Local social media influencers share how they’re cashing in on growing billion dollar industry

Mass — On average, we spend more than two hours a day on social media. The number of social media users continues to grow---and so do the number of social media influencers. Their influence is far reaching and raking in big bucks as advertisers reach out to them---to sell their product to you.

“I started doing this as a hobby just nights, weekends,” said Jon Miksis, of @global.viewpoint.

“When Instagram came along, it really shifted,” said Jean Wang, a fashion social media influencer.

“It was this brand new platform where you could reach people so easily, and it was free marketing,” said Eliza Shirazi, of @kickitbyeliza.

“I want those first 3 seconds to be something really eye catching,” said Joseph Calcavecchia, of @the_roamingfoodie.

And catching your attention is the goal of thousands of social media influencers looking to grow their following.

“I wanted to have at least 10,000 followers before I really started, like really working with restaurants because I wanted to prove that my following was authentic and trustworthy,” said Calcavecchia.

Influencers in the Boston-area told Boston 25 News that all their accounts started as a small passion project---before the lightbulb went off.

“I kind of learned through trial and error ok you can make a few dollars there, can you make hundreds of dollars, how about thousands of dollars?”, said Miksis.

“It’s not going to happen overnight, but over time those brands will notice you’re tagging them a lot, you’re possibly driving traffic and you’re driving sales, and that really opens the door to working with them on paid projects,” said Wang.

Experts say influencer marketing is a $15 billion industry and they’re projecting it could reach $100 billion in the next five years.

“Influencer marketing wouldn’t be a growing industry if they didn’t influence people to buy,” said Regan Cleminson, who runs her @venturetravelist account.

Cleminson manages influencers across the country. She has clients that will be making seven figures this year.

“The reality is, is it’s like pro athletes,” said Cleminson. “There’s me a lot of people who try. There’s very few people who actually make it to the creme de la crème.”

But there is still plenty of money to be made. She says brands want to spend money where people are spending their time---and that can easily be tracked every time someone clicks on an influencer’s post or shopping link.

“And because they are converting in a way that is reportable, it’s something that they feel more confident investing more and more dollars into as they continue to, you know, look at their marketing spend and their marketing mix,” said Cleminson.

Influencers need a mix of skills--from photography to running a website--that can eat up a lot of time.

“This is my life at the moment,” said Calcavecchia. “So, you know, between photo shoots, editing content, shooting content, it’s, you know, a good like five, 6 hours a day. And then on top of doing research and it’s, you know, it’s kind of a full job on its own.”

And it’s quality over quantity when it comes to posting---creating good content that resonates with their audience.

“People want real, authentic content that they can relate to,” said Shirazi. “They don’t want the filters. They don’t want the perfect world. They want, like the behind the scenes and what’s really happening in people’s lives.”

Despite more influencers entering the social media world, creators say they aren’t worried about oversaturation.

“The hardest part isn’t competition,” said Shirazi. “It’s staying consistent because it is so tiresome.”

They say it’s more about managing the social media ebbs and flows.

“And we don’t know where it’s going to end up from here,” said Wang. “So I think for myself, definitely looking for diversification.”

And looking to be that creative voice, constantly bringing something unique to followers.

“As long as I wake up every morning and I’m passionate and I set an intention to share the story of the places that I visit and the people that I meet, I know that there will always be a home for me in this space and I know that goes for everybody else as well,” said Miksis.

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