How these Irish women became full time digital influencers

The proliferation of social media has led to a wave of digital influencers, whether it be through their blogs, Instagram, or Snapchat. Paula Burns finds out how they work.

In a world saturated by social media the online influencer is having a moment. Brands and PR companies alike are standing up and taking notice of our daily obsessions of Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat feeds.

The social networks have become a marketing dream where partnering with the latest blogger or Instagram sensation has become a very fruitful world for everyone concerned.

You just have to take a look at international bloggers such as Chiara Ferragni of theblondesalad.com. With over 6.5m Instagram followers, the Italian fashionista has made the Forbes’ 30 under 30 list and report-edly pocketed over $10m last year.

Closer to home, we have our own set of digital influencers making their mark in the cybersphere.

Erika Fox

Erika Fox aka Retro Flame may be, as she says, “just that girl from Kerry”, but at the tender age of 24 the New York-based blogger is flying the flag for the stylish Irish Stateside.

In just four years Retro Flame, a nod to Erica’s love of vintage and stunning red locks, has developed from a blog filled with #ootd images (outfit of the day) to a fully fledged business.

“I began working full-time on Retro Flame here in NYC last March. I made the move from my full-time fashion job and, although scary, I haven’t looked back once. It’s been a very exciting journey so far.”

It’s no wonder the 24-year-old has taken the leap to create a business from her blog. With 68,600 followers on Instagram alone, her online presence is something brands could not ignore.

According to Erika, it’s these opportunities to partner with some big name brands that led to her being able to work on Retro Flame full-time.

“A few of the brands I’ve worked with have included Michael Kors, Marks & Spencer, Arnotts, Brown Thomas, Sephora, and Bobbi Brown,” says Erika.

When it comes to sponsored posts, Erika ensures her followers know it’s an ad. Another earner for the blogger is her connection to rewardStyle. This US-based affiliated links company can earn bloggers a 5%-15% commission on sales through its blogs.

Keeping an honest relationship with her followers is something Erika attributes to her success.

“I think Snapchat has shown my readers/followers what I really do every day. They can see that the early starts, late nights at my laptop, the working weekends, and everything in between,” says Erika.

Twitter/Instagram: @retroflame

Louise Cooney

It was a stint of living 4,900km from friends and family in New York that made blogger Louise Cooney overcome her cyberspace shyness and start her own fashion and lifestyle blog, Louisecooney.com.

“It’s definitely scary when you first start because you have a lot to prove and you’re really putting yourself out there — but I decided it’s something I really care about and enjoy so I went for it 110%,” says Louise.

It seems taking that leap of faith was a good move as this week saw Louise hit the 30,000-follower mark on Instagram. She was also recently crowned Littlewoods Ireland’s best fashion blog 2016.

While giving up the day job isn’t an option at the moment, Louise is certainly moving in the right direction with a number of brand partnerships under her belt.

The Limerick native has worked with companies such as Guess, TK Maxx, Marks & Spencer, Primark, French Connection, and River Island, to name just a few.

Like most bloggers, Louise attributes hard work, a love for what she does and of course social media to her success. “From the beginning I used social media to entice people to check out my blog and I still do. Social media is so important to my blog — the content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat is just as important as the blog content.”

Twitter/Instagram: @louisecooney_

Rosemary Mac Cabe

In a slightly different vein to the glossy fashion and lifestyle blogs of Louise and Erika, former Irish Times journalist Rosemary MacCabe is breaking ground in the digital world.

Rosemary found that while working at Stellar magazine she was “unconsciously building an online presence on Instagram”. With a healthy 3,000 followers her presence grew to a whopping 30,000 in just a year, due to her newfound social media love Snapchat.

“I’m a personality blogger — through Snapchat people get to see the real me. It’s like I’m opening up my living room,” says Rosemary.

“It’s very of the moment and is the most intimate of social media. It’s almost like Facetiming.”

Honesty remains at the heart of Rosemary’s digital influence. The outspoken blogger is extremely frank with her followers. Thanks to this there is never ambiguity when it comes to a post being an advertisement; there will always be the #ad.

“When blogging you have to be honest. People know when you’re faking and putting on a façade and they don’t like it,” says Rosemary.

“When I first started declaring posts as ads I felt like I was saying look at me surrounded in wads of cash but it was the right thing to do because so many followers responded saying, ‘thanks for acknowledging it was an ad’.”

Rosemary is the most open in regards to her rate card. “I no longer write as a journalist. I earn my wage through social media. For example my rate card says I charge €500 for an Instagram post. I don’t get that but what usually happens is the fee will involve a couple of posts, a tweet etc.”

Since quitting the freelancer life Rosemary has carved a place in the digital world that has allowed her to collaborate with brands such as Argos, be included on a panel of empowering women, and helped raise awareness about mental health, but ultimately she has created a social media space especially assigned to what she wants to talk about.

Being a ‘digital influencer’ just seems to be a profitable by-product.

Twitter/ Instagram: @rosemarymaccabe


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