Yacht dealers rely on Instagram "yacht influencers" to flip their wares

Alex Jimenez grew up poor in Puerto Rico, and is obsessed with yachts; by being one of the first people on Instagram to take a lot of pictures at yacht shows, he has become a sought-after "yacht influencer" who gets flown around the world to take photos of yachts that are going up for sale or whose owners are looking for renters.

Jimenez says that despite the glamor he's surrounded by, he barely ekes out a living (he supplements his income by creating "subsidiary" Instagram accounts that build up followers among yacht-fanciers, and then selling these accounts to yacht dealers. He also gets paid to wear large, expensive watches for photos (he doesn't get to keep the watches).

“Well, I want to own a yacht,” Jimenez said. “I used to just want to be on yachts, because I thought the parties were cool and the technology was awesome, but now that I’ve spent a good portion of my life partying on them, I actually want to own a yacht. Owning a yacht, really owning it in full and being able to pay for its upkeep, means that you’ve somehow freed yourself from work and want. If you own the yacht that way, you’re a free man. The hustle and grind are things of the past.”

I asked him if he had plans to leave the yacht while we were in the French Riviera.

“No, I’m going to hang back here, because I’m scheduled to be on another one of these yachts tomorrow,” he said. “I know pretty much every boat in this harbor — owners, captains, specifications. People say, ‘Alex, you’re on yachts all day — that’s the life.’ Well, for me, it’s not the life, it’s my life. It’s not some permanent summer or year-long vacation. It’s my living. I help rich people and rich companies advertise their yachts. I’ve got all this knowledge that I gained when I loved yachts so much that I’d spend all weekend studying them for free, and now, I sell my knowledge to people. I sell that know-how all day long, and everything I know is worth something. I’m always on the clock, always tracking my time on these expensive wristwatches with the big clock faces. And so, I’m sure to never set foot on dry land when I’m working.”

The Lonely Life of a Yacht Influencer [Oliver Lee Bateman/Mel]

(via JWZ)