- Australians who run Instagram meme accounts are being paid to post sponsored memes to hundreds of thousands of people who follow them.
- Individuals and businesses running Instagram meme accounts internationally are making a living from sharing sponsored content from advertisers
- But Australian creators say that they’re paid less money and receiving fewer offers, despite having comparably-sized audiences.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
It might sound too good to be true, but 17-year-old Riley makes money from posting memes on social media.
The Australian teenager runs the Instagram account @dankmemesforaustralianteens, an Instagram account with 17,000 followers.
Most of the images he posts are localised versions of popular meme formats, but a handful of them deviate from that. Images promoting a face mask company or a clothing brand are sponsored content, meaning he’s been paid to post them.
And how much did Riley get paid?
“I got $50 for the first and $15 from the second,” he tells Business Insider Australia.
Sponsored meme posts are an emerging branch of the influencer marketing industry.
Rather than being associated with individual influencers, some brands are paying meme page owners to post memes or other content about them. And while these accounts don’t have a ‘face’, they can build enormous audiences who are loyal to the account’s character.
At the very top end of the market, it can be quite lucrative. Warner Media Group reportedly recently bought IMGN Media, a company best known for making memes and viral videos on its accounts like @daquan,, for $US85 million.
Similarly, the big spending Michael Bloomberg presidential campaign famously partnered with companies behind meme accounts as part of its $US1 million a day spend on Facebook advertising (although the specific value of the work done by the meme accounts hasn’t been reported).
On the other end of the spectrum, the campaign was paying micro-influencers $US150 a post to promote his short-lived candidacy as well.
But even that figure is higher than the amounts that Australians running Instagram meme pages told Business Insider Australia they had received from sponsored posts.
While these accounts have built significant audiences, the money offered for sponsored content and the number of offers by Australian advertisers seems to lag behind their U.S. counterparts.
16-year-old Billy created @straya__memes__ in 2018, and now boasts more than 170,000 followers.
“I started it as a joke,” he said. “But it blew up and I ended up making money from it.”
Billy said he charges $40 for Instagram Story posts, which disappear after a day, or $80-100 for a normal post. But, he said, he charges less for his many recurring customers.
While some people might assume posting memes is easy, Billy said he works hard at it. He’s figured out the best times to post (after noon), what kind of content his audience wants, and how to work with advertisers.
He’s even figured out how to translate these skills over to Facebook. “I expanded straya memes to Facebook, which has 30k followers in the first 3 months of launching,” he wrote.
Billy said people are surprised by how hard he needed to work to build his account to the point where he could monetise it.
“I’m a really dedicated person, and I guess that’s why I got my page to the place it is today. In other cases, you see people who want to have a big account give up because they want it too fast,” he said.
The owner of @only_aussies_can_relate Lucas – a pseudonym – agrees. He said it took hard work and luck to build up to 170,000 Instagram followers.
“You’re lucky if it only takes months to build the page big, and most big pages will find it’s taken them several years to actually get big,” he wrote.
Like many creative industries, creators will spend most of their time doing unpaid work making or, more often and – controversially – finding memes to build up an audience.
Comparatively, creators spend less of their time actually posting content that’s paid; although Lucas points out he has to approve those posts (“No nudity, no scams, no stupid ads.”)
“It’s hard to find motivation some days. Good memes, when you make them or find them, are hard to come by,” he said.
He charges between $15-35 for a post, and said he’s “been in contact with hundreds of people” in the past few years about doing sponsored content.
This kind of work has opened up other opportunities for him. Viral news company Ladbible approached Lucas to come and work for them (he declined).
Riley also hopes he gets more sponsored content opportunities in the future. At the moment, he is just waiting until brands contact him.
“[I want to do] as much as I can. I’m just hoping it comes along,” he said.
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