Over the past ten years, social media has given birth to a new breed of celebrity: influencers. These digital stars captivate their audience with perfect lives, filled with designer clothes, luxury vacations, and adoring fans. But as the cost of living rises and rent and bills continue to soar, it poses the question: is the influencer lifestyle really as glamorous as it appears, or are they struggling to make ends meet like the rest of us?
Here is a look behind the curtain at the reality of influencer culture as the cost of living crisis bites.
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How much do influencers really make?
According to a recent Adobe report, social media content creators in Australia earn an average $109 per hour, which is higher than the global average of $88 per hour ($177,375 annually if done full-time). But when it comes to influencers, the average income is significantly less - at around $75 per hour, lower than the global average of $81 per hour. By comparison, the average full time salary in Australia is $70,000 per year or $35.90 per hour, less than half of the average influencer.
The data differs again when we look at income per social media post. For example, according to Shopify data, Instagram influencers with between 50,000 and 500,000 followers should expect to make between $500 to $5,000 per brand partnership, although this varies greatly depending on their brand safeness, quality of audience and their business acumen.
The calculator puts Tammy Hembrow‘s earnings for a single sponsored Instagram post as anywhere between $37,850 and $63,100 while fitness mogul Kayla Itsines potentially earns between $37,700 and $62,900 per post. Former cricketer Michael Clarke earns between $3,500 and $5,900 for a sponsored post, according to the estimates.
And it’s important to note that the stark difference between successful influencers and unsuccessful ones is that they have diverse income streams. The best creators generally have three to five main sources of revenue such as platform monetisation dollars, their own businesses and then lastly brand deals.
So when we talk about Tammy Hembrow earning up to $63,100 per Instagram post, she also earns an income from YouTube, her renowned fitness app Tammy-Fit and her clothing brand Saski. The combination of influencer income streams has seen her accumulate a net worth around $41 million.
The influencer market is steadily growing
A study by the Influencer Marketing Hub in January this year shows that the total market size for influencer marketing has grown to an estimated $21.1 billion in 2023, from $1.7 billion in 2016. Even amid the height of the pandemic, when many industries were cutting costs, successful businesses are shifting costs around in order to free up money to put more into social media to gain or maintain their competitive advantage.
A report released by IZEA in early 2022, actually shows that the average post cost for all creators has consistently gone up year by year with a marginal dip for everyone in 2020, presumably related to the Covid pandemic.
This suggests then, that while the cost of living crisis continues to bite, influencers are actually benefiting from a boost in income. This is because, as higher prices are causing everyday Aussies to rethink how they spend their money, businesses have identified that they need to work harder to promote their brands - so they're investing more money in influencers and social media content creators to build their online presence.
The future is bright for influencers
As Australian businesses continue to transition digitally, having a social media presence is more important than ever. Influencers and content creators play a vital role in helping create a trustworthy, human link between corporate giants and loyal viewers.
The creator economy is still young in Australia and irrespective of the current living costs rising, we most certainly will continue to see passionate creators finding ways to do what they love.