That’s the characteristic greeting Allyiah Gainer’s, 27, online followers have been welcomed by for nearly a decade where she ushers them into her life, sharing everything from dating advice, beauty tips or just plain old quality time. She’s that good girlfriend we never knew we needed. Because of her uncanny ability to make viewers feel as if they’re walking through life right alongside her, Gainer has amassed a following of more than 728k on YouTube, nearly 500k on Instagram, and 100k Twitter fans through charisma, candor and consistency.
She posted her first video on YouTube in February 2015 while still enrolled at Florida A&M University and working as a part-time MAC makeup artist at her local mall. While there, she showed up to class every day fully made up, and her classmates started asking for beauty advice and even makeup sessions with her. Eventually, Gainer realized there may be others that would be interested in her tips beyond her campus grounds.
For the last seven years, she’s posted at least two videos a week, ranging between 30 and 90 minutes long. Lifestyle vlog-style, these videos capture everything she did the week prior and can usually take anywhere from 5-10 hours to edit. Gainer does this all herself.
She makes it a point to reply to nearly every one of the hundreds, sometimes thousands of comments her followers leave in response. Stylized Instagram photos, curated TikTok content, and relatable Tweets all go out daily, some of which are monetized through brand partnerships.
Although she didn’t confirm, it’s likely that Gainer is raking in high six-figures per year for her work based on what has been reported about others of her ilk. For instance, if influencers with around 275,000 followers negotiate well, they can secure up to $700,000 in brand deals in less than a year. Additionally, micro-influencers (those with between 10,000 – 100,000 followers) can easily make a salary in the low six-figure range.
For Gainer, all of this took time to build, though. And lots of work.
“People think that one day you can post your content, and after a few weeks you’ll wake up to thousands of followers and all of these offers from companies to represent their brands,” Gainer told ESSENCE. “No, this is a slow burn process.”
Although the growth of social media has resulted in the age of digital influencers who, at the high end, stand to earn millions through YouTube’s Partner Program, the endorsement of products and other lucrative partnerships, these top earners are few and far between. Research shows it can take up to two years to amass a following of a few thousand on YouTube.
Influencers like Gainer, however, broke through the noise and has landed deals with Neiman Marcus and Lancome along with being tapped to do multiple special projects with YouTube.
So, how did she do it?
Consistency is key
It’s one of the oldest adages for a reason, but consistency always wins. As mentioned, for years Gainer made sure to set a schedule for herself that allowed for regular content to be posted on her platforms.
“I make it a point to post at least two videos weekly based on engagement numbers and my schedule,” Gainer explained. “One vlog on Sunday and another dedicated video on Wednesday like a ‘get ready with me’ or a fashion haul or something like that because those garner really high views.”
She added: “And that part right there is something I want to hone in on, paying attention to what your supporters like to see from you. I initially didn’t like to do vlogs, but I saw people really gravitated toward them, and it allowed me to feel closer to them, so I did them more often. Although this is fun work, it’s still work. You need to give people what they want.”
Some tools that can help you measure viewership, length of watch, and other key metrics are Sprout Social, and YouTube Analytics, Unbox Social, Vidooly, and Quintly.
Be realistic about your pacing
It’s not unusual for Gainer to candidly tell her followers ‘Girl, I’m tired.’
Although the hard-working content creator regularly hits her weekly deadlines, she allows herself grace when time off is needed.
“For me right now, where I’m at this new year, I told myself I’m not going to overwork myself,” she said honestly. “When you’re creating and getting stuff done, you’re like, ‘I want to keep doing this.’ This feels good, right? And then you hit that bump where you weren’t able to do something you set out to do that day, or something else came up and wrecked your schedule, then you fall off completely. It really brings you so low. So I just told myself that this year I’m going to be honest about my workload, what I can produce and not get on a productive high, do too much, then experience burnout.”
Gainer shared that prior, she was doing three videos a week—posting on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays—which is a lot for most YouTube content creators that on average post no more than two.
“I’m being real with myself and listening to my body. I also don’t want to set myself up for failure with brands by missing deadlines, because they won’t come back if I can’t show up properly.”
Be surgical about rate-setting
If not signed to an agency, most content creators are independent contractors and are often responsible for shaping what their pay looks like. Unfortunately, it’s easy to lowball compensation and miss out on thousands if not careful, particularly as Black women who are more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome. Even the most seasoned of influencers have fallen victim to undercutting themselves.
“Early on, I had a standard thing of charging brands $1,000 per 1,00,000 views which was so off, but being at the place that I was, $1,000 was lit, you know, I’m like, oh, yeah, I’ll do that. But as I got older and more seasoned in the industry, I began to take a deeper look at what impact really means and how it should be monetized.”
As a result, Gainer said she asked other influencers she’d forged relationships with about their rates, and also did some additional research. After a while, she brought on a manager to handle negotiations and rate-setting full time, but for those aiming to look into it themselves, there are tools available. This rate calculator can help you determine how to shift rates up or down, and this article lays out how much a content creator should charge per post.
Words to live by
The last piece of advice Gainer to aspiring content creators is perhaps the most obvious, but still incredibly impactful: “Just start.”
She continued: “Don’t let any doubts get in your way. If you’re worried about money, keep your day job and hop on YouTube on the lunch breaks. Just do it. Do it.”