Shaun McBride has the kind of job a teenager would drool over.
In the past year, McBride visited Disneyland and Disney World, flew in a helicopter over Alaskan glaciers and hung out backstage at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. His trips were paid for by others and he had only one job — Snapchat as much as possible along the way.
McBride, who is known on Snapchat as “Shonduras,” is part of a small group of young social media celebrities building viable careers on social networks like Snapchat, Vine and Instagram. Brands are willing to pony up big bucks — as much as six figures for some deals — to have their products mentioned in the videos and images shared by these celebs.
For McBride, Snapchatting is now a full-time job. After downloading the app just over a year ago, he built up a following traveling the country as a sales rep for snowboard and skateboard companies. And as his audience grew, brands came calling. McBride, who is known for adding colorful cartoon art to this posts, says he now has hundreds of thousands of followers on the service, and has been Snapchatting full-time for a couple of months.
So how do you make a career out of Snapchat? We asked “Shonduras” to fill us in.
Re/code: How does one become a Snapchat celebrity? I don’t think many people know that job exists.
McBride: You just have to create good content. … I really like going on adventures. … And I’ve been documenting them on Snapchat. Then I thought those adventures would be a lot better if I added some color. So I added some funny drawings to my snaps and augmented reality a little bit.
How do you get noticed? Did you have one big break that was a tipping point?
I didn’t have a big break. I’ve been featured in some big places but my growth has been pretty incremental. On Snapchat, you can’t just get shared by one site or celebrity and go viral because you can’t really share a Snapchat. People can’t just see an article, click your name and follow you. I get featured in Forbes and 10,000 people follow me. I go to Disney World and 10,000 people follow me. Every time I do something fun on Snapchat I see growth, but it’s not attributable to one thing.
Brands often approach you to snap on their behalf. What’s your philosophy about doing that?
I guess I’m looking at the bigger picture. … I’m thinking more long-term about creating a fun experience where people can check me out and not really worry about seeing ads all the time. I will do campaigns for brands, but I’m selective. I’ve turned down a lot of money from advertisers. I wait for good opportunities.
What’s the demand like for this type of content? How much can Snapchat celebs or Vine celebs make?
I know some people who have done Snapchat gigs for anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. There’s definitely some great money in it.
How do you make sure you aren’t just taking advantage of your audience?
I think it’s in the brands that I’ve chosen to work with. I’ve said “no” to more brands than I’ve said “yes” to. … It’s not being afraid to say no. And when you do branded work, it’s the way you present it. In my contract I make sure I don’t have to do any direct selling or pitching of a product.
Can you give me an example of a brand you would work with?
I did something with Disney. They said “Hey, we’ll fly you to Disneyland, come have fun, check out Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and just do what you would do and make a Snapchat story about it.” So I went out there, I enjoyed the park and I documented my adventure on Snapchat. It didn’t feel branded, but subliminally people think, “You know, Disneyland is awesome, I need to go there sometime.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.