In April 2020, bartender Harley West says she was struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. Now, a year later, she’s become an Instagram star with more than 200K followers. How did she manage to do it? West says she ascribes her success to hard work and consistent posting.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, West worked as a bartender. Unfortunately, like many other bars, it had to close down temporarily to adhere to lockdowns and safety measures. West found herself in a difficult situation. She says she couldn’t solely rely on government help, yet she had no other options for work. At least she thought so.

At that time, West says she was using her Instagram account to post solely for fun. She had about 10K followers who were encouraging her to start an online modeling career. But it was only when she lost her job, West says she began to actually consider a career as an Instagram star seriously.

“It was so scary and exciting at the time. I was worried that my photos wouldn’t be that interesting since most of them were taken in my apartment with an iPhone. I was surprised my followers didn’t prefer extravagant photoshoots, but they really loved seeing my real life. It’s like they felt a deeper connection to me and got to know me on a more personal level,” West says.

Before long, Harley West had attracted the attention of models and influential companies who offered her paid collaborations.

“I have collaborated with a few models in the past, and I’ve also done paid sponsorships with companies such as Manscaped. I really loved working with Manscaped. They gave me complete creative control, and their team was very easy to work with. Not to mention, the product was great and met my demographic’s needs,” West says.

West also mentions she would love to work with other models in the future. However, she says she’s put collaborations and sponsored posts on hold temporarily.

“For now, my focus is on my exclusive website and developing a deeper connection with my fans. I love going live on Instagram and TikTok to see where my audience is from, what they like, and what they want to see from me.”

West also points out in the future she would love to settle down, travel more, and continue sharing her life with her followers. She dreams of starting a clothing brand down the road. She says she’s open to her life going in many directions and seeing where it takes her.

West says she hopes her story will motivate aspiring influencers and Instagram stars to start working on their own careers. For all those who worry about becoming successful, Harley West suggests the best way to become influential on social media is by keeping up with the trends and not just “creating content you are comfortable with.” Instead, she recommends experimenting because “you never know what will go viral,” she says.