The Truth About How Backpack Kid Really Makes Money

The Truth About How Backpack Kid Really Makes Money

Katy Perry created an internet sensation during
her 2017 “Swish Swish” performance on SNL: the Backpack Kid. Unknown teen Russell Horning joined her on
stage, wore a backpack, busted out a move known as the floss, and became a viral star. Here’s how the Backpack Kid really makes his
money. Making money from social media is still a
relatively alien concept to some, but there are several ways for influencers to cash in
on their online popularity. Affiliate marketing and brand deals are now
commonplace on both YouTube and Instagram, and mega-influencers, who are people with
over a million followers, can demand some hefty fees. Russell Horning may not be the most mega of
mega-influencers, but with over 2 million followers on Instagram as of 2019, he’s still
made a pretty penny on the platform. According to the co-founder of influencer
agency Viral Nation, influencers with up to 1 million followers can earn $10,000 per post,
while those with 1 million followers and up are able to charge $100,000. Some are even able to charge $250,000 per
post! Influencer marketing has grown into a multi-billion-dollar
industry. But prior to this current boom, the majority
of brand deals involved no money at all. Instead of paying influencers to promote their
products, companies would simply send them freebies and expect them to post about it. Free products are still dished out to internet
celebs on a daily basis, but the biggest influencers are now in a position where they can demand
huge fees. So when it comes to backpacks, Russell Horning
has worked exclusively with Sprayground, the brand that he wore on stage during his SNL
appearance. This exclusivity has allowed him to get the
most out of the deal. While the exact numbers involved remain unknown,
the Daily Mail has described the deal as “lucrative.” Horning has no doubt made a small fortune
from his exclusive partnership with Sprayground, but that isn’t the only deal he’s managed
to strike since his viral fame began. While he’s remained loyal to one brand of
backpack, he’s very much open to conducting business with other companies, like Under
Armour, the NBA, and the NFL. These are all huge names, but it turns out
that Horning has a preference for one particular association. In 2017, the NBA’s Sacramento Kings asked
him to perform at a game. The social media star took to the court and
did his thing while surrounded by the Kings Dancers. It was a good fit that the performer enjoyed,
despite his trademark deadpan expression. During an exclusive phone interview with Nicki
Swift in 2018, Horning explained that his style went “well with the family-friendliness
of the NBA.” He also went on to appear with the Harlem
Globetrotters! Before brands started throwing cash at influencers,
one of the easiest ways for social media stars to make some money on the side was through
fan meet-ups. While this practice has been questioned since
the earliest days of internet celebrity culture, meet and greets are more popular now than
they’ve ever been. Naturally, Horning has been keen to take advantage
of this trend ever since he blew up online. In May 2019, the Atlanta, Georgia venue The
Loft played host to Backpack Kid & Friends Live. General admission was $15, or $12.50 if you
booked in advance. If you wanted to upgrade to the VIP meet and
greet package, that would have set you back $25. Of course, solo shows like this one are just
the tip of the meet and greet iceberg. Creators can also line their pockets by posing
for fan selfies at big influencer events like VidCon and Playlist Live. For his part, Horning performed at both in
2019. Another revenue stream that the biggest influencers
regularly dip their toes into is merchandise. The rise of print-on-demand services has made
it simple for content creators to offer a wide range of merch without the need to have
it all made up in bulk, and this model has been paying off big time. For his part, the Backpack Kid chose to align
with Riot Society, a brand known for its “crazy” and “WTF” t-shirts, for his own line of merch. His “Flossin” Collection includes long- and
short-sleeve tees featuring a bear performing, you guessed it, the floss. In 2018, Horning held a Black Friday sale,
which offered a buy-one-get-one free deal on all of his merch. He has a finger in many pies, and this is
just one of them. “You don’t want to just be a tree with no
branches. You want to be a tree with a lot of branches.” Instagram may be Horning’s main hunting ground,
but he also has a sizable following on YouTube. YouTubers make money through Google AdSense,
which pairs their content with brands. When a viewer clicks on one of these ads,
the YouTuber gets paid, which means overall income from ads varies between smaller and
bigger channels. With over 400,000 subscribers, Horning’s channel
is impressive, though far from the most-followed on the platform. His overall video views, however, tell a different
story. According to Social Blade, his YouTube content
has been watched over 34 million times. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, the
rates an advertiser pays vary, but it’s usually between $0.10 to $0.30 per view, with an average
around $0.18 per view. Even if Horning has only been making the low-end
of that estimate, that’s still over a hundred thousand dollars from YouTube for him. That’s not too shabby considering it’s not
even his main outlet. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Nicki Swift videos about your
favorite stars are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.


  1. We really live in a world of sheeple nowadays, someone does something on the internet and everyone goes omfg i must do that to be popular too

  2. I'll give it to him for that floss dance but that other stupid dance I always see him trying hard to force just ain't it

  3. I really don't get acts like these but let the young guy earn some money . .. . . same with the cash me outside girl whatever . . society just loves making superficial people famous.

  4. So sad:( he has no idea what he is opening himself to. So young 🤔 They will use him & exploit him & kick him to the curb. He just doesn't know.

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