A normal yet incredibly attractive person becomes a reality TV show star and then an influencer—we are all familiar with the reality TV-to-influencer pipeline that has pumped out some of our most famous celebrities like Joey Essex, Molly Mae Hague, Amber Davies and Gemma Collins.
Until fairly recently, however, very little has been known about what that road looks like for Love Is Blind contestants. Enter our girlies Deepti Vempati and Natalie Lee from season two of the Netflix hit series, who gave Fortune a breakdown of how much they earned in the year after the show aired. Just to give you a lil preview, we’re talking about a staggering $1 million that the two were able to make combined. Can I get five weeks off from work and turn my life around, please?
Before the two entered the pods, Deepti was earning around $100,000 per year as a data analyst at a tech company and Natalie was pulling in approximately $234,000 a year as a management consultant. Already not bad, right? Love Is Blind contestants are given around 38 days to build connections with each other, meaning that they have to prepare for quite a long break from their careers. That being said, both girlies managed to hold onto their jobs while filming. Following the show, however, they decided to resign to become full-time content creators.
Speaking with the publication, Deepti shared: “I did not tell my boss that I was going to go film a reality TV show, because honestly, I just don’t think that it would have gone over well. I accumulated my PTO [paid time off] days and was just like ‘Hey, I’m going to be taking a long vacation.’ And for most of the filming, the second half of it, I literally just worked around it.”
Contestants who can not manage to get this much time off have to rely on the compensation of $1,000 per week and up to $8,000 for the length of filming the show.
Both Deepti and Natalie realised months after the show aired that their earnings from brand partnerships could compete with their professional salaries. Consequently, they decided to “strike while the iron was hot.”
Natalie shared: “I am making as a content creator three times my corporate salary.” The influencer went on to state that 95 per cent of her current income comes from brand deals.
Natalie has over 700,000 followers on Instagram at the moment and even revealed that the most a brand ever paid her for a partnership was $50,000 so far. It’s definitely refreshing to see content creators be so transparent about their finances.
Both stars are also building a joint business empire with their podcast Out of the Pods, which focuses on delving into what happens behind the scenes of Love Is Blind and other hit Netflix shows.
Natalie also added that she invests her money into her 401(k) plan, which is a personal pension in the US. The creator also invests in a backdoor Roth IRA (a way for high-income earners to invest in a Roth IRA or individual retirement account, although their earnings exceed the limit), broad index funds, and a high-yield savings account. Can you tell that she has a finance background?
The question that both women tread around more lightly is the longevity of their new career path. While Deepti is planning to create content for as long as she can comfortably live from it, Natalie plans on returning to her old career soon. “For me, it is short-term. I just can’t see myself doing it forever and sharing my life,” the reality TV star noted.
There is very little research about the career duration of an influencer. After all, this career path is still quite new. Nevertheless, there seems to be a lot of instability connected to the job. Income fluctuates from month to month, and with every new season of the show that made them famous, there will be a new slew of influencers competing with them for social space. So, content creators need to hustle: they sign book deals, create merchandise, launch their own products lines and try to create a loyal following on almost every platform just to keep that money rolling in.
This is especially important, because returning to your old job might not be an easy feat. Natalie shared: “I won’t lie, it did impact me professionally a lot. I remember being in meetings with my co-workers and clients and you could tell they wanted to ask questions. And you know, I’d be doing a presentation or something and they’re like, ‘So, how was it like in those pods?’ – I thought we were like talking about this Excel sheet that I spent 18 hours on.”
While the money influencers at the peak of their careers might look very impressive, there’s no guarantee of sustaining such incomes in the long run. Furthermore, there is no assurance that a spot on a reality TV show will even launch you into stardom. According to People, two more couples on season two of Love Is Blind got engaged but were not shown on the show.
For those with a following under 100,000, it is also unlikely to achieve earnings similar to Deepti and Natalie. The unspoken industry standard is that content creators make around $100 per 10,000 followers.
It seems like entering the reality TV-to-influencer pipeline is quite a risky gamble that might only be worth it for a select few.