In our series, “My Money-Making Side Gig,” we get the scoop on enterprising folks who are getting ahead on their financial goals by burning the midnight oil.
The objective? Go behind the scenes to learn exactly how they’re doing it—so you can see if the side job could be a fit for you, too.
Today’s side gig spotlight: one woman who merges her background in teaching with a passion for fashion to help women discover—and monetize—their digital brands.
By day, she’s known as Mrs. Postell, a high school English teacher in North Carolina. But once Kimberlee Postell signs on to social media outside of class, she transforms into lifestyle blogger The Natural Fashionista.
Get started with a free financial assessment.
Get started with a free financial assessment.
Postell created her site, Naturally Fashionable, in 2010 to help women of all sizes curate their personal style with confidence—whether that means pulling together a figure-flattering and trendy wardrobe, experimenting with makeup or embracing a natural hairstyle.
Today, her site receives close to 20,000 page views per month, and she’s developed partnerships with lifestyle powerhouses like Avon, Gwynnie Bee, Macy’s, Forever 21, PopSugar and Pantene. But brand sponsors aren’t the only relationships Postell has been forging. In 2014, she launched Blog With Kim, a teaching platform where she writes articles and hosts live webinars showing new bloggers how to develop their own personal brand and how to find their voice using social media.
Between Naturally Fashionable and Blog With Kim, Postell has fostered a community where aspiring and experienced bloggers, social media influencers and businesswomen can network and create business opportunities for themselves.
Here's how Postell teaches her audience how to turn blog posts into paychecks.
Kimberlee Postell, 35
My Day Job:
High school English teacher outside Raleigh, North Carolina
My Side Gig:
I’m a blogger and influencer. I also teach others about the power of blogging and how to leverage social media to build a personal brand.
How I Got Into Lifestyle Blogging and Teaching Blog Courses:
Blogging started off as a hobby. Back when I was a new blogger, I had no clue what I was doing. Since I saw it as just a hobby, I wasn’t exactly trying to learn how to be a better blogger, but just learning the ropes as I went. I wasn’t looking for classes—I didn’t even know they existed.
About two years ago, I started educating myself on the business of blogging. I was already spending so much time doing something that I loved, and I figured it was time to explore monetizing strategies. My plan was to put my earnings back into the blog if needed.
After consuming as much information as I could on the subject, I was amazed at all the things I didn’t know about blogging. After a while, I began to think: ‘I’m actually trained to teach people, and I do that in the classroom all the time.’
Blog With Kim came from my love of teaching. I wanted to expand my platform and helping other bloggers was the perfect way to do that. I teach the essentials of blogging, from “How to Start A Blog” to “Revive Your Instagram” to “Affiliate Marketing 101.”
How Much Time I Dedicate to It—and the Payoff:
I spend between 20 to 35 hours a week on Naturally Fashionable and Blogging With Kim.
My usual day-to-day involves waking up at 5 a.m. to be at work at 7:30 a.m. I don’t blog in the morning because I’m not a morning person, but sometimes I’ll take the last 10 minutes of my classroom planning period to look at the schedule of my blog and see what I need to do later in the day. During lunch, I do my social media promotion.
Then after school, my husband and I will go to dinner, and the rest of the night is me working on my computer from 6 p.m. to about 10 p.m.—and sometimes 2 a.m. if I have a deadline! It’s an ongoing joke with my husband that I basically work all day and night, but he supports me and knows I’m building something. He even helps me with my photo shoots for the blog and my YouTube videos, which we do on the weekends.
It’s not just writing posts but creating ideas, preparing and setting up for photo shoots and forming the brand overall. People don’t think about all of the things you have to do to really blog. It’s involved. I’m really strategic with the time I spend on social media. Even though it’s a lot of work, I love it.
Last year I made about $10,000 from teaching my blogging courses, and I’ll probably double that this year. My new courses are all $29 as I keep them at a price point where I don't have to work myself to death yet people feel like they're learning and gaining something. I also have one for $79 called blogging basics.
If I run posts that are sponsored by a brand and do affiliate marketing where I mention products in a post and earn commission on items that are sold, I can bring in another $5,000 to $7,000 per year from both small boutiques as well as big brands. When I run a sponsored post, I'm compensated by a brand to share information, a product or a service. Affiliate marketing means I receive a commission when an item is purchased using a link on my site.
What I Do With My Side Gig Income:
I save it! To be honest, I was never good with money until I started blogging, but I do try to be wise with my money. On special occasions I’ll treat myself for all the hard work I do. For my most recent birthday, I splurged on some Louis Vuitton bags. But in general, I don’t believe in living a flashy lifestyle, whether it’s for blogging purposes or otherwise.
And anyway, saving money is fun. I never thought that when I was younger, but I find that to be true for me now. It’s nice to go into your savings account and see that you have a nice cushion in there to protect yourself if anything were to happen. To me, saving money is where it’s at.
I’ve also recently been able to hold more events, where I invite readers of Blog With Kim and Naturally Fashionable to empower women to feel beautiful and develop their personal style. While fun and inspiring, hosting them can cost upwards of a few thousands of dollars. Last year, I did about three events and funded them completely, including renting the venue space, paying for food and catering, providing gifts to my guests, hiring an event planner and so on. So a lot of my income will go back into events for my readership and brand promotion.
The Best Thing About My Side Gig:
I love having the ability to express my creativity while earning a supplemental income.
The Most Challenging Thing About My Side Gig:
The sacrifice. Sacrificing time with your family and friends—those relationships can suffer. Between a day job and a side job, you’re always wrestling back and forth between two worlds, which is why I feel a side gig can only last so long. That’s why they call it a side gig—you can’t burn the candle at both ends forever.
My Best Advice for Someone Who Wants to Try This:
Just do it! Don't wait to feel confident. If you have an idea, begin exploring that idea immediately and put the work in.
LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc., that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Unless specifically identified as such, the individuals interviewed or otherwise listed in this piece are neither clients, employees nor affiliates of LearnVest Planning Services and the views expressed are their own. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies. LearnVest, Inc., is wholly owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.