Andrea Roche: 'Bloggers and online stars have higher earning power than top models'
As a former Miss Ireland, Andrea Roche was once one of the most familiar faces in modelling before starting her own agency.
But she's now sitting pretty when it comes to leading the charge into digital media.
She told the Diary how Dublin's new breed of "digital influencers" have higher earning power than many top models.
Her agency is the first in Ireland to have a section dedicated to photogenic bloggers and she said that they have a combined reach of more than five million web users.
She revealed how she now has more than 20 social media stars on her agency books - and is trawling for more.
"These are people who have a huge interest in fashion and beauty and who would have worked hard to build up a huge following online," Andrea said.
"Some of them have hundreds of thousands of followers between all their accounts. They are celebrities in their own right."
Some of the big names on her books include mum-of-one Rosie O'Donnell, model and make-up artist Tara O'Farrell, reality star Nicola Hughes, Grace Mongey and Roz Lipsett's fitness-mad brother Rob.
Out-ranking them all is Pippa O'Connor, who has amassed a huge social media following, thanks to her blog.
Ambitious Andrea said clients were booking her social stars for a range of glitzy jobs that would traditionally have gone to her top models.
"They are being booked for things like venue openings, hotel launches, product launches and product placements.
"There was a restaurant launch last week and I had four of my digital influencers attending that, so the demand is huge for their services."
She said their fee depends on the job or campaign but they could "easily make as much as a well-known model".
Models such as Rosanna Davison and Vogue Williams can easily claim fees of more than €1,000 an hour, depending on the job.
Andrea said that while some clients were still looking for traditional photocall models for certain jobs, digital influencers were increasingly claiming the big jobs.
"The public relate to the fact that they're 'real people', so they don't take every job that comes their way.
"They're not greedy in that they'll just promote anything. It has to be something that fits their brand," she said.
Pippa O'Connor has said before how claims that she's making a fortune are widely exaggerated.
"By no means are bloggers absolutely loaded," said Pippa.