Taylor Lorenz, the Atlantic:
A decade ago, shilling products to your fans may have been seen as selling out. Now it’s a sign of success. “People know how much influencers charge now, and that payday is nothing to shake a stick at,” said Alyssa Vingan Klein, the editor in chief of Fashionista, a fashion-news website. “If someone who is 20 years old watching YouTube or Instagram sees these people traveling with brands, promoting brands, I don’t see why they wouldn’t do everything they could to get in on that.”
But transitioning from an average Instagram or YouTube user to a professional “influencer” — that is, someone who leverages a social-media following to influence others and make money — is not easy. After archiving old photos, redefining your aesthetic, and growing your follower base to at least the quadruple digits, you’ll want to approach brands. But the hardest deal to land is your first, several influencers say; companies want to see your promotional abilities and past campaign work. So many have adopted a new strategy: Fake it until you make it.
Something about this is just so fascinating to me. It kind of reminds me of the sports attire you can buy that has brand logos all over it, or the tuning company decals you can buy for the fender of your car to make it look a bit like Pirelli is sponsoring your daily commute. I get it — it’s a way to indicate that someone has enough influence to have made them worth sponsoring — but it’s fascinating that this is now an aspirational lifestyle.
See Also: Olivia Pettter in an article earlier this year for the Independent about hotels being “overwhelmed” with requests from hopeful Instagram and YouTube users.