Serial entrepreneur and bestselling author Gary Vaynerchuk has garnered millions of followers by giving people an all-access, unfiltered view into his life.
The social media mogul has become known for his daily unapologetic and motivational videos and posts specially curated to fit his various social platforms. He shares advice on everything from business to happiness to life hacks to figuring out success.
“I am thinking about content 24/7 the same way that someone is deeply religious.” Vaynerchuk tells ABC News’ Chief Business, Technology and Economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis in a report for "Nightline."
While a cameraperson follows him throughout the day, his team will churn out different content curated for everything from a podcast to YouTube to LinkedIn to Facebook and more.
Here is how Vaynerchuk turns a typical day of his life into content: “Some of it [his day] will turn into a podcast, and some of it will be ... turned into an article on LinkedIn or my blog. Three minutes ... will be put into little videos that I will put on Instagram and we will produce a 21-minute show that lives on YouTube and Facebook. And then we will make another three-minute video that will make it a stand-alone video for YouTube and Facebook. So I have created a machine to have it think about content 24/7. I am just running a $200 million media company,” Vaynerchuk said.
In addition to his personal brand, the 42-year-old father of two has built an empire employing nearly 1,000 people across his sports agency, Vaynersports; lifestyle brand, Purewow; and digital advertising agency, Vaynermedia.
“What Vaynermedia does is, we are just a modern day Madison Avenue agency,” Vaynerchuk said. “We make videos and pictures, we are running media dollars for the biggest brands in the world, helping them storytell and make business results on Facebook, on Instagram, on Snapchat, YouTube, podcasting, Alexa.”
Some of those major brands include Budweiser, Comcast, Stainmaster, General Electric and Stella Artois. In fact, Vaynermedia’s Budweiser advertisement, "Harry Caray's Last Call", won YouTube Ad of the Year 2016. The advertisement showed Chicago Cubs fans throughout the city of Chicago anxiously watching to see if their team would win the World Series, thus fulfilling legendary sportscaster Harry Caray’s prediction from 1991: “Someday the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series."
Spoiler ... the Cubs win.
Although now running a multi-million dollar operation, Vaynerchuk came from humble beginnings, something he calls his “greatest strength.” Born in Belarus in the former USSR, he immigrated to the U.S. as a child with his parents. The family moved to Queens, New York, where they shared a studio apartment, eventually moving to northern New Jersey, where his father worked at the family's liquor store.
“My dad crushed it, I mean he came to this country with no money and in five years owned his own liquor store,” Vaynerchuk said, crediting his parents for much of his success.
Vaynerchuk eventually would take over the family liquor store business and go on to reportedly grow the company sales from $3 million to $60 million in less than five years. His secret was the internet.
“I launched a website [and in] 1996-97 -- launching a website was like me telling you right now I am going to Mars and starting a virtual reality studio. It was very far-fetched for a single store liquor store to have a need for a website. I launched an email newsletter in 1997. In ‘97, email was novel. people were not getting emails to buy stuff, I was doing that.”
Vaynerchuk also utilized Google adwords earlier than most.
“I bought every wine term for 5 and 10 cents a click when no one else was doing it ... what I am good at is seeing something emerging, and going all in and figuring it out.”
Then in 2006, Vaynerchuk launched WineLibraryTV, an online wine show, which would become the catalyst to his internet domination and show him the power of monetizing social media. He became one of the most followed people on Twitter at that time and WineLibraryTV started to go viral.
Vaynerchuk reflects on the time, “I said, ‘My God, I am a 33-year-old businessman, I have only been in the wine business, I used the internet to build my wine business, but now people are driving four hours to Wine Library just to shake my hand because they like my show, and they are buying wine -- this is weird.'"
Now, in Vaynerchuk’s latest bestseller, “Crushing It!” he is sharing his tips for building a personal brand and preaches that with enough work anyone has the potential to become an influencer and get paid for creating content.
“If you use 11 hashtags properly -- 39 people who have never heard of you will watch your little one-minute video on Instagram. If you happen to actually know what the heck you are talking about, people are going to comment and tag their friends and on and on and on -- the cream will rise to the top.”
While he isn’t saying that everyone can make millions like he does, he is saying that with the right strategy and perseverance an average person could make enough money to quit their day job.
“This is not about making $4 million being the expert on cereal. This is about making $71,000 a year on being the expert around cereal. This is about making 14 pieces of content around cereal -- a video, a picture, and just getting to enough where it makes you enough money in return for not doing that job that you do not want. All the way up to people like me, who can make tens of millions of dollars a year.”
In the book, he checks in with some devotees who have turned his advice into real success. There is bestselling author and top podcaster, Lewis Howes, who credits Vaynerchuk for inspiring him to build a business and “take it to a whole other level.”
Some other well-known followers of Vaynerchuk’s methods include Lauryn Evarts, the woman behind the popular health blog, “The Skinny Confidential,” which has evolved into a book, podcast, YouTube channel and app; and Daniel Markham, the man behind the YouTube channel “What’s Inside.”
So how lucrative is the influencer economy? According to Captiv8, a data-driven influencer marketplace, a person with 100,000 followers could earn an average of $5,000 per Instagram post, and $12,000 on YouTube. If you bump the follower count up to 500,000, the prices for Instagram rises to an average of $10,000 per post and potentially $25,000 on YouTube.
So what does Vaynerchuk have to say if someone isn’t breaking through? He says the biggest mistake is faking it: “You want to be an expert in X, but you are often not an expert.”
He shares five key tips to help make it as an influencer:
1. Love your content: “Make content that you are passionate about because you need to make a lot of it and if you do not love what you are doing, you will quit.”
2. Hashtagging is key: “Hashtags. If I want to talk about wine, when I post my wine post, in my comments I leave hashtags for cabernet, merlot, chardonnay, Napa Valley, Duckhorn ... do the whole thing.”
3. Engage: “Dollar 80 strategy. Leave your two cents on 90 posts a day on Instagram -- which means you have deposited a $1.80.”
4. Collaborate: “Spend an hour DMing (direct messaging) and saying, ‘How can I bring you value?’”
5. Be patient: “The most important ingredient is patience ... either you are unbelievably charismatic and talented, which is .001 percent ... or you out-will and outwork and are strategic and put in the patience.”
Vaynerchuk stresses the opportunity on the internet and social media today, calling it the “greatest land grab of opportunity that humans have ever seen” and encourages everyone to take advantage.
“The only parallel I can consider to the internet building your personal brand and building your business, was literally this island [Manhattan] when people were buying up pieces of it for pennies. This is ludicrous real estate; attention at the fraction of the cost with no upfront capital and completely based on merit around your personality or your skill set.”