Ana Casciello, a teenager, wanted a Snapchat filter that was of her type and defined her personality. When she could not find any on the app, she created on her own using the Adobe Photoshop and the Lens Studio software by Snapchat.
She designed an augmented reality filter for Snapchat that showed flower and star-shaped freckles on the face. This lens was then shared with others and gained popularity among masses.
Snapchat has around 100 official lens creators who are responsible for creating custom augmented reality lenses for app users, and Casciello is one of them. Several filters/lens creators design sponsored AR lenses for various brands like Nike and Fanta and earn thousands of dollars. They also sell merchandises like t-shirts to make extra money.
In the last ten months, Casciello has created around 30 lenses for Snapchat, including the crown of smilies and Happy Vibe filter, which gives a bright look. So far her lenses have been viewed 17 billion times and have more than 214,000 followers on the Lens Studio.
Casciello launched her online shop on Etsy in June 2019 where she sells a package of filters for around $49. These filters can be download and edited before using them on different platforms, such as Instagram. Till date, she has earned $4,000 from her online shop.
Ben Knutson, left his IT job and is now a full-time Snapchat lens creator for different brands. According to Knutson, a professional Snapchat lens creator charges at least $1,000 and for intricate designs the price may go up to $30,000.
The parent company of Snapchat, Snap encourages the lens creators who belong to different fields of life. Some of them are professional graphic designers, animators, and artists, whereas some create out of love for Snapchat. The company that connects the lens creators with brands for setting a deal does not get its share out of it. However, lens creators support the augmented reality offerings of the company.
Chief Financial Officer of Snap, Derek Andersen confessed recently that out of 13 million active users daily, 7 million to 9 million are drawn because of the new AR lenses introduced on the platform. Lenses like gender swap and baby face are the reason for Snapchat’s success in recent times.
The Lens Studio of Snap software allows users to create AR lenses using various templates. The basic design is easy to make however, complex lenses may require technical knowledge and skills like coding, 3D modeling, graphics designing, and photo editing.
Many people started creating lenses as a hobby, but it has become a source of earning for many. There are some of the creators who expect to make money directly from the platform rather than just through sponsored content. Casciello thinks Snapchat should pay according to views of a filter.Snapchat faced much hard time in 2018, mainly after its controversial redesign when its top executives bid farewell and fierce competition from Instagram's Stories. It affected the business of Snap, however, with time, it is improving and boasts a total 203 million active users.
However, creators are still hopeful about the rise of Snapchat and believe in its potential. Nicoll, lens creator said his company kept designing lenses despite worrying about the public popularity of Snapchat.