The Career-Complementing Side Hustle
How SG's Yuki Klotz-Burwell's experience as a bookfluencer makes her a better PR pro.
Even before the pandemic flipped seemingly everything on its head, side hustles, and the culture around them, were becoming an increasingly prominent part of our world. Meanwhile lockdowns, and the newfound time they gave us, turned a lot of people’s attention to their passions.
Many of us looked to combine the two, and turn our passion projects into side hustles. And inflation has only exacerbated the trend, with 44% of Americans now reporting they have a side hustle that helps pay the bills, per LendingTree.
But far fewer Americans have the type of passion project turned side gig that aids them in their careers. One of the lucky ones is Yuki Klotz-Burwell.
Klotz-Burwell, a Senior Account Executive in her second year at SutherlandGold, is the owner of @yuki.reads, a “Bookstagram” with more than 36k followers. Across the account’s 636 posts, viewers find Klotz-Burwell’s array of book recommendations, reviews and really, any type of content a reader might find interesting.
The various tentacles of running a book-focused Instagram account intertwine with many of those of public relations work. With her posts reaching tens of thousands of engaged readers, Klotz-Burwell wields influence. To get there, she had to find the right people to sell herself to, and figure out the best way to do so. And of course, she built a social media following from the ground up.
Klotz-Burwell’s journey as a reader started in elementary school, as she read the likes of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. However, it wasn’t until her time as a student at Chapman University that Klotz-Burwell decided to do something more with her passion than simply read.
In search of a way to connect with those in the reading community and catalog what she’d read, Klotz-Burwell came across Reese Witherspoon’s book club on Instagram. Klotz-Burwell had already been penning book reviews for 60 Seconds, a national online student magazine, and had considered starting a blog. But as she scrolled through Witherspoon’s posts, she’d found a more creative way to accomplish what she wanted.
“It was definitely a lot more concise, a lot more casual,” Klotz-Burwell said. “In college, I, and a lot more people, were using Instagram a lot more. It was just a better way to reach people versus a random online blog.”
As it does for many of us, Klotz-Burwell’s influence began with those close to her. Even before starting the account, she had friends asking for personalized book recommendations.
“Going to a library and reading blurbs is definitely a great way to find books,” Klotz-Burwell said. “But it’s just not as personalized. It’s more satisfying if someone you know is recommending a book.
“One of my friends was always finding books from reading blurbs). And after I started posting, she’d say, ‘Oh, I just read the book you posted.’ She reads almost everything I post. And she reads all the books I recommend, too.” That same friend never used to read thrillers. But the genre is Klotz-Burwell’s favorite, so surely enough her friend reads tons of them now. “It was really cool to introduce her to new genres,” Klotz-Burwell said. “I think she set a goal to read 52 books this year, and she’s reading more books than I have so far. So she’s already catching up and eclipsing me.” But as @yuki.reads’ follower count grew, so, too, did Klotz-Burwell’s influence. After reaching 10k followers, Klotz-Burwell figured that she might be able to make some money from her Bookstagram. So she researched publishing companies, brands and more that might be interested, a process that sounds all too familiar to a PR professional. “Asking for advance copies from publishers is extremely similar to PR. It’s finding the right publishing contact, and creating a pitch saying why you want to read this book, why you’re a good fit, how you can promote it,” Klotz-Burwell said. “When I started pitching at SG, I saw a lot of connections. And I think working on my pitches at SG has definitely helped my Bookstagram pitches.” Soon enough, @yuki.reads made its first partnership with PRESS, a hard seltzer company. Eventually, brands began reaching out to Klotz-Burwell themselves. One was Amazon Books, which partnered with @yuki.reads on an Instagram campaign highlighting its book personality quiz.
Being an influencer has helped Klotz-Burwell when she finds herself on the flip side of the equation, too. As she worked on a pitch targeting influencers last year, Klotz-Burwell thought about what she’d want to see if a PR professional reached out to her. “Giving all the details up front, not being vague and just explaining what’s in it for me and my audience are elements of a pitch I’d want to see,” Klotz-Burwell said. As Klotz-Burwell’s brain turns toward the future of @yuki.reads, she hasn’t set a goal for her follower count. She’d like to see it continue to grow and never become stagnant. Perhaps she’d like to form more paid partnerships or meet fellow members of the Bookstagram community in person. But she’s certainly met one of her first goals - to reach people and influence their reading. She’s even brought that to SutherlandGold. Earlier this year she kicked off the SG Book Club. While company book clubs are far from uncommon, this one and its meetings reflect the casual nature of @yuki.reads. “We don’t have agendas, or anything,” Klotz-Burwell said. “It almost feels like that younger trend of just being able to talk about the book as if it’s something you’re almost gossiping about, or something that happened to you or someone you know, which is really cool. I’m glad reading is something that’s never gone out of style.”