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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – You may have heard the term “social media influencer” a lot lately.

It’s someone who makes a living from selling their personality, looks, business, product brands, hobbies or lifestyle on sites like Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter. And, it’s the latest form of entrepreneurship that can earn you hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Or even more.

“It has to become a lifestyle,” explains Teodora Thompson.

Thompson runs the Miami Marketing Company, helping her clients find new ways, and faces, to get their product noticed. And that’s where social media influencers increasingly come in.

“Everybody nowadays wants to be an influencer. And it’s not easy,” says Thompson. While the money can be good, prepare to hustle.

“A lot of influencers wanna make a career out of it. But you have to be fully dedicated. We use the 80/20 rule when it comes to social media. Eighty percent is you have to be yourself. Do everything you do on a daily basis. Then twenty percent sell.”

The key is the more followers you have the more money you can make. Teodora and local influencers say some people aren’t legit about getting those followers, buying them instead of getting them honestly.

Forty-year-old Gio Gutierrez agrees. He’s seen it all in the more than a decade he’s been an influencer. He says the competition is fierce.

Gutierrez started out by shooting videos of chefs and other foodies doing their thing, quickly expanding to posting on sites like Instagram where he has nearly 50,000 followers on just one of his pages, @chatchowtv.

“What you see a lot now are different pricing structures. For example is $100 a post per 10,000 followers,“ says Gutierrez.

At a Brickell-area favorite, “Stanzione 87”, the mouth-watering aromas of a freshly-made margarita pizza don’t get on to his Insta, but his ooey-gooey pictures do.

“From the get-go I was smart about the advertising avenue of brands sponsoring the videos,” Gutierrez says. “So if I was at a restaurant drinking a wine, I would contact that wine company. ‘Hey I have this amazing wine, I’m shooting video at this restaurant. Why don’t you support me supporting them?’”

30-year old single mom and social media influencer Starr Hawkins is a fitness trainer. Her specialty is helping women achieve that coveted body part: a perky bottom.

Which explains her social media handle @babymommafit — and her profile avatar of fit glutes.

New to the game, Hawkins says in the last year her followers and her profits have jumped. @babymommafit had almost 19,000 Instagram followers two weeks ago. Now, nearly 20,000.

Hawkins’ friend and fellow influencer, Ramses Principe runs @mia_fitness on Instagram where he has an even bigger following of 250,000 fans. He says he got that high a count with consistency. “And showing people a lifestyle. That’s what I promote in my page.”

How do the two fitness gurus turn their followers into making a living for themselves? “Me myself, I sell workout programs,” says Principe. “Over 20,000 clients worldwide. Workout programs, meal plans, e-books.”

“I had to spend a little money to make money in this situation,” explains Hawkins. “I worked with a lot of photographers. I worked with a lot of brands. You have to put in to get out.”

So there’s food, fitness, and of course fashion. 41-year old Annie Vazquez also known as the fashion poet, has been putting her stuff on social media for over eight years now. And not being a typical 20-something influencer doesn’t really bother Vazquez.

“Sometimes I was worried about it. But so far it hasn’t hindered me in any way and I’m proud of my age, to be honest. The fashion poet is the everyday girl from Miami who likes to travel, who likes to go out to eat and who is body positive.”

With 85,000 Insta followers and her longtime blog by the same name, TheFashionPoet.com, Vazquez works with all sorts of brands, high end and more affordable ones, giving advice on what to wear and how to save money. But how does she make money?

“Different brands will hire me to promote their collection or something they’re launching. I’ve replaced a lot of old media like a billboard or an ad in a magazine.”

“For the big influencers, the mega influencers they’re between $1,000 and $4,000 a post,” adds Thompson of Miami Marketing. “So imagine doing one post a day for 30 days.”

And just to be clear, the Federal Trade Commission does have rules for anyone trying to make a living as an influencer — anytime you post a product you’re selling, you must identify it as a paid ad.

Maybe the best advice for success is to find your niche, something you’re passionate about. The more unique, the better. And with technology always evolving, the sky is always the limit.

By Donna Rapado

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