How Do Influencers Make Money? 8 Highest Paying Methods

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by Erin Schollaert

Updated

Influencers quickly surpass the popularity of classic celebrities, and with that fame and popularity, they’re reinventing how they can get paid.

From YouTubers who make millions to Twitch streamers whose leaked income shocked the internet: there’s no question that these people are making major money; many who are new to the concept just are asking themselves, ‘how do influencers make money?’.

This run-down will show you how influencers earn money, build their audiences, and what it means to be an influencer.

How Do Influencers Make Money?

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There are countless sites and apps that you can use to become an influencer, but the most popular ones are YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, and Twitter.

Across these platforms, influencers make money through many methods, with some even making money without showing their faces.

Although each has an unpredictable income depending on how many followers an influencer has and how interactive they are: they’re fantastic ways to make money.

Stages of Influence

Here’s a quick run-down on he levels of influencers:

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  • Nano-influencers have an average of 1,000 to 10,000 followers
  • Micro-influencers have 10,000 to 50,000 followers
  • Mid-tier influencers have 50,000 to 500,000
  • Macro-influencers have 500,000 to a million
  • Mega influencers have over a million followers

Regardless of the number of followers, the average influencer can convert around 1.5% of them into purchases or convince them into clicking necessary links. The following numbers are based on that percentage.

1. Affiliate Links

How much you can make per 1,000 followers: $450 per link post

Affiliate links are one of the most common ways how social media influencers make money.

Not only are these great because they can be passive, not needing an introduction every time, but they also allow you to gain money with every single purchase instead of just a base amount.

The most popular affiliates are companies like Squarespace and Shopify: most brands require over 5,000 followers to work with you. This is one of the most popular ways to make money on Discord.

2. Patreon

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How much you can make per 1,000 followers: $105 per month

The best part of Patreon is there’s no follower amount you have to reach to start earning money: you have to have an audience who likes what you do.

Patreon is a subscription service where followers can pay to gain access to unique things you don’t post elsewhere or can simply offer a recurring tip that you’ll earn every month.

It’s one of the most effective ways to make money with art skills.

Tactics for Success

  • Offer fewer tiers! If you have over three levels, people will either decide on the very lowest possible or will avoid signing up at all, feeling like they’re making the wrong choice. Set your lowest tier at no lower than $3 per month.
  • Avoid raffles or giveaways. Although these may feel like a good incentive: they’re against site policy and could make your account look bad. Focus on offering real experiences or files that every pledge can benefit from.

3. Brand Ambassadorship

How much you can make per 1,000 followers: $32 per post

Being a brand ambassador online can be a major source of income if you don’t drive your followers away.

Through this role, you’ll work to connect people with whichever brand you’re working for while also putting out entertaining and interesting content your followers will want to see.

(Related: How to Make Money on Twitter: 11 Highest Earning Ways)

4. Digital Courses and Products

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How much you can make per 1,000 followers: $300 per course posted

Teaching courses online about whatever you’re skilled in can be an amazing way to gain money.

This is best for creatives who do art, music, or editing and want to offer the chance for others to learn from their skills.

It’s even becoming one of the more popular jobs for former teachers.

You have to be great at what you do to convince your followers to pay to learn from you, so you must have honed your skills before you post this.

Trends on the Rise:

Using Skillshare, creators can earn between $250 to $2,000 per month depending on how many followers they have and how unique their skills are. Avoid teaching classes that are common and go for something niche that stands out.

5. Personal Website Ads

How much you can make per 1,000 followers: $8.70 per month

Bloggers and those with personal websites are wasting space on their sites if they don’t currently have ads up.

Although it may seem small at less than nine dollars per thousand followers: this can add up quickly, especially if you post content that goes viral and pulls more people towards your site.

So regardless of your following’s size, this is something you should add to your website.

6. Sponsored Content

products

How much you can make per 1,000 followers: $50 per post

Sponsored content is an awesome way to make one-off posts with a company and not have to worry about it beyond that.

You should still ensure these sponsored posts are high quality and something your followers would be interested in, but you won’t have to worry about click-through conversion, which many new creators stress.

Tactics for Success

  • Pick companies that naturally work well with what you offer or are something you’d use anyway. This will help convert more followers to customers, which will allow you to charge more next time.
  • Research the quality of items before taking on a sponsorship; advertising subpar items will ruin your reputation and lose your followers.

7. In-Site or App Revenue

How much you can make per 1,000 followers: $5 per post

Many apps and sites have their own revenue options. With Twitch, your followers can join via a $5 subscription, and YouTube is starting to roll out something similar.

Tik Tok offers a tipping function where people can pay creators through coins they buy in-app; Twitter now offers something similar. Instagram is the only one that doesn’t provide this kind of function.

8. Personal Product Lines

How much you can make per 1,000 followers: $7 per month

Influencer merch is a gamble that many creators decide to take after breaking their first million followers. Although you can make money selling t-shirts online with a smaller more engaged audience.

Unfortunately, this can be highly unpredictable and can leave you paying upfront for merchandise that may not even sell.

Be aware of how active your followers are, and check how interested they’d be in this before rolling it out: although you could make tons, it depends on how active your followers are and if it’s something they’d want to bring into their daily life.

Trends on the Rise:

YouTuber SimplyNailLogical was able to turn her channel into a nail polish brand worth over $100,000 because of clever tie-ins. Creating a brand around creative nail art and seeking out quality polishes allowed her to make her merch into a full company: consider an option like this instead of another common tee-shirt line.

How Much Money Do Influencers Make?

how-much-can-you-make-as-an-influencer

Influencers will make varying amounts based on their following, their reach, and how reactive their followers are: and there’s a lot of money to make out there.

These are a couple of influencers of massively different sizes who can make a living on their growing following.

Mega Influencer Example

Loren Gray made $2.6 million in 2020 as an influencer on Tik Tok. With 51.3 million followers in 2020 (now at 54.3 million), she combined her ad revenue with sponsorships from Revlon, Burger King, and Sketchers.

Although in the mainstream, she’s a singer who signed in Virgin Records in 2018, her massive following on Tik Tok is where she gains most of her income.

You don’t have to have over fifty million followers to make a ton of money, though!

Micro Influencer Example

Tyler Chanel, an ethical blogger on Instagram with 14,000 followers, currently makes $100 per sponsored Instagram story, posting seven per average a week, and also gains income through ads on her website, where she helps other influencers realize their potential.

Although she’s a smaller account, she can make a small income by boosting products like candles and self-care goods.

How to Become an Influencer Overnight

Much like get-rich-quick schemes, there’s no one way to gain tons of followers that will work for everyone. Instead, a couple of things can build success for you as long as you do it right: but remember, luck is always a factor.

Niche Down

Creating a niche for yourself is the most important thing you can do to start gaining followers quickly. Although you can invent something new if it already exists: you can create your niche by taking a different spin on things.

This means instead of just deciding to do animations on TikTok, break it down further and pick a niche in that, whether it’s a slice of life, spooky, edgy, or whatever interests you: put your spin on it so that you offer something nobody else does.

Establish Trust

Ensuring your brand and personality are trustworthy is the next step towards income. Consumers want to buy only from brands they trust, and brands only want to work with influencers with a good public image.

You don’t have to offer only plain or boring content, but you should ensure that the majority of it is something that a brand would feel safe putting their product alongside.

This will also gain you more followers since they’ll see you as someone they can rely on.

Wrapping Up

Although it would be fantastic to have a set income: as an influencer, every month will be a mystery.

Putting in your energy to make a genuine connection with your followers and foster a community of people interested in your brand is the best way to gain a fantastic income.

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About the Author

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Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.