How do Influencers Make Money? We Tell you 25 Ways How

How do Influencers make money?

Shiny bright lights, laughing eyes, glam faces, bold words — an Influencer’s life sure looks appealing to everyone! And why shouldn’t it be so? After all, these are people who define individuality for the SnapGram generation!

They successfully emote themselves, give out their opinions and make us laugh or wonder — all in the same 10 mins they are on camera. You could call them In-famous personalities, wannabe celebrities, jobless TikTokers or whatever else comes to your mind. The point still remains, that they are famous nonetheless and they are followed irrespective. Some of them cross a million subscribers on their channels with a freak tune viral-ling out on social media *cough cough Yashraj Mukhate*. While there are others who use cuss words till your ears bleed but still manage to keep their audiences deeply strung on to their next updates.

So let’s just say, it's your envy talking. That while you slog your butt smiling at that Zoom call screen all day, these ‘not-so-hardworking’ souls hog all the limelight on your Insta feed and sometimes even hijack a mention at your occasional team soiree. And then when you come to know, it's not just for kicks but they actually earn a living out of it, it makes your blood boil.

Okay, maybe not that dramatic. But you do end up thinking: How do these influencers make money? And do all of them make it?

We bring you a life-changing 25-point gameplan that acts as a ready reckoner every time you want to know: Top ways Influencers make Money!

Number 1: Sponsored Posts for Brands

One of the most common ways for influencers to generate money on social media is through sponsored social media posts. Sponsored posts, as the name implies, include a brand paying an influencer a certain amount of money in exchange for promoting their product on social media.

When an influencer uploads any sponsored post on Instagram, the paid partnership tag with the business name shows at the top of the post.

The Rebel Kid for Realme (Source: YouTube)

Number 2: Display Advertising for Brands

A social media influencer may also generate money by advertising for various brands on social media. Companies hire social media influencers on a retainer basis.

The use of Influencers for display ads (Source: Markerly)

It is the influencer’s job to become the ultimate expert on the brand or product and to advertise the brand products across all social media channels, in return the brand pays the influencer depending on their reach.

Number 3: Become a Brand Ambassador

The term “brand ambassador” is frequently associated with major celebrities, however, it also refers to social media influencers. As a brand representative or ambassador, they receive complimentary products from the company and even get paid for displaying their use of these products on their social media handles.

Kylie Jenner promotes FitTea detox (Source: Vyper)

Normally, these are longer-term contracts lasting a couple of months to a year.

Number 4: Sell your own products

Micro social media influencers often use their platforms to promote and sell their own products. If someone is a fitness influencer, for example, they may sell or promote their own items.

One might need to make a small investment initially but if it clicks, this could pay off hugely in the long run.

Influencers could sell their own products too (Image Source: Business Insider)

Number 5: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a popular strategy for generating considerable online revenue and increasing sales. It is a method by which an influencer who works as an affiliate earns a commission for promoting the products of another individual or firm.

Affiliate marketing for influencers (Source: Later)

Once they have signed up as an affiliate marketer for the company or brand, they are given a unique URL or code to use to track conversions. Pay-per-sale, pay-per-click, and pay-per-lead models are common in affiliate marketing.

Number 6: Selling Copyright of the original content

Another way to make money for influencers is to sell copyrights to their original work. For example, if an influencer’s video, song, or a clip has gone viral, and there are brands that want to use it in a commercial, he/she may make money by selling the original copyright of the content to the brand.

Remember Yashraj Mukhate’s rasode mein kaun tha? Yes, that’s what we are talking about!

Number 7: Being the PR expert

Making money through public relations is an art, but it isn’t for everyone even though it may appear simple. When an influencer performs display advertising, their followers are aware of it; however, in PR, they don’t explicitly advertise the product.

Tod’s Shares Soar in Milan as ‘Influencer’ Ferragni Joins Board (Source: Bloomberg)

Here, a social media influencer’s major role is to grow the brand, spread the organization’s message, and reduce the impact of negative news — without blatantly speaking of its price and shipping costs ever!

Number 8: Paid reviews

Paid reviews, as the name implies, are about making money by doing reviews for any company, product, or place.

Paid Reviews (Source: PR Values)

It is a scripted act in which an influencer talks about a specific product with the goal of persuading the audience to buy that product. Paid reviews can be on about anything, including movies, products, and restaurants.

Number 9: Paid appearances

Who doesn’t enjoy hearing about a social media influencer’s life story, hardships, and triumphs? Typically, media outlets may ask an influencer to do any act relating to their field, interview them, or even attend a conclave.

Influencers attend events on behalf of their brands for promotions (Source: YouTube)

For all of this, an influencer can simply demand money based on their popularity and reach.

Number 10: YouTube AdSense

When Instagram and TikTok weren’t around, YouTube was the lone wolf when it came to giving social media influencers, opportunity. YouTube is a conventional digital media platform, and a lot of us have considered starting a YouTube channel at some point.

Influencers earn on YouTube via AdSense (Source: YouTube)

But how does one make money out of creating YouTube content? An influencer can do so by applying for and being accepted into the YouTube Partner Program. If the videos reach a particular level of popularity, YouTube will show advertisements on them, and an influencer might earn a significant amount of money from ad revenue.

Number 11: YouTube Brand Connect

YouTube Brand Connect

When it comes to earning, YouTube never lets an influencer down! The platform’s inherent content-creator nature allows it to reflect and provide new interesting options for the creative mind.

The YouTube Brand Connect is a monetization tool that connects creators with companies for branded content campaigns. It allows them to get paid by letting them contribute to branded content projects. Eligible creators directly access this option in YouTube Studio.

Number 12: Memberships/Subscriptions

We live in the subscription era! Accept it, move on! Waiting for the latest season of Money Heist — Pay Netflix! Love the new look on Akshay Kumar and want to read more about it — Pay the Magazine covering it!

Subscription Monetization models (Source: Vimeo)

A social media influencer too can charge a fee for unique content that is only available to paid subscribers. Influencers tend to invite their followers to join various websites/apps as well. YouTube capitalized on this too to provide a subscription service.

Number 13: Crowdfunding

We are aware of those livestreams on YouTube where some well-known Influencers conduct a talk or a session and the audience donates/funds them via a YouTube superchat.

Share-of-Voice for the Top 100 Crowdfunding Influencers and Brands (Source: Onalytica)

Several other live streaming platforms also enable influencers to can earn money like this — calling it ‘crowdfunding’. Since donations are usually for a good cause, these are often for charitable and not-for-profit purposes. But influencers do use it sometimes to make money for themselves too.

The Chess for Charity event featuring World Champion Vishwanathan Anand and Cricketer Yuzvendra Chahal (Source: YouTube)

Number 14: Participating in a digital show

Digital shows have become the new normal, and every online streaming platform is constantly on the lookout for fresh digital series to make. It all started in India with Amazon Prime’s Comicstaan- a stand-up comedy show- and gradually took off from there.

The Comedy Premium League on Netflix brings together acclaimed stand-up comedians and YouTubers

Many other OTTs are now producing similar shows, and social media influencers are benefiting from them hugely not just as means of earning money but also popularity.

Number 15: Hosting a digital event

Why wait for an OTT to tap you? You become a host yourself on your own channel and stream it for your audience!

How to be a Good Wing Woman: Pee Cee collaborates with Lilly-Singh aka Superwoman (Source: Pakistan Today)

As Covid forced everyone to move their meetings online, the creative ones saw a huge opportunity here. Stand-up comedians, satirists, academicians, subject matter experts, journalists began organising online shows for their audiences inviting people of interest to speak on their chosen subject.

Now if you are interested in hearing your favourite speaker talk on your favourite topic with your favourite Influencer — wouldn’t you buy a ticket?

Number 16: Webinars

Webinars for education and for leisure (Source: Vimeo)

Teach them something? If not in class, at least online! For influencers and content creators, webinars can be a cost-effective revenue model.

A webinar is a web-based seminar that is typically used for educational purposes to deliver knowledge in an engaging format. Influencers often collaborate with an organisation for this content and charge a fee to the attending participants.

Number 17: Freelancer at heart

The best part about being a social media influencer is that there are no limitations. One can work for oneself and do what they love AND get paid for it!

Freelance Influencer (Source: TR Business)

An influencer can provide freelance services at any moment and it is up to him/her to decide what kind of service they want to provide- Photography, social media, coaching, personal training, appearances, personal shoppers… the list is endless.

Number 18: Merchandise

Another exciting approach to earn and accentuate one’s own brand is to develop official branded merchandise, which your followers can browse and purchase. And that is exactly what most marquee influencers graduate to.

Bhuvam Bam promoting his official Merchandise — Youthiapa 2.0 (Source: Passionate in Marketing)

For example, if an influencer has a well-known dialogue or a character that has gone viral, he/she can produce a variety of merchandise based on that theme.

Number 19: Sell Digital Products

Selling clothes, shoes, bags is now passe. Instagrammers and YouTubers have now moved to selling digital products via their channels. And no, we are not talking iPhones and Alexas!

Digital products can include recipes too! (Source: Kajabi)

Stock images, prints, e-books, illustrations, graphics, digital diaries, WordPress themes, music pieces, thematic elements, research, statistics and data, recipes, software programs — the opportunities are as endless as the expertise if you find your right audience.

Number 20: Facebook In-stream ads

Facebook joined the business of paying potential social media influencers who have gained a certain level of acclaim amongst their followers. The parameter is similar to YouTube AdSense since this is also based on the number of views the influencer garners on his creation.

Facebook In-stream video ads (Source: AdEspresso)

The Facebook In-stream video, which allows advertisers to place their products/services in the video content posted by content creators. Short commercials appear before, during, or after the video, allowing the creator to earn money with one’s content.

Number 21: Instagram IGTV

IGTV Ads (Source: Creator Handbook)

Instagram provides options galore for social media influencers! And the launch of Instagram IGTV was one more such option for Influencers to monetize their content.

When consumers click on previews in their feed to watch IGTV videos, the adverts come in.

The greater number of views the content has, the more impressions the advertisements get and the more money Instagram pays the influencer. The key is — quality content!

Number 22: Facebook Brand Collabs

If everyone’s running in the race, how can Facebook be left behind? The Brand Collabs Manager was built by Facebook to help social media influencers find and connect with different brands.

Brands leaning towards influencers to promote them online (Source: ET Brand Equity)

The Manager is like a meetup platform for marketers and influencers who can match themselves against various needs at various points in their product journey. It makes it relatively simpler for influencers to build paid partnerships and maximise their revenue potential.

Number 23: Non Fungible Funds (NFT)

When it comes to influencer earnings, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) are the dark horse. This may appear complicated, but it is undeniably useful. NFTs are a type of digital asset that is sold on a blockchain.

A picture of Emily Ratajkowski is an NFT sold for $140,000 (Source: LA Times)

Videos, images and animations, music, text, or a combination of these can all be used as assets. When a buyer buys an NFT from a creator, the transaction is recorded on a blockchain. The buyer receives a digital certificate of ownership for the item right away. As a result, the original artwork cannot be stolen or counterfeited, and the asset’s ownership cannot be challenged.

It is like selling artwork or vintage photographs but in the form of a token. How exciting!

Number 24: Create Workshops not webinars

Skilled in a particular art and want to disseminate your knowledge to the public at large? You could organise a workshop where you can earn a solid living by teaching those abilities to others who are interested.

Workshops are usually organised by well-known figures, but nothing beats proficiency in any creative form, thus it is a source of income for an influencer, no matter what stage of popularity he or she is at. How are they different from webinars you ask? It is a lot more training focused and learning focused — you actually ensure your pupils understood what you taught.

Number 25: Tik Tok Creator Fund

The TikTok creator fund (Source: DO Good U)

It may be banned in India but we are sure to remember how much craze TikTok had generated in its few months of existence here too. But it was not just in India that TikTok went viral along with its fun-filled creativity. It is said to have been downloaded 2.6 billion times worldwide (quoting a Sensor Tower report)!

And to support its creators, last year around June TikTok launched the “Creator Fund”. A cool idea that rewards content producers for viral videos on the app. Of course, it is TikTok that chooses who is selected and how much the artist should be paid. So go figure!

Five years ago, the phrase “social media” was regarded as a pejorative term. Being an ‘influencer’ was worse — it was the social equivalent of a jobless pariah. But with the rapid growth and acceptance of digital media across ages and demographics, the importance of these terms has taken a quantum leap forward.

Previously thought to be a platform for leisure or in crude terms, ‘whiling away time’, social media today has become indispensable for businesses who want to survive and flourish. That has obviously given rise to the new breed of popular social media — now called influencers. Their thoughts, their yay’s and nay’s, their kudos and their criticism can sometimes have the power to elevate or kill entire brand images. And brands have now learnt to use this to their advantage.

It is of course a win-win for the influencer too. Having found corporate favour to their creativity, influencers go to great lengths to generate quality content for their users thus bringing in brands and paymasters to their doorstep.

We say we are all for this — after all, loving what you do for the most part of your day is something most of us dream about. And if some worthy ones amongst us are getting a chance to do so, why shouldn’t they?! For sure if they need some ideas on how to monetize their creativity and earn millions, they will a handy list which we have served out here. Binge on!

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