Hi, this is Amanda Perelli and welcome back to Insider Influencers, our weekly rundown on the influencer and creator economy. Sign up for the newsletter here.
This week, my colleague Sydney Bradley interviewed Alexa Hollander, who is known as Alexa Sunshine on her YouTube channel, about how she makes money from thrift-store shopping videos and how she built a career around sustainable fashion.
Hollander turned her YouTube channel into a full-time job last September, signing with a management team and quitting her job in retail to focus on social media.
She's part of a trend of "thrift with me" YouTube videos, which have surged in popularity in the last few years. Videos with "thrifting in" or "how to thrift" in the title increased by 10X between 2017 and 2019, according to YouTube's culture and trends data.
She has around 230,000 subscribers and generally makes between $3,000 and $6,000 each month in pre-tax revenue from Google-placed ads placed on her YouTube videos.
Hollander has also partnered with a few brands — like ThredUp (an online thrift store and resale company) and Goodwill — but she said these deals can be tricky to navigate because of how central the values of sustainability and minimizing consumption are to her brand.
"It made it hard for me to work with brands," Hollander said of shifting her content more toward sustainability and thrifting and actively speaking out against fast fashion.
Still, Hollander frequently receives new offers from fast-fashion brands.
"Like, did you watch my videos?" she laughed. "Because if you would watch my videos, you probably wouldn't want to work with me."
TikTok recently introduced the ability for some users to add shopping buttons that link to e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Teespring in their videos.
My colleague Dan Whateley spoke with creators who have been testing out the new feature to learn more about how it works.
This feature could help boost merch and direct-to-consumer sales for TikTok's creators – a key source of income for some influencers.
But some creators who spoke with Dan said adding the shopping link to a post hurt video performance when compared to non-promotional posts.
"For some reason, at least on our channel and in our experience, when we use the shop button in our videos to promote Teespring or other brand deals or ads or use the sponsored tab, the videos do not get pushed by the algorithm," said Sergio Rodriguez, a creator who has been using TikTok's new shopping feature to link to Teespring merchandise that he created with his twin brother.
TikTok said its recommendation system relies on a variety of factors that are unique to each individual user when determining what videos they see. The company said it was still evaluating how users engage with e-commerce links, and should have a clearer idea on functionality and discoverability for these posts once the feature is fully rolled out.
Nick Cutsumpas is a part-time creator with over 63,000 followers on Instagram. He posts content about houseplants and sustainability.
Sydney spoke with Cutsumpas about how he negotiates his brand deals, what his content strategies are, and what his standard rates are for sponsored content on Instagram.
Throughout the week, he balances creating sponsored content for brands on Instagram (and sometimes TikTok), while still operating his own client-based plant coaching and landscaping business.
With houseplant sales and interest rising, Custumpas's growing audience has increased his reach. His Instagram follower count has been growing at around 8% per month, compared to a 5% rate prior to March.
"I've had to turn down 75% of the companies that want to work with me just because they don't share those same sustainability values and are greenwashing," he said.
A fun fact: Typically, any post with him posing with a monstera plant (the popular houseplants with split leaves) is guaranteed to do well on Instagram, he said.
More creator industry coverage from Business Insider:
5 Instagram 'micro' influencers explain how much money they charge brands for sponsorships. (By Amanda Perelli and Sydney Bradley)
11 YouTube creators break down their monthly incomes from their videos. (By Amanda Perelli and Sydney Bradley)
This week from Insider's digital culture team:
An Instagram influencer with over 500,000 followers is posting pregnancy updates on OnlyFans. (by Rachel Greenspan)
People have come forward on social media claiming that they experienced health problems while following the F-Factor diet. (By Rachel Greenspan and Anna Medaris Miller)
Here's what else we're reading and watching:
Skincare by Hyram has become the most authoritative voice in skincare for Gen Z. (by Rachel Strugatz, from The New York Times)
Some fashion content creators have ended campaigns with brands caught up in cancel culture. (by Alexandra Mondalek, from Business of Fashion)
Mega influencers are resonating with luxury consumers, working with Dior and Louis Vuitton. (by Natalie Theodosi, from WWD)
Thanks for reading! Send me your tips, comments, or questions: [email protected]