How and why do influencers make so much money?

Open Instagram and scroll, and you likely can’t go more than a few seconds without seeing someone you follow promoting a brand, whether it’s a celebrity, a wannabe celebrity, or that random girl you went to college with who’s somehow managed to become a famous fashion blogger.

According to the influencer management platform Traackr, 72 percent of major brands say they are dedicating a sizable portion of their marketing budgets to influencers — people with a strong relationship to an audience who can heavily sway decisions like purchasing habits. Fashion bloggers and gym instructors, they believe, are the next step in advertising. They connect with people more deeply than a page in a magazine and can therefore sway potential customers.

The influencer space, which once consisted of semi-famous bloggers making some extra cash on the side, has turned into a bona fide career path. The industry has evolved significantly over the years, whether it was from weathering the storm of new Federal Trade Commission requirements that influencers must now explicitly say when they’re being paid, or the rise of buying fake followers.

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