and working with brands was all I was armed with when I launched into this full time in April. To say that I was underprepared is an understatement.

I was a small fish in an ocean trying to find work. At first, it went somewhat swimmingly (As in, I signed one project a month.) I worked with DREAM brands and signed some deals that were a far cry from the sub $200 contract I first signed back in 2019. I was cautiously hopeful that I could make a little bit of money. It was nothing compared to my full time income but I was so grateful to even make a fraction safety at home.

But soon, the well dried up in the beginning of summer. As the world went into lockdown and things became tumultuous in the political arena, work became scarce for me. From one job a month to nothing for months on end. And I was scared, terrified and so so anxious. I was so stressed I couldn't sleep and started balding. I wasn't seeing any work come in and I felt like I had nothing to show for all the hours I put into my social media platforms. I was plugging away at it from 9am to 10pm on a regular basis but I I was stagnant and not growing. Nor was I able to nail any brand deals.

Every night I would pray for work, for more trust in God, for a way to somehow make this work.

Playing around with food styling Photo Credit: Janet Kwan

Out of boredom and part desperation, I threw myself onto a new platform, TikTok. From there, I seemed to have regained a spark and discovered a new medium that I quickly fell in love with. I explored videography and slowly developed my own style of storytelling.

When Reels launched in August, I started dabbling with that as well and saw a small amount of success at first. As my TikTok platform grew from 0 to 100K, I was encouraged and my confidence came back. (I'm currently sitting at 197K, this is for my own reference when I look back on this post.)

At this point, I was still not seeing any work come my way but I was inspired with new content and ideas. So I continued to pump out material that interested and excited me. And when October rolled around, I knew I wanted to do something together with my Instagram community.

With quarantine in effect and budget being very tight this year, I knew that Christmas was going to be tough for a lot of people so I launched my own campaign. I wanted to create a content calendar that would be on a small budget that included easy activities that would bring cheer and joy to my friends on IG. Because I was in the same boat, jobless, scared and feeling pretty lonely at home.

Christmas shoot with Janet Kwan

And I think the rest of my community felt the same way, because it picked up traction. A lot of traction. The response blew me away. We all went paper bag crazy and got hopped up on hot chocolate. My small but not insignificant platform of 44K (Dec 2019) grew and hit huge milestones of 100K, then 150K and now I'm on the cusp of 200K and a huge part of this was the Christmas content! (Currently happily sitting at 199K, again, this is for my own reference when I look back on this post next year.)

Christmas shoot with Janet Kwan

As of the last two months, I've been working steadily as it is was busy season for bloggers and I count myself very fortunate to be able to work from home and generate an income. The opportunities and partnerships I was able to sign became so much sweeter after the months of self doubt and worry.

I don't know what 2021 will bring but looking back on this whirlwind of a year, I am so so thankful for the dream brands I got to work with. I was a hair model for a hot minute, a watermelon ambassador (!!), I tried my hand as a food stylist, and worked with brands I absolutely love.

Working with Herbal Essences Photo Credit: Janet Kwan

I got featured in print in Origin Magazine, Chatelaine and in 2 books (Wild Interiors by Hilton Carter and Mixed Fiber Macrame by Chantel Conlon). And I even had the opportunity to be featured in some online publications such as House and Home and HGTV Canada. Plus I got to guest host two Mystery Challenges by Apartment Therapy. I even got to hop on a segment for Global New's website to teach people how to make paper snowflakes!

All this would not have been possible for the loss of my job and YOU!

So many cool experiences, so many highs and lows this year. But I know that God had a plan even when I didn't. Thank you for joining me on this wild ride.

To end off, let's take a look at some goals I had set for myself this year.

1. Buy a real camera, learn to use it, take pictures and edit (this is going to be very very hard because I am not a technical person at all and have zero affinity with photography.)

This did NOT happen. I still find myself adversed to learning photography. It is way too technical for me and I have yet to catch the photography bug even with a DSLR on loan to me, I am sad to say I have not made good use of it.

2. Score a few partnerships that WE will all be excited for so I can buy a camera hahahahahaha

LOL! Ok, so I still don't have it in my budget to purchase a camera, but I did buy a laptop since my old hand me down one croaked and I'm typing on it now so I'll count that as a win. And I really did score a few amazing partnerships that I never dreamed of working with if only because I didn't feel like I was worthy.

Working with Sherwin Williams for a bedroom makeover Photo Credit: Janet Kwan

3. Sell thekwendyhome 2.0 and work on thekwendyhome 3.0 but I have no clue what God has in store and who knows if we’ll be able to sell our current home

This clearly did not happen due to the pandemic but who knows what 2021 will bring. :D Still praying about this one.

4. Grow my community to be more tight knit than before! I think having a healthier relationship with Instagram and stop worrying about the drop in engagement and just focus on building people up will accomplish this!

I am the most proud of this one! I think we did grow a tighter knit community but I have to confess that I still study the algorithm and worry over my drop in engagement from time to time.

5. I want to be in a home décor related magazine because that would be really really cool.

This dream came true in the form of Chatelaine magazine and I think my mother in law would have been tickled pink if she knew. She use to read Chatelaine and this was a little tribute to her.

6. Spend less time on the app and more time with my loved ones

Well that did NOT happen for obvious reasons stated above. I spent A LOT more time on IG and TikTok and way less time with my family because of quarantine. But if this year taught me anything, it's to appreciate what we have not what we don't have. I'm just glad to have my family, my health and YOU!

Working with Lagostina, second Christmas Photo Credit: Janet Kwan

It doesn't seem right to end this post without looking into the future. So here are some dreams and goals for 2021:

  1. Create more FUN content that we'll all be excited about

  2. Try for thekwendyhome 3.0 (I have no news about this yet, this is just me dreaming 😉, also doesn't this sound like I'm trying to give birth to a house haha!)

  3. Grow as a content creator and be better at videography or photography (aka learn to use a real camera)

  4. Blog more frequently!

  5. Have more work life balance (Because I threw myself into this work, during busy season I worked from 8am- 12am. I lived, ate and breathed content creation and I definitely need more balance.)

  6. Glorify God with the platform He has given me

Well! If you stuck to the end, I'm very impressed! Please know that I am incredibly thankful for you and this really could not have been possible without you.

It's been a wild ride and if 2020 has taught me anything, it was to make no assumptions but here's to you!

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!



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