Ready to turn you smart phone pitter-pattering into a social media career? Social media stardom could just be a few tweets away if you’ve got the right stuff.
Today we’re celebrating 17 social media celebs who started off as just lowly social screen junkies like us. Do any of these social starlets sound a bit like you? Maybe you’ll be the next big thing (but…I wouldn’t bet on it. Sorry).
Twitter is full of the mindless, the mundane, and celebrity chatter. However, Twitter can be a great place for true genius to shine, any some witty users were able to use Twitter to launch themselves into serious social media careers!
@ShitMyDadSays Goes From Silliness to Sitcoms
In 2009 Justin Halpern, a comedy writer without much work, began a Twitter account in which he shared hilarious quotes from his charmingly cantankerous father. When a friend linked to the Twitter account, comedian Rob Corddry stumbled upon it and tweeted it, beginning a snowball effect that would launch Halpern into semi-stardom.
Less than a month later, @ShitMyDadSays was being quoted on The Daily Show, Laughing Squid, and by Kristen Bell (which is obviously the coolest out of the three).
Some classic @ShitMyDadSays-isms
Halpern ended up signing a deal with Harper Collins and publishing Sh*t My Dad Says the book in 2009, eventually earning a coveted spot as a #1 The New York Times Best Seller.
Things didn’t stop there for Halpern. CBS developed a sitcom based on @ShitMyDadSays starring William Shatner, which aired from 2010-2011 and won the People’s Choice Award for Best New Comedy. Today @ShitMyDadSays has amassed over 2.5 million followers. Not too shabby for a jab at dad.
@TheNardvark Goes to Late Nigh Talk Shows
@TheNardvark, aka Bryan Donaldson, started tweeting jokes and clever quips in 2010, with his unique brand of comedy earned him nearly 50k followers.
After 20 years in IT, Donaldson tossed out his keyboard and transitioned to a new role – as a writer for Late Night With Seth Meyers. Well, OK, he probably needed a keyboard in the late-night writing circuit as well.
From IT slave to comedy mastermind,Twitter makes dreams come true!
Megan Amram Laughs Her Way To Parks and Rec
Megan Amram (aka @meganamram) is another chuckle-enduing tweeter who quickly catapulted herself into a social media career, amassing over 460k followers with her clever 140-character cracks. Her Twitter wit earned her a writing position on NBC’s hit show, Parks and Recreation!Little Sebastian would be proud.
Jenny Johnson Jabs at Chris Brown And Wins (Big Time)
Jenny Johnson (@JennyJohnsonHi5) earned her Twitter super status in an unusual way – by instigating an online yelling match with a Hollywood celeb.
The cyber duel took place back in 2012, after Chris Brown tweeted, “I look old as f—ck! I am only 23…” to which Jenny Johnson replied, “I know! Being a worthless piece of shirt can really age a person.” It went back and forth after that, with Chris Brown spouting some horrifically disgusting words of sexual harassment before backing down and suspending his Twitter account.
Some might consider name calling on Twitter immature, but the firefight certainly worked for Jenny Johnson, who earned admiration (Chris Brown isn’t exactly Mr. Popular), 400,000 followers, and made her a famed funny women. She went on to sign a book deal in 2013 and now can be found as a contributing writer on GQ, Glamour, and other online magazines.
@HistoricalTweet Launches a Book (And a Social Media Career)
Alan Beard and Alec McNayr rewrote history with their hilarious @historicaltweet account, in which they put a unique spin on the past, contemplating what tweets icons like Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi might have typed out, had Twitter been around in their respective eras.
The joke account took off, eventually earning the duo a Random House publishing deal in 2010. Their book, Historical Tweets, was a big hit, earning enormous praise from Amazon readers.
McNayr has gone on to write scripts for Parks and Recreation and How I Met Your Mother. Together the pair now run their own social media humor agency called McBeard Media, representing clients like Disney, Sony, and 20th Century Fox. That’s one heck of a successful social media career, all launched from a simple parody Twitter account.
Twitter Fame Lesson: The trend seems to be that if you want to get Twitter famous, comedy is key. Class clowns rejoice, your power is vast and endless.
Michelle Phan Turns a Morning Routine into a Beauty Career
Michelle Phan is a YouTube starlet who vlogs about beauty products, offering reviews, make-up tutorials, etc. With 7.5 million subscribers, she has no shortage of devoted fans staring at her face all day long. Her most popular videos are her Lady Gaga makeup videos, helping fans recreate the star’s outrageous looks from music videos; which, although cool, aren’t very practical for everyday wear unless you work at Cirque Du Soleil.
Since her YouTube fame, she’s been hired as a private makeup artist for celebrities, has worked for Lancôme, and has even started her own business called Ipsy, which provides makeup advice and monthly subscriptions. She even has her own makeup line with L’Oreal! Nothing like turning your daily routine into a million dollar dream career!
Jenna Marbles Pays The Bills With Her Pooches
Jenna Marbles is one of my personal favorite YouTube celebs, and I find many of her videos utterly hilarious.
Jenna is one of the most popular vloggers, and with over 14 million followers, she’s the most subscribed woman on YouTube. Her Chihuahua and Italian Greyhound, Marbles and Kermit, are often featured in her videos. Her biggest video to date is “How to Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking,” with over 60 million views!
Jenna earns a pretty sweet salary, making over $4.3 million/year off just messing around with her pets and being a goofball. What a life!
Smosh: The Veterans of Web Videos
Smosh is a true online institution, composed of the dynamic duo team Ian and Anthony, who first started creating videos in 2003 (at age 11). That’s right folks, there was online video before YouTube, although it was a whole different, dangerous beast.
Smosh’s comedy-centric videos consist of skits and animations, often oriented around video games. They’ve amassed nearly 20 million subscribers (19.9 at the writing of this post) who can’t get enough of their unique brand of comedy.
Smosh has topped the charts of “most subscribed YouTube channels” since its YouTube conception, and has hopped on and off the top #1 spot over the years. The Smosh team has had some pretty cool experiences outside of YouTube as well – they’ve released a mobile game, four song albums, and it’s even said there is a Smosh movie in the works! The Smosh channel makes an estimated $5.7 million/year.
Disney Collector BR, The Queen of Toy Unboxing
All right, next we’ve got another YouTube celebrity, but this one isn’t quite like the rest…
DisneyCollectorBR posts unboxing videos of Disney toys with extremely detailed descriptions, even showing users how they can play with the toys. The mystery vlogger never gives her name or shows her face – you only see her hands as she unboxes various children’s toys.
Yeah…. it’s kind of weird. But it gets more bizarre.
Much of her success comes from her very soft, soothing voice, and many parents have noted that their young children are entranced by the videos. Some parents say that he videos are the only way they can get their kids to sleep. I also suspect that she is a major favorite with the ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) community, who get huge waves of – well, basically, brain orgasms – from soft, whispery voices. Bizarre? Yes, very. You can learn more about this strange phenomenon in a This American Life episode, “Tribes.”
Still, don’t get too weirded out. DisneyCollectorBR earns approximately $5 million per year from her channel.
#1 YouTube Star and Super Social Celebrity PewDiePie
Now it’s time to talk about the most popular YouTube star of all time, PewDiePie. PewDiePie is undoubtedly the biggest YouTube celeb, and he has the followers to prove it. With 35 million subscribers, PewDiePie is leagues ahead of any other channels. The closest contender in the #2 spot is the official YouTube channel at 22 million subscribers, which is laughably far from PewDiePie’s unbelievable numbers.
So what makes PewDiePie so popular? Ask his fans! No seriously, ask his fans because I don’t get it. PewDiePie’s popularity befuddles many, as most of his videos consist of Let’s Play videos (videogame play-throughs) accompanied with screaming, shouting, nonsensical commentaries from the beloved host. Still, his younger fan base can’t get enough of this cackling Swedish devil.
PewDiePie’s most popular video at the moment, with a montage of favorite moments (WARNING: lots of naughty-language is in this video)
Whatever he’s doing, it’s working. PewDiePie is a celeb, getting recognized on the street, signing autographs, and, of course, appearing in more selfies than a Starbucks cup.
PewDiePie has even been the victim of South Park jokes, featured in a running gag throughout several episodes in which Cartman reaches online fame narrating events as “Cartman Brah.” Clearly PewDiePie can take a joke though, as he ends up appearing in the show to save the world and banish Cartman Brah to wherever fallen YouTube vloggers go to die.
Part of PewDiePie’s fame comes from his endearing attitude towards his fans, often interacting with them on social media and lovingly referring to his subscribers as his “bros” in his videos. Is it all an act? I’d like to think not, but even if it was, could you blame him? This YouTube mastermind earns around $7 million/year from playing video games with a rapt audience.
Oh yes, I know what you are thinking my friend. Time to quit that cubicle and start making YouTube videos 24/7. Before you do, remember that most of these users have spent years upon years building up their audience and producing content. It’s certainly not easy money by any means. Still, let’s find out how they make those sweet stacks.
Basically, YouTube vloggers make money from advertisements. You know how sometimes when you go to watch a YouTube video, you have to watch a commercial first? That’s a pre-roll, and YouTube generates revenue from these commercials by charging advertisers.
For every 1,000 times a pre-roll video ad is shown, YouTube gets some money (approximately $20-$25 for every thousand ad views), which is also known as a CPM (cost per mile).
Now, when a YouTuber gets a large enough following, they can say to YouTube, “Hey man, I think I deserve a piece of that pie”. YouTube vloggers apply to be part of the YouTube Partner Program, in which they can begin earning a portion of the ad earnings generated from their videos. YouTube takes 45% of whatever the vlogger earns, and while CPMs can vary a fair amount, a YouTube Partner can usually earn around $5-7 CPM.
Basically, for every 1,000 times a video ad is shown on a YouTuber’s channel, they earn $7 and YouTube takes $18. So if a YouTube vlogger has one million views, with every single viewer watching an ad, they would earn $7,000 (1,000 views X $7).
Now of course you don’t watch a pre-roll ad before every YouTube video (and pre-roll ads that are skipped earn much less than ads that are watched the whole way through), but you can get a sense of a single video with over a million views can generate a nice chunk of change over time. [Credit to Celebrity Net Worth for help explaining this]
We’re not done with our social media stars yet though – next are Vine celebs.
You may be surprised to hear that there are Vine stars who have made quite the career out of their six second videos. Some have been discovered and swept towards bigger stardom, while others make good money through brand partnerships.
Shawn Mendes Signs a Record Deal
16-year old Shawn Mendes is a Canadian singer-songwriter who has used Vine to share his craft. Posting original music material along with his take on popular covers, Shawn ended up signing a deal with Island Records. When his EP dropped, it topped iTunes within half an hour!
Andrew Bachelor Makes Bank With Sponsored Vines
Andrew Bachelor (@KingBach)boasts over 9.6 million followers, and he’s made himself a nice nest egg with Vine. Bachelor makes between $10,000 to $15,000 from sponsored Vines, earning even more with longer sponsored company brand Vine campaigns.
Brittany Furlan Teams Up With Seth Green
Brittany Furlan is Vine’s biggest female icon. With over 8 million followers her humorous, often wacky Vines have garnered quite some attention. So much in fact, that she recently landed a deal for a new sketch comedy show being produced by Seth Green. When partnering with companies like Trident, Furlan can make up to $20,000 for a branded Vine (and can make money simply for re-Vining a brand Vine).
Us The Duo Becomes a Musical Sensation
Us The Duo is the husband and wife folk-pop pair Michael and Carissa Alvarado. They got their start on Vine before making it big! Since their initial Vine videos, they’ve gone on to sign a deal with Republic Records, tour around the world, and have released two albums!
Nash Grier (@griernash) is currently the most popular Vine star in the world, and he’s only 16! With over 10 million followers and endorsements for major brands like Virgin Mobile, he’s bringing in some big cash with his funny, comedic mini-videos.
Have these young social giants made you jealous yet? Hey, maybe your social media career is right around the corner!
What do you think of these social masterminds and their rise to fame? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Megan Marrs is a veteran content marketer who harbors a love for writing, watercolors, oxford commas, and dogs of all shapes and sizes. When she’s not typing out blog posts or crafting killer social media campaigns, you can find her lounging in a hammock with an epic fantasy novel.
See other posts by Megan Marrs
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