The Power of Engaged Audiences in Monetizing Content
First things first, if you think it takes 20k+, 50k+ or 100k+ followers to make money from social media, you could not be more mistaken. As long as a creator can provide proof of an engaged audience – be it 20 or 2 million people – they’re able to monetise their content. To be clear, what we mean by an engaged audience is those followers who really, well, engage with your content. Be it through a comment on a Reel, sharing your content on their own Stories, DMing you or reacting to your stories on a frequent basis and so on.
Driving Sales through Engaged Followers and Sponsored Content
Since these followers will pretty much eat up almost anything you post, that’s great news for brands. For example, if you often post Reels of you singing and playing guitar and your engaged followers comment on anything from the lipstick you’re wearing to the make of the guitar, it means next time you post, L’Oreal could pay you to wear their latest lipstick. Your engaged followers will most likely notice and then go pick up that exact lipstick for themself. That’s more sales for L’Oréal – again, be it 20 or 2 million new sales. Naturally, influencers with a larger reach can charge more for sponsored content. What you can make off of sponsored posts typically depends on following size, industry, engagement and other factors ensuring maximum outcome for brand sales.
Maximizing Revenue: From Brand Ambassadorship to Paid Partnerships
Brand deals are just one way most influencers make money but they tend to make up the largest slice of an influencer’s revenue pie. A brand ambassador partnership is an agreement between an influencer and a company. The influencer typically agrees to promote the company’s products or services, often exclusively. Or generally, be affiliated with the brand.
If you’re wondering what type of content is sponsored, you can actually see the ‘Paid Partnership’ tag below the influencer’s name for sponsored posts on Instagram. TikTok has similar features.
The Equation of Earnings: Understanding Influencer Rates
Hootesuite even uses a specific equation to measure what rates an influencer should most likely be charging. It is as follows; Engagement rate per post + extras for type of post (x #of posts) + extra factors = total rate.
The unspoken industry standard is $100 per 10,000 followers + extras for type of post (x # of posts) + additional factors = total rate.
Tapping into Affiliate Marketing: A Lucrative Revenue Avenue
Another way influencers can make revenue from their content is through affiliate marketing. This is where a business rewards affiliates (influencers) for each customer brought by the affiliate’s marketing efforts. In this case, the affiliate is you, the influencer.Influencers can expect to generally make 5-30% commission in affiliate marketing contracts. Often, bigger influencers are at the 8-12% range.
Influencer’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing: Strategies and Examples
Let me give you an example. I follow a fashion and lifestyle influencer on TikTok called Isabella Carr. Recently, Isabella posted a TikTok of her go-to ‘fall looks’ which consist of 4-6 cute outfits. Carr didn’t once mention that all pieces were from the same brand. She simply linked to the pieces in the TikTok Shop section of the caption. It was once I clicked that I saw all the pieces were by Princess Polly. This means that if I were to click on that link in Carr’s caption and purchase the cream coloured two piece she demonstrated in the video, Carr would get a percentage of the sale (usually between 5-30%).
If you’ve ever seen an influencer share something to their Story with a discount code like “use my code AMY25 for 25%” that’s a very common example of affiliate marketing.
Beyond Social Media: Influencers as Educators and Product Creators
A third way that influencers make money is offering courses and products. This is usually adopted by larger influencers who can really maximize on the dedication by going beyond social media platforms and curating a real brand around their name.
Damon Dominique is a travel influencer who started on YouTube a decade ago. Now boasting almost half a million subscribers on YouTube, Dominique has mastered several languages over the years. Fluent in French and Spanish (as well as English, his native tongue) Dominique offers modern, colloquial language courses from the perspective of an American learning the two languages. From how to hit on someone in a club to getting around healthcare and bureaucracy in Paris, Dominique’s courses are the real bases in contrast to the more traditional, dryer courses which teach us how to say we have two brothers and a cat at home.
A specific niche within this area in recent years has been financial courses. Only 43% of Generation Z are financially literate and many of us have expressed disdain that the education system has not taught us more regarding how to manage our finances. There may not be a better time than now to teach people how to budget, invest, or save, helping them make smart financial decisions.
A similar format is when influencers co-create product lines. This technique involves an influencer helping an existing brand to design or develop new products. For instance, many sporting goods companies will collaborate with athletes to improve a product, then slap their name on it. Influencers in the beauty space might design an eyeshadow palette or beautiful lipstick cases. Typically, an influencer will get a portion of the proceeds.
Navigating Earnings: Independent vs. Agency Partnerships
Regarding how exactly influencers get paid, some work independently while others work through an influencer agency. A general rule of thumb is to join an agency when your audience growth is buzzing, stay for several years to build connections and solid, ;arger following and then leave when your career is cemented and start taking 100% of your work again. Agencies tend to take 20% but if they increase your reach, many consider it worth it.
Crafting Careers: The Varied Landscape of Influencer Revenue
Making revenue as an influencer is a diverse and growing industry with some creating monetised content as a ‘side hustle’ and other influencers working with dedication on a full time career as a content creator.