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Wie ich ein sechsstelliges Side Hustle aufgebaut habe, um nutzergenerierte Inhalte zu erstellen



Wie ich ein sechsstelliges Side Hustle aufgebaut habe, um nutzergenerierte Inhalte zu erstellen

  • Kelly Rocklein has been a creative director and user-generated-content creator for over nine years.
  • Working 10 to 15 hours a week, she made more than $100,000 in 2022 creating UGC for clients.
  • She’s now also a UGC coach on TikTok, and she offers coaching, a newsletter, and other resources.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Kelly Rocklein, a 28-year-old user-generated-content creator in Bend, Oregon. Insider has verified her income with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I’m a creative director with a part-time gig as a user-generated-content, or UGC, creator. UGC is sort of a misnomer in digital marketing because it’s actually user-generated content paired with creative strategy that performs for clients. There are two types of UGC: organic, which is posted to a brand’s feed to grow its following; and paid media, which is a concept that’s launched as an ad to create sales. I specialize in paid media.

I dropped out of college in 2015 to pursue UGC, video editing, and creative strategy. I’m entirely self-taught, and over the past nine years, I’ve worked with more than 500 brands in fashion, skincare, makeup, health, tech, and consumer-packaged goods.

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I charge between $500 and $2,000 per concept because my concepts lead directly to sales — my top-two UGC ads for one of my clients made them more than $10 million in revenue. In 2022, while working 10 to 15 hours a week and taking more than six weeks off throughout the year, my UGC side hustle brought in more than $100,000. I can work so few hours because I’ve built my business to a point where I no longer have to do cold outreach — all of my current clients are from referrals.

I started doing UGC and video editing for fun in 2014

woman recording herself making content

Rocklein making content.

Miranda Kelton Photography

At the time, I didn’t know the term UGC and just referred to it as content creation. I didn’t have the understanding of this term until I went corporate and became familiar with the creative strategy I’d been doing all along. In September 2015, I took a gap year with the hope of being able to turn my then hobby into my career. I told myself if it didn’t work out by the annual marker, I’d go back to school.

Between then and May 2016, I worked part time, lived at home, and built my UGC portfolio. I figured the only way I’d get hired was if I had a portfolio that was attractive to the brands I wanted to work with. I created example concepts with products I already had in my house and loved using.

In less than eight months, I secured my first client and was able to afford to move out. In summer 2016, I moved to LA to build my career as a creative-marketing professional.

In fall 2018, after working as a creative contractor up to that point, I started working full time for a digital-marketing agency as a senior direct-response video editor. I started at a new agency in summer 2020, and in fall 2021, I became the creative director for a direct-to-consumer brand while still building my UGC business on the side.

I make my UGC ads feel natural

Although my UGC concepts are launched as ads, I make them feel like your friend posted it. Most best practices revolve around the direct-response formula: a captivating hook in the first three seconds, both visually and audibly.

I communicate a problem the viewer may have faced and follow up by explaining how this product is the solution. I feature the value proposition, or what I like to refer to as “unique selling points” that set the product apart from the rest of its competitors. For example, if there are already a million lotions on the market, what makes this lotion unique?

I also sprinkle in additional social proof. For example, if the product has more than 100,000 verified five-star ratings, I would say: “Not to mention, they’ve received over 100,000 verified five-star reviews — that many people can’t be wrong!”

I always end with a call to action, or CTA. Something as simple as “Get yours today for only $x!” or “Click the link for a special offer” works.

I either incorporate these elements into script reads or by taking a native trend on TikTok, like a “get ready with me” video, and filling it with marketing best practices to enhance the likelihood of more conversions. My other services include scriptwriting for $100 a script, which takes me roughly 15 minutes, and allowlisting, which is where I charge $500 a month for my clients to run ads on my Facebook Und Instagram.

When I started, there were almost no useful resources

YouTube was really the only free resource, and back then it was like searching for a needle in a haystack for a suitable tutorial. I troubleshot my way through Adobe’s PremierePro for years, and it was painstaking at first. The more I practiced, the better I got.

Before I ever reached out to a brand, I researched their current running ads, who their competitors were, and what they were doing better or worse than those competitors. Contractors are meant to be a solution to an internal problem the brand might be facing, so I made sure to strategically position myself as the solution to a problem I uncovered during my brand-market analysis. It really wasn’t until 2020 that I started to see some of my hard work pay off. I cleared just shy of $20,000 that year. In 2021, I doubled that and made nearly $40,000 before breaking six figures in 2022.

Working full time at reputable digital-marketing agencies helped speed up my learning curve and make me a stronger marketer because I got so much exposure to brands in such a short period of time. Now, as a full-time creative director for just one brand, freelancing on the side as a UGC creator keeps me sharp.

I kept seeing blatant misinformation being spread about UGC on TikTok, so in June 2022 I made an account to help reset expectations and share industry best practices. People kept asking questions, and that quickly grew into people asking for additional resources, such as one-on-one coaching, writing a newsletter, and portfolio audits, which I started offering in August 2022.

You don’t need a college degree to be successful

Something I’ve learned is that it isn’t about where you went to college or even if you have a degree — it’s all about your portfolio and case studies. Brands are going to hire the person who shows that their work offers a return on investment — in marketing, brands want to see case studies featuring return on ad spend.

As a UGC creator, you have to be aware of the latest social trends and nuances in marketing. When you start this, you’re becoming an entrepreneur, and it’s not for the weak. Founder’s depression is real. Rejection hurts. Not having your ads always perform sucks. That’s business. What you choose to do after these gut punches is what separates the UGC creator who gave up after two weeks from the creator who makes four or five figures a month.


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Biggest fines under EU privacy law



Mark Zuckerberg's social media firm -- owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp -- has racked up roughly two billion euros in fines

Mark Zuckerberg’s social media firm — owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — has racked up roughly two billion euros in fines – Copyright /File Brendan Smialowski

Joseph BOYLE and Jules Bonnard

The European Union rolled out its mammoth data privacy regulation five years ago this week, and has since handed down billions in fines.

Ireland’s data watchdog smashed the record for an individual fine on Monday when it demanded 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) from Meta over its transfers of personal data between Europe and the United States.

Here are some of the worst offenders of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR):

– Meta: undisputed fine king –

Mark Zuckerberg’s social media firm — owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — has racked up roughly two billion euros in fines.

Breaches by Meta have included a mega-leak of some 533 million phone numbers and emails, mishandling children’s data and repeatedly failing to give a legal basis for its data collection.

Meta, along with the likes of Google, Twitter and LinkedIn has its European headquarters in Ireland, a low-tax regime that has courted big tech.

The Irish privacy watchdog has been reluctant to hand down big fines but said in a statement on Monday that the EU’s central authorities had ordered it to collect 1.2 billion euros from Meta.

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Austrian campaign group NOYB said it had spent millions in a decade-long legal battle to force the Irish watchdog to tackle the case.

“It is kind of absurd that the record fine will go to Ireland — the EU Member State that did everything to ensure that this fine is not issued,” said NOYB’s Max Schrems.

– US giants: In Meta’s shadow –

Luxembourg lit a torch under the Silicon Valley data industry in 2021 by slapping Amazon with a record fine of 746 million euros.

The country, whose low-tax policies have led campaigners to label it a tax haven, refused to give details of its decision at the time, only providing a brief statement after Amazon revealed the fine in its regulatory filings.

The online retail giant had been sued by a European consumer group claiming personal data was collected for ad-targeting without permission.

However, Amazon denied any breach and promised to appeal. It is unclear whether the fine has been paid.

Google has faced plenty of GDPR pain too.

France’s data watchdog hit the search giant with 50 million euros in fines for a lack of transparency on its Android mobile operating system in 2019 — the biggest such fine of that year.

– Clearview AI: Widespread penalties –

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Clearview AI may not be a household name, but it claims to own billions of photos of people’s faces that it sells as a searchable AI-powered database to law enforcement and other clients.

It scrapes the images from the web, often from social media accounts, without asking permission.

Privacy watchdogs in Greece, Italy, France and the UK have all hit the US firm with fines totally roughly 70 million euros, and regulators in Germany and Austria have declared it illegal.

The firm has consistently said it has no offices or clients in Europe and is not subject to EU privacy laws.

The status of the fines is unclear. France issued a penalty of five million euros recently, accusing the firm of failing to pay the initial fine.

– Public bodies, hacks –

In the early days of the GDPR, several watchdogs cracked down on public institutions, raising profound questions about the regulation’s scope.

Bulgaria fined its own tax authority around three million euros in 2019 after hackers stole the details of millions of people.

But several issues in the case were referred to the European Court of Justice, including whether such a hack automatically meant the data controller had not complied with GDPR.

The court has not yet issued a final decision.

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Portugal handed down one of the first significant fines under GDPR — 400,000 euros — in November 2018 to a hospital near Lisbon.

The watchdog ruled that the institution had allowed unauthorised access to patients’ data and the case was seen as an early wake-up call for public bodies to get busy with GDPR compliance.

Portugal later gave public institutions three years to adapt to the new regime, meaning the fine was never enforced.


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I Hired Gen Zers and Was Shocked by Their Professionalism



I Hired Gen Zers and Was Shocked by Their Professionalism
  • Jen Hartmann is the founder and CEO of a marketing agency in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • She recently hired two Gen Zers to help with social media.
  • Hartmann said the workers were eager to get feedback and improve.

Last year, Jen Hartmann found herself hours into a TikTok scroll. The founder and CEO of a marketing agency in Louisville, Kentucky, she was on the hunt for marketing trends. That night, she realized she needed a Gen Z employee. She’s since hired two and says it’s dramatically helped her brand.

This is an as-told-to essay based on an interview with Hartmann about hiring young employees. 

The interview process surprised me

I started interviewing Gen Z candidates for our roles in public-relations coordination because I was spending too much time on TikTok. As a CEO, I wanted to take a step back from client strategy. I thought Gen Z could bring a fresh perspective.

How the interview process shook out was totally unexpected.

I came to the table thinking: “They’re just looking for a job or a paycheck. They’ll be in and out the door in a month or two.”

That was not true: They came to the interviews dressed better than we were. They were prepared, had listened to relevant podcasts, and had looked at our website. And they emailed and messaged us on LinkedIn after the interviews to thank us. 

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Their level of professionalism blew my mind. They were more professional than some of the millennials we had spoken with. 

My Gen Z employees take ownership of tasks and are open to feedback

Our Gen Zers were onboarded very quickly; they didn’t need as much hand-holding as I expected.

They also asked a lot of questions. As a founder, I appreciated that they were eager to learn and get feedback — not just on what they did well but also on what they could improve.  

I was also surprised by their willingness to take ownership. They contribute good ideas during client calls without even being asked. 

And if they make a mistake, they’re willing to take responsibility and fix it.

Prioritization, however, can be a little difficult for them. When you’re a new employee, it’s hard to figure out where to start if you have 15 things on your to-do list. I’ve had to work on that with them.

And when it comes to communication, we have to deliver feedback differently. I have to be gentler so it doesn’t get miscommunicated that I’m mad at them or going to fire them.

Gen Z seems to be a little more feelings-centric than millennials. Millennials have a harder outer shell. That’s not a bad thing. It’s great that Gen Z is in touch with and open about their emotions.

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But because of that, millennial bosses need to be careful not to send the wrong message, especially if it’s all done over Slack or email.

Gen Z’s knowledge of social media is critical for businesses today

Gen Zers are constantly on TikTok. They’re very in the know, very in the loop. To keep up with our clients, we needed to bring on some Gen Zers who knew the trends and what influencers were up to.

It has made the biggest difference during client conversations. Half of their timely pitches are angles directly from TikTok. Our pitches are standing out because of this, and they’re getting picked up a lot more than they were in the past. 

Their knowledge of social also helps when building media lists, something that can take a long time for other generations. Many Gen Zers read major publications and keep up with the journalists and their work by following them on social media. That makes the lists much more effective and quicker than ever before.

Since hiring Gen Z employees, I’ve been able to take that step back that I was looking for, and their work has truly benefited the business.


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Twitter Provides Additional API Access Tier to Address Pricing Concerns



Twitter startet Test von Ad Targeting basierend speziell auf Suchanfragen in der App

With its recent API access cost increases causing much angst within the developer community, Twitter has come back with a new API access tier, which will provide more tweet access for a more reasonable price.

As highlighted above, the new ‘Pro’ tweet API offering provides developers with access to a million tweets per month, at the low, low price of $5k per month – or $60k per annum. Which, for some, will be an improvement than the existing access points, which have already priced many developers and academics out of their various projects. But still, $5k per month for a million tweets is a lot – especially when Twitter’s free API access, up till February this year, provided developers with similar access to this, free of cost.

Twitter’s new API access charges, which it’s implemented to combat the creation of bot armies, are a significant jump on the previous costs, with Elon and Co. also looking to do all that they can to bring in more revenue for the company.

The updated pricing immediately saw many public service tools, like transport alerts, announce that they’d be canceling their automated Twitter updates – though Twitter has since announced that approved services like these will still be able to access the API for free.

But that doesn’t cover many other bot tools and services that also provide value, and the risk in Twitter’s approach is that it could become a less valuable utility as a result, which may eventually impact usage.

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But as noted, Musk sees the API as a potential vector for bot swarms. And as with Twitter Blue, Elon’s hoping that by tacking on extra charges to such access, that’ll effectively make it cost-prohibitive for bot creators to keep running their schemes.

Though there is another potential consideration in Musk’s API and access price rises, which is more aligned with his own personal grievances.

Twitter’s also taking on Microsoft over its use of Twitter data, via API access, which it claims is beyond the limitations imposed within Microsoft’s approved usage. Microsoft is now partnered with OpenAI, a company that Elon once had a significant investment in, and Musk’s view is that OpenAI has essentially stolen Twitter data to train its LLM systems, in order to fuel generative AI tools like ChatGPT.

The brief summary is that Elon gave OpenAI millions of dollars to assist in its development, then sought to take over as CEO of the company in 2018, in order to hasten its progress. OpenAI rebutted Musk’s offer, which then saw Elon turn his back on it, and pull all of his future funding pledges. But OpenAI had already taken some millions from Musk – and now that OpenAI is making big money from its generative AI tools, Elon is apparently not happy that he isn’t going to get a dime of that intake, despite his early involvement.

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This could be another factor in his decision to hike up the price of Twitter API access, in order to restrict other companies from taking Twitter’s proprietary data, and profiting off of his content in a similar way.

Elon’s also building his own generative AI model, which will be free of ‘woke bias’, and everything considered, it’s not beyond the scope of possibility that Elon’s pushing up the costs of Twitter API access in order to fend off his various business rivals.

(Note that Twitter is also asking API subscribers to remove any previously downloaded data, or face further legal recourse)

Though the main impetus seems to be Twitter’s need to diversify its income, with subscriptions, API access and advertising ideally settling into a more equal share of the company’s revenue pie.

Which seems unlikely to be the end result, but Elon’s trying new things – and maybe there’s enough potential indicators there to keep pushing, in order to maximize Twitter’s opportunities. Or maybe there’s not, and eventually, Twitter will have to walk these changes back. That approach is seemingly part of what’s made Musk successful, his willingness to try and fail in public, and maybe, it will present potential new opportunities for the business.

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Twitter’s new API pricing system is now in effect.  


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