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Inside Influencing | Making money through social media

It’s not a Fortune 500 job, it’s social media. Influencers finding their niche and capitalizing on the community they create.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The days of only A-list celebrities getting money to represent the brands we love are over. Regular people on Instagram are rising to fame and using their popular accounts to get paid for posts. Influencers, as they’re called, are getting hundreds if not thousands for their influence on social media. 

“Easily like $80 to a $120,000 a year," Johnson said.

Josh Johnson is an influencer in Louisville. His brand, The Kentucky Gent, is popular across all social media platforms and points back to his blog. 

“I think there’s a big difference between having a blog and being a blogger. Anyone can take a photo and post it on Instagram, but I think it takes the time, dedication, quality content, and relationships with the brands, to actually build that influence,” Johnson said. 

Credit: WHAS11
Inside Influencing w/ The Kentucky Gent

He can charge between $500 and $1700 per post. He says if you work 40 to 60 hours a week you can make six figures but then again, it’s sometimes hard to have discipline when you’re your own boss.  

Influencers have become central part of marketing strategies for many recognizable brands and agencies. The Association of National Advertisers and PQ Media expects Brand spending on influencer marketing to hit $101 billion by 2020. 

Johnson works with national brands like NespressoJim Beam, and Makers Mark. Patron even flew him out to their distillery in Mexico.  

Credit: WHAS11

Usually when we go on those kinds of trips it’s like Josh this is the shot-list you need to get… We're constantly thinking of ideas to shoot and It could be for other things too, say I am working with a swimsuit company or a sunscreen company," Johnson said. 

USA Today found influencers can demand $100 per post, per 10,000 followers, but experts say that's still a conservative number. Captiv8, a company connecting influencers with brands, tells us their clients with more than 3 million followers can get an average of $75,000 per post. 

"In a month, you can make about... you can make $20 to $30,000 doing Instagram…," Ariel said. 

Ariel Moore is a 28-year-old single mom from Louisville who is now getting invited to star-studded events like New York Fashion week and traveling to places like Aruba and Miami for free or at a discounted cost.

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Ariel Moore

“If I don’t post for, say, two days, people start wondering and asking me if something’s happened,” Ariel said. 

ArielvsCupcake_ started 5 years ago with posts about her natural hair. 

"Selfies basically, and people were interested. They're like ‘how'd you get your hair like that? What lipstick do you have on?’" Ariel said. So, she got into doing make-up tutorials on YouTube. 

“I just had two big softbox lights and then a ring light in my bathroom,” Ariel said. 

Ariel says her following grew organically just by being herself. Today, she has more than 50,000 followers. Now, she works with a local production company.

“If you don't have a good high-quality video, no one is going to take you seriously.” She insists. 

Ariel spends more than a full work week on social media collaborating with companies like As I am, Sephora, and CoverGirl, she spends around 60 hours a week creating content. 

A high follower count and even higher engagement mean more money per post. We asked Ariel why she felt brands dishing out this much money? 

"Everything is social media" She smiles.

Credit: WHAS11
Inside Influencing with one of Louisville's Biggest Influencer's Ariel Moore

IZEA’s State of the Creator Economy 2018 study found nearly 2 in 5 U.S. Marketers now have experience with Influencer and or Content Marketing. 

Influencer marketing is seen to be the most useful tool for brands to better track their budgets, and ensure they're seeing their return on their investments. Brands that are successful with this new strategy usually seed influencers with free products through PR lists and trips in addition to monetary compensation. 

Companies are turning to influencers for marketing their products because they charge a lot less than traditional professional marketers, according to IZEA’s study. The study shows the marketers surveyed estimated paying more than $3,000 for a sponsored video, while content creators expected to charge $471.   

When influencers get compensation, they’re supposed to disclose it, but that doesn’t always happen. The Federal Trade Commission regulates advertising messaging for bloggers, influencers, celebrities. Influencers are supposed to add #ad or #sponsored. 

 A lot of times, this doesn’t happen for fear their post looks too much like an ad. Nearly 3 in 10 content creators have been asked not to disclose compensation by their clients, according to IZEA’s State of the Creator Economy 2018 study. 

With more than 50,000 followers, Ariel is considered a macro influencer. Micro-influencers have between 2,000 and 50,000 followers.  

Courtney Nappo with @LouisvilleFood is considered a micro-influencer. Someone with a lower follower count who focuses on a specific passion, or topic with high engagement.

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Inside Influencing W/ LouisvilleFood

I love our restaurant scene here. It inspired me to start Louisville Food," Nappo said. 

Nappo worked in ministry full time before starting her Instagram account.  

When I started Louisville Food I probably wouldn't say there were many businesses using Instagram it was mostly personal pages but now Instagram can be a total marketing tool." 

As it grew in popularity, so did her passion for digital media. Now she works for the Marketing Squad in Middletown. She doesn’t have a degree in Marketing but her experience running @LouisvilleFood gave her the option to change career paths.  

Bella Portaro-Kueber is another micro-influencer. 

"I think that they have a different advantage point whenever it comes actually assisting the local community,” Portaro-Kueber said. 

BellaofLouisville makes sure to blog about the good and bad parts of life.

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Inside Influencing Bella

A lot of people will write me and say my words helped them go through a time,” Portaro-Kueber said. 

Bella only collaborates on projects she believes in, like supporting small businesses. 

I think that whenever you're involved in the community people will find you and seek you out,” Portaro-Kueber said. 

She posts photos you can apply in real life. 

If you’re actually saying the things you are going through people will actually navigate towards you,” Portaro-Kueber said. 

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Inside Influencing W/ Bellaof Louisville

The influencers we spoke to say the market is getting saturated. With more and more people trying to break into the influencer game, it’s getting hard to grow following organically. 

Some people are turning to using bots or paying to get more followers. Instagram frowns upon these practices, but it's unclear whether they’re able to act against it or prevent it from happening.  

Johnson says that’s where a blog can become a sense of job security. 

Being a blogger, you literally sit down and you're like what can I create for my audience to educate them, help them… So, if anything ever were to happen to Instagram I still have a blog. I still have a website. I still have like a web presence. I still have articles from 5 to 6 years ago on there that are never going away,” Johnson said. 

A blog is the reason Emily Ho could start her own business.

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Inside Influencing W/ AuthEmmie

I grew my blog, got sponsors, and then had enough money to be able to jump out of the corporate world and to start this,” Ho said.  

Her digital company is called Authentically Social. 

I do social media strategy, community management, such as managing Facebook pages, or Instagrams,” Ho said. 

Her influencer page AuthEmmie serves as a voice for the plus size community.  

I just put up a post last night about the plus size bridal industry because I just got married in October and plus size are not represented in the media. They're not represented on fashion blogs,” 

She says her platform allows to help brands see another side. 

What are you going to do to help other people feel more included? How do you make an inclusive business, evea local business not just these big companies,” Ho said. 

She wants her style and confidence to encourage others to dress as who you are now and not who they want to be.

Credit: WHAS11
Inside Influencing W/ Louisville Food

"You're not going to get any better standing behind the camera. I think that's one of my biggest reasons for starting plus size fashion, focusing on this because my mom before she passed we had no pictures of her as a kid, but her fashion was amazing! She wore all these colors and prints and now I can't see that."  

Her secret to making social media a full-time success is like other influencers we talked to. A passion for writing and building an online community fitting you. 

Below is data from Captiv8 on the average cost for their clients. They tell us to keep in mind pricing varies drastically. Captiv8 negotiates a set fee ahead of time, based on historical data over every single engagement. The data below is a combination of engagement, performance, and influence (i.e. celebrity status). Additional factors that go into pricing are brand exclusivity, number of posts per campaign, and production costs.  

Captiv8 Data 
Follower Range: CPEEstimated Avg Price per Post  
500,000 + under: $1.01 - $8,000 
500,001 - 1,000,000: $1.26 - $12,000 
1,000,001 - 3,000,000: $1.54 - $50,000 
3,000,001 - 7,000,000: $1.78 - $75,000 
Follower Range: CPEEstimated Avg Price per Post  
500,000 + under: $0.26 - $5,000 
500,001 - 1,000,000: $0.54 - $10,000 
1,000,001 - 3,000,000: $0.78 - $40,000 
3,000,001 - 7,000,000: $1.03 - $60,000 
Follower Range: CPEEstimated Avg Price per Post  
500,000 + under: $1.21 - $15,000 
500,001 - 1,000,000: $1.53 - $25,000 
1,000,001 - 3,000,000: $1.79 - $125,000 
3,000,001 - 7,000,000: $2.15 - $200,000 
Follower Range: CPEEstimated Avg Price per Post  
500,000 + under: $0.08 - $2,000 
500,001 - 1,000,000: $0.27 - $4,000 
1,000,001 - 3,000,000: $0.52 - $15,000 
3,000,001 - 7,000,000: $0.84 - $20,000  
Source: Captiv8 Data, 2019; Average price varies based on engagement, reach, influence (ie celebrity status), brand exclusivity, terms of post, number of posts per campaign, production costs, etc. 

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