We’re living in a generation where creatives can create 6-figure incomes by sharing the ins and outs of their life on their social media platform. People are increasingly leaving their 9-5 jobs to explore brand deals, monetize their accounts, and influence the masses through beauty, style, advocacy, and more.
Karly Polkosnik is an ex-law student who shifted her focus to become a micro-influencer, monetizing her social media platforms into a full-time career. The LGBTQ+, body-positive creator gained a massive following online through her “style at every size” series, sex-positive stories, vulnerability, and humor.
As a teenager out of high school, Polkosnik struggled to find her path. When she was rejected from her dream of attending Musical Theater School, she decided to pivot and go to business school. She built her social media platforms in tandem, while exploring different career options.
“I kept adding platforms to my roster like Instagram and YouTube, my podcast, and eventually TikTok in my last year of undergrad. Along the way, I worked in professional sports and found out that was not for me, quickly transitioning into the social media side of things. And as any 21-year-old feels at that age, I thought I knew everything I needed to know and ended up dropping out in my 3rd year very briefly to work essentially full-time in my industry. In March of 2020, I graduated with my Bachelor of Commerce program with a major in Marketing and a minor in Legal Business Studies with a specialization in Intellectual Property Law,” she said.
Polkosnik has to pivot with the rest of the world when Covid 19 reared its disgruntled and infectious head. Between losing her job and dealing with a worldwide pandemic, the Universe aligned the social media guru to her intended path.
“Graduating marked the year of the transition for me because I actually lost my corporate job in January 2020, and the pandemic came a few months later. While some people make the conscious decision to leave their job & chase their dreams, I essentially was pushed into it. And I’m glad I was! I used all the time I suddenly had off at home to launch the career I have today. Now, I recognize that I was probably always built for the entrepreneurial life, but at the time, I don’t think I would have been prepared or strong enough to quit a stable job and jump head first into the unknown,” she said.
Polkosnik dived in head first indeed. She’s built a strong, relatable presence on all platforms, which allowed her to fully expand her brand beyond social media. When she’s not sharing fashion inspiration on Instagram or doing fun GRWM’s to her 550K+ TikTok followers, she’s discussing sex and dating on her lifestyle podcast, Hey Bitches; or her blog, Your Girl Karly.
“I’m most proud of my social media career as a whole and every platform I’m on. I really pride myself on being the same person online as I am offline and I think that’s really shown. I feel extremely grateful that people want to engage with and follow me simply for my life and my values and I’m really proud of the community I’ve created around it,” Polkosnik expressed.
The diversity box
Polkosnik’s career has given her lots of unique experiences. She’s attended many exclusive events that she shares on her platform, and in hindsight, she realizes that she possibly made the cut because she’s Black, not due to her talent or platform.
“Looking back, I think that one of the biggest hurdles I’ve encountered was consistently being the tokenized Black person but not realizing it until after the fact. When I was in the CFL, I was the only Black dancer on the team; when I’d go to events in my city, I’d be the only Black influencer there, etc. At the time, I was just happy to be doing things I loved (like performing) and to be in places and at events I’d never been invited to. But looking back, I realize that some situations weren’t because of my talent or my credibility; it was simply because I checked a diversity box. Now I am much more aware of it and either steer clear or call out when I can tell I’m just a box check,” she said.
And while Polkosnik is happy to be in the room, she’d prefer it to be because of her talent and not because she’s become the chosen Black woman to fulfill a diversity and inclusion need.
“I only put myself in rooms and situations that are genuinely interested in uplifting me as a creator and are interested in me vs. what box I can check for them to look like they’re representing diversity. I also actively have conversations with brand partners, agencies, etc., about the need for genuine inclusivity vs. performative inclusivity,” she explained.
What makes you a powerful woman?
Women are born with an innate power that is unique to them. We can’t sum up the power of a woman in one word. Our skills and talents vary from person to person, highlighting how multifaceted we are as a gender. That’s why women can provide a laundry list of the reasons they are powerful. For Polkosnik, her brain and business savvy approach to her career, makes her powerful.
“I enjoy being a student for life and absorbing new information as the world and the landscape change, and my adaptability and flexibility help me always come out on top. It’s also extremely gratifying to break the stereotype that men are the supposed smarter ones, are better at business, etc., because, in my experience, that’s not true,” she said.
Polkosnik is on the road to success, and she’s just getting started. After cracking the code to become an auspicious social media influencer, she plans on taking her career to the next level. And despite her thriving platforms, the influencer plans on continuing her education to broaden her resume.
“Right now, I’m really focused on career longevity! The social media climate is constantly changing, and I want to continue doing the career I love as long as possible. I’m re-launching my podcast, Hey Bitches, in March of 2023, and I’m excited to bring it to video platforms like YouTube and TikTok to connect with my audience outside of audio spaces. I’m also excited to venture into new income streams like consulting and course creation and start studying for the LSAT and apply to Law school.”
The younger generation has taught me just how easy it is to create a lucrative business for yourself using social media. Vulnerability is an art form mastered by those willing to put themselves out there authentically. It is history in the making!
Keep up with Karly via her Instagram page, her podcast Hey Bitches; or her blog, Your Girl Karly.
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