- Elena Duque is a guest host on the TV channel QVC and has a side hustle as an Amazon influencer.
- She earns commission by promoting beauty products to online shoppers via livestreams and lists.
- By encouraging her TikTok followers to buy products from her Amazon lists, she earns $1,000 a month.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Elena Duque, a 41-year-old with a side hustle as an Amazon influencer who lives in South Florida. Insider has verified her income with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
My day job is being a guest host on the home-shopping TV channel QVC, where I'm a spokesperson for its athleisure line Sport Savvy. My hours vary, but I work around 60 hours a month. I'm also a content creator and spend around 20 hours a week blogging and pitching to brands that I already use, or brands that I'd like to try, to see if they'd like to collaborate. My main side hustle is as an Amazon influencer.
I'm a licensed esthetician and former New York City spa owner. In 2017, when I owned my spa, I attended a beauty-bloggers event, which inspired me to start an Instagram and a website dedicated to beauty tips and skincare with a little bit of motherhood sprinkled in. Now I'm mainly beauty-focused with some travel and lifestyle.
I also had my first TV appearance in 2018 on "Good Day New York," where I got to talk about and demo antiaging spa treatments. From there, I grew my own little business as an on-air beauty expert and influencer, and over the past five years, I've been on TV and featured in major publications.
I make at least $1,000 in affiliate commissions a month by sharing my favorite beauty products on Pinterest, TikTok, and my blog. I share on Instagram as well, but my engagement and visibility there are much lower than my other platforms.
I applied to be an Amazon Influencer in 2019
When I truly started to move my focus to increasing sales on my Amazon storefront — as opposed to just letting the storefront sit there — I started to see more traffic to my page and more commission. I used to only do content creation for brands, and I wasn't really interested in affiliate marketing because I thought nobody would take the time to click on my link, but once I saw a small increase in my traffic and sales, I was motivated to create more videos around products I use from Amazon.
At that time, I had around 20,000 Instagram followers and barely any blog traffic. When I applied, you needed to have 1,000 followers, an active social media presence where you post regularly, and already be posting content where you're selling to your audience. Amazon is interested in influencers who are posting daily and sharing product recommendations, tutorials, and must-haves. They want to know that you'll bring traffic to Amazon, and the proof is in your social media habits and analytics.
I was accepted, but I didn't do anything with it at the time.
In July 2021, I started a TikTok account, and that's when the magic happened
Some influencers do makeup tutorials but don't ever truly speak to their audience, and some people do funny skits, which puts them in the comedy niche. I do a mix of beauty tutorials and reviews with funny and relatable content, too. My content is known as "edutainment" on TikTok.
I lean into being an esthetician and mention this in my videos to establish credibility. In fact, I try to start off every video with "My name is Elena Duque. I'm an esthetician and national on-air beauty expert."
I post to my TikTok at least three times a day, which is key to building on the platform. After one year of consistently posting on TikTok, I now have 120,000 loyal followers.
Once my numbers grew, I was invited into Amazon's beauty-specific influencer program
In the beginning, I started testing the waters by creating videos talking about products I loved. I would direct my viewers to check the link in my bio either in a text onscreen or verbally. I had no idea that it would work, but it did. I started getting consistent orders.
But I still wasn't getting many sales from my blog or Pinterest, so I hired a virtual assistant to help me revamp those pages and link back to Amazon as much as possible. TikTok is still the number-one place where I direct traffic to my Amazon store, but I'm starting to see an uptick in traffic from my Pinterest and blog now as well.
During a busy week, I'll spend 5 hours on my storefront
I typically spend two to three of those hours creating Amazon Idea Lists, blog and Pinterest posts, and content for TikTok. Amazon Idea Lists are an Amazon influencer's way of creating links to the products they're selling. It can be just one product or hundreds of products, and it has a title like "Elena Duque — Esthetician, Beauty & Lifestyle Finds' Amazon Page."
I have a landing page linked in my bio on TikTok with a link to my Amazon storefront, so rather than linking each product each time, which is impossible really, I just tell my followers to go to the link in bio. If the product is linked in a particular Amazon Idea List, I'll tell them that as well.
For example, if I make a quick TikTok talking about cleansers for dry skin, I'll tell viewers that I linked my favorites in my Amazon store under "dry skin cleansers." It's specific and it works.
Once a week, I take a sheet of paper and write down Amazon store content ideas. Once I have that figured out, I can make my videos or take photos for the content. This helps me stay organized and batch content. This also keeps my work time way down.
A year and a half ago, I had an assistant and a Pinterest manager. I tried the extra help for around six months and decided it wasn't for me, so now I work alone.
I've also started doing Amazon Live and it's been quite lucrative
Amazon Live allows you to create branded livestreams featuring any products you like. It's not for everyone. I happen to already work on live TV, so I don't have an issue with it.
On the day of your show, you basically just go live and move through each product, discussing the details and benefits. You can also check to see if the Amazon Influencer Program offers extra discounts or coupons for those products to share with viewers.
I like doing Amazon Live because it's a fun way to interact with viewers and showcase products. People can chat with you through a chat box, and I try to respond to my viewers the whole time using the chat function. Your Amazon store followers get notified when you're live, and Amazon will push your live video out to viewers who are already on the site shopping.
Even if your show gets very few viewers, the live replay of the video will live on your storefront. I did two shows on Amazon Prime Day and they did really well. I think it's an underutilized tool.
I encourage anyone with a social–media platform or blog to apply for the Amazon Influencer Program
I've heard around in chats and social-media posts that it's been a bit more difficult to get accepted than it was in the past because so many people are applying. I recommend trying multiple times until you get accepted.
Once accepted, it offers tons of resources, training videos, and guides on best practices on how to get started, how to link products, and how to create content. If you feel lost like I did at the beginning, it's totally normal. I suggest taking a day or two to go through all of the free resources provided, take notes, look at other influencers' pages, and then start creating that content.