Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

From fashion to fitness, meet the Northern Irish bloggers influencing thousands of local people

Tiffany Brien, Ivona Moore and co have turned their social media platforms into businesses

A group of Northern Irish power players are turning their social media platforms into big businesses and hugely popular blogs.

While some influencers are making money from their Facebook, YouTube and Instagram accounts by reaching out to consumers on behalf of well-known brands, others are picking up massive followings from their much-read online content.

In this age of social media, an increasing number of businesses are using influencers such as Tiffany Brien and Ivona Moore to help get their brand message across.

From parenting to pets and fashion to fitness, many bloggers are earning a living from their passion while, for others, it’s a favourite pastime.

Michael Joyce of the Influencers Agency explained: “In Northern Ireland, the use of influencers has not kicked to the extent it has elsewhere.

“There is a common misconception that influencers are expensive to use. This is not always the case. The industry is leaning more to the micro-influencer (under 100k followers).

“The use of user-generated content and images sits well with brands and campaigns. These influencers normally have a more highly engaged audience.

“Thinking is shifting and organisations and brands are taking notice of how effective influencers can be within their campaigns.”

Ivona Moore

Classroom assistant Ivona Moore has turned a passion for fashion, beauty and food into a lucrative business, thanks to her 64,000-plus followers on Instagram and the time and effort she invests in her blog.

The Lithuanian-born mum-of-one, who has lived in Northern Ireland since she was 13, set up the blog a year ago because she was regularly using Instagram to search for fashion, make-up and home interiors inspiration.

Her visually striking photographs are taken by her husband Gary and Ivona says her USP is honesty — she only reviews products she likes.

She has worked with brands including Garnier, Boohoo, Elizabeth Arden, AX Paris, H&M, Wallis, Quiz, Jack Wills, and Pandora. She was even invited to attend Paris Fashion Week. Profit depends on the brand and budget for each campaign.

Ivona is currently still working as a classroom assistant — a job that she loves — but as her influencing business grows, she may have to reconsider her future.

NI Gossip Guy

NI Gossip Guy was set up by Newry man Neil Cole in 2013 as an entertainment and lifestyle blog. It is regularly updated.

On Twitter, NI Gossip Guy is a verified profile with 19,300 followers and a weekly reach of 60,000. The readership breakdown on Twitter is mainly male (65pc to 35pc female) and the age group 25–54.

On Facebook, NI Gossip Guy has a weekly reach of 100,000 and over 30,000 likes and followers. The breakdown of readers on Facebook is mainly female (60pc to 40pc male) and of a similar age range to Twitter.

On Instagram, Neil (above) has 11,500 followers and 90,000 impressions per week (not including Instagram stories, which get around 4,000 views). The age group is younger, 18–45, and followers are mostly male.

Among the big brands Neil has worked with are Heineken, Diageo, Aer Lingus, River Medical, Martina Collins Dentistry and several clothing brands. He plans to expand the blog next year.

That Belfast Girl

Set up by Belfast woman Gemma Louise Bond, That Belfast Girl began life as a student blog called Champagne Lifestyle, Student Budget.

It offered tips to fellow students on everything from fashion to beauty to everyday issues affecting teenage girls.

However, the blog evolved slowly over time to That Belfast Girl, and Gemma Louise, who’s now 25, writes about issues impacting young women.

Her blog is very much content-driven, and she interacts regularly with readers. Her prolific presence across social media platforms helped Gemma Louise land a job in marketing while still working on her blog.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 people read the website each month, while on Facebook she has 12,000 followers.

Brands Gemma Louise has worked with include Marks & Spencer, Aviva, Benefit Cosmetics and Diet Coke.

Recently, the size 14 blogger’s first swimwear photo went viral as she set out to encourage others to embrace their figures.

Max Plays

Glengormley man Eoin ‘Max’ Maxwell is a London-based influencer and a huge celebrity in the world of gaming.

The 23-year-old (left) set up his own YouTube channel, Max Plays, when he was still at school and confined to bed through illness.

It became a massive sensation, watched by almost 400,000 people.

Max Plays’ videos, which include pranks and football commentary over Fifa games, attract an average of around 100,000 views, and on Twitter he has almost 52,000 followers.

With such a huge reach, his YouTube channel has become a lucrative platform covering gaming, sports and fashion brands, and his profile as an influencer has risen so much that he’s been invited to star-studded events with the likes of Rihanna and Matt Damon.

Gluten Free Fi

When Belfast woman Fiona McCartan was diagnosed with coeliac disease, she decided to record her gluten-free journey in a positive light by posting recipes on Instagram. A keen cook, she wanted to show that gluten-free food could be nutritious and delicious, and her recipes soon won her followers in the US, UK, Ireland and Australia.

Fiona then set up her own website, Gluten Free Fi, and expanded the content to include lifestyle, restaurant recommendations, hotel and travel reviews.

Her website has a monthly readership of around 11,000, but her main platform, Instagram, has grown from 1,000 followers in the first few months to around 36,500.

She has worked with a number of gluten-free food brands including Mash Direct and the organic skincare and sunless tanning company Vita Liberata.

Tiffany Brien

Former Miss Northern Ireland Tiffany Brien set up her first Facebook blog to document her year as a beauty queen, before launching her hugely popular fitness blog, Peanut Butter Girl. Coming from a sailing background, Tiffany had always been interested in fitness and set up the blog to offer advice on healthy eating and exercise. It took off quickly and currently has around 95,000 followers.

Tiffany says Instagram is now the greatest social media marketing platform as the visual impact tends to draw more people in. She has approximately 48,500 followers on Instagram, amassing hundreds of ‘likes’ for each post.

Her following is 80% female and her posts cover topics such as fitness, food, beauty, fashion and home interiors.

Tiffany works for an estate agent, but her blog has become a big money-making venture. As well as having a year-long contract with Dale Farm, she has also collaborated with Linwoods, Argento, the Home Show and CastleCourt.

My Sister’s Closet

This popular boutique, fashion label and blog was set up by Co Tyrone sisters Anita and Donna Ross. The Dungannon sisters’ blog has been such a big hit that RTE approached them about their own fashion online series, named after their blog.

The series sees them offering shopping advice to women from everyday wear to how to dress to impress for special events. The blog has over 100,000 followers on Facebook and around 30,000 on Instagram, and the sisters have built upa dedicatedfanbase of fashionistas across Northern Ireland and beyond.

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