Chasing Celebrity Entrepreneurship
There’s a business argument that is being made that you need to have to be a celebrity or business famous in order to be successful.
But like everything else that we talk about on Duped, chasing the celebrity entrepreneur status is not all that it seems and it has a dark side as a business practice that has a high cost on the sustainability of a business.
What is a Celebrity Entrepreneur?
Maggie has literally written all the articles on this so before we go into chasing celebrity entrepreneurship as a business practice, we’re going to give you a quick rundown.
What is a celebrity entrepreneur?
From Maggie’s article: “Think of celebrity entrepreneurs as business influencers. Having a business and making money doesn’t mean that they’re experts. It just means they know how to market and sell to you. They know how to influence the way you think and act.”
How can you spot a celebrity entrepreneur in the wild?
Celebrity entrepreneurs use a common set of strategies and tactics in four buckets — invented authority, weaponized stories and sales tactics, insider secrets and mindset manipulation. These celebs can generally be broken down into one of six archetypes:
- BFF Next Door
- Woo Crew
- Luxury Lifestylers
- The Rebel Creative
- The Intellectual Superior
- The Contrarian
Why are online business owners are taught to pursue celebrity when building a business?
We have this idea that you need to be everywhere, and you need to have a huge following which is unfounded. Everyone’s lost the idea of the 1000 true fans and let’s be real, this shit looks good online.
What Does Chasing Celebrity Entrepreneurship Look Like?
It looks like selling the dream. In season one, we did a whole episode on the trappings of luxury lifestyle – a lifestyle that is used to sell the dream of entrepreneurship – Teslas, travel, big houses on the beach and so much more.
Huge social media following, huge email list, heavily stylized brand photoshoots, fancy as fuck website, – anything else Maggie?
As “online” business owners, we think we need to chase after those things to be successful. It becomes normalized as a business best practice as we talked about in episode one. Let’s dive deeper into three aspects. Social media, heavily stylized branding and brand photoshoots, and the business model of these web celebs.
One of the big trends that I’ve noticed in my business and among my clients is that they really want to get off of social media or be less dependent on social media for marketing their business.
For years, we’ve been fed this message that you have to be on social media to market your business.
Conventional self-help wisdom that you should look at the people who are where you want to be and emulate what they are doing? Since online business is insular we look to the web celebs and we see that we have a huge following on social media so that’s what we need to do.
The web celebs tell you that you need to post on Instagram three times a day, create reels, do videos and so much more.
Here’s the deal – posting 3 x a day = 21 posts a week, 84 posts a month and that’s 1008 posts a year.
That’s a shit ton of content. It’s a shit ton of free labor that may or may not be leading to sales.
One thing I noticed in my business is that my sales tend to come from buying the 3 Word Rebellion book, listening to my podcast (or this one), referrals – following me on social media is often an afterthought
The bottom line is that depending on your business model (and we are going to talk about that next – you might not need a huge following).
One final thought, you might be wanting to get a book deal. And you know that publishers want you to have a huge platform in order to sell books – but that might be changing.
Why? Because of a string of celeb book flops.
In an article from the New York Times, titled Millions of Followers? For Book sales it’s unreliable. Elizabeth Harris documents the book sales of celebrities.
For instance, Billie Eilish’s book was destined to be a bestseller with her 97 million IG followers – but that following translated into a paltry 64,000 books sold
Justin Timberlake – his book sold 100,000 copies despite his 54 million followers.
Representative Ilhan Omar with her 3 million Twitter followers and 1.4 million IG followers sold 26,000 copies of her book
A larger following that grants you a celebrity status does not necessarily translate into sales (and it doesn’t mean their books are any good either).
But why do these celebrity entrepreneurs need such a big audience?
What Celeb Entrepreneurs Are Selling
One of my favorite podcasts, Conspirituality always reminds listeners to “see what they say, watch what they sell.”
What strikes me is usually the promise of these various programs reflects what they themselves have. They are selling you on their dream and vision of success.
Take for instance “Exponentially Increase Your Income and Impact in Your Online Business”
This is the promise of the elusive 7-figure business and a huge fucking audience.
Furthermore, Most celebrity entrepreneurs rely on selling volume which means they need a really big audience (hence the messaging around how their program is for just about anyone who can pay).
They have to achieve celebrity status in order to make their business model work. If you remember our season 2 opener – we talked about the math around courses – that if you’re selling a course for $1000 bucks and you want to make $200k in your business – assuming a 1% conversion rate – you need about 20K people on your list to put that in perspective – our new shiny Climate Pledge Arena here is Seattle – seats 17,459 people.
Celebrity entrepreneurs depend on their celebrity but they are selling you a business model that won’t work with the current audience you had.
In my business, I worked with 27 business owners 1:1 – that was 90% of my revenue.
Your business model should dictate how big an audience you need to reach. Remember that much like Billie Eilish and her book a big audience doesn’t necessarily guarantee sales.
Stylized Branding & Photo Shoots
The highly stylized branding photoshoots remind me of something very particular. I want you to click this link and describe what you see to the audience.
I feel like peak celebrity entrepreneurs is having a very stylized brand (that has some kind of theme) with a photoshoot that has tons of props.
On the face of it, I don’t think there is anything wrong with this kind of branding.
The issue I see is that this becomes a standard for how you’re supposed to do business and what success looks like – that you need that kind of branding to be successful. People won’t trust your business unless you have this kind of brand shoot
If you’re truly a successful business owner – then you need a fancy AF branding shoot and a website to go along with it.
I keep going back to the 2019 AMEX study that 88% of women-owned businesses earn less than 100K and only 4.2% of women-owned businesses earn over a million.
The cost of doing this type of branding is astronomical,
For many of us that kind of investment is out of reach and even if it was in reach, you should ask yourself — do you really want to invest your money into that???
The Bottom Line – You don’t have to be a celebrity to have a successful and profitable business.
Beware of chasing celebrity entrepreneurship and letting these web celebs define what success looks like for you and what kind of business you should have.
- Ask yourself what kind of business you want and your vision of success – don’t trade your vision in for what the celebrity entrepreneurs are selling
- Do you really need a huge following on social media? Look at your business model and where your last five clients have come from and that will be illuminating
- Fancy AF branding and photoshoot do not equate to credibility or expertise.
- You don’t need a fancy brand to be a wildly successful business owner
Links for this Episode:
- Questioning Online Business Practices
- Article: Millions of Followers? For Book Sales ‘It’s Unreliable
- Conspirituality podcast
- Allie Mason
- Kevin Kelly 1000 True Fans
- Nailah King on Ko-fi
- Maintenance Phase podcast
- Amex Study = State of Women Owned Business 2019
- We Need to Talk About Digital Black Face (Teen Vogue)