Paying for University… with Instagram

If you bumped into her on the streets of Toronto, you’d think that Karen Ip was an ordinary teenager. She’s constantly on her phone, well dressed, and probably on her way to class.

In real life, she stands at roughly 150 cm. But online, she is a mammoth presence, with 1.5 million followers on Instagram.

This is Karen, who is more commonly known as fruitypoppin on social media platforms Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

She posts pictures of her outfits and makeup…..
… and funny, comedic videos that showcase a different side to her personality that has garnered her a huge loyal following.

In an interview with Jubilee (watch it here), she does not reveal the exact figure of how much she earns, but says that Instagram funding her university fees. That’s a lot of money.

Social media has allowed these young teens to generate income through sponsored posts, paid advertising, et cetera. They are called ‘influencers’, and some are so successful that it becomes a full-time job for them. Popular influencers in Singapore Xiaxue and Naomi Neo have 610,000 and 489,000 followers respectively- when you think about it, they have a combined audience big enough to populate a country.

The Instagram economy is real: The influencer marketing industry is predicted to be a $5 to $10 billion dollar market by 2020.

This may seem like a dream job to many- take pictures of yourself, share them to social media, and earn money? However, there are difficulties that come with the job, such as loss of privacy and increased scrutiny from being in the public eye. Furthermore, it is a small few that can actually earn the big bucks.

So, parents- social media is not entirely a bad thing. In moderation, it’s alright. In a Refinery29 video, popular American blogger Courtney Quinn is estimated to earn US$300,000 a year, attracting fans with her colourful style and aesthetically pleasing pictures. Many adults write off social media as a distraction and cornucopia of vanity, but you can’t deny that, in the age of the internet, what we traditionally define as a ‘job’ is changing- and social media is part of that.

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