Social media star Alex Hirschi, otherwise known as Supercar Blondie, could be the highest-paid motoring influencer in the world, according to a new survey.
However, Hirschi believes the data leaves out a lot of important factors.
The survey, compiled by British financial services comparison website GoCompare, says Hirschi, who lives in Dubai, is estimated to be able to command $1.4 million (Dh5.1m) a year from sponsored social media posts, with a daily income of $3,853.
While she declined to comment on her actual annual earnings, Hirschi says lists like this shouldn’t be relied upon for accurate information, as they simply don’t take enough outside factors into account.
Known across the globe as Supercar Blondie, the thrill-seeking Australian found fame thanks to her love of high-end cars.
A former radio presenter on Dubai Eye, Hirschi gave up her day job in 2017 to focus on her burgeoning social media empire.
She now boasts 17m followers on Facebook, 1.2m on TikTok, 6.1m on Instagram and 3.6m YouTube subscribers.
With that kind of following, GoCompare estimates she could command about $31,000 per sponsored Instagram post.
But Hirschi says the numbers aren’t as cut and dry as that. For starters, the list didn’t consider her Facebook account, which is where her highest number of followers is, and the niche she fills as a female in a male-dominated industry.
These things will all impact a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) rate.
“It’s annoying when you have some analysts who say who earns what just based on CPM rates,” she says.
“What I offer to brands is much more unique and if they want my reach they need to know that’s going to cost them more than that CPM rate.”
Such calculations tend to only be accurate when you’re examining marketing on a static website, she says, where there is no personality or face behind it. CPM rates are also affected by where your audience is from and how high their spending power is considered to be – for example, rates for US audiences could be 20 to 30 times higher than that of one in India.
The rich list doesn’t include endorsement deals or other sources of income, either.
“It’s just a general ballpark figure with these lists,” she says.
Hirschi also stresses it’s important to differentiate between influencers and content creators. She considers herself a member of the latter camp.
“Every day I work on creating unique videos and going out and hunting down cool things that people want to see,” she says.
“Influencers have bad connotations because they are just people out taking selfies and getting tens of thousands of followers.”
For that reason, Hirschi says she is discerning when it comes to paid collaborations and sponsored posts.
She says she gets “hundreds” of messages every day asking her to endorse products, and she rejects “99.9 per cent of them”, because they wouldn’t fit with her brand or her audience wouldn’t be interested.
“And that’s one of the things that has made my business successful. I’m very honest – when I work with a brand it’s because I really want to,” she says.
“Influencers try and grab at cash quickly and it dilutes the quality of their content. If you really want to grow in this business you have to put your content first.”
That is the mantra Hirschi lived by when she quit her radio job three years ago, with 50,000 followers on her Instagram account, a couple of inquiries from brands and a “let’s give it a go” attitude.
Until that point, she’d been working a full-time job, driving around in fancy cars in her spare time and documenting it on social media.
“I never had the intention to make money from it at all, I just loved driving these cars,” she says.
The next two-and-a-half years were akin to starting a small business, she says, and she didn’t have a day off in that period.
Going from 50,000 followers to almost 20m in such a small space of time meant a lot of hard work, and doing everything from accounts to filming and editing herself.
Which is why she rails against the idea that content creation is an easy or superficial job.
“If it was that easy to have millions of followers, then everyone would have millions of followers. It’s super-difficult to push through the noise.”
As for right now, Hirschi is currently seeing out the pandemic at her home in Dubai. She’s also working on a new business strategy that would pivot her operations to not rely on travelling so much.
“Last year we travelled nine months out of 12 months, so for me this has been a really nice kind of break.
“I don’t want to slow down [...] but travelling that much to create content is just not sustainable and I was on the path to major burnout.”
Who else made the content creator motoring rich list?
British car enthusiast Colin Furze came in second, followed by American diesel-man Dave ‘HeavyD’ Sparks. Furze is well-known for his videos that show how he rebuilds expensive cars, which he shares with his 10.1 million YouTube subscribers. Conversely, Sparks’s Instagram account is full of big trucks, big wheels and big food.
However, Hirschi’s estimated earnings are about twice as much as the runners-up, with Furze expected to make about $642,400 a year.
Sparks comes in close behind, with $593,400.
Rounding out the top 10 are four American influencers, one Briton, one Russian and one from Germany.
Hirschi is the only woman on the top 10 list.
GoCompare compiled it by estimating how much each personality could have made, depending on how many followers they have.
To calculate Instagram earnings, the company used inkifi.com’s online earnings calculator and, for YouTube, it used the platform’s publicly available data, which stipulates influencers can expect to earn about $2.85 per 1,000 video views, with more popular personalities earning up to $4.71.
This was then worked out on an average of four sponsored posts per month.