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This Superyacht Captain Earns $124K Annually From Her Social Media Side Hustle; Curious?

Kelly Gordon works as a full-time superyacht captain for 'ultra-high net-worth people.'
Cover Image Source: Yacht Captain Kelly Gordon makes a whopping amount from her side hustle | Image Source: Instagram | @captain_kellyjgordon
Cover Image Source: Yacht Captain Kelly Gordon makes a whopping amount from her side hustle | Image Source: Instagram | @captain_kellyjgordon

Kelly Gordon, a 42-year-old Indiana native, started her yachting journey in 2007. Before this, she worked as a full-time chemistry professor at Carteret Community College in North Carolina. At 26, when she first climbed those metal ladders and stepped on the boat, she fell in love with the sea life.

Recalling her struggle days, Kelly tells CNBC, "I didn't even know port from starboard." Gordon was mesmerized by the yacht and decided to learn everything about its mechanisms. She spent 11 years yachting, aiming to become a captain. She now works as a full-time superyacht captain for 'ultra-high net-worth people.' She currently drives a 108-foot boat for a Palm Beach, Florida client. Gordon works eight to 16 hours a day, for four days on a weekly basis. 


Gordon used to hate social media platforms and joined Facebook and Instagram only in 2019 to stay in touch with her siblings. Around this time, she decided to show the real side of the marine industry. Kelly then started posting photo dumps of her day-to-day life including the yacht trips and boating hacks. She also posted videos about mental health and other concerns.

Soon her videos started to gain traction and viewers asked her to post more about her life. Seeing the traction, she thought of pursuing content creation as her side hustle with a minimal investment of $100. Sharing about the initial investments Gordon says there is no specific funding required at first but as you expand, you might need some. 


Since Gordon was pretty new at it, she hired a video editor, PR manager, speaking coach, and three part-time workers. On being asked why she doesn't edit her videos, she said, "My strength lies in getting in front of the camera and talk about stuff, to be bubbly and educational and inspirational."

Gordon spends about five hours a week on her side hustle when she is not busy captaining. Most of her social media revenue comes from ad payments, sponsors, collaborations, public events, and selling stuff. Most of her payments are utilized to pay her PR manager, video editor, and other part-time helpers who put in massive effort so that Gordon can earn those dollars. 

Gordon's goal is to manage a salary from her side job from next year. Per CNBC, her side hustle brought in a revenue of $124,000 last year. Talking about her monthly revenue, last month her content gave her $24,000. With over 11.8k Instagram followers, she has also started a podcast focusing on mental health, boat safety, and yachting careers.

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A post shared by Kelly Gordon | Superyacht Captain, Speaker & Influencer (@captain_kellyjgordon)


Although she loves earning through content creation, she doesn’t plan to give up her captain's license. Gordon told CNBC Make It, "I’m hoping this will be my retirement job; traveling around the world, showing up at events, inspiring people, and continuing with my social media." She adds, "I’m not done running boats anytime soon." 

Kelly Gordon discusses the different aspects and challenges of balancing her side hustle with her captain job. Sharing about starting without experience, she shares, "I often hear young people who want to become [yacht] crew members all the time say, 'I don’t have any experience.' And I’m like, 'Yes, you do.'"

She also believes that everyone learns from their past experiences, no matter the profession. "For example, my background in chemistry helps me understand how boats work. Also, if I can lead a big group of students in a classroom, I am confident about leading a crew on a boat," she says. 


Gordon has always worked in a way where she likes to experiment and listen to her body. She advises the younger generation on how to balance a side hustle with a tiring job. She emphasizes paying attention to thoughts and if your body demands a break, take one. She also shares that giving herself a pep talk and having a positive outlook can help. But sometimes, we go really hard on ourselves and say mean things.

"When that happens, I imagine cutting a tape in my head and thinking to myself, 'Would you say these things to your own best friend?' If the answer is no, then I stop. When you become popular with people who want to listen, some may criticize and pull you down, " she explains.