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US Based St.Kitts Native Drawing income from Instagram: ‘influencers’ make a living from social media

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‘EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS’

At 11,700 followers, Psyche Southwell, Creator and Editor of the Economy of Style Blog is just above the threshold for micro influencing. But her network runs deep. She has built up a loyal band of fellow bloggers since starting her “Economy of Style” website in 2007.

Psyche is a Social Science Researcher and Educator who credits her fashion inspiration on her Caribbean roots. Psyche has been featured in several publications including Cosmopolitan and RedBook and has also been named as a winner of RedBooks’ ‘Real Women of Style’ award. In 2018, Psyche was named Best Beauty Blogger in St. Louis!

Southwell, a native of St. Kitts, came to St. Louis as a graduate student in economics at Washington University. She had limited funds but no interest in sticking to the “academic uniform.”

“I was on a budget but liked looking good, and there were a lot of other women who cared about that, too,” said Southwell, 40. Her blogging community followed her to Instagram, and her fashion sense attracted the attention of retailers such as J. Crew, Target and Kindred Boutiques. By 2017, she was landing enough partnerships with @economyofstyle to quit her day job.

“It was definitely scary, but I’ve been able to do this the way I wanted to, being an ambassador for a few brands to provide a base income, and I can choose what else I want to do. It’s important to diversify income sources,” Southwell said.

She also earns commissions from affiliate links, which take followers directly to a product’s website. That’s one way that both influencers and brands can track the reach of a post in what is otherwise a nebulous marketing expanse.

“Every dollar counts for clients. If you’re going to pay, you want to know what you’re going to get out of it,” said Harris Hunter, a data specialist for Timmermann Group in downtown St. Louis.

When her digital marketing agency looks for influencers, they dissect online profiles, examining followers, captions, hashtags and likes. They expect influencers to be able to provide data about their past performances.

Hunter is also the communications chair for the Advertising Club of Greater St. Louis. In the past few years, she has seen a shift from celebrity endorsers shilling for global brands to local influencers who provide a personal point of view.

“The corporate tone doesn’t work for brands anymore. They have to connect to users,” she said.

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