So you want to make money on social media?
In a saturated landscape of PYTs and Ponzi schemes, you’ve got to stand out to transform your Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and other audiences into profitable enterprises.
But if anyone can do it, it’s New Yorkers.
These two NYC-area movers and shakers have it down to a science — and are here to share their insider advice.
First, consider the wisdom of Louisa Warwick, the founder of Social Acceleration Group, which specializes in celebrity marketing, advertising and public relations, and co-founder of Inferno Agency, an influencer talent agency.
She nets $200,000 to $250,000 a year — in no small part thanks to her social media savvy.
“I sell services for my marketing, advertising and p.r. agency on my personal Instagram,” said the 29-year-old New York University alum, who has amassed more than 106,0000 Insta followers and whose services start at $600.
“I built the majority of my Instagram following when I worked full time as a fashion model signed to Wilhelmina and Elite whilst I was a college student,” she added.
Warwick started Social Acceleration Group two days after graduating from NYU, directing her social media followers to her fledgling business.
To date, she’s had over 1,500 clients, running the gamut from celebrities and entrepreneurs to social media influencers.
As an influencer with the majority of her followers being female and based in the US, Warwick also monetizes her social media presence by endorsing products like water, beauty products, apparel, accessories, shoes and fitness gear, with a starting rate of $300.
Her top tip? “Treat this as you would any other job: Work hard, study the industry, network with others in the space, reach out, adjust and adapt where needed,” she said. “Be prepared to put in the work. Work with a lot of brands. The more brands you are proactively working with, the more opportunities will present themselves to you. Luck comes to those who work hard.”
Warwick is also a proponent of playing the long game. “Be prepared to put in the hard work, results do not come overnight.”
To that point, determine your unique selling point and how you can pitch that to brands, said Warwick. “What makes you unique? What sets you apart from the crowd? Make sure to stand out within the first sentence of any pitch.”
One common mistake Warwick sees aspiring social media influencers falling prey to is “setting ‘F-you’ prices and wondering why their revenue has plummeted.”
According to Warwick, influencers who have not studied the current climate make this crucial error.
“Adjust your rates according to: the economy, the quality and quantity of your followers, engagement rates and current reach,” she said. “Your prices must remain competitive if you want to be competitive.”
Jewel in the crown
Over on Long Island, 19-year-old Evangelina Petrakis is also making a name for herself as a social media celeb as well as a designer, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
“Evange,” as she’s known to fans (including over a half-million apiece on Instagram and TikTok), has built her jewelry brand, EP Jewels, into a lucrative empire that’s already accumulated more than $1 million in sales as of spring 2023.
Like Warwick, the funnel for her biz is social media, specifically TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, with some 84,000 subscribers, where she introduces her fans to various designs from her EP Jewels collection that range in price from $68 to about $270.
“When I started doing pictures and videos on all three platforms in 2020, I never anticipated that it would lead me where I am now. I just enjoyed being able to speak to people about beauty, style and fashion, and I simply let my passion lead me,” Petrakis said. “At 16, I was selling clothing, but at 18, I decided to move into jewelry, which gives me a lot of freedom to be creative.”
She hasn’t done any paid-for advertising and she never pitches her products to followers, instead opting for a “soft-sell strategy” where she’s “focusing mainly on content.”
To do this, the young entrepreneur employs a “wear and tag” approach, allowing anyone who is interested to follow links to find the jewelry and other items she might have on for that picture or video and make a purchase.
Petrakis hones in on authenticity as the secret sauce.
“If you’re not authentic, people will sense it, and they won’t be interested in hearing what you have to say,” she said.
Petrakis tries to provide helpful tips and ideas and interact with her audiences.
“For people to watch, they have to benefit,” she said. “I try not only to be as welcoming and entertaining as I can, but also to really give people information that will help them achieve their own style goals.”
If money is the end goal for drumming up your social media reach, Petrakis stresses that you have to learn how to connect your content and your products.
“Make it easy for consumers to find what they see and to make purchases without any hassles,” she said. “It takes a lot of effort to make sure that you’re streamlining and making your products easily identifiable and available, but it is definitely worth it.”
Just as Warwick counseled, it’s unlikely you’ll become an overnight sensation, so invest in your strategies for the months and years ahead of you.
“People lose sight of the long-term, instead looking for quick hits,” she said. “They’ll do outrageous things to attract the most viewers in a short amount of time.”
This approach doesn’t work for most and it’s not one she finds personally appealing.
So what does work?
In Petrakis’ view it’s simple: “The most successful social media influencers are the ones who build trust over time and provide consistent content that captures people’s interests and makes them want to hear more from you,” she said.