How influencers are building their own brands beyond content

Brands understand that consumers now have near-infinite choice. As such, communicators need to entertain and inform their audiences rather than interrupt them with overt sales messages.

Influencers offer both the ability to create targeted, compelling content and to reach an engaged and enthusiastic audience.

As the influencer marketing discipline matures some influencers are recognising their value beyond earning money via ad revenue and through the promotion of established brands. More and more influencers are starting to create their own products and services; below are a few examples of how influencers are monetizing their social presence in the real world.

SEE ALSO: 12 top influencer marketing predictions for 2018

Kylie Jenner: Kylie Cosmetics

The most extreme example of the phenomenon is Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics brand.


Kylie Jenner, who is probably best known for starring in reality-TV show ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’, conceptualised, founded and leads Kylie Cosmetics.

The beauty firm launched globally in 2016. Kris Jenner has told WWD that her daughter's business has made $420 million in retail sales since inception. The company is projected to make $386 million in 2017 alone. It is forecast to hit 1$B revenue by 2022.

Jake Paul: Team 10

Kylie Jenner, although an extraordinary case, is by no means unique among influencers becoming more sophisticated in self marketing.

Jake Paul, the prankster YouTuber, earned $11.5 million in the year to June 1st 2017 according to Forbes. He films a variety of pranks and stunts for his YouTube channel.

But Paul also runs a management agency for YouTube stars called Team 10 earning him a percentage of his clients’ deals in the process.

Perhaps as interesting is the amount of merchandise Jake Paul moves. Forbes estimates that he sells millions of dollars of T-shirts, hoodies, and phone cases each month to his devoted fan base.


YouTube gamer packs out arena tours

Daniel Middleton aka DanTDM ranks as the world’s highest-paid YouTube star of 2017 making $16.5 million in the year to 1st June according to Forbes.

The majority of his earnings come from ad dollars derived from viewer figures of his channel. He’s amassed 11.6 billion views since setting up his channel in July 2012.

However, the Minecraft gamer and YouTube creator now sells out arenas with family-oriented live events.

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DanTDM sold out 60,000 tickets across 32 shows in the U.K in 2016. The British eGamer then went on to perform at four sold-out nights at the Sydney Opera House in January before heading Stateside for a 21-city tour across the US this spring.

DanTDM is the voice of "Cy" a character in the animated Netflix series, Skylanders Academy on top of his YouTube and live event work.

He’s written a book, too. Trayaurus and the Enchanted Crystal is a graphic novel based on the characters that feature in Middleton’s Minecraft videos on YouTube: scientist Dr Trayaurus; evil laboratory boss Denton and his elf sidekick Fin; DanTDM and his dog Grim; and a group of grumpy talking pigs.

The Sugg Siblings - Joe & Zoe

Joe Sugg, fellow British YouTube creator, entered the publishing world in 2015 with a massively successful graphic novel trilogy titled Username.

Joe Sugg, together with friend and YouTuber comrade, Caspar Lee, launched a production company called Raucous Productions in October 2015. The firm is a vehicle for two comedy documentaries: Joe And Caspar Hit the Road and Joe And Caspar Hit the Road USA. Both financial hits on DVD.

Zoe Sugg AKA Zoella, the beauty and fashion vlogger, and Joe Sugg’s sister, was an early pioneer in expanding her brand beyond social media content alone. She released Girl Online a romance and drama novel in 2014.


Today Zoella, in addition to her YouTube channels with 17 million combined subscribers, sells a lifestyle Christmas collection through the chemist chain, Boots. The collection includes candles, mugs, stationery, and a £50 advent calendar.

Across the high street Boots competitor, Superdrug, sells a Zoella-branded beauty range. The selection includes body care, fragrances, and shower gels.

The Sugg siblings also have their own website dedicated to selling ‘merch’. is an eCommerce site selling Zoella and Joe Sugg branded T-shirts, hoodies, stickers and phone cases.

Building influencer referral and affiliate programmes

Expect to see more Influencers use more affiliate marketing and referral marketing initiatives throughout 2018 and beyond.

Last month Amazon the eCommerce goliath expanded its Amazon Influencer Program to include Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as well as YouTube. The initiative is an extension of its existing Amazon Associates Program for social media influencers.

It is designed for social media influencers with large followings and a high frequency of posts with shoppable content. Influencers get a page on Amazon with an exclusive vanity URL to showcase the products they recommend to their followers.

The enterprise offers an alternative to working directly with brands. Influencers can showcase their favourite products without having an affiliation or sponsorship deal with a brand to promote a product and monetise it.

Other firms are skewing their offering towards Influencers, too. Shopify, the eCommerce platform has launched Shopify VIP. More will follow as influencers complete their shift to brands in their own right and seek to influence their followers into buying their own products.


2018 will see many more influencers start to monetise in a 360 degrees fashion, similar to any digital media brand. As influencers continue to build scale and depth of feeling with their following, expect to see the ways in which they expand their footprint to become more creative, and a whole ecosystem to develop allowing fans to engage even more closely with their favourites.

CampaignDeus is the leading independent provider of influencer marketing campaign data for Instagram and YouTube. Our platform identifies and classifies brand sponsored influencer campaign performance metrics, tracking hundreds of thousands of posts.

We use this data to provide Brands & Agencies with industry insights across verticals, benchmark campaigns against vertical & competitor averages, and equip clients with in-depth reporting and recommendations on how to make campaigns more effective. Get in touch for more details.

Scott Guthrie works with companies to drive business growth in the social age through strategic insight and technical know-how. A former digital director of influencer relations at Ketchum, Scott is now an advisor at CampaignDeus. You can find Scott on LinkedIn and Twitter, or on his blog.