The internet has given birth to a plethora of online sensations — from the Turkish chef who became a sensation as 'Salt Bae' just by seasoning meat — to Jeremy Meeks, the felon whose viral mugshot catapulted him into a modeling career.
For many, social media can be a cruel and harsh place. Yet others, like noncelebrity "influencers" able to ride the wave of viral content to high follower counts and visibility, can easily make big money creating their own brand and promoting others.
According to Influencer marketing agency Mediakix, Instagram's influencer market is worth $1 billion, and shows no signs of slowing down. The firm predicted recently that by 2019, that figure would double.
"The fastest growing influencer marketing platforms are Instagram, Instagram Stories, Facebook, and YouTube," Jeremy Shih, head of marketing at Mediakix, told CNBC recently. For now, there's no comparable market for Twitter and the live video application Periscope.
Yet Periscope was a saving grace for Amanda Oleander, an artist based in California. In 2015, Oleander shot to fame on the platform by live streaming herself — eventually parlaying that into a six-figure income.
"At age 25, I [wanted] to be my own boss," Oleander told CNBC in a recent interview. When she first signed up for Periscope, she had recently been laid off and never considered being an internet entrepreneur.
After one week of being on Periscope, she became the most followed woman on the entire app.
"It kind of happened overnight," she said.
Live streaming herself painting exposed Oleander to a new class of clientele, with many viewers purchasing the illustrator's work, which costs an average of $5,000. Some of her clients include T-Mobile CEO John Legere, who owns two of her paintings — both of which he bought while tuned into one of Oleander's live painting sessions.
The artist told CNBC that her audience feels connected to the pieces she creates live, which encourages them to purchase the art. For example, Legere waited two years for Oleander to complete a $20,000 painting.
"I think people are attracted to that [rawness]," Oleander told CNBC. "A lot of the people who buy my pieces, they see the process," she said.