Fifteen years ago there was no such thing as a social media influencer, but fast forward to 2023 and there are now an estimated 50 million full-time ‘creators’ worldwide. It isn’t hard to understand the appeal; no nine-to-five, no domineering boss, no skills, experience or talent necessary. Little input for potentially incredibly high returns, especially if you successfully find a niche.
A cleanfluencer from Northern England went from working at M&S to sharing her cleaning tips full time which led to a book deal with Penguin; Live, Laugh, Laundry (I kid you not). A young woman in America known as Miss Excel claims to make $250,000 to $300,000 a month for her spreadsheet explainer videos on TikTok. It is therefore understandable, albeit depressing, that 54 per cent of Americans aged between 13 and 38 aspire to become influencers.
There are influencers for everything: beauty, fitness, illness, and increasingly, home renovations. From reality television stars to the former prime minister’s wife, people are sharing their private sanctums online.
The interest in the lives of others – especially those whose lives are more interesting and beautiful – is nothing new. House Beautiful launched in 1896 and still sells an average of 90,000 copies a week. The interior design magazine Architectural Digest’s YouTube channel has over 1.2 billion views. But it is no longer just the lives of the rich and unattainable that people are interested in. There are hundreds of thousands of accounts on Instagram and TikTok that show ordinary people with ordinary houses doing very ordinary renovations.
Is it because homeownership has become so unattainable that the closest millennials will get to it is living vicariously through others? There are only so many before-and-after shots of dank 1960s bathrooms one can gawp at – however, you can find hundreds of thousands of Instagram accounts peppered with #inspo photos of anything from a spiral staircase to replicas of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.