Anna Brennan: 'Influencer' -- a legitimate career goal in 2022

Some of the most popular, wealthy, and influential people in the world have made their entire fortune off of posting pictures of themselves on social media, but there is more to it than we think.

Anna Brennan Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

‘Do you want to be famous, but don’t know where to start? How would you like free vacations and photographers to capture all of your best angles for the world to see? If so, then join social media, and become an influencer today! All you have to do is promote free products, document life's perfect moments, and get paid!’

It all sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Lucky for my generation, living that life is more accessible than ever before, thanks to social media.

In the last few years, a new occupation has arisen from technology that is highly sought-after by anyone who desires a life of luxury while seemingly doing minimum work. We call it a social media influencer.

Currently, the top 10 most-followed accounts on Instagram include notable wealthy actors and popstars including Dwayne Johnson and Ariana Grande, and major athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo.

Kim Kardashian, left, and husband Kanye West, shown here attending the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party, are two of the most influential people in the world.
Jean-Baptiste Lacroix/AFP via Getty Images

Also topping that list are social media influencers Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, who both have upwards of 279 million followers. Along with that follower count comes a net worth of $1 billion. How is it that people like the Kardashians can live such luxurious lives purely off of media presence and this title of ‘influencer’?


Social media influencers do not earn all of their money directly from their followers or their platform, they earn it mainly from brand deals and sponsorships. In the business world, this is called Influencer Marketing, and in recent years this style of marketing has grown to be a $5 billion to 10 billion dollar industry.

Today, 17% of companies will spend over half of their marketing budget on influencer marketing. This budget will allow them to pay influencers — whom they select to target a specific audience — to promote their products on platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Tik Tok.

The number of followers an influencer has affects which companies will reach out to work with them, and how much a company will spend on them.

People with under 10,000 followers will generally make $200 per sponsored post, while people with 100,000 followers can make $1,000 per post. Based on those numbers, you can only imagine how much money influencers with millions of followers can get paid to post one sponsored photo.

The spectrum of different ways that companies buy sponsorships ranges from sending influencers on free vacations to create content, to paying them to say how amazing their product is in a 15-second Tik Tok video.

No matter what, the amount of money companies are spending on these influencer marketing techniques are proving successful, as nearly 90% of marketers say that they have improved return of investment from influencer marketing.

Companies are jumping at the opportunity to increase their brand awareness among target audiences as more people than ever before are finding ways to make money from their platform.

Is a social media influencer a legitimate career choice today? It may be, but the drawbacks of a publicized career are worth exploring.


Anna Brennan is a sophomore at Byron High School. Send comments on teen columns to Jeff Pieters,

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Highlights of news reported in 1998, 1973, 1948 and 1923.