It sounds like a dream reminiscent of rock stardom; quit your job or drop out of school, become a social media “influencer”, and make tens of thousands of dollars, if not millions - all while thumbing your nose at those who failed to ‘share the vision’. And while it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility, it’s also not easy to pull off. But if people like David Dobrik, Colleen Ballinger, and Joey Graceffa can do it, why can’t you? Young fans arrive at VidCon every year with their parents, all in hopes of meeting and hanging out with their favorite YouTubers. While some come strictly as fans, other aspiring YouTubers also make their way to this prestigious event with the goal of learning from experts like Graceffa about how to successfully become an influencer on the platform. "YouTube still dominates because it pays the most revenues to creators," says Joe Gagliese, the co-founder of Viral Nation. The award-winning marketing agency represents thousands of influencers and works with some of the world’s top brands on their marketing campaigns. "And Instagram is getting close, in terms of importance to influencers."
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, doesn't pay creators for posting their content. Instead, partner with agencies like Viral Nation, who then essentially sell their posts to brands. For years, Facebook has talked about sharing ad revenues with creators via its Facebook Watch initiative. But if you look at the usage of Watch, which resides in the tens of thousands, it pales in comparison to platforms like YouTube, which has “millions”, according to the company.
But is it too late to get in on the action? Not according to Gagliese. “Honestly, it’s never too late,” he says. “YouTube has more viewers this year than last year and new influencers are emerging from all over the world.”
For some, it’s hard to wrap their mind around the fact that the most popular influencers are bringing in $250,000 to $500,000 per post. For some, that simply means posing with brands and featuring them on their Instagram Story pages in a simple, product-placement approach that allows direct links back to the brand, he adds. But while it may sound so simple, it's not easy.
"People underestimate how hard it is," says Gagliese. It's a regular full-time job writing, shooting and editing videos and uploading them, adding all the correct tags and descriptions to make sure they get discovered, and that's just today's work. On the next day, they have to continue and do it all over again, hustling to build an audience.
And once they do that, he adds, they have to keep it up. "They have to stay on top of everything."