How Does an Influencer Make Money?

Have you ever wondered how online influencers make money? Some use their social media platforms to supplement their income, while others pursue full-time careers as influencers. But how do they do it?

How Does an Influencer Make Money?

Most influencers get their start with affiliate marketing, and by working as brand ambassadors. After establishing themselves and building an engaging audience, many influencers can start charging a pretty penny to publish posts endorsing a product or service.

Ways to Earn Money via Social Media

It may seem effortless, but it can take a lot of work to earn money via social media. Depending on the time and resources you have available, you can decide on a method that works best for you. 

Affiliate Marketing

This might be the easiest way to break into the world of online influencing, although the payouts aren’t always huge. PYVIT is a type of affiliate marketing that allows you to add “pyvs” (dots) to your social media posts that direct your social media audience to make purchases, for which you earn a commission.

All affiliate marketing involves the use of personalized URLs; when a customer uses your affiliate link and makes a purchase, the influencer gets a small commission, usually at no additional cost to the customer. Some brands or platforms are by invitation only, while others are public and available to anyone willing and able to create shoppable social media posts. 

Whatever platform you use for affiliate marketing offers insight regarding who is clicking on what links, and how they’re converting to sales. This way you’ll know what’s worth continuing to put your effort into, and what you should move away from. While the commissions you earn on affiliate links may be small, they can add up if you’re continually recommending reliable products and people learn they can trust you.

Where Can You Use Affiliate Links?

Affiliate links require a disclosure no matter where you use them. This means you need to make your audience aware that when they click on links you share, you may potentially earn a commission if they end up making purchases. 

  • Blog Posts

  • Social Media Posts (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc…)

  • Emails

Keep in mind, however, that platforms may have their own rules regarding the use of affiliate links. For example, Amazon does not allow its affiliate links to be used in eBooks, closed (private) social media groups, newsletters, or personal profiles.

Affiliate Platforms

Besides PYVIT and Amazon, here are some other affiliate platforms that are popular among online influencers:

  • Avangate Affiliate Network

  • Awin (European and US markets)

  • CJ Affiliate

  • ClickBank

  • eBay Partner Network

  • FlexOffers

  • Rakuten Marketing

  • ShareASale

  • Walmart Affiliates

With so many affiliate networks to choose from, how do you find the right one? It can be helpful to look at a few factors:

  • Which retailers partner with the network

  • Commission rate

  • Minimum payout amount

  • Cookie duration

Authenticity as an influencer is important; if you’re only recommended products and services that you truly use and love, you are more trustworthy. This can convert to more sales, because your social media following knows you’r enot just usin them to make a commission. So, you need to ensure the affiliate program you’re working with allows links for brands that resonate with you. 

Not all brands or affiliate platforms offer the same commission rates. The average commission can range between 5 and 30%. Brands offer affiliate commissions based on their profits margins, but it doesn’t always mean a multi-million dollar company will pay the highest commission.s

Some affiliate programs offer a payout once your account hits $10, while others make you wait until you’ve reached $100 in commissions. For successful influencers, these payout values don’t matter because they’re able to hit the minimum requirement within minutes of posting a link. For others, a lower payout minimum is crucial because of cookie duration. 

What is cookie duration? It’s the amount of time a cookie lasts after someone clicks on your link. If a cookie lasts 24 hours, for example, it means that a customer needs to click your affiliate link and make a purchase before 24 hours transpires. If they make a purchase outside the cookie window, you will not get credit for it, and will not earn a commission.

Tracking cookie duration can get complicated since different brands in a platform may have different cookies.

Brand Ambassadors

Another way to test the waters is to become a brand ambassador. Depending on the compnay you work with, you may receive various benefits for representing a brand:

  • Free product/services in exchange for promotion

  • Free product/services and payment in exchange for promotion

  • Commision payments for products purchased via an affiliate link or with a coupon code

A 2021 study reported that 67% of brands use Instagram influencers to help promote their products. Retailers see success when influencers run campaigns, and this platform for marketing is expecting to continuing growing into 2022.

Benefits of Being a Brand Ambassador

The beauty of this type of marketing is that you’re developing a long-term relationship with a brand. You’re not just hawking a product once and collecting a paycheck. This allows you to build authenticity regarding the brand and its offerings, which translates well to your social media audience. If your followers see you consistently working with a brand, they understand it really is a product or service you trust, and they can too.

Examples of Working as a Brand Ambassador

Have you ever seen someone post on Instagram that they’re at a luxury hotel, and wondered how they paid for it? Well, if they’re a brand ambassador, the trip was probably offered for free in exchange for a certain amount of online promotion.

Or, perhaps you see your favorite online influencer posting with the #ad when modeling outfits, furniture, or makeup. If the influencer is an ambassador for the brand, they probably received all the products for free.

Paid Posts

What to Charge for Paid Posts

It’s important to value the work you do as an influencer, but how much should you charge for a paid post that you will create yourself? Here’s what recommends (for Instagram).

  • Under 10,000 followers: $100 - $115

  • 10,000 - 15,000 followers: $115 - $150

  • 15,000 - 25,000 followers: $150 - $250

  • 25,000 - 50,000 followers: $250 - $300

  • 50,000 - 100,000 followers: $300 - $570

  • 100,000 - 200,000 followers: $570 - $800

  • 200,000 - 300,000 followers: $800 - $1,000

  • 300,000+ followers: $1,000+

These suggested rates are based on you creating the content to promote the brand, so you are charging for your time, styling the product, photographing the product, and writing copy for the post itself.

There’s a lot to coordinate, and there’s a lot of overlap when it comes to making money as an influencer. But, if you can build your own brand and establish relationships with retailers and your audience it can be a great way to make passive income or hustle and earn a living.