How to Make Money as an Influencer on Social Media (Guide)

Manana Papiashvili
Manana Papiashvili
Head of Growth at Insense

Social media influencers are creative and influential individuals that have the power to form their audiences' decisions in terms of the products and services they use.

If you're here reading this guide, it might mean that you are or want to be one of those people. 

Whether you’ve already built or are looking to build a social media audience, this guide is going to take you through the monetization options you have. 

More specifically, we’re going to:

  • Discuss how you can make money on social media as an influencer
  • Give you tips on social media monetization

Plus, we’re going to specifically discuss the monetization options for TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. 

Without further ado, we’re jumping right into exploring how influencers make money on social media. 

How Do Influencers Make Money?

Social media might seem like fun and entertaining platforms to many of us; however, since influencers have started monetizing their audiences, these platforms have become commercialized. 

In fact, there are a number of strategies that influencers can follow to make money depending on their industry. 

The eight ways we're going to discuss in this post can be put into practice by influencers who have audiences of different sizes.

insense's image on how influencers make money

It doesn’t matter whether you're a micro-influencer or a macro-influencer, chances are, you can do one of the following to monetize your social media audience. 

Strategy #1: Sponsored posts

The first, and one of the most common ways for influencers to make money online, is through sponsored posts.

Sponsored posts can be anything from single posts or a series of posts to Instagram stories or YouTube and TikTok videos. 

In this case, the company assigns the creation of a post that'll feature their product or service in an engaging and creative way. 

According to MediaKix, sponsored posts on Instagram increase by 30% year over year. 

Therefore, we understand that running an influencer marketing campaign with sponsored posts is a very popular tactic when it comes to influencer marketing. 

In terms of incorporating the product or service into the content, the result depends heavily on the brand and the influencer's aesthetics, as well as the agreement between the two parties.

An example of a mega influencer posting a sponsored video on YouTube is the following one from makeup artist and influencer, James Charles:

Image Source: YouTube

Author’s Note: A great way to get noticed by brands and start creating sponsored content for them would be to try out Insense, our tool that brings together brands and creators. 

Strategy #2: Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing that allows influencers and bloggers - in this case, called affiliates - to get paid by companies for their marketing efforts. 

How does it work?

Every time a visitor or customer goes to the company’s website or product page using a link from the content of the affiliate, they get a reward. 

Here’s an example of fashion model and influencer Hailey Rhodes Bieber adding an affiliate link for a product in the description box of one of your YouTube videos. 

Image Source: YouTube

Overall, affiliate marketing is a great way for influencers to raise brand awareness for a specific product or service and get paid for doing so.

Plus, affiliate marketing is a very popular strategy among companies using influencer marketing to grow because it’s performance-based and allows brands to make sure that a certain number of followers or visitors has come from the influencer’s social media platforms.

Strategy #3: Branded merchandise

There’s a long list of influencers and content creators who create branded merchandise and sell it online to make more people aware of their brand and monetize their audience.

Creating and selling branded products is a fantastic marketing strategy for YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram influencers and brand ambassadors who want to make money using the power and popularity of promotional products. 

Merch is a way for influencers to expand their social networks and communicate their messaging through tangible objects.

What’s more, by offering fans and followers the opportunity to get access to unique branded items, an influencer can achieve creating closer and longer-term relationships with them.

That’s exactly what super successful YouTube star with over 12 million subscribers on YouTube, Zach King, does with this merch store on YouTube:

Image Source: YouTube

Strategy #4: Ebooks and downloadables

Besides being very active and efficient brand advocates, influencers are content creators known to create unique and original posts. 

Many influencers are thought leaders and experts in their field, which means that they have valuable content to share with their audience. 

That's why one of the most prominent ways to make money as an influencer is through selling your content, for example in the form of an eBook. 

Image Source: Statista

As you can see on the screenshot above, eBook trade revenue in the US amounted to $1.1 billion in 2020, the highest record in recent years. 

Having said that, we can assume that influencers can definitely use eBooks to monetize their online audience.

As simple as that!

Strategy #5: Digital courses and workshops

Following up from eBooks; digital courses and workshops are yet another efficient way for influencers to make money online

There's a huge number of influencers that base their audience and content on a specific topic. 

For example, there are many fitness influencers that share fitness-specific content with their audience across different platforms. 

Similarly, there’s a huge number of beauty influencers that focus on creating beauty content. 

For influencers that fall under such niche-specific categories, it would be very efficient to monetize their audience by organizing digital paid courses and workshops. 

Content marketing influencer Adam Enfroy knows how important it is to share valuable content with your audience in the form of digital courses and workshops:

Image Source: Adam Enfroy

Strategy #6: Subscriptions

One of the most straightforward strategies for influencers to make money from their social media activities is to offer subscription-based models.

A little further up, we talked about fitness influencers and organizing digital courses and workshops. 

Equally efficient could be for a fitness influencer to consider selling different workout bundles on a subscription basis. 

Marketing subscription-based services allows influencers to reach out to different parts of their target audience, thus increasing their chances of monetizing their audience successfully. 

Fitness influencer duo Boho Beautiful is just one example of influencers using video monetization on a subscription model to monetize their audience:

Image Source: Boho Beautiful

Strategy #7: Collaborations with brands

The last way of making money as an influencer on social media we want to share with you is through collaborations with brands.

This strategy is all about an influencer working together with or helping out a brand to develop a new product or a series of new products. 

An example of this would be a beauty influencer working with a well-established beauty brand to launch a new beauty product. 

In the case of an influencer collaboration, the influencer usually gets a portion of the earnings, depending on the agreement between the two parties. 

Here’s an example of an influencer, Valentina Ferragni with 4 million followers on Instagram, collaborating with beauty brand, Lancôme, on social media:

Image Source: Instagram

You’ve seen the different ways you can go to make money as an online influencer. 

However, we understand that micro and nano influencers might find it hard to find brands to collaborate with. 

That’s why we think Insense can be truly powerful and helpful for content creators who’re just starting out as well as creators with smaller following.

 Make sure to sign up to explore the tool’s capabilities. 

Wanna hear more about what to take care of to elevate your content marketing and increase engagement rates as an influencer?

Keep reading to find out. 

What are the Basics of Making Money on Social Media as an Influencer?

There might be a number of monetization options, but that doesn't mean that the process is always going to be as easy. 

That’s why we’ve put together a quick list of tips to help you make sure that you're making the right moves to generate revenue on social media as an influencer.

Here’s tip number one. 

Tip #1: Be consistent with your posting schedule

If you want to become one of the best influencers in your niche, you need to make sure that you’re consistent with your posting schedule and social media activities. 

This is especially important because being consistent with your work will make your audience trust you more and will also make it easier for them to engage with your content. 

Knowing that it’s time for their favorite influencer to post a YouTube video or run an Instagram Live will enhance anticipation and make your followers keep an eye out for your content on specific days and times. 

Moreover, consistency is essential to make sure your followers know that you’re professional and that you’ve invested in creating content for them. 

Moving on. 

Tip #2: Create high-quality content

One of the most important things you should remember when creating content for your audience is that you need to create high-quality content that's thoughtful and doesn't seem rushed or cheap.

Especially when you want to monetize your content, it’s extremely important to make sure that what you put out there is of high quality in order to show brands and potential collaborators that you’re the right influencer for them. 

The process of finding influencers to work with is a quite challenging one for companies. 

That’s why you need to make sure that your content is a reflection of your capabilities as an influencer. 

For example, if you’re great at video editing, make sure that anyone will be able to see that just by scrolling through your most recent posts. 

To make money on social media, you need to show companies and professionals that you’re going to be a valuable addition to their digital marketing campaign. 

Creating high-quality content is also important in terms of the relationship you establish with your audience. 

In today’s competitive digital world, no follower wants to see poor-quality photos and videos on their feed. 

Let’s get to the next tip we want to share with you. 

Tip #3: Create engaging content

Creating high-quality content is equally as important as creating content that’s engaging and interesting to interact with

Brands nowadays want to promote themselves in the most original ways possible; a way that'll make their brand and products stand out from the crowd. 

If you want brands partnering with you, it’s super important to create content that catches the eye and makes the viewer want to engage with it almost immediately. 

As you can see in the screenshot below, the human attention span has significantly decreased in the last two decades. 

Image Source: Wyzowl

According to a study, our collective attention span is significantly narrowed due to the abundance of information.

Anyone who has ever used Instagram or TikTok will understand exactly what an abundance of information means in this context, given the incredibly high number of different posts an average person will consume every minute online. 

It’s now more important than ever that content creators make content that'll be impactful and unique in order to drive sales and create successful partnerships with brands. 

Tip #4: Build a community

More than simply creating content, influencers are professionals who become thought leaders in the digital realm.

Think of it that way; an influencer is a protagonist on their social media platforms

However, to make money from anything they put online, they need to make sure that their audience plays their role too.

In terms of the relationships built between influencers and their followers, we can't stress enough how important it is to treat your followers as a community - a family

Being authentic and putting serious work, love, and time into the content you create for your followers will make it more likely for you to build a strong community of people that are always happy to engage with your content and support your activities. 

Whether it’s collaborations with brands, launching your own promotional products collection, offering online workshops, or any of the other great things we discussed earlier in this post, it’s essential that you make your followers feel that you're equally important for the continued success of your community as you are. 

Moreover, building a community in a specific industry is a great way for brands to identify the perfect influencer for them. 

A relevant influencer who’s proven that they're capable of reaching their target market as well as new audiences through their content is probably someone brands will want to work with. 

For example, if a small business wants to run a big giveaway on social media, it’s more likely that they’ll choose someone with a strong community that actively participates in social media contests and giveaways. 

To sum up, marketers are looking for potential influencers with strong influence over their community in order to make sure that they’re going to pull off an effective influencer marketing campaign. 

The sections that follow will give you insight on how to make money on the most popular platforms, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, as an influencer. 

Let’s start with the first one. 

Making Money on Instagram as an Influencer

With the number of Instagram users worldwide growing every year…

Image Source: Statista

…Instagram is definitely one of the most popular social media platforms in the world for influencers who want to make money on social media and brands that want to promote their products and services.

Let’s get into it. 

Can you make money on Instagram?

The short answer is ABSOLUTELY YES!

In 2020, Instagram was one of the most downloaded apps both on the App Store and Play Store. 

According to the bar chart we showed you a little further up, the platform had over 800 million users accessing it on a monthly basis. 

Plus, the most recent forecasts project that figure to grow to over 1 billion users. 

Instagram’s popularity makes it safe to say that influencers can successfully connect with their audience and make a full-time job on Instagram with the money they’re making on the platform. 

Besides the platform’s popularity, another reason why Instagrammers can make money on the platform lies in the platform’s capabilities; the monetization and promotion tools offered to the users

More specifically, Instagram allows influencers to get access to a number of revenue streams, such as:

  • Creating branded content and collaborating with brands
  • Earning money with badges on live videos
  • Creating advertisements on their videos and other content
  • Creating an Instagram shop where they can sell their products and merch

Wanna see some numbers?

Let’s get into how much money an influencer can make on Instagram. 

How much money can you make on Instagram as an influencer?

The amount of money influencers can make on Instagram varies depending on the size of their audience and time spent on the platform. 

According to the HypeAuditor 2022 Influencer Income survey, surveyed influencers of all tiers, that is nano-influencers, micro-influencers, macro-influencers, and mega-influencers, make approximately $2,970 per month from their Instagram account. 

Image Source: HypeAuditor

The average amounts earned per month shown above includes earnings from a number of different influencer activities including the following:

  • Brand promotion rewards
  • Selling their own products, such as branded merchandise
  • Affiliate programs
  • Digital products, such as paid online courses, workshops, and webinars
  • Subscription services

In terms of the different categories and topics, such as animals, business and marketing, fashion, Beauty, etc., the most profitable for full-time influencers seem to be the following three:

  1. Animals
  2. Business and marketing
  3. Fitness and sports

In other words, Instagram posts that deal with any of the categories listed pay better than others, such as food and cooking. 

Is there anything you should pay attention to when it comes to Instagram monetization?

What to pay attention to when it comes to Instagram monetization

Because of the platform’s popularity, influencers should know that, unless they’re someone as popular as Beyonce, there’s going to be competition. 

In other words, even though Instagram boosts monetization, there are some points you should pay attention to. 

Here are some of the most important ones: 

  • To have dedicated and engaged followers, you need to build a community, not just a fan base
  • Use the right and most relevant hashtags
  • Be consistent with your posting schedule and post regularly
  • Post high-quality content
  • Be authentic and avoid promoting brands that don’t resonate with your audience
  • Collaborate with other relevant influencers to boost your reach
  • Don’t overdo it with promotional content; this might make your followers overwhelmed
  • Give back to your Instagram followers with giveaways offering free products and contests

Example of an influencer who makes money on Instagram

As you can probably imagine, there are endless examples of influencers who make money on Instagram. 

However, because it’d be impossible to show you millions of examples, we’ve decided to show you a very clear example of UK-based lifestyle influencer, Klaudia Cloud, with a little over 32,000 followers:

By the way, the post you see below is just out of many sponsored posts we found on her account. 

We’ve said quite a lot about Instagram; how about TikTok?

Making Money on TikTok as an Influencer

TikTok is the second most downloaded app in the world in 2020, right after Zoom, the video conferencing platform:

Image Source: Sensor Tower

Instagram's clearly got a very powerful competitor in the game. 

Can you really make money on TikTok?

Can you make money on TikTok?

A Forbes list from 2020 revealed that there’s a number of teen stars that make over $1 million on the Chinese-owned platform; so the answer to the question is YES, influencers can totally use TikTok to make money. 

The platform is used both by a number of newly-minted stars and well-established celebrities who want to find, connect with, and monetize their TikTok audience. 

TikTok offers the following monetization options:

  • Branded content
  • Advertisements
  • Access to its Creator Marketplace

What’s more, the company has launched the so-called TikTok Creator Fund, a fund allocated to pay and reward creators for their creative content on TikTok. 

According to TikTok, the Fund initially started at $70 million and is expected to grow over time. 

However, it’s not entirely clear how the platform plans to pay creators through the fund. 

How much money can you make on TikTok as an influencer?

Similar to what we said about Instagram, the amount of money an influencer can make on the platform depends on how good their profile is in terms of niche, engagement, brand's target audience, etc. 

What’s interesting is that there are many TikTok income calculators that allow upcoming TikTok stars to calculate their income based on the parameters we just mentioned. 

According to one of these calculators, Exolyt, creators can generate anything from $50,000 to $150,000 from one brand partnership. 

Such numbers, of course, refer to creators with very strong engagement rates, and who are popular in terms of the number of followers on the profile.  

Have a look at the highest-paid TikTokers’ estimated earnings per sponsored post:

Image Source: Follow Chain

However, we need to say that a vast number of creators posting content on TikTok make a lot less or no money at all. 

What to pay attention to when it comes to TikTok monetization

To get to know how to make money on TikTok, you might need to take a look at the following points:

  • Be consistent with your posting schedule and post regularly
  • Create short and engaging videos
  • To start live streams and monetize your videos, you need over 1,000 followers 
  • To apply for the TikTok Creator Fund you need to have a fan base of 10,000 followers and a minimum of 100,000 video views in the last 30 days
  • Make sure you use the TikTok Creator Marketplace (TCM); the official platform for brand/creator collaborations on TikTok.

Let’s see an example of an influencer who’s making the most of monetizing her TikTok account.  

Example of an influencer who makes money on TikTok

We could probably talk about someone like Charli D’Amelio who we also saw in the highest-paid TikTok stars list earlier in this post. 

However, TikTok is full of creators with fewer followers but a big influence who also create brand sponsorships and make money on the platform. 

An example is Kasie, with 14,000 followers. 

Here’s an example of a branded post on her profile in collaboration with hand sanitizer brand, Touchland:

As you can see, TikTok might be a new addition to social media, but it most definitely is a place where micro and nano influencers can make money. 

With this example, we’re done with TikTok and are ready to jump on to YouTube. 

Making Money on YouTube as an Influencer

The third platform we want to talk about is YouTube. 

With 500+ hours of content uploaded on YouTube every minute, we can’t help but think how much potential there is on this online video sharing and social media platform in terms of content creation and monetization.

Plus, according to Alexa by Amazon, ranks second in global internet engagement. 

In terms of engagement, YouTube is definitely a good platform for influencers; but, can a YouTuber make money on the platform?

Let’s have a look. 

Can you make money on YouTube?

Yes, creators that have YouTube channels can make money on YouTube by entering the YouTube Partner Program

These are the main features of the program that YouTube influencers can benefit from financially:

  • Display, overlay, and video ads
  • Channel memberships
  • Create and sell official branded merchandise that'll be displayed on your Watch pages
  • Super Chat and Super Stickers, when subscribers pay to get their messages highlighted in chat streams

These ways to make money show us that creators have a number of different features they can enjoy in terms of YouTube monetization. 

As you can probably imagine, for creators to be eligible for the above-mentioned features, there are subscription and view count requirements they need to reach. 

More specifically, here’s a table of the requirements influencers need to meet in order to get access to the monetization features:

Image Source: YouTube

On top of these requirements, YouTube tells us that some of the criteria their reviewers assess creators’ content against are the following:

Image Source: YouTube

As you can see, the platform makes it possible for influencers to make money from the content they publish on it, but they need to make sure to meet certain requirements. 

Overall, we could say that YouTube’s monetization policies are stricter than the other platforms we talked about earlier. 

We’ve seen the requirements, let’s get into the amount of money an influencer might earn on YouTube. 

How much money can you make on YouTube as an influencer?

The amount of money you can make on YouTube depends on how many subscribers you have as well as how high the engagement rates for your videos on YouTube are. 

Similar to the TikTok highest-paid stars we saw earlier in this post, this time we’re looking at the top earners on YouTube. 

Have a look:

Image Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

As you can see, the top YouTube earners made tens of millions of dollars in 2022, with their earnings per minute reaching from $20 to $56. 

However, that’s definitely not the case for the majority of YouTube influencers. 

Many influencers will find it difficult to make their first dollar on the platform; however, consistency and high-quality content can increase your chances of starting to make money. 

Given that a chunk of the money made on YouTube is through ads, we believe you should know that there are two types of ads you might be interested in:

  1. Cost per thousand views, also called cost per mille (CPM)
  2. Cost per click (CPC)

To give you an idea of the amount of money you might make for a CPM for example, let’s say that advertisers will pay on average around $0,018 per view

That means that if your video gets around 10,000 views, it’s going to be worth some $180.

You need to factor in that Google will keep almost half of it - 45% to be precise - which means that you, the influencer, will get an average of $99 per 10,000 views. 

What to pay attention to when it comes to YouTube monetization

As we’ve already seen, YouTube monetization is trickier than other platforms.

Here are some things you should know about YouTube monetization to turn YouTube from a side hustle to a full-time job. 

  • Create engaging and authentic content
  • Check the minimum eligibility requirements to join the YouTube Partner Programme
  • Create a linked AdSense account
  • Remain active and post regularly; YouTube may disable monetization features on channels that haven’t posted a video to the Community tab for over six months. 

Wanna see an example of an influencer who makes money on YouTube?

Here we go. 

Example of an influencer who makes money on YouTube

An influencer who makes money on YouTube mostly through affiliate marketing is photographer Omar Eltakrori.

Omar has a little over 27,500 subscribers on the platform and posts photography-related videos on YouTube.

Image Source: YouTube

Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

We’re done talking about YouTube monetization for influencers. 

Let’s wrap up this post. 

Don’t forget to visit our FAQs section after the outro.

Now Over to You

You've made it to the end of our guide on how to make money as an influencer on some of the most popular social media platforms - Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

In this guide, we discussed the different ways influencers make money online.

Plus, we've given you some important tips in terms of content monetization on social media. 

Last but not least, we’ve broken down monetization options and features for all three platforms. 

If you want to start working with brands on social media, make sure to sign up with Insense for a creator account and start leveraging your social media audience. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Let’s get into giving answers to some of your most frequently asked questions.

Q1. How much do influencers make annually?

The answer is that it depends. 

It depends on the platform and also depends on the size of the follower or subscriber base an influencer has. 

Q2. How can you establish your value as an influencer?

To establish your value as an influencer, you need to make sure to create authentic, engaging, and original content for your followers and subscribers. 

You also need to show professionalism and be consistent with your posting schedule. 

Q3. Do influencers share products they actually use?

Influencers may share products they use and others that they don’t. 

Each influencer has their own quality and authenticity standards in terms of their recommendations to their followers. 

That being said, some influencers want to specifically recommend products to their followers they’ve actually used and know they work,  but that’s not always the case. 

Q4. How much do influencers make per post?

How much money influencers make per post depends on the platform they use as well as the different monetization options they choose. 

Amounts might vary depending on whether an influencer earns money through affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, digital courses and workshops, and so on and so forth.

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Manana Papiashvili

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