Home Featured 18 Instagram Influencers Who Made it Big

18 Instagram Influencers Who Made it Big

SimiJuly 31, 2018

Our world today is dominated by technology and, unfortunately, social media. The global connectivity we see today has vastly and permanently changed many aspects of our once-simpler lives. It almost seems like an eternity ago that MySpace was leading the charge in what would ultimately become a revolution in how we interact with each other. Then Facebook exploded onto the scene, and many others were to come in the years that followed. The rest, as they say, is history. Fast-forward to today and we’ve got so many different forms of social media, it makes your Tweeting head spin.

It becomes a somewhat tedious task just to keep up with all the different accounts. Why are we so obsessed with what everyone else is doing? Why do we care that someone has posted a picture of their breakfast, or their most recent bowel movement?  Okay, that last one’s actually kinda funny…but you get the point. And why, in the name of anything decent, do people keep posting duck-face selfies?

These are obviously just rhetorical questions, because regardless of the answers that may occur to you, the fact is that no matter how boring, stupid or ridiculous the majority of social media posts are, there’s really nothing that’s going to change this current trend of silly narcissism. And the reason is because there seems to be something inherent today in people constantly wanting more of this kind of stuff. Was this thirst for a window into others’ lives always a part of us? Perhaps. Or have we just been conditioned to constantly want more of it in the modern age of social media? For some, it’s literally an addiction.

Of course, there are lots of positive aspects of social media, as well. Anyone who is an entrepreneur or a business owner knows the value of reaching thousands or even millions of followers, friends and potential customers or clients with a single post. In this sense, it can be an incredibly powerful tool to grow a business, advertise a product or pitch an idea. There are a vast array of ways to monetize different social media accounts, and you’d probably be surprised just how much money some people rake in from posting on them. Ah, now we’re getting to the good stuff! Money!

Let’s take Instagram, for example. In simple terms, Instagram is just a way for people to post their pictures to the world. Most people are aware of what it is, but how many actually make money at it? How can you make money doing this?  Surely you’d have to be a celebrity of some sort, right? Well…not necessarily. Naturally, celebrity power can certainly make it easier to monetize an Instagram account (since many celebrities or athletes obviously already have millions of followers), but it’s not imperative that you have massive celebrity status in order to make an eye-popping amount of money with your posts.

Some of the biggest Instagram “influencers,” as they are known, are making five figures for their sponsored posts and didn’t start out as famous celebs or athletes, although many could now be considered “famous” since their popularity has exploded into millions of followers.

And this, obviously, is the key to getting a fat stack of cold, hard cash for your posts. It’s all about the sponsors. It’s a simple equation, really. Companies are looking to reach as large of an audience as possible to promote their products, and if you’ve got millions of followers watching every post, it’s a no-brainer for any company trying to market a product that relates to your post. Some companies are willing to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to sponsor your posts, knowing that you’ve got a massive army of followers who are potentially hanging on your every post.

A company called Hopper HQ offers a course on how to get started, and they also have a tool to track monetization of accounts. Apparently, 1 in every 20 Instagram users currently monetize their posts and sponsored content has ballooned by more than a third on Instagram since 2015.

Here we have a list of the top 18 Instagram influencers that are paid 4-5 figures per sponsored post. Drumroll, please…

1. Huda Kattan

Huda is a beautiful 34-year-old American makeup artist and blogger, born in Oklahoma, but of Iraqi descent, who currently has more than 20.5 million Instagram followers and makes a whopping $18,000 per sponsored post. She posts about beauty tips, cosmetics and everything glamorous.

Her Instagram says she is a “blogger turned business woman,” and at $18,000 per post, it would appear that her business is, in fact, doing quite well. Naturally, she has her own cosmetics line called Huda Beauty, and was boosted into cosmetics fame when Kim Kardashian famously wore Huda’s brand of false eyelashes.

Before she started her own blog and cosmetic line, and the subsequent success she’s seen since then, she was a makeup artist for Revlon. She moved to Dubai with her husband in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2013 that she launched the Huda Beauty line of cosmetics. She is currently the Middle East’s biggest and most-followed beauty blogger.

Who knew that posting about makeup and beauty tips would pay so much? Her blog, also called Huda Beauty, is a comprehensive guide to anyone wanting tips or advice on the latest beauty or makeup products.

Not exactly rocket science, and she hasn’t re-invented the wheel, either. But clearly, she is an expert in the field and has found a way to make a mind-blowing amount of money from something she has an obvious passion and talent for. She even got on the list of Time Magazine’s 25 most influential people on the internet.

Attributed to popcrush

2. Cameron Dallas

Cameron is an American twenty-something who got his start basically filming himself playing practical jokes on his friends and family back in 2012 and posting them on Vine. Humble beginnings to celebrity status, to be sure. He has become a web sensation since then, winning a bunch of Teen Choice awards over the years. He even tried his hand in the music biz, but didn’t get very far.

In the past couple of years, he’s acted in various roles on TV and the big screen, including the movies “Expelled” and “The Outfield.”  But the most current and probably biggest role he has starred in is the Netflix reality show based around him, called “Chasing Cameron.” He’s also a brand ambassador for Dolce & Gabbana, which probably doesn’t hurt his bank account.

He’s currently got more than 20 million Instagram followers and is paid $17,000 per sponsored post! Wow! Not a bad run for someone who started out filming himself pulling off dumb pranks on his friends.

3. Jen Selter

Jen is a young American woman who is basically followed by 11.3 million people on Instagram for not much more than her incredibly well-shaped backside, and the “belfies” she takes of said body part. Not sure if she actually coined the term, but it would seem that she’s certainly responsible for making it more popular.

If you didn’t know better, at first glance, you might think she’s some sort of fitness expert with all kinds of certifications and credentials, given the shape she’s in. Her stature is quite slim to begin with, but with a rigorous workout routine (which she has plenty of time to achieve, since she now makes an incredible living with just her online presence), you could bounce a quarter off any inch of her body. And surely no one would blame you if you did, in fact, think she was a fitness guru. She’s made appearances in all sorts of publications, including People Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, Huffington Post and the New York Post, among others.

She also appeared on The View and showed the ladies how to do some butt exercises. Men’s Health did a piece on her, too, although I suspect that may have just been an excuse to put her derriere on their pages. Can’t blame them, really. That being said, it doesn’t appear that she’s a fitness guru at all. In fact, if you do a bit of digging, you’ll find that she’s just an average girl who started working out and got popular with the pics of her butt. She’s basically just someone who used Instagram to her advantage and is now considered to be a top “fitness influencer.”

You can follow her workouts on the Fitplan app, but again, since she’s not officially a trainer, the workouts have probably been structured by someone more qualified. The point here is that she has built a social media empire around nothing else but a bit of sweat and hard work, resulting in an incredibly shaped backside, and now makes $15,000 per sponsored post on Instagram. Not too shabby!

Attributed to teneightymagazine

4. Zoella

Zoella’s actual name is Zoe Sugg, but she is best known by her blog name of Zoella. She’s a talented young woman from the UK known for her fashion and beauty vlogs, YouTube posts. Zoe even authored a book called Girl Online that apparently isn’t an autobiography but a story for which she drew on her own experiences. Upon release, her book became an overnight sensation. In fact, it came out in late 2014 and broke a record for the highest sales in the first week for a first-time novelist, which seems pretty impressive.

She has since put out two more books under the same “Girl Online” story theme. Currently, Zoella has about 11.1 million Instagram followers, and racks up $14,000 per sponsored post. Certainly no slouch! She started her “Zoella” blog back in early 2009 while working as an interior design apprentice, and it didn’t take long at all for her to attract a lot of followers. She’s won a handful of Teen Choice awards for her vlogs over the years, as well.

She ultimately started a YouTube channel under the same name. Her blog was eventually getting literally hundreds of millions of hits per year. The first YouTube channel is mostly just about fashion and beauty favorites. Seems a winning idea. She started a second YouTube channel as well, called MoreZoella…in case you didn’t get enough of her with the first channel. This second channel is mostly just vlogs of her going about her day. Nothing particularly exciting, but it appears to appeal to her millions of viewers. She’s also done a lot of collaborative work with other YouTubers in the same realm, and appears on the channel Daily Mix.

She was deemed one of Britain’s most influential Tweeters in 2013 by The Telegraph. At this point, her main “Zoella” YouTube channel has in the neighborhood of 12 million subscribers and she’s got well more than 900 million video views, which impressive by any standard. Her “MoreZoella” channel has drawn in almost 5 million subscribers and has almost 600 million video views. She attracted a bit of unwanted attention from the police back in 2014, when she was filming while driving. She was never given a citation and just claimed that she was “in mostly stationary traffic.”

Over the years, she’s launched a range of beauty products under her brand Zoella Beauty which have all been successful as well. So it seems being a social media “influencer” is a sure way to open doors for other business ventures.

5. Nash Grier

Nash is basically a young American from North Carolina who would probably still be unknown without the power of social media. Much like Dallas, he got his start on Vine back in 2013 when he was in high school. After he became a Vine sensation, he started touring with Magcon, which was basically a gathering of internet personalities who met with fans. Dallas was also a part of this group, and the two became friends. Eventually, they both quit Magcon to pursue other interests. Nash currently has 10.2 million Instagram followers and commands $13,000 per sponsored post. That’s an extraordinary amount of money considering all he did was post some silly videos on Vine to get his start.

Social media spring-boarded his career in other directions, as well. Mobile games and social media apps are in the mix. He, like his pal Cameron, has appeared in films like “The Outfield” and on TV shows such as Good Morning America and The View. He’s even taken part in designing a clothing line in collaboration with Aeropostale and his buddy Dallas, called United XXVI.

Attributed to styledumonde

6. Chiara Ferragni

Chiara is an Italian woman who writes a blog called The Blonde Salad. It wasn’t long after she started her fashion blog in late 2009 that she became a hit, not only with subscribers to her blog, but by fashion magazines.

Before she had even finished college, she had a million visitors to her blog, was getting 12 million hits a month, and Blogger of the Year awards followed.  Her blog has won numerous awards. She currently has about 10 million Instagram followers and pulls in $12,000 per sponsored post. In addition to the blog, she’s published an ebook (in Italian) under the same name.

In 2013, she worked with Steve Madden to design a small shoe collection, which is a pretty big deal for someone who got their start as a fashion blogger. She’s also been on Italian TV and even appeared as a judge on Project Runway in 2014.

She’s been featured in more magazines than you can count, and in 2016 they made a version of a Barbie doll in her image…wearing, of course, shoes from the Chiara Ferragni collection.

Attributed to modamadison

7. Julie Sarinara

Julie started a blog called Sincerely, Jules in 2009. Apparently she just started out posting daily thoughts and photos of her personal styles, and that’s turned into a small empire. She now has 4.6 million Instagram followers and gets $10,000 per sponsored post. Not a bad way to end up when you started out just posting your thoughts and inspirations on a blog. She’s now also got her own clothing line and has done jewelry collaborations, as well.

Attributed to flare

8. Aimee Song

Aimee started her fashion blog back in 2008 while she was still studying interior architecture. It was intended to share her interior design ideas and photo shoots, but when comments started appearing about her personal fashion style, she decided to take things in a different direction.

With 4.6 million Instagram followers, sponsored posts land her a cool $9,000 per. In addition to the blog, Aimee also has a line of jewelry under the name Song of Style and a clothing line called Two Songs. She has done collaborations with Levi’s and True Religion, as well as other well-known brands.

9. Danielle Bernstein

Danielle is…you guessed it…a fashion blogger. She has a brand based out of New York City called We Wore What. In 2010, she started her blog while she was still a college student. She’s now 25 and has an ever-expanding collection of overalls, shoes and workout clothes.

Danielle has 1.7 million Instagram followers, and she can pull in more than $7,000 per sponsored post. Between her blog and the clothing line she started, she is doing quite well, landing nearly seven figures in income.

Attributed to pinterest

10. Liz Eswein

Liz comes from a family of Instagrammers. Her mom, Sarah Phillips, is a big food Instagrammer in New York City. Her brother, Tom, also has a small following for his real estate Instagramming. Liz is behind the @newyorkcity tag. She has 1.3 million followers and makes in the ballpark of $6,000 per sponsored post.

Basically, she just takes cool photos all around New York City (as you might have guessed) and posts them. Seems pretty simple. Granted, she certainly does have a photographic eye. But there are lots of people who could probably do the same thing, yet…they’re not getting that kind of money for their Instagram posts. So more power to her. I think if anyone could make that kind of money just to take some cool pictures around New York City, they certainly wouldn’t complain.

11. Tim Karsliyev

Tim is the founder of Daily Dose, which has more than 200 million followers on Instagram. Basically, he has reached 1 out of 4 Instagram users. Daily Dose is one of the largest motivational accounts on Instagram. It was also the first. Daily Dose spreads inspiration through influential messages every day. Why did he do it? Tim believed that we all have the duty to act. To take action and make things happen for ourselves and our pursuit to help others.

Tim created Daily Dose so he could speak to people and offer them motivation, inspiration and self worth. Tim loves what he does and this labor of love has proven to have become extremely lucrative and successful for him. Tim’s passion, backed by his execution, has given millions a better perspective on how to rock it at business.

While he probably makes some money on Instagram, he has his own media company that has likely seen massive boosts from his fame on the Instagram platform.

12. Nikki Giavasis

Nikki Giavasis is another highly influential person on Instagram. Who says? Forbes and Entrepreneur, for starters. She is a speaker and entrepreneur who is a recognized agent for the world’s biggest celebrities. In addition, she has built herself a social media empire.

Well-connected and business savvy to boot, Nikki closes deals and brings big name celebrities and brands together. She focused from Day 1 on creating a well laid-out plan to create a network on social media she could leverage. It worked.

Nikki is the author of three published books and founded GG magazine and Goddess Girls. She is the CEO of Jordan Management Inc, a philanthropist and talk show host. Her stardom on Instagram has been a fantastic platform for incredible success.

Some of the top 18 Instagram influencers clearly have a discernible talent and have used social media (in this case Instagram) to enhance the audience for their wares. Some, on the other hand, simply wanted to post random things on social media and have the wherewithal to do so. And other than being internet celebrities, many still have no particular talent other than riding the social media wave to fame and fortune…which, in and of itself, is a talent in today’s world.

13. Wendy Nguyen

When you look at the countless stunning people on Instagram, it can be easy to forget they are real people with real lives. They may have mastered the art of taking incredible pictures, along with artful editing. They could also be worth their weight in gold when it comes to their fashion and travel advice. These people are so good at what they do on social media, it has become a career for them.

Wendy has such a successful Instagram account that she has amassed more than 1 million followers and it is estimated that she is earning almost $1 million a year from this account alone. She is also popular on various other platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. It is on these sites where she shares her much sought-after fashion advice.

Before becoming famous in this arena, she was a student at UC Berkley. There, she earned a degree with a major in psychology. It is possible that this understanding of the human mind aided her in her social media success.

If the name Wendy Nguyen itself does not ring any bells, you might have at least seen her video regarding the versatility of scarves. This video is only 4 minutes long and yet it delivers 25 ways to wear a scarf. This may seem like a simple idea, but it was successful and accessible enough that it was viewed a shocking 25 million times. With numbers like this, it is safe to say that this is just the beginning for Nguyen.

14. Bryanboy

What makes for a brilliant Instagram post? Is it the composition or the venue? Is it the person in the picture or the clothes they’re wearing? For Bryanboy, it’s a combination. To be precise, the overall personality that radiates through his posts that has made him so famous.

Bryanboy has a unique style. This is evident in each one of his posts. This allows for a sense of continuity on his page. The pictures he posts are very distinctly him, there is no doubt about that. This means  his followers feel an odd sense of connection to the person behind the pictures.

While his posts are mostly focused on fashion currently, this was not always the case. When he first started out, this blogger from the Philippines was primarily focused on travel. Once he had gained some popularity, he shifted his sights to fashion.

Each of his outfits are works of art. They have compiled in such a way that the result is something that has never been seen before. This unique brand of creativity could be due to his abilities, or spurred on by the fact that he is close friends with many fashion designers. When looking at the number of followers he has, apparently it helps to have experts in your very own social circle. Quite the feat for someone so young.

15. Antoinette Kulas

The internet, combined with social media, has become a rather considerable force. It can turn ordinary people into celebrities overnight. These people go from being utterly anonymous to having millions of followers. If one tried to map out the secret to success via this route, chances are they would come up at a loss. There doesn’t seem to be a secret.

It just sort of happens to some people, most of the time when they are least expecting it. This appears to have happened to Antoinette. For quite a while, she posted on Instagram for fun. Granted, the photos she posted were good. But at a glance, there was nothing in them to suggest that they were better than every other post out there.

There was, however, something special in them. There must have been, because in the space of three years, she has managed to gather more than 1 million followers. These kinds of numbers translate into a paid account. She does not merely post things for fun; she gets paid to post on sight.

While this kind of success may be enough for some, Antoinette has her eyes on an even bigger prize. She has used this new-found fame to get connected to the world of fashion. She plans on using these connections to launch her very own clothing line. With such a flooded market, it is not clear whether she will be successful. But having her name out there is sure going to be helpful.

16. Viki Odintcova

There are basically two types of famous people on social media. Some are famous already, and therefore when they create an account, they immediately are inundated with followers. Some people become famous because of social media. Viki is not one of these. She is a bona fide model and a prevalent one at that.

The company she works for is Mavrin Models. This is a Russian agency, which suits Viki just fine as she is actually from St. Petersburg. But what makes Viki special? Why is she more popular than other models? Is she merely more attractive, or does something else set her apart? This thing is, sex sells.

People can wax poetic about how this is not right and how advertising should not sexualize men and women. Unfortunately, until society changes the marketing world is not going to, and they will continue using provocative images to boost sales.

Viki has used this to her advantage to get ahead in a very competitive field. She has been a part of advertising campaigns that include anything from underwear to weight loss products to fitness programs. Anything that is fitting for her beautiful figure. This has also landed her on countless adult magazines, which produces a type of fame and recognition itself. Whether Viki will use this fame in the future for something else remains to be seen.

17. Amra Olevic

If you took a quick look at Amra Olevic’s page, you could be forgiven for thinking that she is a long-lost Kardashian. But unfortunately, she is not. So, then what do they have in common? How do they look so alike without being related? Could it be their underlying facial structure? Or maybe it is the dark and exotic features? While these may play a role in the resemblance, they are not solely responsible.

The key is in the makeup. Amra is a wonderfully gifted contourist. She is so good in fact that she has made herself famous. So brilliant that she is one of the most famous makeup artists the site hosts. Every day, she posts a picture that depicts a new masterpiece. Her pictures are flawless, having drawn so much attention that she has more than 5 million followers. That makes for a whole lot of eyes on her makeup skills.

She has used this fame along with her considerable talent to launch a line of products that are primarily focused on eyebrows. This line is currently being sold by Anastasia, and it is only just the beginning.

While her eyebrows are the focal point of a lot of her pictures, they are not the only thing that draws attention. The eyes are the window to the soul, after all. Amra is particularly skilled at making her eyes pop and is willing to share this secret with the world. She will do this by launching a line of makeup that features an eye shadow palette that is uniquely designed by her.

18. Jessica Stein

Have you been bitten by the travel bug but do not have the time or resources to deal with it? Do you long to see the world but are perpetually stuck in the same city? The Instagram page of Jessica Stein could help you out. By following her, you won’t magically be able to hop on a plane the next day, but you can live vicariously through her.

Jessica may only be 23 years old, but she has already visited 27 countries. That is more than most people will see in a lifetime. While in these places, she takes photos that depict the feel and landscape of a country. Her pictures do not showcase only her with a tiny bit of skyline in the background.

Her pictures are enticing. They transport you to the location and let you know exactly what it would feel like to be standing in that exact spot. She shows you the world without you having to leave your life.

Her posts are enjoyable to many different types of people; this might be why she has become so popular. She can show you places you never knew existed and maybe help plans your future holidays. She can even help you escape for a couple of minutes. Whatever the case, Jessica’s pictures are always a treat. Her story is by no means close to over, and while her passport already has a considerable number of stamps, she has plans to visit 229 more places in the coming years.

Again, while some aspects of social media are loathsome, other aspects can be quite positive and enriching. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what we do with it. Most of us just post useless nonsense and drivel. Sure, pictures of the kids or the dogs or that drunk friend that passed out on the floor might seem entertaining or cute at the moment, but is your life better for posting it? Did it make the world a better place or help someone achieve something?

At this point, we already know our friends’ political views, so seeing another Trump meme or something politically charged is just grounds for an immediate eye-roll. It’s gotten old. To say social media has gotten out of control with respect to our daily lives would certainly be an understatement. But here are some examples of people who, for the most part, had no particular influential or celebrity status until they started to use social media to their advantage, instead of just posting the same old crap. Maybe an example for the rest of us…