- JaLisa Vaughn-Jefferson is a lifestyle influencer with 275,000 Instagram followers.
- It's only halfway into 2021, but she's already booked more than $700,000 in brand deals.
- Vaughn-Jefferson breaks down how she makes money and manages her career as a full-time influencer.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
When JaLisa Vaughn-Jefferson told her parents that she was quitting her job to post on social media full time, they were skeptical.
They "lost it," she said.
But at that time in 2017, she was already earning more money running her Instagram account with about 65,000 followers during her lunch breaks and evenings than she was at her corporate IT job, she told Insider.
Four years later, her Instagram account has about 275,000 followers, and her content documenting her life has become a lucrative career. And since June 2020, her Instagram following has nearly doubled.
Halfway through 2021, Vaughn-Jefferson has booked about 100 brand sponsorships that add up to more than $700,000. This total is before taxes, and Vaughn-Jefferson's management also takes a percentage of brand deals. Some of these are long-term deals that span several months and some haven't yet been fully paid. (Insider verified her earnings with documentation provided by her management.)
These deals make up about 90% of her income, she said. The rest comes from affiliate links and paychecks from YouTube's Partner Program.
With the help of her management firm, Campbell Francis Group, Vaughn-Jefferson works with a variety of sponsors — from fashion brands like Macy's to household products like Pampers.
Campbell Francis Group pitches Vaughn-Jefferson to prospective sponsors, fields inbound opportunities, and negotiates her contracts. She also has a small team of her own. She employs a full-time assistant and project manager and contracts a video editor and photographer to help with her sponsorships and content.
Her high engagement rate and variety of content helps land sponsorships
From Instagram Stories to longer YouTube videos that take her followers behind the scenes, Vaughn-Jefferson tries to engage her audience with everyday, "real" lifestyle content.
"The glitz and glam is all cool, but at the same time, what is really happening in your life?" she said.
Her followers have watched Vaughn-Jefferson start dating her now husband, get married, have a baby, and build a house. She posts about all this — in addition to her favorite brands and products.
Having her daughter, Harper, has also changed her career.
As she shared more details about the challenges of motherhood, her engagement skyrocketed, Vaughn-Jefferson said. Embracing video content has also helped, she added, attributing some of her recent growth to Instagram Reels.
"People love babies," she said.
Her engagement rate is about 4%, according to her management. Recent surveys of Instagram influencers found that the average engagement rate for accounts with more than 100,000 followers was between 1.3% and 1.6%.
To maintain that engagement, she spends a lot of time responding to direct messages, and her team helps analyze what her audience is asking of her and how she can create content that serves them, she said.
What a week in Vaughn-Jefferson's shoes looks like
Every Sunday, Vaughn-Jefferson sends out a brief with all the tasks and sponsorships she has for the week to her personal team.
Monday through Wednesday, her team is on-site and in the office: Vaughn-Jefferson's home in Dallas. During the first half of the week, they shoot all of her content and "literally just whip through different campaigns," she said.
For the remainder of the week, she and her team work from home. This is when they brainstorm captions and content, send completed content to brands for approval, and work on creative briefs for upcoming partnerships.
Her production schedule is efficient, she said. And that's part of her tactic as an influencer.
"We're a business," she said. And just as brands strive to provide good customer service to their clients, she wants to provide her sponsors with good service.
"I like to do that with brands, which will make them keep coming back," she said.