Becoming a social media influencer is the dot com dream of new generations. Successful social media influencers have made themselves so relatable, authentic, and real that anybody thinks that they too know how to become a social media influencer. Of course, as any of the successful influences will tell you, becoming a social media influencer takes a long time. For instance, I consider myself an influencer, but I started my journey to launch in a blog way back in 2008, when some of the new generation of influencers we’re still in diapers!
I believe that in order to become a social media influencer there is a pyramid of influence that you need to climb up. Rightfully so, this pyramid begins with your own infrastructure that I’ll cover briefly before discussing some of the ways you can move yourself up the influencer pyramid and potentially generate more and more money working together with brands in your niche.
Creating Your Influencer Infrastructure
Before you begin or revise your influencer journey, you need to understand that at the heart of things, every influencer is a content creator. And before you even begin to create content, you need to figure out your niche, or unique brand or perspective of things that will attract a relevant audience to check you out and follow you.
Part of deciding on a niche is all about figuring out what you are most passionate about as well as how you will be creating content. Do you enjoy writing? Videos? Photography? And is your niche geared towards people or businesses? Based on this you will have a great idea as to what content in which content medium(s) you should publish to which social networks.
Unfortunately, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither do you become influential overnight. As you can imagine, making money requires a lot of effort. Your content must be compelling, your pictures must be captivating, and your work should be unique and different from others. You also need to be both proactively engaging with others that should be interested in you as well as engaging back when others engage with you. Especially at the beginning you will be spending a lot of time on social media, but should you remain focused, the long-term benefits are worth spending the time for.
Once you have a community in place, you can begin to look at the best ways to monetize your followers and fans as you work your way up the pyramid of influence.
Ways to Make Money as a Social Media Influencer
This only works if you have a blog or YouTube channel, but you do have the ability to generate money by showing ads here. YouTube ads are handled by Google AdSense, but you can actually sell advertising on your own blog to brands that might be interested in working with you. It requires a lot of website traffic or video views to make money off of advertising, but it’s a good start to generate some money for your time spent.
Most influencers begin here. As you begin to build up your following you can begin to slowly promote products and services to your community which you can sign up as an affiliate. You can try to sell products of other brands and get part of money from the sales made by you. Affiliate marketing has a lot of hidden opportunities, but needless to say it is a test to see if your audience will even click on products and services that might interest them. Use affiliate marketing as an initial testing ground. It can also be used in tandem with the advertising advice above.
Social Media Sponsored Posts
Once you begin to grow a larger following, brands might reach out to you because they want to access your audience through publishing a sponsored post. A sponsored post could be on your blog or on a social media channel, but you are essentially posting content on behalf of the brand and getting paid for it. Right now the hottest channel for this is Instagram, but it is possible on almost every social media platform. Don’t forget to follow FTC guidelines and add an #ad or #sponsored should your post be a sponsored one.
Social media influencers who are good photographers can also monetize their creative skills to earn money through social media platforms. You can sell your photographs or even presets at a good price to earn money. You can also work for any brand and promote and create awareness about it. With the emergence of Instagram as a major channel for influencers, photographers are a well-sought out profession that could help you accelerate your influence if that is you!
Once you begin to make relationships with brands, they might want to create a longer-term relationship with you. This is what we refer to as a social media brand ambassador, a relationship where in some cases you would state so in your profile and reject working with competing brands. Such relationships take time to build but can potentially offer you a stable monthly stream of income depending on the contractual agreement you come to with the brand.
Social media influencers can also make easy money by organizing or hosting events like bloggers’ meet up or influencers’ meet up. They can even promote a brand in that event or make influential speeches or appearances which can help them earn money.
While webinars are not for everyone, they are yet another way for the social media influencers and talented people to earn money should they have something to teach. Webinars are events that are simply held virtually but they are held on the internet and the influencers have to provide an educational speech for teaching purposes in an engaging manner, just like a tutorial.
Webinars are easy to make. They can be recorded live or recorded earlier. You can post a webinar when you feel like or when it’s the peak time to gain more revenue out of it. Should a brand want to work with you on a webinar, you should jump at the opportunity and find a way to collaborate.
An extension of the webinar is to create your own digital or e-products. Digital products are very easy to make and require little to no investment. Even if you are not so tech-savvy, you can still create your own digital product. Digital products can be anything and can vary from people to people. For instance, many people create e-books, e-workout programs or e-travel guides for their followers. This can be anything, even a one-page workout or meal plan. You just need to be convincing enough to sell your e-products.
Digital products are a pathway for the social media influencers to earn money by creating something tangible. However, it is important that you have good knowledge and understanding of what you are creating. For instance, if you are selling an e-page about your own workout routine for a hot summer body, make sure that your words sell and work.
There are many paths to monetizing your influence, but the path you will take will depend on your niche, your passions, your skills, and eventually the brands that would be interested in working with you. There are other ways in addition to the above in which you can monetize your influence so always be open in conversations with brands or other entities that might want to work with you. Hopefully, though, the above is a great start to give you a roadmap to begin earning your first $$$ as a social media influencer.
Guest contributor Neal Schaffer is the world’s leading educator and implementer of social media and influencer marketing strategies for businesses and brands. His upcoming book, The Age of Influence, is the definitive guide to influencer marketing for business owners and marketing managers. You can pre-order your copy of Neal’s new book on his website right here.