Thoren Bradley, a wood chopper from California, earns $150,000 a year.
The divide between blue and white collar work has grown more fluid with the rise of social media — if one is personable enough, certain physical jobs can help build an audience, monetize it and bring in serious money.
One of the most visible examples is lumberjack-turned-entrepreneur Thoren Bradley. Back in 2020, the 31-year-old started posting videos of himself chopping wood in the forests around Avery, Califonia.
The aesthetics of seeing huge logs being chopped to pieces by a hunky guy quickly gained an audience and, to date, Thoren’s TikTok account has 5.7 million followers.
Sometimes, Bradley will add a backdrop of Italian opera music for that little extra flair.
The Lumberjack Life Can Pay If You’re On TikTok
For its “What People Earn” feature, Bradley told Parade that he makes $150,000 a year supplementing his income with his work as a health and fitness educator, fitness model, and by monetizing his social media.
Bradley also built fitness app OHK — as his popularity as a lumberjack grows, fans who have otherwise not been that into fitness have also been signing up to see how one can get that “lumberjack toned” look.
“Every day I have blue-collar work in front of me in regard to tree felling, collecting and splitting,” Bradley told Parade. “But I also work as a health educator and fitness influencer, putting my master’s degree in physiology to good use.”
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In the U.S., lumberjacks typically earn between $22,000 and $65,000. The work is physically demanding and also demands a specific lifestyle — many are on-site for months at a time and have to travel to remote forested parts of the country.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, logging workers also have some of the highest incidences of on-site injuries in the country — the risk of injury on the job is more than 30 times as likely as that of an average U.S. worker.
But logging is also a world that few in major urban centers know much about or ever get to witness, it can also help one stand out on social media — as anyone who has tried to build an audience knows, bringing something unique to the table is the single most important factor for getting one’s account off the ground.
Plumbing, Electric And Construction Influencers Bring In The $$$
“I like the dichotomy between those two worlds mainly because it represents who I am as a human being really well,” Bradley told Parade. “Having the challenges of both worlds seems to really provide balance in my psyche.”
Despite Bradley’s impressive following, he is far from the only one to turn blue collar work into a social media personality.
A fourth-generation plumber from Scotland, Edinburgh resident Ryan Mills has been steadily gaining a following posting Instagram explainers of how to set up a heating system or unclog a toilet.
As many who take to home renovations for the first time often turn to social media for explainers, construction workers often find an audience — Illinois-based frame builder Kyle Stumpenhorst found an audience on YouTube.
Australian construction worker Stefanie Apostolidis gained over 150,000 Instagram followers posting on-site photos and explainers of different types of tools.
READ MORE ABOUT THOREN AS WELL AS OTHER WORKERS FINDING NEW AUDIENCES IN PARADE’S “WHAT PEOPLE EARN” FEATURE.