When I was growing up, Paris Hilton was considered the OG influencer, and everyone hated her. The tabloids considered her to be vapid, void of any talent, and ultimately useless to our society because she didn’t bring valuable skills to the table. Yet, her Juicy sweatpants and branding of everything as “that’s hot” made her a pop culture icon. She walked so the Kardashian-Jenner clan could run. The influencer has to understand what people want to see and hear. Being a successful influencer means building a brand that fills a hole in the market while trying to convey a certain sense of authenticity. Despite what your parents might think, being an influencer is now considered a real job that requires attention to detail, knowledge of the way people use technology, and marketing skills. Here’s a little history behind all of the influencers we know and love today.
She’s a legend, she’s an icon, she is the moment. She was born rich and got richer by building a brand as the hot blonde who loves chihuahuas, clubbing, shopping, and taking selfies. All those luxury hobbies paid off, literally. Now she has her own fragrance, gets paid more money for one DJ set than most people will see in their entire lives, and built a retail empire based on her immense following. Consider me influenced, Paris.
Beauty vlogger and makeup artist Nikkie de Jager got her start posting makeup tutorials to YouTube. She’s still doing that (we love a consistent queen) and has garnered attention from the Kardashians and Selena Gomez. She made my young self want to spend thousands of dollars at Sephora and never leave the house without looking like a bad bitch. She started her influencer career by uploading videos after binge-watching The Hills as a teenager and got inspired by Lauren Conrad’s makeup. Say what you want about the dark side of the influencer world, but history shows no influencer would be where they are without the presence of another influencer. Women helping other women? I can get down with that.
She put big, voluptuous lips on the map. From a reality TV star to a billionaire, she made a living off of transforming your look with makeup. Her own TV show was canceled when everyone realized how truly boring her life is, but that didn’t stop us from buying lip kits, spending insane amounts of money on streetwear and skincare, and dreaming of taking selfies with a pink Bugatti. A lot of people out there are wondering what exactly does Kylie do? How does she make her money? Honey, she dresses up with her daughter Stormi and looks hot doing it. In this society, that’s enough.
Okay, so he isn’t technically an influencer, but he might as well be in my book. I mean come on, homeboy was in Vogue wearing a fucking Gucci dress. The man is an icon! He blurs the lines between singer, performer, internet icon, and influencer. He’s a true renaissance man and I’m obsessed with him because of it. He’s a person that is constantly evolving and taking on different forms. He recognizes how quickly our culture can change. One has to be willing to do something outside of the norm to stay relevant. Carry on, Harry.
Everyone knows her Vines (RIP) and follows her absolutely hilarious YouTube channel. But how you really know you’ve made it big is when Cardi B wants you in your music video. From motivational videos to discussing Crypto and OnlyFans, she’s a girl who does it all and then some. She knows that to be successful on the internet, you have to have a strong voice to get noticed. She uses her platform to reach teens, millennials, and everyone in between.
Known as Bennydrama7 on Instagram, he makes comedy videos featuring parodies of celebs, and even creates his own hilarious personalities. He loves the Kardashians, Shawn Mendes, Lana del Rey, and constantly thinks about what it’s like to date the star signs. No one is safe, and we love him for it. Everyone from Playboy to Jennifer Aniston follows him on Instagram, so he’s mastered the art of using comedy to gather attention from a wide range of people. He’s probably pissed that I called him an influencer, but that’s the world we live in, babe.
Influencers are no longer seen as regular people doing boring things just to get their 15 minutes of fame. These internet stars are here to stay, and they’re quickly growing in popularity. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok are constantly changing their algorithms, which messes with who gets attention and why. Being an influencer means constantly staying up to date on who and what is trending on the internet, who the audience is, and what the audience wants. Most of the time, people are looking for an escape from their mundane lives. Whether that means buying stuff they’ll wear once just for the ‘gram, a comedy short they can watch on break at their 9-5, or a makeup tutorial they can mess around with, keeping people entertained is a true art form.