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Influencers Leveraging Social Media Success Into Entrepreneurship

Until recent years, the idea that anyone could turn their personal brand into a multimillion-dollar business with nothing more than a social media account would sound insane. Today, personal branding has allowed influencers to utilize their social capital to launch businesses and build business empires. Once they have amassed a loyal following, influencers are leveraging their online fame to create their own product lines or businesses related to their niche and personal brand, which they can promote on their social media channels—the perfect medium for advertising to their audience.

One of the biggest names in the fashion influencer space is Danielle Bernstein of WeWoreWhat, who started her blog in 2010 as a daily dose of outfit inspiration and has gradually developed an empire with two businesses and 2.2 million followers on Instagram. She charges up to $15,000 per branded post, is an angel investor in four startups and generated $3 million on the first day of her swimsuit collection launch for her brand, Shop WeWoreWhat. The brand has been worn by celebrities like Kylie Jenner and received praise from fashion critics (rare among other influencer-designed lines). This month, Bernstein launched a tech startup, Moe Assist, named after her beloved assistant and chief brand officer Moe Peretti. Moe Assist is a tech suite designed specifically for influencers to run their businesses with tools like invoicing, campaign management, content and hashtag inventory and more. Bernstein hopes this platform will further legitimize the influencer industry and propel influencers further in their careers by fixing the organizational woes that hold creators back. Moe Assist is backed by design tycoon Rebecca Minkoff and several other investors who also believe in the potential of the influencer industry and how valuable it is to provide influencers the benefits of an assistant at a fraction of the cost of hiring one. By adding tech founder and CEO to her already impressive resumé, Bernstein is giving smaller influencers the right tools to grow their personal brands and businesses quickly and see similar success.

Another example of an influencer turned entrepreneur is Australian fitness influencer Kayla Itsines, who started her Instagram account in 2012 to document her fitness journey. After studying to become a personal trainer, she became a trusted source of workout and nutrition advice and her account grew to the over 11 million followers she has today. To capitalize on the seemingly endless stream of questions she received in comments and direct messages, Itsnines created the Bikini Body Training Company, which offers training and nutrition eBooks, and an app called Sweat With Kayla. Her app is projected to rake in about $77 million this year alone, and well over a million people use it on a monthly basis, proving that influence truly is an invaluable asset to entrepreneurship. The fitness superstar and Instagram queen went from training clients in the gym to owning her own business, quickly building it into a multi-million dollar brand before she turned 30, all because she was able to create a community that women from around the world want to be a part of.

Influencers provide an entrepreneurial venture two things that a traditional entrepreneur cannot: (1) a niche, highly engaged audience based on a specific topic, and (2) regular engagement with their followers that establishes trust and a personal connection. There is often a fierce loyalty from followers that creates a sense of celebrity for the influencer and almost guarantees success for their product or service, if it really is a good product. The influencer industry is changing the way new businesses is are created, and their social capital can be leveraged to catapult winning products to their full potential at an impressive rate.

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