What happens when an influencer wants to retire? They found someone to replace them

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In April, Kimberly Smith told subscribers to her blog, Penny Pincher Fashion, that after a decade of blogging, she had decided to retire.

In an article, Kimberly wrote that she had exhausted herself from the industry once she transitioned from mainstream blogging to influencing primarily through social media. The industry is very different from the one she joined in 2011, and she said “the more this industry changed, the more I found myself wanting to get out of it.”

However, in September, Kimberly returned to the blog with a surprise announcement. Instead of slowly erasing her blog, she had decided to let it live, with a new owner at the helm.

“Two months ago I met Veronica and knew she was the perfect person to take over the business,” Kimberly wrote. “I am delighted to introduce her to you today as the new owner and author of PPF! It will breathe new life into the blog and pick up where I left off.

Kimberly had forwarded her website, Instagram and content to Veronica, whose last name she did not disclose. Soon after, Veronica introduced herself to the Penny Pincher Fashion audience, writing, “My goal is to continue to provide you with fashion finds, outfit inspirations and beauty ideas on a budget.” Veronica kept the main focus of Kimberly’s blog, affordable clothing and budget finds, while putting her own face and giving it a twist.

Over the past decade, blogs and Instagram accounts have grown from passionate projects and small side businesses to true small businesses, run by thousands of people around the world. I often wondered if we were going to start seeing some people, clearly exhausted by the frenetic pace of influence, start to retire, and if so, what would happen to their incredibly valuable businesses.

Turns out, like any other small business, like a doctor’s office or a boutique, influencer businesses can be bought and sold. Influencers can also choose to simply hand over their business to a newcomer willing to try the influencer game for themselves (it’s unclear if Veronica paid to take over Kimberly’s accounts or what her social presence was before that. ).

This is becoming more and more common, as many influencers choose to step down or retire for various reasons. Taking over an established account is a much more attractive option than starting from scratch, as it can be extremely difficult to build a new brand from scratch in an increasingly competitive and crowded market.

For many influencers, passing on their account can also be a way to ensure that their hard work continues without them having to maintain it. This has happened with an account called @ReadLikeARockstar, which provides anti-racism resources and education for teachers, educators and other advocates.

The account was founded by Naomi Simone O’Brien, an elementary school teacher, and she had amassed over 100,000 subscribers by early 2021. One of her fans was Deonna Smith, vice-principal and former teacher in the area of Los Angeles, who had started posting about racial justice on his personal account in 2020.

Deonna told me that she started posting on her private account to show people what the Black Lives Matter protests in Los Angeles really looked like on the pitch. Over time, she began to share more and more anti-racism education resources and began to organize Instagram lives on the subject. She got to know Naomi via Instagram, and the two appeared on a panel together. While Deonna’s posts sometimes went viral, she never exceeded 800 subscribers.

Naomi decided that Deonna would be the perfect person to take Read Like to Rockstar in her next chapter. In the spring of 2021, Deonna said, Naomi reached out to her and asked if she would be interested in taking over @ReadLikeARockstar. She explained that she was exhausted from managing her Instagram account and wanted to focus on other businesses. Deonna said she didn’t pay the account and got it “unconditionally”.

Deonna decided the account would be a perfect way to kickstart her activism even higher. On June 1, they officially changed accounts. “Here’s a fresh start,” Deonna wrote.

“Really, it was meant to be because she was praying for a way out and I was ready for the next step in my journey as a lawyer, thought leader and consultant,” she continued. “So here I am. Ready to learn and grow with you.

Although excited about the opportunity, Deonna was nervous that the supporters would reject her. However, she said, the response has been “overwhelmingly positive”.

“Her audience has been in it, like it’s down, which is crazy,” she said. It hasn’t lost any subscribers either, as data from Social Blade shows that the number of followers on the page has remained remarkably stable since its takeover.

Deonna kept the spirit of the page while putting her own flair to it. She changed the name to her own, @deonnasmith, saying she wanted to allow Naomi to keep the nickname of “reading like a rockstar”. (Naomi now has fewer followers on a new account, @readlikearockstarteaching.)

The main change, she said, is that she and Naomi are different women, with different life experiences, so they present information in different ways. In addition, she said, Naomi has focused more on resources teachers can use in the classroom, while she is more oriented towards “coaching teachers …

So what’s it like to go from a normal person to having the attention of over 100,000 people overnight? As crazy as you’d expect, Deonna said. She had to navigate learning all aspects of the business, from branding deals to managing a ton of DMs, besides managing the account and her day-to-day work (oh yes, and she’s also a candidate. at the doctorate). However, she knows all the hard work will be worth it. She hopes to grow her consulting business and continue her activism through the account.

“Ultimately it’s a challenge, but I don’t regret it for a second because I would be crazy not to take this opportunity to really do something to put my money where I say it,” he said. she declared. “That’s what matters to me.”

Deonna’s story is fascinating and a harbinger of things to come in the industry. People are slowly starting to recognize that being an influencer is akin to being an entrepreneur and that an established Instagram account, blog, and other online establishment is a valuable asset.

As the influencer economy becomes more mature and complex, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more and more of these transactions.

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