The dawn of digital media has turned the world of fame and fortune on its head. It has given a platform for everyday people to share their thoughts, skills, and interests with a potential worldwide audience.
However, it’s only the very few who are able to turn this exposure into cool, hard cash, mainly big-name celebrities who are paid by brands to extol the virtues of their products.
It was US-based technology company HP, who came up with the innovative idea to help those that had large social media followings turn their content into cash – which has not only changed the lives of many people on both sides of the pond but has also helped them make huge amounts of money, engage with their audience, and build a personal brand.
RECONSTRUCTING THE PUBLICATION EXPERIENCE
Found.us – which has now been bought from HP by UK-based print giant Precision Proco Group – came up with an offering that was pretty hard to resist.
It originally approached US-based social media influencers who were posting recipes on Instagram and cooking videos on TikTok – most of which have a following in excess of 50,000 people – and gave them the opportunity to turn those creations into cash.
The premise was simple – Found.us would produce a cookery book for them using their available content, and all they had to do was promote it via their channels, resulting in them getting a percentage of every book sold.
It seemed too good to be true, but because the system relied on using print on demand – where books were only printed as orders came in – there was no wastage and no huge piles of printed books sitting in warehouses waiting to be sold.
The technology also allowed for a fast turnaround, with books available in a matter of weeks.
For Louise Stephenson, Managing Director of Found.us, the innovative process is proving a major disrupter in the publishing industry.
“The books produced via Found.us are for people who may never ever have gotten a traditional publishing deal but also didn’t recognize the value in what they were sharing online,” she says.
“We are helping them make substantial amounts of money without any risk, outlay, or commitment from them other than promoting their books to their audience.”
REAL-LIFE SUCCESS STORIES
For some of the influencers, working with Found.us has become a life-changing experience.
Mississippi-based Matthew Bounds worked as an insurance adjuster and taught himself to cook during lockdown because he felt guilty that his husband made most of their meals.
He created his online persona – Your Barefoot Neighbor – which became an instant hit thanks to his Southern charm and his easy-to-follow recipes.
His first cookery book, Come Fix You A Plate, has become a best-seller, earning Matthew tens of thousands of dollars as well as having had as many as 28 million views of some of his recipes.
And he’s not the only one. Caroline Davis, aka Mississippi Kween, is a mum who only joined social media to – by her own admission – “spy on my children.”
She, too, has developed a massive audience and now has two cookery books to her name.
The list goes on, with creators across the country finding that what started off as a hobby has become a serious – and lucrative – business.
Husband and wife Luke and Kelli Brown from Missouri, have both given up their teaching jobs to concentrate full time on being influencers because the income they are getting from their cookery books provides them with that luxury.
EXPANDING TO A GLOBAL AUDIENCE
Having proven the concept, Found.us is now preparing to expand into a range of other areas.
Working with influencers in the UK and Canada is also on the list and has now introduced a whole host of merchandise which, again, can be personalized with the creators’ signature brand, which they can also promote on their channels.
Louise believes the Found.us model is not restricted to just those creators who are passionate about food.
“There are so many other areas that we are about to look at,” she explains.
“Health and beauty, well-being, fashion – anyone who works in these areas can also benefit from what Found.us can do for them.”
Although it is a numbers game in terms of the amount of followers an influencer might have, Found.us is also working on nurturing new talent.
“We’re identifying people who may not have massive numbers of followers at the moment, but we can see they have something about them,” says Louse.
“And so, we’re working with them to help them build their audience and give them opportunities they could only dream about.
“We believe we’re on the cutting edge and leading the way in a new form of publishing, one which is accessible to everyone and which can – and already is – proving to be very lucrative.”