Online celebrity …. as a profession?!?! 😱

I am jealous of people who can turn their hobby into their profession. Many YouTubers and bloggers have managed to follow their passion and somehow were able to turn their hobby into their ‘9-5 job’. If you like cooking, singing, working out, playing video games, doing makeup … there is a chance for you to become a well-known online celebrity if you are determined enough and have a good network of support.

This is something I have been reflecting on for a while because I depend on a lot of ‘online celebrities’ when I search for things on google. For example, to find cool recipes, I usually google search them and then a bunch of recipe blogs pop up. I always open a few of them and then go through each recipe to see which one I like the most. I usually skip the actual blog posts explaining the story behind the recipe and scroll all the way down to find the ingredient list and the step by step directions.

I like that most recipe blogs have a long version and a summarized version of the recipe because if someone wants to read the whole story behind the recipe, then they have the option to do so. If not, you can go straight to the end and skip all the fluff about how great the spinach dip was at their family’s Super bowl party.

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After some time, I realized that I usually ended up at the same blogs for some recipes.  At this point, I started to pay more attention to the people behind the blog posts because there was something about them that made me go back.

One aspect that I like about the recipe blogging world is that there is a community of loyal readers as well as one-time visitors that contribute to the improvement of the recipe. These people usually ask questions about possible ingredient substitutions (to make it sugar-free or gluten-free) or leave comments about how they modified the recipe (e.g. used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil) and how well it worked for them. Some bloggers incorporate these comments into their blog post, therefore enhancing the content of their post.

One of my favorite recipe blogs is: https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com. I love her blog posts because they are very short and straight to the point. I also like that she incorporated her personal life into her posts, by writing about how she became a full-time blogger and what her day looks like as a professional blogger.

A typical day in Katie’s life looks like this:

She wakes up early and has a snack before going on a run. She then makes breakfast, which sometimes may involve using leftovers from recipes she tried days in advance. The rest of her day basically involves testing new recipes and catching up with emails and comments on her blog. If there is a recipe that she thought was successful, she’ll take pictures of the finished dish so the recipe can be posted.

This seems like a very stress-free job where deadlines don’t really exist and you can work at your own pace as long as you make some progress.

My question is …. there are so many blogs out there that I wonder how each of these bloggers differentiate themselves from each other?

Bloggers have to build an online reputation and the ‘online personality’ that they develop is what attracts readers.

I have constantly gone to these three blogs for baking recipes:

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Although they all look similar, there are subtle differences that help each blogger craft an online personality and make their readers come back for more. One differentiating fact about Katie, for example, is that she is very open about how she eats chocolate at least once a day. Little things like these help readers empathize with them and feel a more ‘human’ connection with these online entities.

While this ‘online personality’ concept applies to bloggers, it can also be applied to Youtube fitness celebrities. These people dedicate their days to filming workout videos. I like to use YouTube to find workout videos on channels such as FitnessBlender and XHIT. I either memorize the routines or play the video while I’m at the gym since they have voice overs and you don’t even have to watch the actual video.

I watched a video about how FitnessBlender started off and how they made it their full-time job. They are a married couple who started filming workout videos in their garage and, eventually had enough viewers to make a living out of it.

One thing I’ve noticed that these ‘online celebrities’ have in common is that they eventually start releasing workout books, paid workout plans and paid diet plans in order to make more money, since the online world doesn’t seem to be paying them enough. Similarly, recipe bloggers start releasing physical cookbooks with exclusive recipes that are not posted on the online blog.

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A very prominent online fitness celebrity is Kayla Itsines. She is known for her 12-week bikini body program and her meal plan. She also has a website where she writes short blogs about healthy recipes and fitness tips. Avery important feature of her presence online is her Instagram ‘Transformation posts’, where she posts pictures of girls that have followed her plans and are seeing progress.

One of the key things that has enabled the success of all these ‘online celebrities’ is being active on different social media platforms. While most of them started on Youtube or on blogs, they eventually expanded their content to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and they created their own website so everything is more centralized. In this way, they can reach more followers than just sticking to one channel.

I admire these people because they had the perseverance and energy to transform their hobby into their 9-5 and instead of sitting in an office for 9 or 10 hours, they can work in the comfort of their home and share what they are good at with the rest of the world.

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What are people’s thoughts on online celebrities? Should it be considered a real job? Do you follow any online celebrities regularly?

10 comments

  1. I am totally with you on finding these online celebrities fascinating. I grew up with three of them. One is fitness/workout instagram famous girl @giulianaavafit. I’ve followed her since high school when instagram first came out and she now has the mentioned above workout plans and 148K followers. Another is @devourpower. It’s a couple that we knew from a childhood friend. They recently hit 500K on instagram and quit their real “jobs” to “eat aggressively”. I think these people are super interesting and have a ton of courage to put themselves out there.

  2. This post was a good read! I think if someone makes an income than online celebrity is definitely a real job. It sounds quite enjoyable. You’re self employed , so it’s a little risky. I don’t think it’s sustainable over the long run for everyone, so people should definitely get into something else (like you said , write a cookbook, etc .) and stay a step ahead of things. The online world changes so much. Look at all those vine stars who didn’t really know where to go after losing vine. You have to look ahead to where your market is going and where your audience is headed next. Yet, you cant change too much or broaden your scope too fast as you’ll lose your audience. I personally think Facebook is going to fail soon and give way to other platforms. (Just a hunch) so it’s helpful to know where to market and what your backup plan is. Lots of competition too and some dumb luck involved. I don’t follow many blog or YouTube stars. Yet, when I look up my random google questions I always appreciate the blogger input. I always followed Natalie Trans community channel but she stopped making videos. I think she got too busy. And look at pioneer woman, she came really far from her blog! Sorry for the lengthy response. I have a lot of opinions in this department !

  3. Really like the topic, because I have the experience of streaming video games online (similar to YouTuber, but broadcasting live). I would definitely say that “online celebrity” is as a job as any of the 5-9 jobs on the earth. In my past summer intern, I actually was get to know the “self-media” industry pretty well. Most of the full-time blogger, YouTubers would have a team working on video production, post-production, marketing, PR, and many more functions just like a company. And honestly, it is tougher than many think that it is simply turning a hobby into a job. In one way, it is your hobby, but in another way, once you are doing it full-time, you have the responsibility to generate new-content much more often if you keep it a hobby. Because the barrier to entry to this industry is really low. Like you mentioned that, sometimes you really can not tell the difference between one blogger to another at the first glance. Therefore, “online celebrity” try really hard to generate different, fun, innovative content and idea. The risk is, once the responsibility kicks in, one might lose passion in his or her hobby, just because they have to do it as a job. I follow many video games streamers, and hear them saying they really hate playing video games sometimes, and would not play any themselves once they get off the stream. Many streamers decide to quit full-time, just because they are losing fun playing video games and they want to stop that. But if you would ask me whether or not I want to play video games full-time and get paid, I would definitely say YES. However, I think there IS a huge factor of luck there whether you will be successful or not.

  4. I enjoyed your post and it goes to show that technology and social media are changing the employment landscape, from shared economies to self-employed online celebrities. The subset of online celebrities that I find most interesting is the online PET celebrities. It seems everyone and their dog (including mine: @jovitheminidoxie) are on Instagram these days. Examples: Jiff the Pomeranian has over 8.1 MILLION followers. Grumpy Cat, anyone?? My favorite is Harlow & Sage and they are the reason my fiance and I got a dachshund. In addition to making money from sponsored posts and ads, these pets have calendars, toys, go on book signing tours, and more…some making well over $1M per year for their owners. I dream of my dog being Insta-famous, but we seem to hover around the 4,000 follower mark. I guess I won’t quit my day job just yet…

  5. I feel as if some people underestimate the “online celebrity.” Personally, I have found myself to become invested in their lives because of the way they share their stories. Their job consists of more than just blogging about their hobby or lifestyle, but in order to make money they need to become an influencer. These people need to make a human connection with someone on the other side of a telephone screen. Without this human connection they won’t gain followers and they won’t have others invested in their hobby as much as they are.
    When it comes to these Instagram “fitness celebrities,” their back story means a bit more than there actual content. This goes back to your point about people needing to have a distinguishing factor to their blog since many blog topics are similar. I think this 9-5 job is about more than their hobby, it’s about who they are as a person as well.

  6. Echoing some past comments, turning a hobby into a profession cannot be an easy task, especially when so many people are attempting to do so. It definitely takes time, patience, vulnerability, and hard work. @nescrivag, you touched on Kayla Itsines’s use of social media to promote her purchasable body guide. I believe Kayla represents one of the best professions (fitness training) turned hobby (posting clients before/after results) turned profession (creating a body guide her fans can purchase) in the game. Her ability to promote her training guide through social media and make an insane amount of followers and money shows that Instagram sensations have a legitimate and admirable career!

  7. I find it really interesting you used the example of recipe bloggers in your post, because this summer I worked at a marketing agency account for some food brands (like Mini Babybel Cheese, The Laughing Cow) and the brands worked with a lot of different recipe influencers. It was very cool to see the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of different brands working with food bloggers, because I realized a lot of times posts are sponsored by brands to be featured in them. Unlike on Instagram or other platforms, the influencers don’t always have to disclose that the post is sponsored, so a lot of posts are highlighting a sort of “hero product” aren’t really genuine opinions of the influencer.

  8. Very interesting post, I do agree that online celebrity should be considered a real job, because posting or video taping is a task of work, and they get paid for doing that. I have followed some online celebrities and youtubers such as Mark wien and The Food ranger, what they did is traveling around deep Asian Areas to experience their exotic food and culture. As I know they made all their money for traveling by putting different advertisement for youtube, and because they have so many followers and views, many restaurant will invite them to eat and stay for free if they post video about how good their food is. They also selling books, T-shirts and post some discount coupons for different hotels, so if someone use that coupon link to book the hotel, the youtuber will get a percentage of compensation.

  9. I think you should consider it a real job, providing you can bring down a real income from it. The problem is that the number of people who can actually do so are really small. You hear about the success stories, because they’re great. But it drops off pretty quickly after the big online celebrities. Many more aren’t making a living off of it than those who are.

  10. Nice post. If you don’t look it at as a real job you will fail. Editing alone on videos can take you 4 hours or more. Working in an office does not have to be bad. I could leave for hours at a time and still get my work done. If you can’t make the best out of undesirable situations I am not sure you can get someone to pay you for your passions. Everything is perspective. My friend had his own restaurant and worked twice as much as he does now in corporate. If you want it badly enough you will do it!

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