Influencers have taken over the world. It is normal to see Instagram influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers or even millions.
How can you be certain you’re following ethical influencers rather than those simply seeking to profit off you? In this article, we describe what influencers are, how they’re paid, and how to find influencers that align with your values. Let’s first look at what an influencer is and how they generate income.
What is an influencer?
An influencer is someone who makes money influencing other people’s spending habits. Influencers are typically well-known people with substantial social media followings who advertise particular products through sponsored posts, affiliate marketing links, and so on.
Being an Instagram influencer has become a profession in recent years, since platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube allow individuals to influence millions of other users. Influencers with large followings can make much more than the average 9-5 job would pay.
How much money do influencers make?
Influencer earnings can vary greatly. A person who is just starting out may earn anything from $100 to nothing. Some of the most influential individuals on social media can earn as much as $10 million.
An influencer with between 10,000 and 50,000 followers can earn from $40,000 to $100,000 per year.
However, the top influencers have millions of followers and earn tens of thousands of dollars for a single post. Some of these top influencers make several thousand dollars an hour.
For example, Kylie Jenner makes a million dollars per post. So it’s not unusual for some social media influencers to make six-figure salaries or more if they post well.
How do influencers make money: Top 9 ways
How can influencers earn money? There are many different ways to achieve this, and many different income streams exist as well. Influencers can choose the income streams that yield the most benefit for their companies.
Whether they are luxury influencers, beauty influencers, minimalist influencers, or otherwise, there is a way for every individual to make cash online.
Here are 9 ways how influencers make money!
1. Sponsored content (A top way influencers make money)
One of the major ways influencers make money is through sponsored posts. A sponsored post is when a company pays an influencer to post about their products and services on social media.
They may share the product on an Instagram post or story, a TikTok or YouTube video, a Facebook post, their blog, or all of the above. In general, the more popular a person’s social media account is, the greater the number of posts they may be able to sponsor.
2. As brand ambassadors
Ambassadorships are another way how influencers earn money. This is based on their relationship with a brand. A brand ambassadorship is like sponsored content, but with a few differences.
Sponsorships can be one-offs, while brand ambassadorships tend to be longer relationships. For example, an ambassador might sign a 6-12-month brand ambassador contract with a brand.
Though an influencer generally promotes a brand on social media, they can also appear as a model or spokesperson on its channels or website.
3. Affiliate marketing(Another popular way influencers make money)
Influencer marketing is when social media influencers share a link to an item and get paid a portion of the sale if a user purchases the item through the link. It has become one of the top ways to make cash as an influencer.
For instance, a fashion influencer may share links to the clothing they are wearing in daily social media posts. Their followers buy these items, providing them an income.
The affiliate commission could be as low as 3%, but for influencers with lots of followers who purchase what they recommend, earnings can add up significantly.
4. Website advertising
It’s standard for bloggers to have sponsored advertisements on their websites to monetize their traffic.
Bloggers earn money only when a reader clicks on the ad or anytime it appears on the screen. Sidebar and display advertisements with higher traffic can generate income for bloggers.
5. eCourses and digital products
Many influencers have moved into the education industry and produce digital products to teach their audiences on a specific subject. How do influencers earn income from these products? One example is a travel blogger who would make an entire course about how to travel on a budget.
One example is a fashion influencer who may create an eBook about developing a capsule wardrobe. Some people make thousands of dollars a month selling online courses!
6. Tipping, donations and subscriptions
Some influencers make extra money through tipping or donations. For instance, some influencers have a page where their followers can tip them. Some have a link where fans can make a purchase.
Another method of tipping is by using sites like Patreon. It functions as a subscription model where fans can pledge a certain amount each month to an influencer. Sometimes the influencer might have special content for fans of their Patreon page.
7. Reselling clothing
It’s increasingly common for fashionable social media users to make money by reselling the clothing they feature. These social media personalities often purchase much more clothing than they need, often just so that they can post several unique outfits on their pages.
Many people then turn around and sell gently used items on a separate Instagram page or on Poshmark. This is a great way to get the most value out of your money if you are interested in becoming a fashion influencer!
8. Sales from live events
Another way that influencers made money was through live events whether in-person or virtual. For example, a travel influencer might earn revenue by planning a getaway for a small group of followers.
On the other hand, a fashion influencer might make money by hosting a live closet sale where fans can pay for used clothing they have posted on their social media channels.
9. Product lines designed specifically for the influencers to make money
Some influencers have their own product lines that they manufacture themselves. Others are responsible for creating product lines for brands that already exist. For example, fashion blogger Danielle Bernstein of the blog We Wore What has launched her blog into her own fashion line.
Influencers often use their large following to team up with other companies to create beauty lines, clothing lines, and more.
How to ensure you’re following ethical influencers
Influencer has also become a fairly popular profession in recent years. Partly because the public has known how profitable it is.
Unfortunately, some influencers may run their business in an unethical manner. Here are some tips you can use to ensure that you’re following ethical influencers.
Does the influencer disclose when they’ve been paid for a post or have been gifted an item?
It’s important that an influencer discloses when they have been paid to promote a product. This is also true for items they receive free of charge in return for posting them online.
Disclosures aren’t just an ethical issue for influencers; the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that influencers disclose when they have a financial relationship with a brand. Whether it is posting in return for money, free or discounted products, or a combination of both.
Be sure to carefully study the social media accounts of influencers you admire to ensure they don’t promote products with shady manufacturers. To avoid legal consequences, advertisers must disclose all relationships with marketers and endorsers in a fair manner. The disclosure should indicate that an article was sponsored or paid.
Does the influencer share products they actually use?
Another way to be certain you are following ethical influencers is to check whether they are advertising products they actually use. It is impossible to know what items someone uses in their daily life unless you have met them in person. However, there are ways to determine whether a recommendation is valid.
For example, if an influencer usually promotes the same shampoo, it’s likely they actually use it and support the company. But if it seems like they’re promoting a different shampoo every week, they’re only marketing companies that are willing to pay for it.
Is the influencer honest about what they don’t like about products?
No company or product is perfect. And if someone’s job is to help their followers make purchasing decisions, they should be sharing both the good and the bad about products they use.
When influencers you follow post about a product, do they share the pros and cons? Do they reveal something they don’t care for? If they only share positive aspects, it can begin to feel like their recommendations aren’t genuine.
Do they share products that fit their brand or audience?
It’s also worth paying attention to whether or not an influencer promotes products that actually fit with their audience or brand. That doesn’t necessarily mean that influencers can’t promote anything other than their regular topic. Many of them even share discount coupons for the products they endorse on their websites.
Sometimes they promote a product because they were paid to do so. For example, an influencer might post about frugal living and budget hacks, but then share a sponsored post for a pricey product that most people would not be willing to buy.
Similarly, it could be an influencer who is influential in promoting healthy nutrition and living, yet posts a sponsored advertisement for junk food. Influencers earn money by posting sponsored posts, so be sure to consider what they are promoting. If not, you may need to rethink following it.
Do they promote ethical companies?
Another way to determine whether an influencer is right for you is to examine what they promote. Everyone has different values and priorities. Something that’s important to you may not be important to somebody else, and vice versa.
But if an influencer frequently posts about companies that are notorious for ethical issues, it’s worthwhile to reevaluate his or her recommendations. For example, if they are known to mistreat employees, overcharge customers, etc. Seek out someone who furnishes services you appreciate.
Influencers can make big money!
How do influencers make their money? As you can see, they make multiple sources of income. The influencer career has become incredibly popular in recent years, and it is easy to see why.
Influencers can earn a lot of money through methods such as sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, and even launching their own product lines.