The True Lives of Instagram Influencers

Over 81% of social media influencers say that Instagram is their #1 platform. These influencers develop digital personas and are paid by large and small name brands to promote their products. Everyone from Louis Vuitton to Mrs. Meyer’s Household pay influencers anywhere from $250 to $250,000 to promote them on their Instagram. Usually the rule is $250 to $500 per Instagram post for social stars with less than 50,000 followers, then about an additional $1,000 per 100,000 followers per post. For well-known celebrities, the price has to go much higher. Kim Kardashian, apparently charges over $250,000 for an Instagram photo.

These high prices are in exchange for the views that come with it, but also for the efforts of creating the content. Creators can spend up to three hours on a piece of content from idea to production, some even spend up to five hours per piece. (

Surprisingly, the relationship between follower count and engagement is not what would be expected. Influencers with fewer followers were usually have a more engaged following, meaning their ratio of likes to followers is closer. Whereas more although popular influencers may have more followers, their likes compared to how many followers they has a larger deficit.

Digital marketing wasn’t always like this. It used to be considered a low-cost method for companies to engage with customers. With its development over the years as an advertising channel, the costs of social marketing increased while engagement declined, and influencer marketing became the new tactic for engagement. Marketers discovered that working with influential social media users and experts didn’t just drive engagement, it also has a return in the form of brand awareness.

Modeling accounts generally are in highest demand for advertising, and they also tend to have the most followers. Fitness accounts are also popular on Instagram, but still earn less money per post than photographers.

Because of all this, Instagram has become a full time job for people. An influencers lifestyle today can be compared that of a Hollywood celebrity 20 years ago. They get invited to exclusive events, get dressed by fabulous designers, and hang out with A list celebrities! And get paid for it.

They choose a niche, create a persona, gain followers or “fans”, and develop their image. Just like the struggles of fame in Hollywood, being an influencer comes with a price. Cyber bullies and haters are just a click away, and are ruthless with their comments and messages. Influencers are picked apart on everything they post, and have to constantly be aware of their behavior in public too. Bullies can even go so far as to create hate websites and Instagrams for these popular influencers. I caught up with two influencers Elizabeth Endres and Dale Borchiver, who have perfected the act of steering clear of the haters.

Elizabeth and Dale are the creators of the popular NYC Instagram called Sweats and The City. Together, the roommates have created a lifestyle page dedicated to health, wellness, fitness, and fashion. I met with the two ladies at their favorite coffee shop and cafe called Joe and The Juice, located in Soho. The space was open, airy, bumping with lively music, and filled with trendy New Yorkers sipping on green juice and munching avocado toast. During our lunch, I was able to ask them what its like to be one of the most popular local NYC Instagrams with over 40K followers.

Shapolsky: What are your goals with your account?

E + D: To inspire and motivate others, while helping them make informed decisions about boutique fitness, health and wellness! We hope to turn Sweats & The City into a big brand someday and a reference point for people to go when they want to learn more about the fitness scene.

Shapolsky: What are you most conscious of when posting?

E + D: Being honest. We would never put anything out there that we didn’t believe in, haven’t tried or dislike. In fact, we will say when we dislike something! Unless of course we have an arranged deal with the brand, but we would never work with them in the first place if we didn’t love it.

Shapolsky: What do you think is misunderstood about what you do?

E + D: I think some people believe we are fitness professionals and we aren’t and that’s not the basis of our account. There are so many trainers and health coaches out there, we started our account to give honest reviews about boutique fitness. Everything from how the showers are to if the instructors are bumping good beats in class. We started our account because we wanted to know first hand which classes were worth trying and spending our money on.

Shapolsky: What parts of your life do people respond to or ask the most questions about?

E + D: People love to know about our routine: how many times a week we work out, what we eat, stuff like that.

Shapolsky: What topics do you insist on keeping private? Why?

E + D: We’re pretty open about a lot of things. We try and keep our friends, boyfriends, and family out of it only out of respect to them. But, we should explore that and show our followers more personal things in the future! We’re still figuring it out.

Shapolsky: Do people ever go up to you on the street? Is it weird?

E + D: Yes — so weird! We get recognition mostly in fitness type settings, such as in classes. However, we sometimes get stopped on the street or when we’re out at night which shocks us every time.

Shapolsky: What would you consider your responsibilities to be when it comes to what you post?

E+D: Again, I think being honest is a major key. Making sure the content is posted at the right time, fits in with our audience, and looks great in our feed!

Shapolsky: What is some of the feedback you get that makes you happy?

E + D: Great feedback from others is honestly what keeps us going. When our readers tell us that we motivate them, it’s truly the best feedback we could get.

Shapolsky: How do you deal with haters? What kind of negative feedback do you get? Does it help or hinder you?

E + D: We didn’t experience haters until recently. If it’s constructive feedback, we are happy to use that as a means to improve and we totally respect that and appreciate that. If it’s just negative energy, we try our best to block it out and keep doing our thing. Haters have helped us gain a ton of followers, ironically! A bunch were posting about us because they didn’t agree with an opinion of ours and we got 500 followers overnight. We recognize that we aren’t for everyone, if we were, it would be boring and playing it safe. We have a position in this industry and we’re going to stick it.

Shapolsky: What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to do to get content?

E + D: We’ve definitely gotten into some weird situations to get content. We have had food half way out of our bedroom window in order to capture good light and scenery, getting on top of chairs at restaurants for good angles. Often we take photos on the street, as do most bloggers, so we have to work with traffic.

Shapolsky: What is one thing that’s taken a while to get used to?

E + D: Saying no. At first, we were saying yes to receiving every product or invite that came our way. We realized we had to weed out what we didn’t want and focus on what we do want. That also goes for saying “no” to money and offers that just don’t work for our brand.

Shapolsky: What is the best/worst part of the job?

E + D: Best part of the job is interacting with followers. A good message from a follower totally makes our day. The worst part of the job is when we can’t find ways to make content aesthetically pleasing. If we are working with a brand and are set out to take a photo and it’s just not working, it can be really frustrating.

Shapolsky: What is your offline life like? Job? Friends? Family? Hobbies? Fave spots?

E + D: We both have full time jobs, Dale works at a start up and Elizabeth at Bloomberg. We travel a bunch and have a pretty busy social life! Our hobbies other than working out, would definitely be cooking. We’ve both recently started to really get into cooking and have been sharing our recipes on our blog.

Photo taken by me at Joe & The Juice and actually used on their account!

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