Fyre Festival to fashion week, how Instagram influencers make money (and LOTS of it)

The Instagram influencer as a species is easy to spot.

Defined by their large social media followings, content from this class of marketers is typically awash with the flossy trappings of young money: trendy designer outfits modeled in exotic locations; marble countertops under carefully crafted flat-lays of pricey beauty products. Even the Instagram mavens with a grittier, every-girl style, all Polaroid grunginess, are dotted with on-brand T-shirts perfectly half-tucked into the hot jeans du jour.

It’s enough to make even the most over-stimulated perusers pause and say, “How much are they making off this, exactly?”

The answer, if they play the game correctly, is a lot.  

A wealth of jaw-dropping figures emerged in 2018, from makeup vlogging virtuoso Jeffree Starr’s reported $18 million in yearly earnings, to fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni’s wedding, elaborately chronicled with the hashtag #TheFerragnez, which garnered a whopping $36 million in Media Impact Value for her partner brands.

“You can’t toss a rock in New York City without interrupting an Instagram shoot,” said Brittany Hennessy, author of “Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media,” and former director of Influencer Strategy and Talent Partnerships at Hearst Magazines Digital Media. 

That’s particularly true this week as New York Fashion Week wraps up, seeing influencers rub elbows with fashion editors and buyers at designer shows and parties across the city. 

“There’s lots of money at play. These girls make so much money. There are families of four who make $20,000 and girls can clear that in two campaigns.” 

The most successful influencers can command more than six figures for brand campaigns, but even those just starting out can earn a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars.

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