Charlotte content creator takes side hustle full-time

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Shionda Farrell will be the first to say that she’s not an influencer; she’s a content creator.

“I put thought into my videos and I like to make my videos feel like you’re there too,” Farrell said.

Farrell shares her food, lifestyle, and travel experiences with her more than 76,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram combined.

“Over the last two months, I was able to pull in $10,000 a month off of this. It’s wild,” she said.

By contrast, Farrell said she previously made $25 an hour working full time in workers’ compensation.

Brands and businesses pay Farrell in exchange for exposure to her large social media following.

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“When I became full-time, I was able to go a little harder,” she said. “I produce a little more content and meet with more restaurants and hotels. I just have more time as opposed to when I get off at 5 or 6.”

Farrell grew her following from around 2,000 followers on TikTok and about 4,000 followers on Instagram in a year when she quit her job and took on content creation full-time.

As a content creator, she earns at least $1,500 for a video post documenting her experience at any given establishment. Farrell showed WBTV proof of payment for some of her Ella Tik Toks, including a video post about a new Circle K aluminum cup that brought in $2,500.

“There’s a lot more credibility,” PR PIVOT president Drew Porcello said. “There’s more credibility in working with influencers as opposed to paying for things like commercials or advertising.”

Porcello, who uses influencer and content creator interchangeably, is the president of the Charlotte-based company. He started the business nearly 10 years ago and told WBTV about the big shift he has seen in the marketing landscape.

“Five years ago, social media and influencer relations were maybe 15 to 20% of our business and now it’s double that and pushing 40% of what we do on a daily basis for our clients,” Porcello said.

PIVOT PR’s client list includes JW Marriott Charlotte, Dunkin, and Cycle Bar. All three companies tap influencers to promote their products and services. Porcello’s company works as an intermediary.

“Working with influencers is the wild west,” he said. “Every influencer has different expectations.”

Porcello said compensation varies based on the influencer. Micro-influencers, or a creator with 5,000 to 15,000 followers, may be compensated with gift cards, swag, or a free experience.

Farrell has a media kit where she outlines her expectations and standard rates.

Shionda Farrell has a media kit where she outlines her expectations and standard rates.
Shionda Farrell has a media kit where she outlines her expectations and standard rates.(Source: Shionda Farrell)

Additionally, to maintain authenticity, Farrell told WBTV she has a disclaimer in each of her contracts that allows her to opt out of posting if she does not enjoy her experience at an establishment.

“I won’t post, nor will I get paid for it,” Farrell said. “I don’t want to lose that trust in my audience.”

Farrell added she works with an accountant who files her taxes.

Generally, content creators are treated like a small business and use a 1099-NEC or nonemployee compensation form to report earnings to the Internal Revenue Service.

Influencers outline all of their brand deals and partnerships on the form, according to content creator and certified tax coach Duke Alexander Moore.

“I consider myself an entrepreneur,” Farrell said. “My goal is to have my own TV show traveling the world and to have my own PR agency helping others with brand partnerships along with a mentoring program for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Kind of like a big sister type program.”

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