HOUSTON – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tik Tok. For most of us, scrolling through feeds passes the time. But for some Houstonians, posting pictures and products is big money. The most successful posters are called influencers. They are the people whose feeds persuade others to make purchases and decisions.
We tracked down some of Houston’s most popular influencers to find out the secrets of their success. How did they get started? How much money do they make? How much time do they spend on their phones? And what you really want to know: Can you do it too?
The Woodlands, TX
Platforms: Instagram and Pinterest
60 years old
Stay at home mom/grandmother to four kids and seven grandkids
First Post: August 2019
Why she started: “I’m a widow. My youngest daughter was still living at home, and she was getting ready to be a junior and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, next year, she’s leaving me, I’m gonna be all by myself.’ I’d been on Instagram for a while just following amazing people. And I thought, ‘My house is kind of cute. I’m gonna try this!’ It’ll give me something to do. It’ll let me be creative. ‘Cause I’ve always, always loved to decorate.”
Time commitment: On Instagram 8-12 hours a day. Five hours of that are spent answering direct messages.
How she makes money: Tina says she uses a lot of affiliate links. This is where a brand or a company gives her a link to share. When her followers click on the link to buy a product she posted, she gets pennies. With 86,000 followers, those pennies add up. She says the number you want on Instagram is 10,000. Once you have 10K followers, Instagram lets you add the “Swipe up for link” feature that makes it so convenient for users to shop through your feed.
As for how to gets companies to give her those affiliate links, she says she applies. Amazon, for example, has an actual application you fill out to apply to get affiliate links. The company wants to know how many followers you have and what kinds of things you share.
Why she does it: “It has changed my life. It has changed my life. I have just made the closest lifelong dearest friends from all over the country, all over the world. That’s the best part.”
Platforms: Instagram, Pinterest and Tik Tok
39 years old
Married, stay-at-home mother of two
First post: 2019
Why she started: “I didn’t see influencers that looked like me,” Herrera said. “I’m tall. I’m 5′9″. I also have a very curvy body type and so many influencers that I saw, they just were petite. I just really wanted to be that representative for my little corner of Instagram.”
Herrera’s daughter, who was 10 years old at the time, helped her mom by showing her how to post and use hashtags on Instagram.
Time commitment: 6-8 hours a day on her phone
How much money she makes: $200 to $1,000 a post from collaborations with businesses like local boutiques
How she makes the money: Herrera says she has never pitched herself to a brand or a company.
“They find me,” she explained. “I’ve been told by brands and PR reps that they find me based on my hashtags.”
For example, if you want companies to know you create content geared towards moms, you could use #mom or #mommy. When these brands reach out, they ask Herrera to make a certain number of posts wearing their clothes or eating their food in exchange for a certain amount of money. These deals usually involve contracts.
Instead of applying to a bunch of companies to get affiliate links, Herrera says she uses Reward Style. Once influencers apply and get accepted with Reward Style, they can get affiliate links for dozens of companies that partner with them.
“It’s how I make a small commission off of any shoppable links that I post,” Herrera said.
Biggest misconception she thinks people have about influencers: “There’s a lot of back-end things that people really don’t see, like negotiations with brands and signing contracts. They think you’re just taking a picture every day.”
The Woodlands, TX
Hairstylist of 25 years, owner of Salon Bugatti
First post: 2017
Why he started: After doing hair for more than 20 years, Jones said he was looking for something extra. Some of his co-workers talked him into creating a hair account to post pictures of the haircuts he did. A big hair Instagram account reposted one of those pictures about two years ago and Jones started picking up followers from all over.
“I’m not only educating the hairdressers, but I’m educating the clients at home,” Jones said of his feed.
He posts styling tips and tutorials that anyone can do.
Time commitment: About two hours a week
Why he does it: Jones says he has contracts with two hair brands, products that he uses in his salon daily, but what he has enjoyed most about his social media status is the doors it has opened for him. Big hair brands have noticed Jones and recruited him to train other stylists all over the world and promote their styling products.
“I always sort of wondered what I could have done if I were in LA or New York,” Jones said. “And then along comes the internet and social media and it really leveled the playing field... made the world a much smaller place.”
Biggest misconception he thinks people have about influencers: Jones said people assume that he is bigger than he is and that he won’t take the time to answer questions and respond to followers. He said he tries to reply to all of the questions people send. He likes to post when he knows he will have an hour to engage with his audience.
Our own Dominique Sachse and Own Conflenti are also influencers with huge followings on social media. We asked them to share why and how they do it.
Subscribers: YouTube- 1.38 Million,
Platforms: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest
53 years old, KPRC 2 news anchor for 26 years, mom to one, bonus mom to five
Why? It initially began as a way to answer viewers’ questions about hair, makeup and wardrobe in a visual and conversational way instead of via email. The content grew and expanded to offer more than beauty – but also lifestyle, wellness in midlife and living your best life, all sprinkled with positivity and faith.
Time commitment: “Daily! Hourly! I shoot my videos on Tuesday, edit on Wednesday and publish on Thursday. Then, it’s combing through and trying to reply to as many comments on the various platforms. I do it because I want women in their Prime to know they’re worthy of time invested in every area of their lives. I want them to feel beautiful and proud of their accomplishments and to value self-care. I’m their biggest cheerleader and encourager.”
44 years old
KPRC 2 news anchor
Married, father of four
Tik Tok Followers: 1.1 million
First Post: November 28, 2018 -- 89,000 views. At the news desk with a filter of a dog face bobbing my head to the song “Who let the dogs out?” by Baha Men.
Most viewed post: July 19, 2019 -- 20.4 million views. Rapping to myself in the TV to the song “Who R U” by Lil Jufu (20.4 million views, July 2019).
Why he started: “To engage with my kids. They discovered the platform first and being a nosey parent, I wanted to see what it was all about. Next thing I know, we’re connecting over this silly content. To this day, it’s a common phrase heard in our house: ‘Hey, did you see this on TikTok?’ My kids even produce some of my videos. In fact, their ideas have yielded some of the best results because they know the trends and they’re super creative.
Time commitment: “Varies. The quickest production can be done in a few minutes. Others with special effects or complicated editing can take multiple hours.”
Why he does it: “Because it’s fun! Tik Tok is a good creative outlet. Most importantly, I love the way my family connects over the platform.”