Creativity And Occasionally Creepy Makeup Fuels Julia Salvia’s Social Media Following
In a telltale sign of the times, Julia Salvia perfected her social media persona during entrepreneurial studies classes in college and graduate school. She learned that being another Kim Kardashian clone wasn’t going to score her a passing grade from discriminating beauty aficionados on YouTube and Instagram, where she uses the handle beautybyjulia and has surpassed 87,000 followers. Salvia stands out from the influencer crowds with imaginative sparkly makeup and show-stopping extravaganzas of Halloween looks in October. “I always go back to what makes me unique as an influencer. It’s absolutely the biggest thing that helps you grow,” says the 23-year-old. Salvia schooled Beauty Independent on the business of being an influencer, behind-the-scenes production of posts and balking at the wavy brow.
How did you become an influencer?
In my entrepreneurial studies classes, they wanted us to actually work on stuff. I wanted to be an event planner, but I didn’t have anything event planning-related. I had already started doing YouTube at that point, so I started working on that. That’s how I got the career I have now. It just happened. It was never a plan to make it a career.
You’ve committed to social media as a business. What’s that like?
When I try to explain it to someone who doesn’t understand it, I say I’m a marketing company. You are the editor. You are the videographer. You are the model. You are just everything.
When did your social media presence begin to grow?
I always knew I had something, but it was just a matter of figuring out how to get it out publicly so a large amount of people see it. Sometimes it’s hard to look at yourself and ask what you are doing wrong because you are on the inside, but I found that I was basically becoming like everyone else. I was doing makeup looks like glam makeup, and it wasn’t what I should have been doing. My sophomore year, I did the 31 days of Halloween and posted 31 different makeup looks for the 31 days of October. I was putting glitter on my face and doing looks you normally wouldn’t wear in public. People were very curious, more interested and engaged in what I was doing.
How did you keep the beautybyjulia momentum going?
A year ago, I think I was at 8,000 followers on Instagram. I did an alien makeup look. I didn’t really like it. It’s an abstract piece with glitter on my face. It got the attention of Seventeen magazine and Cosmopolitan. I was like, “On my God, what did I do?” but in a good way. I was putting up a look I wasn’t proud of and showing people my mistakes. I got some recognition and decided to do the 31 days of Halloween again last October, and everything skyrocketed. I was growing ten to 100 times more than I was before. I almost failed out of my master’s program because of how badly I wanted this as my career.
Who is the beautybyjulia audience?
It’s definitely 18 to 34. It’s such a wide range of people, and that’s hard for me to explain. I have people my sister’s age, which is 13, and I have people in college, and mothers with kids.
What do beautybyjulia followers like to see most from you?
Everything glitter. I’ve always loved glitter, but I feel now it’s a really big thing. My nickname is glittah queen because of the glitter, and I’m from Jersey. The accent comes out sometimes.
“Sometimes it’s hard to look at yourself and ask what you are doing wrong because you are on the inside, but I found that I was basically becoming like everyone else. I was doing makeup looks like glam makeup, and it wasn’t what I should have been doing.”
Are you doing 31 looks again in October?
I told myself I wasn’t going to do it again because of how hard it is. One look takes anywhere from six to 10 hours to create. So, for me to create 31 videos in a month, it is 310 hours of work in a month, which is absurd. But I decided I need that boost again. I have the time now that I have decided to make this my career and will plan ahead this month to do it.
How do you come up with new ideas for Halloween makeup?
I feel like it’s OK to repeat things as long as you do it in a different way. If I did dark mermaid last year, this year I might do a bright and colorful one. People are into Disney, mermaids and unicorns, and are giving me crazy ideas like a mermaid that’s half a skull and half dead with glitter all over it. I like to host a giveaway around this time and a requirement of the giveaway is to tell me what they want to see for Halloween. I go off of what everybody is saying.
When did brands start to contact you?
Within the last two years. You go to panels and hear influencers say following doesn’t matter. Yes, it does, 110%. You are not going to go and advertise on Channel 5 if Channel 5 has five people watching. I got noticed by Seventeen and Cosmopolitan, and that helped spark me. I’m part of this community called Ipsy Open Studios. Michelle Phan started it. That has helped me tremendously to speak to many brands. It’s a domino effect. One person picks you up, another person sees that, then ten people pick you up, then 100 people. It’s been a year since Seventeen picked up my video and posted it, and I can’t even email everybody back in one day now. It’s been a crazy journey.
You believe many indie beauty brands don’t understand how to work with influencers. What don’t they get?
A brand will reach out and be like, “We want you to promote us. Can you do a shout out?” I try to be nice about it, but I’m like, “No.” Influencers need to try a product before they post about it. I would reach out and say, “My name Is Bob. I have a haircare company, and I would really love you to try our products.” Explain a little about the company and tell me why you want me to try your products. I want companies to understand that, if you really want me to be an advocate for you, I have to love your products.
What rate do you charge brands?
It’s all going to depend on what you want me to do, how in depth you want me to go and how many products there are. Do you want a video? Do you want a picture? Do you care if other companies are going to be in the video? I have given rates as low as $300 all the way up to $6,000. My rates get higher as I grow.
Tell me about a successful brand partnership you’ve had.
I work with Blaq. They have a mask that goes on your nose and pulls out your blackheads. I did a paid post, and it did really well. On Instagram, everything is off the cover picture. Once they click through the cover picture, it’s all about how entertaining you are. I really focus on having a good cover picture, and it’s not a cute picture. I’m talking about the ugliest, funniest cover picture you have ever done in your life. You should have someone say before they click it, “What the hell is this person doing?”
What do you think of coupon codes?
I think they are worth it if you work on them and don’t have that many. I keep my codes really simple like JULIA or BEAUTYBYJULIA. I try my best not to use any numbers. If you have affiliate codes, you should be posting them once a week and have somewhere people can see all of your codes. I plan on having a page on my new website with all my coupon codes.
What goes into creating a beautybyjulia Instagram post?
I try to multitask. Let’s say I have an event at night. I will film the look I’m going to wear for that event and, after that, I film the makeup and do a close-up lip tutorial. I might do a hair tutorial or do skincare or a favorites video. There are obviously pictures from the look I can post. Then, I will go to my event, come home and, the next day, I will edit those videos. I usually can get two videos for YouTube and five for Instagram out of everything.
What’s typical for beautybyjulia in terms of volume of posts weekly?
On a good week, I will post Monday through Friday on YouTube, so five videos a week, and I will post three times a day on Instagram.
What beauty trends are you into?
I try to make my own trends. There are all these weird trends on Instagram, and some I will pick up on for fun. Others – like the wavy brow – I’m just like, “Really?”
“One thing I do differently than a lot of people is engage with my following. I answer every single comment, snap and tweet. I take pride in doing that. It takes so much time, but it’s worth it because I know many people on a first-name basis, and people appreciate that.”
What are some short-term and long-term goals you have for growing beautybyjulia?
Right now, I’m just trying to get myself organized, and figure out my finances and how to keep making this into a career. It’s more complicated than people might think. I’m currently turning my business into an LLC. I would like to get my website done and possibly have an e-book. I don’t have time to answer my emails and create content all in one day. One thing I do differently than a lot of people is engage with my following. I answer every single comment, snap and tweet. I take pride in doing that. It takes so much time, but it’s worth it because I know many people on a first-name basis, and people appreciate that. I will snap back pictures or emojis to people, and they will say, “Oh my God, I can’t believe you did that.” I’m like, “Why wouldn’t I?” I’m a normal person just like you, I just have a different career.