The overwhelming popularity of social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube has created an entirely new category of celebrity: the social media influencer. Everyday, more personalities are monetizing their social media followings and turning their online presences into full-time jobs. But just how do social media influencers make money?
What is an Influencer?
In general, an influencer is anyone who earns money by influencing the buying habits of others. A social media influencer communicates with people who follow them on online platforms including Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Tiktok, influencing their purchasing decisions in exchange for payment from brands they promote.
An Instagram influencer, for example, might post content to the social media platform supporting a fashion brand, gaining a commission for any followers who purchase from the brand based on the influencer’s recommendation. For top beautify influencers as well as fashion influencers, the amount can add up to millions of dollars.
Main influencer platforms include:
12 Ways Social Media Influencers Make Money
Many are aware of influencers but still wonder, “How do social media influencers earn money?” Influencers make money in a variety of ways, including by creating sponsored posts, hosting webinars and even taking part in influencer marketing and traditional advertising efforts. Many social media influencers earn more money by leveraging their online presences then they could make at a 9-5 job.
Small Business Deals
1. Sponsored Social Media Posts
Influencers have the potential to earn money from every social media post, especially if they are creating high-quality content. Sponsored content, therefore, is one of the top ways influencers make money.
In social media sponsored posts, brands pay influencers to feature products and services on their social media pages. This sponsored content might appear in an Instagram story, a Facebook post, or a YouTube video.
Maximizing Earnings: Influencers can increase the impact of sponsored posts by aligning them closely with their personal brand and audience interests. Authentic storytelling, engaging visuals, and a clear call to action can enhance the effectiveness of these posts.
2. Webinars on Social Media Platforms
Some social media influencers have developed reputations as experts on a certain topic. This is especially the case for LinkedIn influencers. Their followers often are willing and eager to pay for these influencers’ guidance.
By conducting webinars, or online seminars, social media influencers can attract their followers, who will pay to access the information in an engaging tutorial. Not only can influencers earn money from hosting a live webinar, but their followers can continue to pay to access the content from a social media platform, blog or other website at a later time.
Engaging Your Audience: Influencers can leverage their expertise by hosting webinars on topics that resonate with their followers. Offering exclusive content, interactive sessions, and follow-up resources can add value to these webinars.
3. Becoming a Brand Ambassador
Many influencers make money by serving as brand ambassadors. Instead of simply promoting a brand through a single sponsored post, the influencer will regularly discuss the products and services offered by the company in order to generate overall brand awareness.
For example, a brand might pay a social media influencer to regularly post about the brand for a 6-12 month period. Top fitness influencers generally have several brands they endorse.
Building Long-term Relationships: A successful brand ambassadorship involves more than just promoting products. Influencers can foster long-term relationships by integrating the brand into their lifestyle and content, creating a more authentic and impactful promotion.
4. Selling Digital Products
Posting webinars to social media isn’t the only way a social media influencer can market digital products to earn money. E-books and online tutorials can be sold over time from a blog, other website or social media platform.
Followers interested in learning more about the influencer’s expertise will purchase these digital products, and the sales can accumulate over time.
Innovative Digital Offerings: Influencers can diversify their income by selling digital products like e-books, courses, or exclusive content. Understanding audience needs and creating high-quality, relevant digital products can drive significant revenue.
5. Creating Product Lines
Many influencers have accumulated large enough followings to market their own products. Creating products lines is an increasingly popular way for social media influencer to make money. For example, a fashion blogger might develop their own clothing line, either designing their own garments or in conjunction with a designer to co-create product lines.
Other social media influencers market a variety of personally-branded products from locations like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.
Developing Unique Products: Influencers with large followings can create their own product lines that reflect their personal brand. From fashion to wellness products, influencers can leverage their audience insights to develop products that meet their followers’ needs.
6. Website Advertising
Just as bloggers for decades have made money from advertisements on their websites, social media influencers with high traffic to their platforms can make a lucrative income from advertising fees.
In some cases, bloggers and influencers make money based on visitor clicks, while at other times they are paid any time the advertisement appears on a follower’s screen.
Enhancing Website Monetization: Beyond traditional banner ads, influencers can monetize their websites through sponsored blog posts, affiliate links, and exclusive member-only content, providing a steady stream of revenue.
7. Reselling Free Products
Most influencers make money through free products. It’s not at all uncommon for a brand to send a social media influencer free samples in the hopes of gaining a shoutout or a recommendation.
Not only can these free products, often clothing, makeup and personal items, be considered income of a sort, but the influencer then can resell the free products on websites like Poshmark, earning a profit in the process.
Ethical Reselling Practices: When reselling free products, influencers should maintain transparency with their audience. This practice should be done ethically, ensuring it aligns with their personal brand values and audience expectations.
8. Events and Appearances
Social media influencers are modern celebrities, and therefore have the potential to draw a crowd anywhere they go. An influencer can make money by hosting a live or online event and charging followers to participate. Likewise, another brand might pay a social media influencer to appear at its own event, knowing that the celebrity presence will attract a crowd.
Leveraging Personal Brand: Influencers can capitalize on their personal brand by hosting or attending events. These appearances not only provide a direct income but also enhance their brand visibility and credibility.
9. Affiliate Marketing
Another popular way influencers make money is through affiliate marketing. In this process, a social media influencer shares a link to a product page and receives a commission from any sale resulting from that link.
For example, a beauty influencer might share a link to a designer palette in an Instagram post where they demonstrate the eyeshadow application. The brand then pays the influencer a percentage of each sale made to a person who clicked on the link.
Optimizing Affiliate Strategies: Successful affiliate marketing involves more than just sharing links. Influencers should provide genuine reviews and tailored recommendations, using analytics to track and optimize their affiliate strategies.
10. Donations, Tips and Subscriptions
Influencers also can make money when their followers simply give it to them. Many social media influencers accept donations and tips on their websites or through platforms like Patreon, where members can support influencers with monthly contributions, sometimes in exchange for exclusive content.
Other influencers will simply offer a feature on their websites where followers can buy them a cup of coffee by making a small one-time donation.
Cultivating a Supportive Community: Influencers can encourage their followers to support them through donations, tips, or subscription-based platforms like Patreon, offering exclusive content or perks in return.
11. Creating Content for Blogs, Vlogs and Podcasts
For most social media influencers, followers don’t just show up for everyday stories and posts. It’s not enough for them to post what they ate for dinner or what they thought of the last movie they saw.
They have to create content. Social media influencing can be a full-time job for content creators, who often spend hours every day developing posts for their blogs, vlogs and podcasts. Without the content, they have no following to market products and make money.
Content is King: High-quality, engaging content is the backbone of any successful influencer. Consistency, creativity, and audience engagement are key factors in creating content that attracts and retains followers.
12. Traditional advertising
Just because an influencer gets their start on social media, that doesn’t mean they are limited in scope to that original audience. Because many social media influencers rise to celebrity status with more than 1 million followers (and recognition far beyond that), they are now partnering with major brands to advertise products to even larger audiences.
Influencers with the largest followings might even appear in television commercials or on display advertising like billboards.
Expanding Beyond Social Media: Top influencers can extend their reach beyond social media by participating in traditional advertising campaigns, leveraging their online popularity to engage with a broader audience.
How Do Influencers Make Money Summary
|Way to Make Money
|Sponsored Social Media Posts
|Brands pay influencers to feature products/services on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
|Webinars on Social Media Platforms
|Influencers charge followers to attend online seminars (webinars) about specific topics. Content can be sold afterwards on various platforms.
|Becoming a Brand Ambassador
|Regularly promote a brand's products/services to generate brand awareness, often through contracts lasting 6-12 months.
|Selling Digital Products
|Influencers sell e-books, tutorials, etc., on blogs, websites, or social media platforms.
|Creating Product Lines
|Influencers market their own products, e.g., clothing lines, either on their own or in partnership with designers. They sell on platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.
|Influencers earn from ads on their platforms, either through pay-per-click or appearance-based compensation.
|Reselling Free Products
|Brands send free samples to influencers, who can then resell them on platforms like Poshmark for profit.
|Events and Appearances
|Influencers charge for hosting events or get paid for appearances by brands. They can attract crowds due to their popularity.
|Influencers earn a commission from sales generated through shared product links.
|Donations, Tips, and Subscriptions
|Influencers receive donations, tips on their websites or through platforms like Patreon. Some offer exclusive content in exchange for monthly contributions.
|Creating Content for Blogs, Vlogs, and Podcasts
|Producing regular content like blog posts, videos, or podcast episodes is crucial for maintaining and growing their following.
|Influencers with vast followings might partner with major brands for traditional advertising campaigns, including TV commercials or billboards.
How much money do influencers make?
How much money do influencers make? Influencer income ranges widely based on a variety of factors. In most cases, social media accounts with the largest followings earn big money compared with those with fewer followers.
Not only are there more people to follow their recommendations, but more viewers makes all of their posted content more valuable. An influencer who only recently started their pursuit might earn only a few hundred dollars a month, while top influencers commonly earn millions of dollars each year.
According to Vox, people with between 10,000 and 50,000 followers, known as micro influencers, can earn between $40,000 and $100,000 each year.
Top Instagram influencers with millions of followers, on the other hand, can earn tens of thousands of dollars for each individual post, potentially resulting in millions each year. Kylie Jenner, for example, reportedly makes more than $1 million for a single social media post. Meanwhile, top Tiktok influencer Loren Gray makes more than $53 million in a year.
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