We as a society have decided on the same old formula for achieving success that runs parallel with a college degree. This is right, of course, but as the world becomes more digitally reliant and skill-based, the success formula, in return, will adapt. There are hundreds of testimonies where a person’s skills improved their life, even if they opted out of the traditional educational approach. Kelly Rocklein is one of many examples whose self-taught skills took her career to the next level. Her experience has prompted her to advocate for alternative learning paths to achieve financial freedom.
Born in a small town in NJ with just over 2,500 residents, Kelly’s situation was less than ideal. For most of her childhood, she grew up in a single-parent household, becoming all too familiar with financial scarcity. Growing up in such circumstances, Kelly developed a sense of responsibility and a desire to become financially independent for herself and her family. Given how costly college education is in the US, Kelly knew that she could not traditionally build her career. Still, she refused to give up. Kelly looked for alternative education mediums, investing her time, energy, and the little money she had into acquiring the necessary social media marketing and UGC skills. In 2016, she moved to LA without any savings to fall back on to become part of a bigger market, hoping to kick-start her career through experience.
For the first six years of her career, Kelly struggled to make ends meet. After years of invested sweat equity, the seeds she had planted dating back to 2014 and had been watering ever since began to come to fruition and pay off. Her career and freelance business quickly started picking up steam and haven’t slowed since. A massive factor as to why Kelly has gained the attention she has from brands in a freelance and full-time capacity is thanks to her creative strategy, which has, in return, generated hundreds of millions of dollars. And because of this massive ROI she offers her clients, she’s built a less than part-time UGC and creative strategy business that has generated 6-figures in one calendar year. Due to her immense success, Kelly was able to pay off the 5-figure debt that her father left her family in and bought her mother a new car in 2020. As for herself, she’s been able to pay off her 5-figures of debt while simultaneously saving up 6-figures, among other financial milestones.
Because of her overwhelming success and relatable backstory, she became a UGC coach by demand. On her TikTok, UGC Social, she shares daily advice to her growing audience of over 50,000 aspiring UGC creators. In addition to the free resources she offers, she has created paid (but affordable) digital products to help speed up the learning curve of her students. To date, she’s taught over 3,000 students in one calendar year, and it’s her goal to teach one million students in time. Kelly accredits her alternative education to learn all the necessary skills to be successful in the advertising industry as a creative marketer. Because of this, it’s quickly become her life’s mission to make this alternative education accessible to all while also teaching creators how to ultimately work less and make more, the same way she was able to with her UGC and creative strategy business. If you’re new to UGC, her most significant piece of advice is to focus on building and strengthening your skill sets. She says, “I wouldn’t be where I am today had I not consciously chosen to remain a student for life.”