scorecardI'm an Amazon influencer. Amazon ranks us — and competition among 'A-listers' like me can be toxic.
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I'm an Amazon influencer. Amazon ranks us — and competition among 'A-listers' like me can be toxic.

Urooba Jamal   

I'm an Amazon influencer. Amazon ranks us — and competition among 'A-listers' like me can be toxic.
Tech3 min read
  • Gracey Ryback posted TikTok videos about Amazon deals, including Prime Day deals, as a side hobby.
  • Amazon invited her to livestream for them after she went viral, and she soon quit her sales job.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Gracey Ryback, who quit her sales job to do influencer marketing for Amazon, including for Prime Day, the company's biggest annual sales event, this year on July 12-13. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I started creating content on TikTok sharing Amazon deals as a fun side project in 2020, when I was doing a sales job. Now I'm able to do this for a living.

Prime Day in particular is a huge shopping event and my audience counts on me to sort through thousands of deals to find the best ones.

We get a sneak peek of what deals are to come. I'll be making videos to help my followers find deals on specific products they request. It's an exciting shopping event where I can help my audience save some money.

I never expected my side hobby to change my life in any way

When my videos on Tik Tok first started blowing up, I learned about monetizing content. It was the first time I ever made a penny on social media.

Then Amazon reached out and invited me to start livestreaming for them. It's been really life-changing.

There are two to three hours of preparation that go into each livestream

I have an Amazon Live show that I do three or four times a week. It takes hours to set up. You have to decide what products you'll be talking about and do product research, because you have to be ready to answer questions.

Because of the amount of work it takes compared to the commissions that people usually generate, I don't think Amazon Live would be worth it for a lot of people if they don't have a sponsorship.

During the livestream, there's a chat box and you have to be able to respond to your followers while trying to get new followers, too.

And you have to totally understand streaming software. As somebody who had zero streaming experience, this was a huge learning curve. I had to learn all the streaming software from scratch, from microphones to sound to lighting — the whole production.

So it's a lot happening at once. I usually livestream at night and sometimes I go until after midnight. So after my livestreams, I'm very exhausted.

I've been fortunate enough to work with brands and secure sponsorships. At first, getting products is really fun and exciting and cool.

But after a while, it becomes a problem. I can't even fit anything in my house anymore. It's become an Amazon warehouse.

There's a ranking system within Amazon's A-list influencers that can be very toxic

There are three tiers of live streamers on Amazon. The highest is A-list. I'm an A-list streamer.

We do livestreams that show up on Amazon's homepage and SEO page. The placement on these pages is never guaranteed, but it's always cool when I do end up featured, because I get a huge uptick in viewers and engagement.

But there's only one place that's available on those pages. That's created a kind of toxic environment for some streamers. There are tricks that people use to boot each other off and people get kind of slimy when that happens. I've seen some streamers break down while livestreaming.

We've tried to create a really good community because it's a very lonely job that we do. We all work for ourselves. Nobody's trying to help us, nobody's there to support us.

While I've met some amazing friends from Amazon Live, I've also experienced some of these toxic situations.

Amazon influencers are vital to the business

It's nice that they're putting more attention on creators and influencers, because I can't even fathom how much of their sales come from us.

Amazon has turned into the Wild West of marketplaces. So consumers need a way to figure out what's legit and what's good, and so that's where we influencers come in.

Editor's note: An Amazon spokesperson told Insider the company has tools to support their influencers, from a centralized hub that consolidates all deals throughout Amazon, to tools that offer transparency on their metrics. The spokesperson added: "We take pride in being part of the creator community, not just as an opportunity for creators to earn revenue, but also as a facilitator of networking opportunities, sharing best practices, and supporting the growth of creators small and large."