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How do internet celebrities make money?

Internet celebrities (also known as influencers) like PewDiePie, Kayla Itsines and Zoella reportedly make millions through their popularity on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube.

How they make money

In a word: advertising.

Instagram has over 600million active monthly users, with 59% of these being between 18-29. Almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every day, with 8 out of 10 18-49 year olds watching a YouTube video every week. Unsurprisingly, brands like Adidas, Audible, Zara and are keen to reach these powerful demographics, and who better to ask than the internet celebrities that influence them the most?

“By partnering with Instagram stars that have tens or even hundreds of thousands of followers, brands can reach a lot of people with a single post. These days, there are agencies devoted to pairing Instagram accounts that have large followings with companies looking for advertising or exposure,” say

Here’s some of the main ways brands use internet celebrities to sell their products (and the influencer gets paid in the process):

  • Brands will send products to internet celebrities for free in the hope that they’ll post it on their channels
  • A company will pay an internet celebrity to feature their product, or will sponsor their channel
  • An internet celebrity can be paid to sponsor events or turn up at launch parties and post about being there on their channels
  • Brands will have their adverts featured at the start of highly-watched youtube videos and the influencer will get paid every time the ad is watched for 30 seconds or someone clicks on it
  • Some internet starts create their own merchandise for their audiences, or use their fame to launch lines of products like makeup, books, or clothing.
  • Others get sent around the world by tourist boards in return for holiday snaps promoting their locations


How much money do they make?

The more followers you have, or the more people view your posts, the bigger your potential to get paid.

PewDiePie is reportedly the top-earning YouTube celebrity in the world, earning $12million in 2015 from brands desperate to advertise to his millions of fans who watch him play videogames and commentates. He has over 50million subscribers to his channel, with some of his posts getting over 5million views.

Likewise, Liz Eswein (@NewYorkCity), joined Instagram when it first started in 2010 and started posting pictures of life in New York. The 25 year old now has over 1.2million followers, reportedly earning $15,000 per post and charging $1 per like (and considering some of her posts get over 20,000 likes, that’s a lot of money).

Of course, not everyone makes as much money as that.

Most brand will only consider you if you have over 5,000 followers and there are agencies dedicated to pairing internet celebrities with brands for a profit, and they generally will only consider you if you have 10,000 followers or more.

Want to get in on the action? You better start posting.

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