Girls next door ‘influence’ Nashville in big way

(Courtesy; Ashley McLellan Houston)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s not surprising to hear big-name Nashville celebrities get paid thousands of dollars to post on social media about products.

However, that kind of payday isn’t just for the superstar. It’s also for the girl next door, your best friend, the Nashville insider.

They are also known as influencers.

These women post a photo in Instagram of their new outfit and instantly get paid $500.

“Bloggers especially are telling a story. You want to go to the restaurant they went to or you want to go to the event they went to,” said influencer Ashley McLellan Houston.“

Ashley is a stay-at-home mother with great taste, who has a following on Instagram of more than 31,000 people.

Most of Ashley’s followers are just like her, the target audience for companies.

She has more than 50 clients currently paying Ashley for her endorsement, receiving $250 to $500 per post.

This ‘dream job’ may sound like it is only attainable by a few, but it’s not true.

Not only are there thousands of women doing the same thing, but many are based in Nashville.

Influencer Hunter Schleicher said, “It’s a huge community. That’s one of the cool things about Nashville.”

For Hunter, a blog just made sense.

“In college, we just dressed everyone. People came to our room and we gave them accessories and shoes and a purse,” Hunter said.

It has now turned into a full-time job for her. Hunter has more than 26,000 Instagram followers and gets paid anywhere from $250 to $1,000 per post.

Hunter said, “Through brand deals, either I reach out to a company or a company reaches out to me. We work out a brand campaign.”

Some people call them ‘Instagram models.’

It may just look like all they do is take pretty pictures, but these women work.

Stevie Escoto of Girlilla Marketing said, “Put in work every day. It’s a job, it’s not passive.”

Escoto works with influencers representing the Nashville-based Girlilla Marketing.

Influencers are nothing new, she said, as New York and Los Angeles are filled with fashion and lifestyle bloggers.

As Nashville grows, so does the number of influencers.

“It’s crazy, it’s crazy,” Escoto said. “I think it’s the appeal of the lifestyle. You get a little bit of both worlds.”

Businesses love it because it seems natural.

“If you read a review of a movie, and it’s terrible, you’re like, eh,” Escoto said. “But if your best friend sees it, and says it’s amazing, you’re going to trust what your friend says.”

Unlike traditional media, Instagram is always available.

Escoto said, “It’s on demand; people are fast-forwarding, whereas, on Instagram, people are on it all day. It catches your eye through quality content.”

It is quality content specifically curated for you, by someone like you.

That’s the power of an influencer.