Youngish internet users who don't have their heads buried in dark and unspeakable places will likely know who Naomi Neo is.
The 24-year-old influencer has a hefty 637,000 followers on Instagram, as well as 451,000 subscribers on YouTube.
More recently, she has also gotten a S$600,000 Lamborghini Huracán, which turned out to be rather polarising news for Singaporeans: while some applauded her for the feat, others dismissed it as a disgraceful splurge.
Stopped taking pocket money at 15
Neo, however, does not appear to be the spendthrift others peg her to be.
For one, the mother of one hasn't taken pocket money from her parents since she was 15.
The influencer candidly admits to Mothership that the sentiment was not born out of sensibility, though.
It was, instead, the workings of a rebellious teen who wanted control over her lifestyle.
"[...] Due to my shopaholic/rebellious nature and ambition to go to a lot of places/ do a lot of things, I started working and stopped taking pocket money from my parents at 15. Obviously not because I was being sensible, but rather it was my way of getting whatever I wanted without my parents controlling my spending hahaha."
Nonetheless, one of the values that her parents have instilled in her was the importance of money — specifically, the importance of spending wisely.
Neo surmises that her parents could probably have afforded plenty of her "wants" when she was younger, but they never indulged her.
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Guess who just gifted her parents a new lock?! 🥰 Now my parents will remember me whenever they leave/return home HAHA 😃😃😃 . Chose this unique, rose gold-coloured Kaadas digital door lock from @kaadas.singapore for my parents cos their previous doorknob was getting old and rusty. My mom spends a lot of time alone at home with my dad traveling overseas, so I wanted something that she could feel safe, while at the same time, fast, convenient and stylish 😌😌
Since earning her own income, she has been careful to set aside money for rainy days, and more importantly, save more than she spends.
Committing the cash to purchase the car therefore required a clear savings plan that spanned a few years.
Six-digit annual income
And yes, the million-dollar question: How much does Naomi Neo actually earn?
The influencer modestly divulges that she earns an "estimated six-digit income a year", and a "five-digit income a month derived from mainly sponsored content".
Neo's full-time job is being an influencer, although many believe that the terms "job" and "influencer" are inherently at odds.
Yet to the chagrin of haters, Neo manages to make a more than healthy income creating sponsored content for products and services.
She also enjoys the flexibility of being her own boss, which means planning her own schedule and workload.
Neo does not shy away from acknowledging the "special [privileges]" accorded to her at establishments, although that comes with its drawbacks as well.
"[...] Many brands often recognise me and provide me with better service/ treatment. Although I must say it’s not something I really enjoy because I personally feel it’s kinda sad to think that people are only nice to you because of who you are... Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely thankful for this privilege but I’d rather be at a place where I can feel completely at ease/ myself sometimes."
Beyond the material perks, Neo finds that another boon of being an influencer is having an online voice and presence that can be used positively.
"One thing I’ve always loved is how I can use my platform to raise awareness on certain issues + support the underprivileged, it’s something I strongly believe other people with ‘a voice’ should be doing as well."
As it is, Neo and her family distributed 100 bags of food and essentials to underprivileged households during the circuit breaker period, although this was not as widely-publicised as her Lamborghini purchase.
While most of the cost came out of her own pocket, several brands also came aboard to provide discounts when they learned that it was for a good cause.
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PLEASE SPARE ME 5 MINS OF YOUR TIME. It’s been a crazy last few weeks (even months) for many, and my heart goes out to the lives we’ve lost and all the businesses, families, people that have been suffering from the repercussions of this global pandemic. Infected or affected - I can only imagine how physically & mentally challenging it is for everyone. Whilst many of us are trying to cope with some normalcy in our lives working/studying from home, there are some who are less fortunate. For many, the light at the end of the tunnel is nowhere close; not knowing what tomorrow holds for them/their families. I consider myself lucky, although many of my gigs have been cancelled/postponed, I now get to spend some quality time with my loved ones at home. It took me a while, but during this time I have been thinking about how I can try to make a small difference to the life of someone who would really need/appreciate it. I’ve been reading about those who have sought help and how some have responded to those in need, but there are STILL people who fail to make ends meet at this point. They might have fallen through the cracks of our support system, are still waiting for the help to arrive, or maybe just need more help than others. I thought about what is the best/fastest way I can do this and have decided to offer my help to 100 diff households for a start. No questions asked. If you think that your family/have a friend/neighbour that really needs these, email me at [email protected] with a reason + address, and I (or my family/friends) will personally deliver these to you (contactless, ofc). If you don’t need it, PLEASE do not request as there may be others who do. I only have 100 bags of basic necessities for now and will reply to confirm delivery if you’re within the 100. . *I paid for most/all of the products cos it's really something I wanna do, but I‘d still like to thank @darliesg @haomartsg @tsubaki_sg @cloversoft for being a part of this by supplying & urgently delivering the stocks to me so that I could pack the items in time to send them out. Lastly, sending ❤️ to everyone, esp our frontliners & service workers for helping us get through this.
Haters vs. influencers
Despite the advantages (or the good she has done), however, one might have noticed that certain audiences are undeniably hostile towards influencers.
When asked for her views on the subject, Neo touched on the same point that some do not think being an influencer is an actual job, and these people's belief that influencers "only know how to take nice photos".
Neo disagrees by saying that some "know-how" is needed for personal branding, social media management, and content production skills.
This is especially so when compared to about a decade ago, when the influencer market was not as saturated and competitive.
Social media usage was a burgeoning trend, and the quality of peer-created content was generally held to lower standards.
Content formats were less diverse as well.
According to Neo, there are also misconceptions where some perceive influencers to be stuck up or full of themselves, which she feels is not entirely true.
"There are just a lot of assumptions made based off what we see online most of the time. At the end of the day, I’m sure there are influencers who aren’t very nice/ are unethical, but not all of us are the same."
These are some drawbacks of being an influencer, as experienced by Neo:
- The stress of being in the public eye, as people are constantly watching her
- Having to consistently keep up a good image
- The downside of having no fixed working hours, which includes overworking, and replying clients or doing work on vacation.
For the last point, Neo revealed that the lack of maternity leave during her first pregnancy meant that she had to work as soon as she had any job scheduled, even if it fell within her confinement period.
For those who are aspiring to be an influencer, Neo has three tips: be yourself, be humble, and be genuine.
This is how the inside of a Lambo looks
Since we have scant opportunity to scrutinise a Lambo in real life, Neo has helped to take photos of her new ride upon our request.
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Top image via Naomi Neo