Hoosiers ditch regular jobs for social media stardom, you can too

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - You love them for their amazing style, fabulous fitness, or hilarious podcasts and videos. You might even be more obsessed with them than your favorite Hollywood celeb.

We're talking about regular people who've built a career on social media and have thousands, even millions of fans around the world.

In the last few years, social media has blown up into more than just a place to connect with family and friends. More and more people are ditching their 9 to 5 and creating a career online. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are the new office. And the job is to sell, sell, sell.

"A lot of its smoke and mirrors, let's be honest!" laughs Beth Chappo.

Beth is your typical Hoosier gal, except she has thousands of fans online. They follow her every move and buy whatever she's wearing. Beth is a lifestyle blogger and a social media influencer.

What's that?

Like so many others, Beth blogs about fashion and uses her following online to promote brands she works with.

"I had no idea when I started it that you could have a career out of this," she said candidly as she sat outside a coffee shop in Fishers and waited for photographer Shelly Ruth to snap some pictures of her new outfits.

Beth used to be in medical sales and wrote about fashion on her blog "Seersucker and Saddles" on the side for fun. About a year into it, she said, big brands started noticing her. That's when everything changed.

"They were willing to not only gift me items to style, but they saw the value in what I did and I was able to charge a fee. And I thought 'Oh gosh, there's definitely revenue to be made!'"

She was making so much money, she was able to support her family as a single mom. So she ditched her corporate job and went into social media full-time.

Beth's story is similar to that of Lindsey Hein.

The Indy mom traded in her office job to stay at home with her three adorable boys. But when she's not chasing them around, she's taping her weekly motivational podcast called "I'll have another with Lindsey Hein." She interviews guests like Tamika Catchings from her studio at home and makes money from sponsors.

"I'm booking my interviews, doing the interviews, editing, producing, like I'm doing everything on my own," she explained. All that work is paying off.

Hein explained a show that receives upwards of more than 200,000 downloads a month could pull in around $13,000 per episode for just one sponsor at a mid-roll spot.

Add in more sponsors and more downloads, and you're really rolling in the money.

"When something consumes that much of your time, either you gotta give it up a little bit or it's gotta become some sort of a career because it's too time consuming for it not to be," she added.

So how many of you want a piece of that pie?

The good news is, careers in social media are the real deal and there are plenty of opportunities because of how new this industry still is.

In fact, Ball State University is training students to get into social media careers right now. The school just launched a new social media center within its Miller College of Business. The Center for Advancement of Digital Marketing and Analytics (CADMA) gives students an opportunity to take classes on digital marketing and even work with real clients.

"They can leave here and they can choose to be an entrepreneur or they can choose to go work for all these millions of jobs that are out there for these students to walk in to," said Eric Harvey, Director of CADMA.

Those jobs pay pretty well. Harvey said a typical social media gig in Indiana starts in the high $40's. But if you're an entrepreneur like Beth or Lindsey, the sky is the limit.

"Whatever that subject matter is, they're promoting that subject matter using these free platforms to do that. And there's companies that will pay you for that," said Harvey.

"It's not all glitz and glam. Heck, I get naked in my car to change!" laughed Beth. She will be the first to tell you, it's a hustle. There's more competition every day. But if you want to build a career on social media, she advised jumping in it sooner rather than later.

"If you treat it as a hobby and you don't see money as the end game, I bet it will come to you authentically and organically," said Beth.

Who knows? You might be the next face of a magazine! Beth landed the cover of Redbook magazine this summer.

"To be able to turn it into a living is pretty spectacular."

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