Here's how she did it.
This article is part of Narcity's biweekly Millennial Money Makers series, which profiles young Canadians who are making money in "new" — and often surprising — ways. Have a story to tell? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making a career change is always a scary thing to do, but for Alexandra Gater, it turned out to be the best choice.
The 30-year-old Toronto native worked in the journalism realm for while, until she was affected by a mass layoff. She decided to take the skills she'd learned along the way to transform her career into that of a successful YouTuber.
Gater spoke to Narcity about how to get into the industry, how much money she's making and the best and the worst parts of the job.
How and why did you get into your industry?
"I never thought or wanted to be a YouTuber, or a content creator, influencer, whatever you want to call it," Gater told Narcity from her studio in Toronto.
She went to school for photojournalism, where she fell in love with the world of women's lifestyle content during her internship at a magazine.
"I was kind of thrust into the home decor section of the magazine," she said. "I fell in love with products and discovered new brands that really made me excited about my home."
From there, she started a video series for the company about home decoration for millennials that was becoming successful, but she was suddenly let go from the magazine along with dozens of others.
"It was really devastating," Gater admitted. "It was one of the hardest things that ever happened to me. I had this dream career, I kind of saw where I was going. I loved producing these videos."
"And so I just kind of decided to keep going with it," she said about striking out on her own. "And now, three years later, I have a full-time business and a team who helps me produce this content."
What does your day look like?
"I always go to get coffee in the morning with my partner, Noah," she said. "We both have really busy schedules and work lives. So making that time just to be together in the morning is really nice."
She then heads to the office, where she meets with her team and figures out what everyone is working on that day.
"My day is always filled with running around making over people's homes, schlepping a lot of rugs and life and vases," she noted. "And shooting content, creating content, answering emails. I would say in the last couple of months, my job has really shifted from sitting at my computer and brainstorming to actually just creating content constantly."
So how much money are you making?
"I'm really proud to say that my business makes over six figures," Gater shared.
She also said she's able to support a staff of five people and pay rent for her studio in Toronto, but that it took her a long time to be able to get to that point.
"It's been a grind for the past few years," she said. "And I think people don't really realize that yes, it's a lot of money, but that money isn't going into my pocket directly. It's supporting this business and banking on the fact that this is going to turn into something even bigger."
What sort of money can be expected for someone entering this industry?
"I kind of hate giving this answer because it's not really clear cut, but I think it really varies," she said, adding that it depends on the kind of niche you're tapping into.
"I think people don't realize how lucrative it is," she said about working on YouTube. "There's sponsored content, there's sponsored videos, and if you have a following of over 100,000 on Instagram or YouTube, there's a lot of opportunity there."
Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into this industry?
"I think it's so important to find your spot in this industry," she said, adding that it took her a really long time to figure out her niche. "I think what really set me apart from the get-go is that I was tapping into this world of renter-friendly makeovers — millennial decor."
She also advised that you need to be strong to be able to run your own business.
"As much as it looks super great from the outside — and you know, Instagram makes everything look awesome — it's really, really hard. It's one of the hardest things I've ever done in my entire life. But it's also been very rewarding. So I would say it's not for the faint of heart."
What are the best and worst parts of the job?
"The best part of my job, honestly, is waking up every day and doing something that I love," she said. "I get to make over people's homes, I get to work with these amazing brands, I get to be creative. And that is so rewarding. And I feel so lucky to be able to do that."
"I guess the hard parts of my business are running the business, making tough decisions, and not really knowing what's going to happen," she noted. "And I think any business owner can relate to this. There's no handbook, right? It's just kind of taking leaps of faith and hoping that it will work out and also believing that it'll work out."
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
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