For millennials, the American dream is no longer defined by a college degree or even a high-paying corporate job. Instead, social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have become unlikely tools for launching innovative and successful career trajectories.
Some of this change might have been spurred by lackluster employment opportunities for millennials in the post-recession economy. For those who have successfully cashed in on their social savvy, the payoff is huge. Here are seven ways that millennials are using social media to grow their wealth to seven figures — and beyond.
1. They Make Social Media Their Business
Helping a company manage its social media presence might be a relatively new task, but in today’s increasingly social world, social media management is integrated into traditional employment structures as much as marketing and advertising. To leverage social platforms for seven figures, millennials are making social media their business.
Take Shama Kabani, for example. This forward-thinking millennial utilized social media to her advantage before the industry became the monster it is today. Kabani started her own social media marketing firm, Marketing Zen, back in 2009 when she was only 24 years old. The company was launched with just $1,500 and is now a multimillion-dollar organization.
2. They Make Themselves the Brand
By building social followings and making themselves desirable brands, millennials are able to attract lucrative sponsorship opportunities.
“The main way I see millennials using social media is by drumming up huge followings, then getting sponsorship revenue for the things they post about,” said millennial expert Christine Hassler. “So many health, fitness and style millennial experts are having companies target them to share, use and post about their products.”
Sites like Sponsored Tweets have popped up for every imaginable social media network with the main purpose of connecting brands with social media influencers boasting many followers. Brands will pay these popular individuals to share their thoughts and opinions about products on their highly trafficked channels.
While sponsored social media postings can be highly lucrative for young celebrities, often paying five figures per post, it’s difficult for the average user to make millions in this way. Unless they are experiencing their 15 minutes of fame, or have built up a significant following, individuals typically have to combine the tactic of sponsored social posts with other strategies to get rich.
3. They Take Advantage of Advertising
These days, there are sponsored pins on Pinterest, ads on Facebook and pre-roll ads that show up before every YouTube video. Millennials with massive social followings can leverage the ubiquity of social advertising to generate millions in revenue.
Google Adsense and YouTube, for example, enjoy a lucrative partnership that has turned many active users into internet celebrities and, subsequently, millionaires. Epic Rap Battles is one such successful YouTube video series with more than 11 million subscribers. The stars of this channel have produced more than 50 episodes of their rap battle series and earned an estimated $2.4 million from their videos, according to an article on the Richest.com.
4. They Create a Line of Products
Millennials can certainly make money on social media by marketing other people’s brands and products, as mentioned above. However, creating and promoting something entirely new is one of the most exciting — and lucrative — ways of generating revenue.
Bethany Mota is a 19-year-old fashion vlogger who first started posting videos on her YouTube channel at age 13. Six years later, Mota is an internet celebrity with more than 7 million subscribers on YouTube. She has even appeared on shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “Project Runway.” Recently, Mota decided to capitalize on her internet fame by launching her own perfume, apparel and home décor collections in partnership with Aeropostale.
Creating a new product might take some additional time upfront, but the passive income generated from product sales can be enjoyed for years to come.
5. They Write a Book
Like creating your own product line, writing a book can seem like a huge undertaking with little to no payoff at first. Luckily, social media influencers already have built-in fan bases to help justify the time and energy investment.
One popular beauty and fashion vlogger, Zoe Sugg, better known as Zoella, was able to turn a portion of her 6.5 million YouTube subscribers into paying customers when she penned her first book, “Girl Online”. According to an article on The Wrap, the novel sold more than 78,000 copies in its first week and earned Sugg enough to pay for a $1.5 million, five-bedroom mansion just three months after the book’s launch.
6. They Solicit Payment From Followers
Rather than selling a book or other product, some social media celebrities are opting to turn their followers into patrons. Services like Patreon allow savvy millennials to solicit payment online in exchange for continuing to create their content.
Patreon user Sakimi Chan is an artist who produces comic strips, tutorials and paintings in exchange for “tips” from his followers. Each time Chan releases a new piece of content, followers tip him for his work. Chan currently has more than 4,000 patrons and is “tipped” more than $33,000 every two weeks for his efforts.
7. They Start a Subscription Service
Subscription services like Birchbox, BarkBox and Glam Bag by Ipsy are the all rage right now, and social media helps them reach their many customers. Under these sales models, subscribers pay a fee in exchange for the company in question sending a box of surprise goodies to their doorsteps each month.
Ipsy, for example, was founded in 2011 by YouTube sensation Michelle Phan. After experimenting with hundreds of beauty products for her own YouTube videos, Phan opted to start a beauty sample service so her followers could re-create her looks. Earlier this year, Entrepreneur.com reported that Ipsy’s annual sales were estimated at $120 million. As an added bonus, Phan spends virtually no money on advertising, as social media does all the legwork for her company.
The stories above suggest that the future is bright for millennial social media influencers who have the skill to leverage their followings. It’s no wonder that millennials are famous for leaving the traditional “9 to 5” behind in favor of paving their own way — even before the tools have been tested and tried.