Read this article for instructions, tips, and guidance on how to become a full-time content creator, social media influencer, or YouTuber, from the UK’s top female competitive eater, Leah Shutkever.
Leah Shutkever is the number one female competitive eater in the UK. Hailing from Redditch in Worcestershire, she holds 21 official Guinness World Records to date. Over her career as a competitive eater, she has amassed an impressive total social media following of 420 000.
Co-founders of Electric House, Lee & Adam, interviewed Leah on the Drunken Brainwave podcast for the first episode in their new series, The 0121, which is all about championing Birmingham, Birmingham industries, and Midlands-based entrepreneurs.
Having recently given up her day job as an interior designer, Leah is now a full-time social media content creator. Read on for her tips and advice on how to make the most of a full-time career as a social media influencer.
“Way back in 2013 or 2014, in the start of my career as a competitive eater, it wasn’t the norm to take on social media as a career, full-time. I was also very shy- there was no way I was filming myself eating! It’s definitely been a learning process.”
Then, in 2014, Leah received a phone call in the office where she was working at the time. On the other end of the call was a Japanese TV company who wanted her to compete in a New York eating competition, along with other ‘Team GB’ members. After demolishing the qualifiers by eating 15 scotch eggs on the Thames river, she went on to compete in the New York World Championships in 2015 and 2017.
While there, the eaters from the USA encouraged her to begin uploading her eating conquests to social media. Leah believes that the only tools you need to begin your career on social media is dedication, and an ability to do something that can bring value to people.
“I watch DIY channels a lot; I watch electricians change valves on radiators. That’s valuable stuff! They bring something to the table. Channels like mine are pure entertainment; if you love food then you’ll love to watch food challenges. If you’re articulate and people can appreciate what you’re doing, then the possibility is endless and it can be the beginning of something beautiful.”
Leah’s full-time career on social media began with a slipped disk. When she could no longer manage the discomfort of sitting down all day at her full-time interior design job, she began a career as a freelance interior designer. Then, she decided there was nothing stopping her part-time Leah Shutkever brand from flourishing into a full-time career as a social media content creator.
“If we’re talking about earnings, I over doubled in the first year going full-time- my energy is now completely in the brand. My day-to-day thinking is all about what i can do next.”
Another top tip from Leah is to put your energy into unpaid work. Leah’s achievements with the Guinness World Records were all unpaid, with the exception of her certificates, and- of course- the hundreds of thousands of social media followers that flocked to her accounts after seeing her accomplishments.
“People may think that they own you: that they can call on you and depend on you. There’s a familiarity on you that you can’t ever take away. You see it in some comments from people, and there’s stuff that I’d rather not talk about on social media.”
Leah insists that the best way to manage your personal identity when working full time as a social media content creator is to separate it from her public brand. By keeping her body active and her mind healthy, Leah says she feels balanced in her career.
“I want people to know me as Leah Shutkever: the competitive eater, and not delve into my private life. I’m not 24/7 the competitive eater and that’s very surprising to some people.”
“You need to develop a very thick skin. My boyfriend works as a mental resilience coach and he’s been very important in this whole filtering through comments thing.”
Leah explains that negative comments towards you, and the motive behind them, is more of a reflection of the comment poster, that they’re trying to push onto you. Consequently, if you’re able to recognise that they’re the victim and not you, then you’re well on your way to managing social media trolls.
Although she ignores the majority of hate comments, there are some things that she just can’t ignore.
“The comments that get me the most are the ones that prey on young, vulnerable people. When I think about the 15-year-old girls that may be reading them, the protector comes in, and I need to show awareness. I want to show them how to understand where the source of all the negativity is and how to just push it away.”
Leah describes herself as a content creator: a job that comes with much responsibility since influencers get to create opportunities for others.
“People use the words ‘YouTuber’ and ‘influencer’ as derogatory terms. There are bad influencers, of course, but people don’t understand that they are all entrepreneurs and business owners that wear many hats.”
Leah explains that she has seen different generations of people in her life try and push different ideas of career success on her. Her Grandpa told her not to worry about formal education and learn a trade, and her parents wanted her to become a politician or a doctor.
“I love to see that more kids are taking ownership of their identity. I grew up not being very ‘showy’, and I didn’t want to talk about my achievements. But now, kids are all saying, ‘I’m really good at this, and I’m going to show people.”
“I feel like part of my job is explaining what my job is! People say, ‘What? You mean you get a salary from YouTube?’ YouTube is a pretty great boss, to be honest.”
You can absolutely live off being a content creator. Leah’s advice for how to make money as a full-time content creator is to be dedicated. If you’re just aspiring to be a public figure, it’s not enough. You have to really love what you do to put up with the negatives.
“People often fall short trying to aspire to make money. You have to be realistic; you’re not going to earn hundreds of thousands straight away. If you’ve got a business, a talent, or something you can do really well, then make a channel. The more you put into it the more you get out of it, and then it grows and grows.”
To hear Leah talk about how she got started in competitive eating, and what her favourite restaurants in Birmingham are, you can watch the 13th episode of the Drunken Brainwave podcast here.
You can also head on over to the Lee & Adam YouTube channel for more content just like it. Make sure to subscribe while you’re there!
Want to find out how we made over £60k on a viral video by using Facebook’s in-stream ads? Click here to read the article.
All quotes from Leah Shutkever have been paraphrased and edited from the 13th episode of the Drunken Brainwave Podcast.