I’m starting my 9th year as a blogger who makes a living full time with my online presence. I started VivaFifty.com the year I turned 50, after asking myself what I could be passionate about for the next 5 to 10 years, and this was it. I will turn 59 in August and I had my best year in business, income-wise and with great partnerships, in 2021, surpassing 2020 which against all odds, was fabulous in that sense.
When I launched this website, I already had experience as a content creator (I started a different blog in 2006), writer, book author, journalist, and editor in chief of a different digital publication. I embraced social media fully in 2008-09 when I was a single mom on welfare and through serendipity took my lifelong career as a communicator online back then and never looked back.
Why are you pigeon-holing yourself, they asked
When I launched this brand, so many peers asked me why I was pigeon-holing myself as an over-50 woman. Why wouldn’t I want to continue being a mom-blogger, without putting my age out there front and center? Wasn’t I afraid of aging myself out of social media campaigns?
I paid no heed and continued on my quest to advertise my age and openly discuss topics associated with it. A consistent six-figure income has proven to me that I was on the right track. Of course, I don’t get hired for campaigns where a brand or cause is seeking 20-year olds, but they aren’t getting hired for those that require over-50 influencers. It goes both ways.
You need a strong work ethic and commitment – age is not the issue
Please know that if you are considering making a living full-time as a mature influencer, playing up your age can be to your advantage in ways you may not have considered before. Also know that this is a lot of work, especially at the beginning. Nobody pays a bunch of money in exchange for nothing.
I am constantly seeking for ways to take better pictures, higher quality videos, create more helpful content. Keeping up with multiple social media platforms and their constant algorithm changes is not for the faint of heart. However, for the most part, I enjoy this.
If you too would like to follow suit, there are many things going for you, as long as you treat this as you would any other type of business endeavor and have the follow-through to stick with it.
Take advantage of the fact that most older women are not advertising their age
When I started this website, there were very few women discussing their age online, and as a Hispanic content creator I found myself to be practically the only one in that category. This gave me an edge, because I got a bigger piece of the sponsorships pie. To this day, although there are way more influencers stating publicly that they are over 40, 50, 60 and beyond, it is still something that makes most women uncomfortable.
I’ve been approached by brands, organizations and causes in the past year, letting me know it is still hard to come by older influencers who are consistent with their work, who provide value in more than one realm (meaning not just style or beauty) and that are able to provide quality work for them.
If you had any doubts about this, please know you are needed in this space.
The greater the number of mature influencers openly talking about aging, the better for all of us
Representation matters. We can’t complain that brands and publications don’t feature us if we fail to feature ourselves at a time in history where social media levels the playing field in that sense.
When more of us mature women are showing up for ourselves, for our peers and even for younger women, our message is amplified. There is strength in numbers. When older women aren’t online, our demographic won’t be targeted, and that kind of makes sense. Be a part of the change!
Nobody can argue with experience. You are older and wiser and have stories to tell
Interestingly, the majority of the women who follow me on Instagram are not necessarily my peers.
It is mostly younger women who follow me on Instagram. I didn’t set out for it to be that way, but I do enjoy being able to tell my stories of overcoming challenges – an eating disorder, major depressive disorder, being a midlife single mom on foodstamps – and more, to let younger people know it IS possible to overcome many things in life and thrive.
I do encourage you to think of who your ideal reader or listener is, and address them, but also be ready to find out that you are in fact reaching a whole different audience. And if that happens, then adapt and continue to speak to them, because they have already shown you they are interested.
Brainstorm what your subject matter will be and who your ideal audience is. I focus on mental health, wellness, fitness and yoga, but also dabble in skincare and beauty. My content definitely evolved when I chose to become a certified yoga instructor at 54. Realize you will also evolve (if you want to keep growing) over time.
Pick a name for your website (don’t think too much about it) and then secure your URL (domain name), and all social media handles (the name you will go by online). Make sure you can use the same one across all channels. This means that I can tell people to fine me online as @lorrainecladish or @vivafifty and they can find me everywhere, using the same spelling.
Create a content calendar and follow it. This is just an example: set out to write and publish one blog post a week, three times a week on Instagram, and once a day on Facebook. I do way more than that but by this time I also hire professionals to help. At first it was just me posting 4 times a day on Facebook, one or two blog posts a day, every day on Instagram, etc. Now I even have an agent and manager, Johanna Voss, who is invaluable to my life and business.
Don’t quit your day job just yet, if you have one, but work on your social media presence as if you were getting paid. When you have a certain number of subscribers (this varies depending on what kind of campaigns are available for a creator of your reach), brands will most likely come to you for sponsored content.
You can also make money via ads on your website (Viva Fifty’s content is free to you but we are part of an ad network, MediaVine, which serves programmatic ads).
This is just a brief overview and I didn’t even go into YouTube, which is also a great way to reach an audience and create community.
Good luck if you decide to pursue this venture but, above all, I wish you persistence! At 58 I KNOW this is what has carried me through life as a self-employed woman.