WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Digital celebrities called "influencers" make millions of dollars by posting on social media.
They increase brand visibility through posts on popular social and streaming sites like YoutTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Musical.ly, and Twitch.
"Most influencers will make their money through advertisements," explains Tanner Braungardt, a teen turned celebrity through his YouTube videos.
Right now is the golden age of online advertisement. Some of the highest paid influencers include Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, and Cristiano Ronaldo who all reportedlycharge well into the six-digits per Instagram post.
Braungardt started his online career at sixteen-years-old in 2016. He set a goal at the beginning of that year to reach 3,000 subscribers on YouTube and 10,000 followers on his Instagram. By summer, he reached more than 100,000 subscribers on YouTube and earned millions of views.
"I was in my mom's room and I was showing her how many views I had on my videos," he said. He says his mom told him he would start making more than she did in a month if his online reach kept climbing.
"His Youtube channel was one of the top growing Youtube channels in the world," said Kim Braungardt, Tanner's mom.
Tanner says he watched YouTube videos of other people who were making money through the site. By fall of 2016, the Braungardt family traveled to California to meet with YouTube representatives and agents.
"So many people, I think, thought it was luck," said Kim of Tanner's success. "If you saw the amount of work and stress he put in at that time, it's hours and hours of work and that's where he is so skilled."
In 2017, Braungardt purchased his first supercar and bought a home for his family in east Wichita worth more than a million dollars. He also lived in California for a period of time and worked alongside other top influencers.
"The thing I appreciate most is the financial security I have from doing that so long," said Tanner. Aside from the advertisements, his online influence allowed him to start a fan merchandise line and invest in business opportunities like Dibs Clothing, which he is part owner in.
Braungardt is also partnered with Twitch where he streams video games for several hours throughout the week.
He says the lure of fame and fortune attracts teenagers to the influencer lifestyle, but it comes at a personal cost.
"I think people will start to look at you like not a human."
His mom says, when Tanner was at the height of his online success, he was suffering mentally.
"That euphoria of the likes and the numbers doesn't equate to happiness," she said.
The family says they would often come home to multiple strangers waiting at their front door or in their backyard to meet the young YouTuber. Tanner says his car was vandalized and he would sometimes find dead animals outside his home.
"I don't know if it was jealousy or they thought I would put it in a video," said Braungardt. "A lot of people don't see the bad side of it; that's why they want to be famous or an influencer because they think it's the easiest job."
Tanner posted a video a day every day for two years. He says he started working on his videos from the moment he woke up until he went to sleep, making sure both he and his family were always portrayed positively.
"There really is a lot of good, but there's also a lot of bad and it just kinda took over."
Now eighteen, Braungardt is taking a break from posting daily YouTube videos and only posts about once every two weeks. His family recently started a podcast called "Mom, I Wanna Be A YouTuber" where they discuss how their life changed since Tanner earned his online success.
"I'm super excited about where we are now," said Kim. "It's a much better place to be than feeling like the chaos controls you because, for two years, that's what our life was: just chaos."
Both Tanner and his mom want teenagers to understand that online fame is unimportant.
"The more they desire it, the more they are down on themselves," said Tanner. "They're not involved in their real life."
Kim says she hopes parents will pay attention to their child's online presence to help protect them from people who are bad influences. She says creators maker their online content sensational and it's impossible for kids to differentiate between real and fake.
"I know how much influence Tanner has on kids. Thank god he's a good kid because there are a lot of people who have influence who are not good."
For more information about protecting your child online, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Information page.