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Hong Kong Echo: Under the influence

Could you turn your Instagram feed into a career? We visit one Hong Kong local who turned her viral videos into a viable vocation.

After one of her videos hit more than a million views in a single day, things started to change for J Lou. The Hong Kong born-and-raised content creator, who was still in her second year of university, soon started fielding calls from brands keen to collaborate on sponsored features. “Honestly, I was a little shocked by the idea that I could get paid for the work I was doing,” the 25-year-old explains from her apartment in Sai Kung. 

Desperate to create authentic connections with consumers, brands are expected to splash out close to US$14 billion on influencer marketing globally in 2021. For creators like J Lou, whose 1 million followers across Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, is modest compared to the biggest names across the world, that means the chance to forge a career out of their targeted talents. 

While some Hong Kong influencers found initial fame through stints in TVB dramas, J Lou’s emergence has been a little different. As the daughter of French and Hong Kongese parents, her cross-cultural experience served as inspiration for the short comedy clips she first began posting on Snapchat to just a handful of friends.  

Regularly switching between Cantonese, English, and French, the self-taught video producer stands out in a local influencer scene typically driven by modelling and the beauty industry Her most popular video to date – featuring her mum reacting to her Instagram feed – has over six million views on YouTube. 



Today, she produces videos from her two-bedroom flat in the upper reaches of the New Territories – a tidy space that operates as a crossover of studio, editing suite, and office for herself and full-time assistant Lilly.  

From more humble beginnings, where she would tape an iPhone to her bedroom walls, she now earns six figures a month through sponsored content and ad campaigns. “Initially, I took any sort of branded opportunity that came along, whether it was paid or not. I just had to be open, make a name for myself, and build up my relationship with the different public relations companies,” she says. 

Now, J Lou is able to be a little more selective. Among her latest partnerships are collaborations with the likes of French skincare giant Clarins, Italian beverage producer Peroni, and clothing brand American Eagle.  

But behind the latest video or Instagram post is a great deal of planning and preparation, she explains.

“I’m in constant communication with clients to validate content or simply to brainstorm ideas. In that sense, it’s never really a typical nine-to-six work day.'' 


Then there’s the dreaded editing process. A large 27-inch iMac sits in the corner of her makeshift studio where the curtains are constantly drawn to facilitate the artificial glow of her lighting setup. 

J Lou largely continues to personally edit her videos, which are regularly upwards of eight minutes long, in order to maintain their unique aesthetics. “I have a very specific style of editing, so I prefer to keep most of that work in-house,” she says. The hands-on approach may go some way to explaining her appeal to such a diverse range of clients. 

“There is so much sponsored content out there,” she notes, “and brands have realised that in order to really engage people you can’t just have a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to social media marketing. For creators like me, that means staying true to the style of my content to really generate genuine interest.”