I've been an influencer for over a decade. And the social media landscape has changed in so many different ways!
The number one question I get when I tell people I'm a travel blogger/ content creator / influencer ( the way I describe myself changes often) always comes with this follow up question: “OH! And, how do you make money as an influencer?”
Or, my personal favorite, “And you make money doing that?”
Michael likes to respond with “no.”
I get it! It's a different job. But most people don't really see being an influencer as a job. I promise, when I am up until midnight working on a blog post, it definitely is. But making multiple six figures a year on my own schedule is awesome!
Most people don't think this is a stable career. But I make much more than I ever did at any corporate job, and I've been able to do so every month, steadily.
In this guide I'm going to share how influencers make money. Or content creators. Or a travel blogger. Whatever word you like. Not only do I share how influencers get paid, I give you concrete examples!
- What's an influencer?
- How Much Do Influencers Make?
- How Influencers Make Money
- Sponsored Posts and Brand Collaborations
- Affiliate Marketing
- Advertising Revenue
- Online Courses and Products
- Physical Products and Merchandise
- Subscription Based Platforms
- Product Collaborations
- Licensing or User Generated Content
- How I Make Money as a Travel Influencer
- Strategies For You to Make Money!
What's an influencer?
Since I've been doing this for 10 years, things have changed dramatically. I used to make much more from my blog via display ads (more on that below). But now, social media platforms have revolutionized the way we connect, communicate, and consume content. Alongside this transformation, a new career path has emerged – becoming an influencer.
Influencers are individuals who have gained a substantial following on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok, and have the power to sway their audience's opinions and purchasing decisions. But how can you turn your passion and creativity into a profitable venture? In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the strategies and steps to help you make money as an influencer.
As a caveat, the number of followers is not significant. What is important is the engagement you have.
You can have a small following on Instagram and a larger following on TikTok. You might have a blog that gets 500,000 pageviews a month and barely any followers. You might have 1 million followers on Instagram. Or maybe you have 10,000 highly engaged followers.
The term “influencer” can mean lots of things. But if you're sharing content to help others in any way, whether that's for buying a new pair of shoes, or sharing where to travel, or teaching them techniques for putting their kids to bed at night… that's all influential. It's certainly a broad term.
I like to think MOST of us are influencers. And I think that's a good thing. We all have things we can learn and gain from each other.
And with that logic, I also think there is money to be made on the platform.
Read more: Ultimate Guide to Starting a Travel Blog
How Much Do Influencers Make?
This varies widely, but i want to reiterate that I think MOST people can make money online.
If you aren't yet, this guide is designed to help you!
The influencer marketing market generated about $15 billion dollars in 2022. And it continues growing year after year! People are choosing to work with influencers over traditional media.
It makes sense! It's cheaper and easier and more effective to work with influencers. People also trust recommendations from a friend or word of mouth. And that's kind of what influencers do! It's someone you trust that shares something you might want to buy or a place you want to go.
So, let's talk about how much influencers can make.
Influencer income depends on a multitude of factors: the size of your following, your engagement rate, the topics you share, and the type of collaborations you pursue. All these elements play a role in determining how much you make.
For the mega-influencers with millions of followers, the sky's the limit. They can rake in substantial sums through brand partnerships, sponsored content, and ambassadorships.
People like TikTok's darling, AlixEarle, can get $70,000 for a single post.
But don't fret if you don't have a massive following. Micro- and nano-influencers have their own unique charm. While their earnings might not reach astronomical heights, they often enjoy closer connections with their audience, resulting in higher engagement rates. And trust me, engaged followers are worth their weight in gold.
Now, let's talk numbers. While it's difficult to pinpoint an exact figure, estimates suggest that influencers can earn anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per sponsored post. Some even strike lucrative long-term collaborations that provide a steady income stream.
Here's a general look at how much influencers make. BUT, please know this is just in general! A small but engaged following with a target audience can charge MUCH more.
- Nano-influencers (1,000 – 10,000 followers): They usually charge between $10 to $100 per post.
- Micro-influencers (10,000 – 50,000 followers): Their rates can range from $100 to $500 per post.
- Mid-tier influencers (50,000 – 500,000 followers): They typically charge between $500 and $5,000 per post, depending on their specific audience and engagement.
- Macro-influencers (500,000 – 1 million followers): Their rates can range from $5,000 to $20,000 per post.
- Celebrity influencers (1 million+ followers): They often charge $20,000 or more for a single post, and their rates can go up into the hundreds of thousands for high-profile endorsements.
Something I personally like to do is have rates for package rates. Meaning I might share stories, a post, plus a video along with 5 photos for their exclusive use. That's a great way to get paid more!
But here's the twist: cash isn't the only currency in the influencer world. Influencers often receive free products, exclusive event invitations, and unique experiences that money can't buy. These perks add to the overall value and make the influencer lifestyle even more enticing.
Keep in mind that transparency is key. As the influencer industry evolves, disclosing partnerships and sponsored content has become a non-negotiable ethical practice. Authenticity and trust are the building blocks of successful influencer careers, so always stay true to your values and maintain transparency with your audience.
Here's a look at a few influencers and how much they make:
Chiara Ferragni (@chiaraferragni): Forbes estimated that Ferragni made around $8 million in 2016, and her earnings have likely increased since then given the growth of her brand and follower base.
Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines): Forbes reported that Itsines earned approximately $486 million before taxes in 2017 from her app subscriptions, book sales, and more.
Huda Kattan (@hudabeauty): With her beauty empire, Kattan's net worth is estimated to be over $500 million according to Forbes.
Jack Morris (@doyoutravel) and Lauren Bullen (@gypsea_lust): According to a 2018 Cosmopolitan article, they charge upwards of $9,000 per Instagram post.
Marques Brownlee (@mkbhd): According to Social Blade, Brownlee likely makes between $23.2K and $371K annually just from YouTube ad revenue, not including sponsorships or brand collaborations.
These are Macro to Celebrity influencers. But let's look at more!
According to this Statista report:
- Nano-influencers can make $181 per TikTok video
- Macro-influencers can make $531 per TikTok video
- Mega-influencers can make between $1,631 and $4,370 per TikTok video
Check this out – a new report on how much influencers make shows that about 26% of influencers earn less than a grand a year. Now keep in mind, this only counts the cash they rake in from their influencer gig, not other sources of income.
The next biggest chunk of influencers, roughly one in four (25.51% to be exact), pull in between $1,000 and $10,000 a year from creating content for brands. This tells us that over half of all influencers (51.53%) cap at $10,000 per year from their influencer work.
The earnings bracket of $10,000 to $25,000 is where you'll find 15.94% of influencers, while 11.35% of influencers find themselves comfortably making between $50,000 and $100,000.
Now, about one in 10 influencers (10.84%) are doing pretty alright, earning between $25,000 to $50,000 annually just from their influencer content.
And for the high rollers, here's the breakdown:
- 7.4% of influencers are making between $100,000 and $500,000.
- 1.53% of influencers are earning between $500,000 and $1 million.
- And the top 1.4%? They're bringing in a cool $1 million or more.
How Influencers Make Money
When I first started blogging and sharing to social media I was making maybe $100 or so a month. But now that I've had consistent 6-figure years, I know that it's so important to diversify!
Sponsored Posts and Brand Collaborations
Influencers can partner with brands to create content that showcases a product or service or even a place. These partnerships can be quite lucrative, especially for influencers with a large following. The content can take many forms, such as blog posts, social media posts, videos, or even podcasts.
Sponsored posts are the main way that influencers tend to make money. Essentially, a brand reaches out or an influencer reaches out to a brand to share about the brand.
Imagine you're scrolling through your feed, and you see your favorite fashion influencer strutting down a cobblestone street in a stunning new dress. The caption reads something like: “In love with this dress from Brand X. Makes me feel like I'm walking the runway at Paris Fashion Week. #partnership” Chances are, this is a sponsored post.
Simply put, a sponsored post is when a brand pays an influencer to showcase their product or service in a post. The influencer incorporates the product into their content in a way that aligns with their personal style and brand, creating a form of advertising that's authentic and engaging. Sometimes, it's just an exchange. For example, I have taken a 14 day cruise in Norway and in exchange I shared social content and a blog post. I wasn't paid for this.
Now, here's the juicy part – how do influencers make money from sponsored posts? Well, let's break it down with a couple of examples.
Imagine you're a travel influencer, and ‘Hotel Luxe' wants to showcase their new tropical resort. They pay you to visit, enjoy their amenities , and post about your experiences. So, you sip fancy cocktails by the pool, snap some fabulous sunset selfies, take a tour of the hotel, find unique things to do in the area, and share it all with your followers. The more engaging your posts, the more your followers want to pack their bags and book a room at ‘Hotel Luxe'. Thus, your influence translates into business for the brand, and in return, you get paid.
Now, let's say you're a fashion influencer. ‘Trendsetter Co.' sends you their new summer collection. You don't just post a picture of the clothes; you put together jaw-dropping outfits, take a series of stunning photos in chic locations, and share these fashion-forward posts with your followers. Each like, comment, and share increases ‘Trendsetter Co.'s' visibility and sales, and you get compensated for your efforts (and get a wardrobe upgrade!).
The key to sponsored posts is balancing authenticity with promotion. Your followers trust your opinion and taste – that's why they follow you! If a sponsored post feels genuine and aligns with your style, it's a win-win situation for you, the brand, and your followers.
Affiliate Marketing involves promoting a product or service and earning a commission on any sales that are made through the influencer's unique referral link. The commission rate can vary greatly depending on the company and the product.
I absolutely love this way to monetize as an influencer and think EVERYONE needs to jump on this!
Affiliate marketing, in its simplest form, is a system where you promote a product or service and earn a commission for every sale made through your unique link. This isn't just a quick “Hey, buy this!” No, you're integrating these products or services seamlessly into your content, making it a more authentic and personal experience for your followers.
Let's say you've just returned from a fantastic trip to Rome. You've posted breath-taking pictures of the Colosseum, mouth-watering shots of the local cuisine, and charming snaps of cobblestone streets. Your followers are hooked, comments are pouring in, and everyone wants to know about the tour you took.
Here's where Travelpayouts comes into play. As an affiliate, you have unique links for booking flights, hotels, and tours in Rome. You subtly include these links in your stories, blog, or bio, nudging your followers to use them for their own Roman holiday.
Maybe it's something like, “Want to taste the best gelato in Rome? Check out my bio for where to book the ultimate food tour.” Or, “Can't wait to experience Rome? I've got you covered. Check out the flight deals in my bio.” You can do all of this with Travelpayouts, this is a marketing platform where you can get links for tons of travel sites like Booking.com, GetYourGuide, and more!
Every time a follower books a flight or reserves a hotel room using your link, you earn a commission. The great thing about Travelpayouts is they cover a wide range of services, from flights and accommodation to car rentals and travel insurance, giving you plenty of opportunities to earn.
But it doesn't just have to be for travel. I like using RewardStyle (LiketoKnowIt) to share fashion and home decor. I love Amazon for well, literally everything. Shopstyle is unique in that you get paid per click, not just if someone buys!
As an example, you share about your favorite lip stick on TikTok, you put an affiliate link in your bio from Amazon linking the lipstick. When someone buys, you make a percentage of the sale.
You can apply for these affiliate marketing platforms and get paid immediately! Here are some of my favorites:
- Amazon – for all your fave purchases
- Travelpayouts – for all things travel
- Rewardstyle – for beauty, fashion, and home.
- Commission Junction – A wide variety of products across industries!
Some more great affiliate programs I use?
Ebates (get paid for shopping online), Creative Market (where I buy all my fonts and lots of graphics), Bluehost (for web hosting), and Linquia (for paid programs for using their links).
Aa classic money-maker in the digital world, a tactic as timeless as the internet itself: advertising on your blog or website. See the ads on this blog? That helps me make money!
Those are display ads. These are the digital billboards of your website. Services like Google AdSense allow you to place ads on your blog, and every time a visitor clicks on one of these ads, you get paid. It's called Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, and it's as easy as pie. I personally use Mediavine to monetize my ads (Note, requires a minimum of 50,000 sessions over the last 30 days.)
Imagine you're a food blogger, sharing your grandma's secret lasagna recipe. Your followers are salivating over your blog post when they see an ad for a gourmet cheese shop. They can't resist clicking on it to get that perfect mozzarella for their lasagna. And voila! You've just made money from their click.
But remember, with great power comes great responsibility. You don't want your blog to look like a NASCAR race car, plastered with ads. Balance is key. You want to make money, but not at the expense of your followers' experience on your site.
Once an influencer has a large enough audience, they might start a podcast or a YouTube channel. Both of these platforms have advertising programs that can generate a significant income as well!
I love advertising because it's passive income!
Online Courses and Products
If an influencer has a particular expertise, they might create an online course or write an ebook. Their followers, who likely look up to them and trust their advice, might be willing to pay for this knowledge.
Say you're a fitness influencer who's built a substantial following with your unique workout routines and healthy lifestyle tips. You decide to create an online course – “Six Weeks to Six-Pack Abs.” You provide a step-by-step guide to achieving those Instagram-worthy abs, complete with workout plans, meal guides, and progress tracking.
Your followers, already fans of your fitness content, sign up for the course, eager to transform their bodies under your guidance. They're getting value from your expertise, and you're making money from your knowledge. It's like being a professor, but without the stuffy classrooms and endless grading.
And it's not just fitness. Are you a culinary influencer? Launch a cooking masterclass. A beauty influencer? Create a detailed course on makeup techniques. An expert in digital marketing? Design a course to help small businesses succeed online. The possibilities are endless.
Creating online courses and products allows you to take control of your brand and monetize your expertise and influence in a meaningful way. You're not just promoting other brands; you're creating something of your own that provides real value to your followers.
Physical Products and Merchandise
Same as above, but physical products! Merchandise, or merch is also a great opportunity to share products and things you love. For example, let's say you have a catch phrase. I often say “super pumped” – when you put that on a t-shirt you can sell it to your audience.
Consider this: You're not just selling products, you're selling a piece of your brand, a tangible token of your influence.
As an influencer, you can also create your own products to sell to your followers. You've built a community that trusts your opinion and tastes, and creating a product that aligns with your brand can be a great way to capitalize on that trust.
Take a beauty influencer, for instance. After years of reviewing products and sharing makeup tutorials, you decide to launch your own line of cruelty-free, vegan lipsticks. You've noticed your followers always comment on your lip colors, so you create a product you know they'll love.
Your followers, excited to get a piece of your glam style, flock to buy your lipsticks. You're providing them with a product you stand behind, and in return, you're making a profit from each sale. It's like having your cake and eating it too, except the cake is a fabulous lipstick line.
Or, you're a travel influencer, forever on the move, exploring the hidden corners of the world. You decide to create a line of chic, durable travel accessories – think stylish backpacks, compact travel pillows, or world maps with scratch-off visited countries. Your followers, bitten by the travel bug and inspired by your adventures, are more than ready to equip themselves with your travel gear.
Maybe you're a lifestyle influencer with a flair for interior design. Your followers swoon over your home decor photos and ask where you get your items. Spotting an opportunity, you decide to launch your own line of unique home decor items. Your followers can't wait to bring a piece of your aesthetic into their own homes.
The key here is that the physical products you sell should reflect your brand and resonate with your followers. You've built a loyal community that loves your style and trusts your recommendations, so when you offer them a product that's a natural extension of your brand, they'll be more than willing to open their wallets.
Creating physical products can be a fantastic way to monetize your influence and provide your followers with something tangible that connects them to your brand. Plus, who doesn't love the thrill of seeing their products come to life?
Subscription Based Platforms
Some influencers use platforms like Patreon where fans can pay a subscription fee for exclusive content. Or, Instagram also offered an in-app subscription service where you can offer content only featured there. This could be additional blog posts, videos, tutorials, or any other type of content that the influencer creates.
Platforms like Patreon, OnlyFans, or Substack are some of the popular players in this game. They allow you to offer exclusive content, early access, or special perks to your subscribers. It's a recurring revenue model, meaning the money keeps rolling in every month.
Consider you're a fitness influencer with a knack for creating personalized workout plans. You decide to offer these plans on Patreon. Your followers subscribe to your Patreon, and in return, they get a custom workout plan each month, along with exclusive fitness tips and early access to your new content.
Or perhaps you're a writer with a loyal following on your blog. You decide to start a Substack newsletter, where you share exclusive articles, personal stories, or writing advice. Your fans subscribe to your Substack to get this additional content, and you get a steady stream of income each month.
Sometimes, influencers team up with brands to create a product that they can sell to their followers. This could be anything from a clothing line, makeup collection, to a wellness product.
Imagine this: You're a beauty influencer known for your impeccable taste in lip colors. A cosmetic brand approaches you to create a limited-edition lipstick line. You get to play around with colors, textures, and packaging, creating a product that's a true reflection of your style. And the best part? Each time one of your followers buys your lipsticks, you get a piece of the pie. That's right, you're now a beauty mogul!
Or let's say you're a sneakerhead with a following on Instagram. A renowned shoe brand comes knocking, offering you the chance to design your own signature sneaker. You get to choose the design, the colors, the materials – everything. Your followers, eager to walk a mile in your shoes (quite literally), are all over your sneaker collection. Your feet are happy, your followers are happy, and your bank account is ecstatic.
Product collaborations aren't just limited to physical products, though. If you're a tech influencer, you could collaborate with an app development company to create a unique app. If you're a travel influencer, you could team up with a travel agency to design an exclusive travel package. The possibilities are as wide as your imagination!
Product collaborations are a brilliant way to monetize your influence. You get to create something you're passionate about, your followers get to own a piece of your brand, and you make money from every product sold. It's a win-win-win situation!
Licensing or User Generated Content
Some successful influencers have used their brand to license their name, image or aesthetic to other companies for the creation of products, similar to a celebrity endorsement. Also UGC (User Generated Content) is when a content creator shares videos, photos, etc with the brand for them to use it on their platforms or in advertising.
For instance, imagine you're a lifestyle influencer who's known for your stunning home decor. A furniture brand notices your beautifully curated Instagram feed and wants to use one of your photos in their marketing campaign. You license the photo to them, meaning they pay you for the rights to use it. Your living room becomes their ad, and your bank account gets a nice deposit.
Let's say you're a fashion influencer who just launched a product collaboration with a clothing brand. Your followers buy your collection and post pictures of themselves wearing your designs. The brand sees this content and wants to use it in their marketing. They pay your followers for the rights to their photos, and your followers become part of the brand's advertising.
This is a fantastic way for brands to access authentic and relatable content. And for you and your followers, it's a chance to monetize your creativity and authenticity.
How I Make Money as a Travel Influencer
Let's spill the tea on my personal money-making journey as a travel influencer. Spoiler alert: it didn't happen over night. But, it's still the best job I've ever had and I wouldn't trade it for the world! You can read my full story here.
From my humble beginnings in 2012, I've grown my business into a globe-trotting venture where I get to work with my husband making $500,000 a year. That's right, half a million dollars, just for sharing my love for travel and my knack for storytelling. Who says you can't make money doing what you love?
Now, let's break down that figure.
The biggest slice, making up 40% of my income, comes from sponsored posts and collaborations. Brands pay me to feature their products or services in my content. It's like being a tour guide, but instead of showing people around a city, I'm showing them around a brand.
Next up, we have my own products, which make up 22% of my income. These are online courses where I share my Instagram secrets and blogging expertise. This is my favorite way to monetize!
Then we have affiliate sales, which contribute to 20% of my earnings. This is where I earn a commission for every sale made through my referral links. Think of it as being a virtual salesperson for products I love. Whether it's a tour from GetYourGuide or the backpack I swear by, I share, they shop, and I earn.
Advertising revenue accounts for 10% of my income. This slice of the pie has shrunk over the years, but with about 200,000 monthly page views, it's still a significant source of revenue. It's like having billboards on my blog, and every view or click brings in some cash.
Last but not least, licensing my photos and videos makes up 8% of my income. Brands pay to use my content in their marketing, turning my travel snaps and clips into their advertising gold.
So there you have it, a sneak peek into my income as a travel influencer. It's a diverse mix, just like the countries I've visited and the experiences I've had. But the common thread in all of this? Sharing what I love and turning that passion into profit.
Strategies For You to Make Money!
Now that we've dished out the details on how I make money, let's chat about how you, whether a full fledged content creator or aspiring influencer, can make money. Remember, the key to success is not just building an audience, but building an audience that cares about you. It's about infusing your unique personality into everything you do and creating connections that count.
Step 1: Show the real YOU. People aren't just following a face on a screen; they're following a personality, a story, a human. Show your quirks, share your failures along with your triumphs, and let your unique perspective shine. Be genuine, be consistent, and above all, be you. After all, people can't care about you if they don't know you.
Step 2: Engage with your audience. Reply to comments, ask for their opinions, share their content. Show them that you value their time and their interaction. This not only builds trust but also fosters a sense of community. Your followers will become your tribe, and they'll be more likely to invest in you and the products you endorse.
Step 3: Offer value. Whether it's entertaining content, informative posts, or insightful reviews, make sure your followers are getting something out of their relationship with you. This could be as simple as sharing a travel tip or as elaborate as creating a detailed online course. When you offer value, your followers will see you as a resource, not just a salesperson.
Step 4: Diversify your income streams. As we've seen from my personal experience, there are many ways to make money as an influencer. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Explore sponsored posts, collaborations, affiliate marketing, advertising, and creating your own products. Test different strategies and see what works best for you and your audience.
Step 5: Collaborate and grow. Collaborate with other influencers, join affiliate programs, and reach out to brands you love. Each collaboration is an opportunity to reach a new audience and expand your influence. Remember, every follower counts!
Step 6: Invest in Yourself. This was TRULY the turning point for me. When I learned strategies on how to grow and monetize, that's when I started making a real income and lasting impression. See some of my favorite ways to invest here!
And the most important step of all? Keep going. Building an audience and monetizing your influence takes time, patience, and a whole lot of grit. But with your unique personality, a tribe that cares about you, and these strategies, you'll be well on your way to making your influencer dreams a reality. So, buckle up and enjoy the journey!