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Making thousands from your phone: The story of a Milwaukee 'influencer'

Posted at 10:26 PM, Jul 01, 2019

SOUTH MILWAUKEE — Pamela Kieck quit her managerial job to post photos on Instagram full-time. Since then, the South Milwaukee native hasn't bought herself clothes or makeup in months.

"I started as a plus size fashion, but now it has expanded to fashion, beauty, and lifestyle," Pamela Kieck said.

Many people on Instagram have turned their passion for fashion, food, travel and many other interests in a money making endeavor. They are called "influencers." Companies give "influencers" money to take photos of items to post on their own profile. Kieck doesn't like that term, though. She prefers "digital content creator."

"Cause I just feel like influencers have this vibe about them that's like, 'oh their life is so great,' when in reality Instagram is, I don't know how to word it, like, your life is cooler on Instagram than it is in real life," Kieck said.

Regardless of what you call her, she has been successful doing it. Kieck has around 39 thousand followers on Instagram, and it's been enough for her to make posting photos to the web her full-time job.

"That's been a struggle for me too. Especially now that I'm doing this full-time is - where do I draw the line of I have to pay my bills, and I still want to have really authentic content for my followers."

It's not easy to do this.

Kieck competes with just about anyone who has a phone. While she doesn't travel to tropical destinations and live the "glamour" lifestyle in New York or Los Angeles, Kieck said that actually works in her favor.

"A lot of people really like when they follow someone that's from a smaller town that they can relate to. Or like me, someone that's plus size that they can relate to."

She posts a few times every day. She constantly gets clothes and makeup from brands. Now, her living room closet has turned into storage for all the boxes the items are shipped in.

Her life isn't all photo shoots, though. There is a lot of research and meticulous planning that goes into her strategy for gaining more followers.

"I spend a couple hours a day on Instagram going through my followers and who are similar to my followers that I think would enjoy my content. Liking their stuff. Commenting on their stuff. Researching hashtags."

The key to her success has been her authenticity.

"Just stay true to yourself. Don't focus on the numbers. Focus on the content."