You can of course expand a bit, because you are a person and we are multidimensional but make sure it isn’t too far off. In branding it’s called dissonance — basically something that is opposite of your brand. In layman’s terms, something that your followers would find unsettling because it was “off.”

We often use the term “Influencers” to describe people with significant social media followings on platforms like Instagram, Twitter TikTok, Youtube, Linkedin and Facebook. Influencers have become today’s media titans, sought after for everything from product placements to timely trends. What’s the difference between influence and impact? Fans and followers? Sizzle versus staying power?

In this interview series, called, “How To Cultivate Community In A Click to Connect World” we are talking to influencers about how they define success and what we all need to discover about the true nature of influence. As a part of this series I had the pleasure of interviewing Elaina St James.

Elaina St James is a 54 year old Solo Mom, Cancer Survivor, Pet Loving, World Traveler, and Body & Age Positivity Model living her best life.

Thank you for making time to visit with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. How did you discover your career path and what got you to where you are today?

I ran across several articles about Moms making crazy amounts of money modeling on online fan sites. It sounded too good to be true, so I started researching. After much research and consideration, I started taking photos and posting online to various social media. The positive reaction told me that I was on the right path. I went from a very low paying office job with no future to working for myself with unlimited potential.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way that influences how you operate now?

To be grateful and authentic. I have learned that sharing a smile is powerful. Being authentically you and not pretending to be someone else is rewarded.

We’re all searching for some good news. How are you using your platform to make a positive social impact?

Like most people that make it to their 50’s I have been challenged. When I start naming them it actually gets a bit overwhelming because I don’t like to dwell in the past, but I want to be an example of someone that was dealt some tough cards but learned to change the things I could and accept things I can’t change. I am 54 but I don’t lie about my age, because It beats the alternative! I believe age is a number but attitude is more important. Attitude is key. I hear people complain that they are 40 and it’s wasted energy. Age positivity and body positivity are very important to my positive message with everything I do.

Many of our readers are influencers as well. Others have tried and have yet to succeed. What words of advice would you offer to aspiring influencers, knowing what you know now?

Watch what is working for others but most importantly, know your niche. Think about how you can entertain and inspire. What makes you different? How can you contribute and uplift? I don’t claim to be an expert on anything but myself! That being said, early on I watched what more successful influencers were doing, what resonated with me and what didn’t. What was getting attention and if you find something that resonates, do more of that!

Success is often a matter of perspective. I’ve always resonated with Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” How do you see success — or define success — for yourself now?

Obviously taking care of my child and myself financially is one part of it, but it’s also about contributing in a positive way. Do people think of me and my brand and smile? Do I make their day a bit better? I have always been the person that smiles at others in the grocery store — on a larger scale, that’s what I want to convey online.

What are your strategies to make room for who and what matters most?

Making room for who and what matters most is something I work on daily. I remind myself often that my family is really all that matters in the end. Shutting the phone off to spend time truly engaged with the people I love is so important. The same could be said with taking time for myself, to read, work out, sleep. Like many Moms, I typically put myself last.

How do you reduce or mitigate stress?

Deep breathing, occasionally treating myself with a massage, taking walks with the dog.

I’m going to try a few of your tips, and I’m hopeful our readers will, too. Now it’s time for the big reveal — the moment our readers have been anticipating. What are your “five strategies to cultivate a large & engaged social media community?’ Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Know your niche and your brand

Everything starts here and always circles back to this. This is important so don’t skip over this step

2. Create Content that fits your brand.

You can of course expand a bit, because you are a person and we are multidimensional but make sure it isn’t too far off. In branding it’s called dissonance — basically something that is opposite of your brand. In layman’s terms, something that your followers would find unsettling because it was “off.”

3. Plan your content and make it quality.

When things are quiet is when I do my best planning and I write down ideas. Since I model, it’s often inspiration for an outfit, pose or a general mood. Sometimes it can be as simple as realizing I make awesome coffee and have a special way of doing it and I realize I can share this. The quality is important and it typically comes down to clarity and lighting. Realize that most of your followers will view your photos and videos on a smartphone.

4. Watch and always be learning

Watch and learn what is working for other creators. Don’t copy, but be inspired and think about how you can put your own touch on what they have done. Inventers through times have always tweaked existing products to improve them. This is the same thing. I may not be a cute 20-something but I can be inspired by a Tik Tok and put my own 54 year old mom spin on it and get 8 million views.

5. Be prepared for changes and adapt.

As a social media influencer, you are under the discretion on various platforms. Each of these platforms have rules and algorithms that can change without notice. Instead of getting upset with these changes, you must realize that “it’s their house and their rules.” What worked great one week might tank the next. For instance when I was building my Instagram Reels were a huge part of my success. I’m not a dancer but I had fun setting the mood and dancing in my Midwest Mom way. A few months later I noticed posting fun Tik Toks would get a terrific number of views. Instagram had changed their algorithm. Recently, I noticed Tik Toks were no longer being rewarded but photos were again rewarded by the algorithm. Being able to adapt is the key.

What do you do to create a greater sense of connection and community among your fans?

I do Lives on platforms that support it. Mostly Instagram and TikTok. My direct messages are flooded so going live is a way I can connect with my fans. It is so fun to talk to literally fans from all over the world and acknowledge them in real time. Of course the fans that really want to get to know me and talk to me subscribe to one of my paid fan sites.

As an influencer, you are, by definition, a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Age positivity. I would like men and women to accept and embrace their age. Embrace their MomBod or DadBod. If it’s not in perfect shape, who cares? Being healthy is important but attitude and enjoying life is more important in my opinion. I am here to prove that you can be a 54 year old Midwest Mom and not be invisible. Being happy with yourself and grateful for the journey, so far and open to the possibilities of the future.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He, she or they might just see this. 🙂

I have many but the first that comes to mind is Cher. Is that too corny? I have admired her since I was a child and that admiration has never wavered. Her style, strength, sense of humor, and longevity are incredible and that is not an overstatement.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

The best way is to go to or go to my Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok — ElainaStJames on all of them.

Thank you for these thought provoking insights. Here’s to your continued success!