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Getting paid to post? A look into the 'influencer' life and how much it pays

It's relatively new to the marketing scene, but paying users with high follower counts for specific posts on Instagram is a booming industry.

How does this sound? Post a single picture wearing a specific brand of clothes on Instagram, and make hundreds or even thousands of dollars off of it.

It sounds easy enough and that's the concept behind social media influencing. 

It's a career that has taken off in just the last few years.

First of all, in case you've been living under a rock, Instagram is a mobile app, where 1 billion users every month post, like and share photos and videos. 

Some that garner an exceptional number of followers are attracting the attention of companies who are now paying them to advertise their brands through the app. 

The concept has turned the advertising world on its head and elicits either jealousy or eye rolls from people who think it's easy money. But the amount of work that goes behind each post may surprise you. 

"I would say eight hours of my day goes into doing Instagram content," said Keaton Milburn, who is studying sports journalism at ASU, but also has 174,000 followers on Instagram. 

In general, first an influencer has to negotiate with a company on a price. Then an initial agreement is sent via email to the influencer. A contract has to be signed and returned which can take a couple of days. Often some type of product is exchanged as well. 

Once the influencer tests out the product, then, the creative process begins. 

The influencer takes several pictures of the product and submits them to the company via email. The photos have to be approved, and may be to be adjusted. Once the pictures are selected, they must be edited, and that's just Instagram posts. 

Some influencers, like Keaton and Caitlyn Neirer also have YouTube pages where they post two videos a week. Which means they are also shooting and editing the videos. 

How much money you can make is not as straightforward. 

TMZ reports Kim Kardashian gets as much as $1 million per post, of course, she is on the extreme.

Micro influencers, anyone with 10,000 to 100,000 followers, and macro influencers, or anyone with 100,000 to a million followers, aren't making anywhere near that. 

"Someone with a 100,000 [followers] could have no management and no clue and can be like 'Oh yeah, I charge $100 on this, and it's like someone with 30,000 [followers] can be like 'I charge $500 dollars per Insta picture," said Milburn. 

"That's why we call it the wild west because there is no standardization," said Hillary Houghton, an associate director of social media at OH Partners, an advertising company in Phoenix. 

How much an influencer makes per post depends on a complicated list of factors. 

It partially takes into account their niche (fashion or lifestyle, for example), how many followers a person has and how big their engagement rate is, in other words, how many of their followers are actually looking and commenting on their photos. 

Houghton says in general OH Partners sees, in the fashion niche, influencers bringing in anywhere from $50 to $100 per post for every 10,000 followers. 

That would mean someone with 10,000 followers could theoretically make $100 per post, while someone with a million followers can make $1,000, but Houghton stresses this is a generalization, and there are many outliers. 

Neier says she has friends who make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. 

"I am not there myself, but the potential is endless," said Neier. 

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