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Blog / Marketing tips / How to Make Money as an Influencer

Marketing tips

How to Make Money as an Influencer

How to Make Money as an Influencer
Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

13 min read

Quitting your 9-to-5 and getting paid to do what you love sounds like a dream come true, right? Well, that’s exactly what influencers do. Influencer marketing allows individuals to monetize their passions through content creation and promotion of endorsed products or brands.

In the digital age, influencer marketing has become a significant force in ecommerce. In fact, 93% of marketers have used social media influencers in their marketing campaigns. But how many followers does an average influencer need to make money?

It’s not just about having an impressive social media following, it’s about your engagement, specific audience, and reach. This article will lay out how to make money as an influencer in 12 easy ways. We’ll explore various opportunities including selling merch, offering digital products, and forging brand partnerships.

Learn how to use your influence to build a thriving online business. Let’s dive in!

How to make money as an influencer: 12 ways

Most successful influencers have more than one revenue stream. It makes sense: the more you diversify your income, the higher your chances of earning money. You can also maximize your reach by building an online presence on multiple social media platforms.

Let’s explore 12 creative ways social media influencers make money.

1. Sell merch

One of the challenges of being an aspiring influencer is that you’re up against massive competition. Selling merch with your branding is a fantastic way to offer a unique product line and outshine other influencers. But what if you don’t have any capital to invest?

The print-on-demand business model allows you to create one-of-a-kind products and add them to your store without any upfront costs. You can experiment with various designs and upload as many product mockups as you want, free of charge. You only pay when a customer places an order.

Some merch ideas include custom t-shirts, custom hoodies, mugs, beanies, tote bags, etc. Identify your target audience and think of what they’d want to buy. Create an avatar of your ideal customer and curate your marketing strategy to influence them.

Check out this guide on how to find a niche audience for your online store. You want to ensure your designs and branding align with your message and target audience’s expectations. You can create product designs yourself or hire a pro to do it for you.

Look at the merch American YouTuber and professional boxer Jake Paul offers on his website, or check out TikTok star Avani Greggs’ stylish phone cases for inspiration.

2. Create your own clothing line

If you want to take it a step further, starting a clothing brand can be a fun and lucrative way to leverage your online presence.

Perhaps you already have a fan base that loves your style and personality. Building a brand can foster deeper connections with your audience and strengthen that bond. By wearing your original designs, fans will have another way to connect with you. Plus, you’ll automatically have free brand ambassadors.

You don’t need to be a mega-popular social media influencer to profit from selling clothing. Customers are often willing to pay $100 to $300 for a streetwear item, meaning your profit margins will be high. Find out how to start a streetwear brand with no experience in 6 simple steps.

With print-on-demand, you can focus entirely on creating awesome designs and marketing your brand—we take care of order fulfillment, printing, warehousing, and shipping. Check out our custom streetwear gear for inspo.

For example, fitness trainer and Instagram influencer Kayla Itsines collaborated with P.E. Nation to create her fitness gear brand, the P.E. Nation x Kayla Itsines collection.

a woman in sports garment and leggings

Source: P.E. Nation

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3. Sponsored content

Sponsored content is a form of advertising where brands pay influencers to promote their products or services. It’s an excellent way to earn money as an influencer—by monetizing your online presence. Brands, in turn, gain access to valuable social media followings that align with their niche audience.

Sponsored posts come in various formats like Instagram photos, reels, YouTube videos, blog articles, LinkedIn posts, TikTok videos, Instagram stories, etc.

When creating any sponsored post, it’s crucial to maintain authenticity and promote only brands you adore and believe your audience would like. Remember, building a reliable reputation is vital to becoming a successful influencer. 

I love how YouTuber, artist, storyteller, and mindfulness educator Hindz seamlessly weaves “a word from today’s sponsor” into his videos.

a man with dreadlocks talking into a microphone

Source: YouTube

How do you find sponsored post opportunities? Fashion and lifestyle influencer Bria Jones says brands usually reach out to creators thanks to their high-quality content and loyal fan base. But if you’re starting your influencer career, don’t hesitate to contact them first. Show them what you can offer, give them a taste, and be transparent with your fees.

You can contact brands directly, participate in influencer marketing platforms like Influencity or Reech, or seek representation through talent agencies. Make sure you keep a portfolio of any past collaborations you’ve done to show potential partners.

Pro tip: Negotiate compensation based on reach, engagement, and content complexity.

4. Brand ambassadorship

Brand ambassadors are influencers who have struck a deal with a brand to represent them on their social media channels. This type of contract entails a long-term partnership between influencers and brands.

Many brands partner with influencers to boost exposure, visibility, and credibility. In fact, 63% of marketers believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing, and brand ambassadors are doing just that—only online.

But what do you gain as a brand ambassador? Here are several benefits:

  • Access to free or discounted products and services from the brand

  • Compensation for your work in the form of a regular salary, commissions on sales, or bonuses for meeting a specific goal

  • Enhanced online presence by partnering with a brand that aligns with your values

  • Opportunities to collaborate with brands by developing co-branded products or sponsored content that boosts your reach as well

  • Exclusive insights into the brand’s marketing strategies that you can apply to your brand in the future

  • Many ambassador programs offer access to an online community, which can foster a sense of belonging

So, how do you become a brand ambassador? Reach out to brands that align with your message and ask them if they have a brand ambassador program. Some brands advertise this information on their website, but others might not make it readily available.

If you follow any fitness content on Instagram or TikTok, you’ve probably seen people advertising Lululemon. Popular Ashtanga yoga teacher Kino MacGregor is one of Lululemon’s proud ambassadors.

a woman doing yoga on her hands

Source: Instagram

5. Reselling free products

Wondering how to make money as an influencer with no hassle? Reselling free goodies is a great option.

As an influencer, you may receive brand gifts in exchange for exposure. Maybe you only market that product in one social media post. Or, if you feature it several times, you can create content for that specific product in one or two days and then set it aside.

What can you do with all those products you’ll never use again? Resell them on online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. Set a slightly discounted price and earn money with no upfront costs.

a person's legs and shoes

Source: eBay

6. Coaching and consulting

Experienced influencers can offer coaching and consulting services where they share their extensive knowledge and valuable insights. In these roles, they serve as mentors and guides to help individuals or businesses navigate the complexities of influencer marketing.

Before you can offer coaching or consulting services, you need to build a reputable brand and have a strong social media presence. You can establish credibility in your niche through social media platforms, blogs, or podcasts. Ensure you regularly create valuable, powerful, and relevant content for your audience.

Once you’ve developed a solid social media following, identify your key strengths and what pain points you can solve for your target audience. Perhaps you focus on aspiring social media influencers and helping them to learn from your missteps, or you coach brands new to influencer marketing that want to know how it works.

As an example, Instagram influencer and IG growth coach Katie Nicole Felton offers tips for new Instagram influencers to gain followers and avoid mistakes.

a woman in a hat and a phone

Source: Instagram

7. Licensing and royalties

Influencers can monetize their creative work, like photos and music, to earn money from licensing and royalties. There are several instances where you can license your work.

  • Merchandise licensing. For example, every vendor selling Star Wars merch has to pay a percentage of their earnings to Disney because they own the license. You can do the same with specific characters, slogans, or designs associated with your brand.

  • Apparel licensing. Some influencers collaborate with clothing brands to license their name, image, or brand for exclusive clothing lines. For example, Portuguese football player Cristiano Ronaldo is the face of Nike. This type of contract entails exclusivity, meaning you can’t collaborate with other similar brands. But exclusivity often equals big money.


a man holding shoes in his hand
Source: The Sun UK

  • Stock photos and videos. If you’re exceptionally talented at content creation, you can sell your photos and videos on stock image sites like Unsplash or Shutterstock. This means you’ll earn royalties whenever someone downloads your content.

  • Music and audio licensing. If you’re a musician who posts music videos on your YouTube channel or you’re an expert audio producer, don’t forget to license your creations. Then, whoever wishes to use it in their films, commercials, or podcasts must pay you royalties.

  • Book publishing. Social media influencers with unique perspectives may choose to write books or e-books. They can earn royalties from sales or licensing fees from anyone wanting to use their content.

  • Artwork licensing. If you’re an artist, license your artwork and earn money each time someone uses it. People may want to use your art for home decor, promotional materials, or stationery.

These are just a few ways influencers make money from licensing and royalties. Consult with a trademark licensing specialist to see what you can license.

8. Events

Another popular way social media influencers earn money is by hosting online and offline events. These can be in the form of webinars, workshops, meet-and-greets, or fundraisers. Or it can be as simple as hosting a live Q&A or info session.

For example, Instagram influencers make money when going live by using Instagram badges. Instagram badges are available to Instagram users in the US. Other countries are also eligible, but the program is invite-only. Find out more on How to Make Money on Instagram.

Another way you can earn money as an influencer through events is by offering corporate speaking services. As an example, entrepreneur and influencer Gary Vee is often invited to speak at events because people know he’ll attract a crowd.

a man standing in front of a crowd of people

Source: Gary Vaynerchuk

9. Digital products

Many influencers are making money by selling digital products they’ve created. There are various types of digital products that you can create and sell, but let’s divide them into five main categories to sum them up.

  • E-books and PDF resources. These can be either fiction or practical guides like James Clear’s Atomic Habits Cheatsheet (although he offers this PDF guide for free).

  • Software. If you’re tech-savvy, you can create and sell software like widgets, apps, themes, and plugins.

  • Graphics and digital art. Have design skills? Create graphics and digital art to sell online. This could be anything from website themes and Canva thumbnails to NFTs and 3D printer design files.

  • Online courses and communities. Creating an online course is a great way to share your expertise while earning passive income. Communities help you connect with others and establish yourself as an expert in your niche (think private FB groups).

  • Digital media. You can also sell digital media like podcasts, short videos, and stock photography.

Think about what kind of social media influencer you aim to be. Are you in the fitness and wellness industry? Are you into fashion and style? Are you an artist? Or are you into digital marketing? Create and sell digital products that align with your brand.

a screenshot of a video chat

Source: TikTok

Pro tip: If your target audience is younger than 20, you’ll have the highest chance of success on TikTok. Learn how to make money on TikTok here.

10. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest ways of making money online and is still highly relevant today. The global affiliate marketing industry is set to grow to approximately $15.7 billion by 2024.

How do affiliate marketers get paid? Affiliate marketers profit by promoting and selling a company’s products or services. They receive a commission on each sale made through their unique affiliate link.

Even micro-influencers can make money with affiliate marketing. If you have an online presence, maximize your use of affiliate links. Add them to your YouTube channel in every video description, to your blog posts, in your bios on other platforms, social media pages, etc.

a woman in a green outfit

Source: YouTube

Where can you find relevant affiliate programs? Browse your favorite brands’ websites or contact them directly to see if they offer affiliate programs. Check out our comprehensive guide on creating a passive income with affiliate marketing.

One of the most popular affiliate programs is Amazon Associates by Amazon, which allows you to recommend any product on their site. You can even add products to your own Amazon store. Earn commissions every time someone buys from Amazon using your link.

Printful’s affiliate program allows you to earn 10% from each sale generated through your unique link. Remember that you can’t earn commissions by referring to your own store.

11. Donations and subscriptions

Many social media accounts and influencers make money by offering exclusive subscription plans or receiving regular donations. Subscription plans are an incredibly reliable source of income since subscribers agree to pay a certain sum regularly—usually monthly.

You can create a subscription plan on your website or a third-party platform where you provide access to unique content. This allows you to build a community of loyal fans and strengthen your connection with your audience. People like to feel involved by enabling you to create content.

a woman standing next to a cake

Source: YouTube

As for donations, you can ask your followers to buy you a cup of coffee, send you money via PayPal, or host a fundraiser on your social media platform—Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook Live, or LinkedIn. Loyal fans are often happy to help out and contribute so you can continue to create great content.

12. Display advertising

While sponsored content embeds brand messaging into an influencer’s authentic content, display advertising features traditional ads to a wide audience. These ads can take many forms, including banners, videos, images, and interactive media. Just take a look at these pop-up ads on Once Upon a Chef’s recipe blog.

a screenshot of a food

Source: Once Upon a Chef

As a social media influencer, you can monetize your online presence by allowing advertisements to appear on your platforms. This often involves collaborating with ad networks or affiliate programs that manage ad placements.

With display advertising, influencers make money using models like cost per click (CPC) or cost per mile (CPM). You get paid based on the number of clicks or impressions your ad gets. It’s a great way to supplement your income, but it’s best to ensure the ads align with your brand image to maintain authenticity.

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Be an authentic social media influencer

Regardless of how you make money, staying true to yourself is critical to building trust and maintaining your followers’ loyalty. People can easily sense when an influencer promotes a product just for financial gain instead of when they’re genuinely interested in the brand.

Remember that as your influence grows, your actions and words will have a more significant impact, and your followers will look to you for direction and support. So, it’s essential to understand the responsibilities of increased exposure and to act accordingly.

Continue creating content and sharing your voice with the world, and if you can build a lucrative career along the way, even better. Be the social media influencer your audience needs!

 

author

By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa on Dec 4, 2023

Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

Guest author

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.