Popping online is leisure for most, but for a few young Kiwis scrolling through their social media is business.

Instagram has gained rampant popularity since it burst onto the digital scene in 2010. It has spread trends like Throwback Thursday, food porn and helped the term selfie become "word of the year".

Now prominent users are attracting the attention of vying brands who want a slice of their influence. Companies will pay top dollar for the right post. They also give gifts in exchange for promotion.

Entrepreneur Lyia Liu paid Kylie Jenner almost $300,000 to post a photo of herself wearing one of Liu's waist trainers on Instagram.


Chloe Zara

Instagram followers - 13,400

Warmer Days, Warmer Nights #maurieandeve #summerjumper

A post shared by Chloe Zara (@chloezara_) on

A well known Auckland hairdresser said the key to her Instagram popularity is showing "wearable" style.

Chloe Zara Powers, 28, has been hairdressing since she was 16 and has come to be known for her street fashion and textured, flattering haircuts.

She jumped on Instagram for fun around four years ago at "just the right time". She was always passionate about blogs and tumblr so found curating social media a natural pastime. Powers said her point of difference is to show people hairstyles or clothes they could easily imagine themselves in.

"Typical hairdressers love to do hair competitions and hair shows. They love to do quite extreme contrasting, crazy cuts like with one side shaved... I can't stand that.

"It's just not wearable, how does the client take that and wear that for themselves?"

Powers' ex-boyfriend worked with the clothing brand Commoners and they sent her an outfit to post on Instagram a year ago. She got a good reaction from her followers and has since been sent more outfits from various street style brands.

Sometimes she does campaigns where she posts a collection of photos pertaining to a brand. Powers estimated she's done eight campaigns. Five of them were paid and valued up to $1000 each including names like Adidas, Clinique, Converse and GHD.

Powers said bartering over the price is one of her weaknesses. She fears she'll come across as greedy.

"I hate negotiating... People always say 'Chloe you need to charge more' and I don't."

She also worries about coming across as a "show off".

"I've had moments where I've thought 'I shouldn't be doing this'

"You don't want to come across too showing off what you've got. It's a really fine line."

Only endorsing what she likes is really important for Powers. She is so determined to stick to her guns she turned away a $2500 campaign for a champagne brand.

"It just wasn't me.

"It's really important you've got to love the product and the brand."

Jono Parker
Instagram followers - 19,9

Auckland photographer Jono Parker's Instagram handle is worth over $40,000. PHOTO/Jono Parker
Auckland photographer Jono Parker's Instagram handle is worth over $40,000. PHOTO/Jono Parker

Semi-naked women and monochrome sneakers are part of Jono Parker's recipe for Instagram popularity.

Despite the 26-year-old photographer's online success he chose not to monetise it to the max. Instead he picked through frequently offered sponsored posts for brands that fit in with his style.

He was paid between $300 - $500 per post and estimated he accepted an offer every few months from companies like Nike and Adidas. Parker said he turned down brands like fast food and deodorant as they don't fit in with his style.

"If I take on a job they might offer me a lot of money but it might tarnish my brand.

"It's really got to be on point with what I'm doing and what I'm about."

Parker has a shoe addiction and currently owns around 80 pairs of sneakers. He frequently posted photos of shoes and his followers asked if he got paid for it.

"It's not the case, I just really like shoes."

Superstar Rotation @adidas @adidasoriginals @knowear.co #adidas #superstar

A post shared by Jono Parker (@parker) on

The value of Parker's Instagram handle makes any sponsored posts look like chump change. He waited for years to claim the handle "parker" off a Spiderman enthusiast who named his account after Peter Parker who only had one post. Instagram got rid of inactive accounts every few years and Parker jumped when he saw it was free.

He has since been offered $40,000 - $50,000 by "random big companies from the states" for the handle.

Antoinette Goodfellow
Instagram followers - 7100

Oh honey..

A photo posted by Antoinette Goodfellow | NZ (@antoinettebonbon) on

A Kiwi Instagram starlet didn't even know what a blog was before she got introduced to them through Instagram last year.

Now Antoinette Goodfellow is running her own and earns up to $1500 for a sponsored post.

The 26 year old was working as a hairdresser, stylist and model when she was inspired by fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni, author of The Blonde Salad, to start her own blog.

She established her Instagram page and Bonbon Girls, a blog that documents affordable fashion and her daily adventures.

"Instagram is where everyone is hanging out and the blog is where they can go if they want more."

Goodfellow began to get gifts and offers of sponsored posts a year ago. She was paid $60 to put together different outfits for a new fashion app.

"When I first started I got really excited about getting sent cleanser. I would do a little happy dance over that."

Now she gets a couple of sponsored offers a week valued between $300 to $1500. But she doesn't accept them all.

Goodfellow explained that the offers usually started with an email that said "do you want to work with us". She'll then Google the company if she doesn't know who they are and evaluate how they will fit into her brand.

"It's got to be true to you

"That's the only way you get good content. If you're not happy with what you're wearing it won't look good."

Goodfellow estimated she spends over 15 hours a week taking photos and managing her blog. Many of her almost 700 Instagram posts were taken by her "Instagram husband".

"He just fully supports what I do but he would never jump in front of the camera."

Goodfellow's ultimate goal would be to use her online influence to launch her own fashion line.

Gemma Barrett
Instagram followers - 3700

A 20 year old has given the makeup world a face lift with her prolific Instagram posts.

Wellington makeup artist Gemma Barrett started her Instagram two years ago as she noticed not many social media Kiwis were focused on cosmetics. She found it to be so much fun she just kept doing it. Now she has more incentive to keep going as companies gift her free products to sample and promote.

"I'm like a hype girl.

"If I can make money doing something I enjoy and feel proud of that's definitely a goal."

After a busy day working at makeup store Beauty Bliss Barrett comes homes and spends two hours making a makeup tutorial for YouTube and posts the finished result to Instagram. A year ago she started getting requests to promote makeup and skin care. Now she's had over 20 offers.

"I started getting lots of emails asking me to promote their products. People were asking me to do their make up.

"I was like 'woah this is so huge'. It started so tiny and it grew really fast."

Barrett became a makeup artist three years ago and was surprised by how people can say the same thing but want totally different looks. She said she started using makeup to make herself feel more comfortable in her own skin.

"I started to feel a little more confident if I had my freckles covered up and looked like I had real eyebrows. Then I started playing with colours and shapes.

"Most girls do things based on being pretty. I just wanted to do something fun and different."

"It's interesting hearing people's ideas on certain looks. Someone will want a natural look like no foundation, just mascara and eyebrows. While someone else will say that but bring in a picture of Kim Kardashian."