How To Become A Social Media Influencer and Make Money From It

How To Become A Social Media Influencer and Make Money From It

Believe it or not, a lot of marketers – and younger professionals – often ask me this question. So here you go: my advice on how to become a social media influencer and, following the advice below, actually make some money from it.

Gone are the days when you have to leave the comforts of your home, talk to other people face to face, and work in a physical office to earn money. Because of the advent of technology, you can now make money through the Internet—and a classic and one of the newest examples of doing so is being a social media influencer. More and more people and businesses are now considering social media as a necessity rather than just a pastime, which makes it easier and faster for you to earn money. But what does a social media influencer do and how can you actually make money from it?

What Really Is A Social Media Influencer?

In case you didn’t know, a social media influencer is a person who has the power to affect another person’s buying decision based on their online presence and their interactions with their followers. They have this effect on people because of their knowledge, life skills, or experience in a particular niche. 

Bloggers, celebrities, and industry leaders are considered examples of social media influencers who successfully interact with a follower or followers to promote products or services. More often than not, products or services endorsed by influencers will be patronized by their follower network, should they have a need or desire for it. If a particular blogger swears by the benefits of a certain makeup brand, some members of their audience might have a tendency to follow the recommendation and buy the product. Having these kinds of influence can be powerful influencer marketing tools, especially for new or small businesses.

Being successful social media influencers (even micro – influencers) can be a great way of earning side income in your free time because you can basically work wherever you want, whenever you want. You are not obliged to report in a specific schedule because you’re your own boss, though you are required to maintain your follower network.

Social Media Influencer 101: How To Become a Social Media Influencer

Working as a social media influencer can be very attractive for many. Because most social media platforms are easy to navigate, working as a social media influencer can be a piece of cake. But keep in mind that you’re not the only person who wants to earn from this industry. Usually, a lot of people have been earning money as a social media influencer for years and have been successful in their careers. If you want to experience the same or an even greater amount of success, take note of the following tips on how you can become a social media influencer.

1. Find your niche.

Find your niche

Influencer marketing is a diverse market. You can find people who are experts in fashion, automobiles, and gadgets, among others. They’ve spent most of their lifetimes mastering a specific niche and use their knowledge to educate the online community. If you want to do the same while earning money, find your niche first, and build your follower connections second. The niche you choose is crucial as this makes or breaks your success as a social media influence.

To make sure that you actually have the interest and motivation to work as a social media influencer for the longest time possible, pick a niche that’s up to your alley. If you have a knack for DIY projects and crafts, publish content that can help the online follower community start their own business by selling handcrafted products. Don’t provide content for automobile maintenance if you have no idea about cars and how they work.

The more passionate you are about your niche, the easier it will become to both create great content and consistently publish content over the course of weeks, months, and even years and provide value to your users and followers.

2. Choose your social media channel.

To be a successful social media influencer, you should decide what social media channel to use and build your profile. Because there are a lot of social media channels available today, it’s important to choose the right one. The influencer platform you select can make or break your chances of engaging with your target audience and earning a profit. To help you choose the most suitable social media channel, take the time to ask the following questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What social network is your competition using?
  • What type of content will you create long-term?
  • What is the easiest type of content for you to create?
  • Where do the recent social media trends point to in terms of trendy social media channels?

It’s hard enough to create content – don’t overstretch yourself. Find the one or maybe two (for A/B testing) social media channels that make sense, bold your profile, and stick to your chosen platforms!

3. Develop your content strategy.

Develop your content strategy.

Creating a reputable name as a social media influencer can be challenging at first, but it can always be done. Aside from carefully choosing a niche, you should also learn how to develop a content strategy and identify the types of content you want to produce. You need to choose a content medium that can educate your target audience about a specific niche while letting your personality and expertise stand out. Usually, social media influencers use articles, pictures, and even videos as part of their content strategy. One rule of thumb to follow during this process is the 5-3-2 principle designed to help with producing certain types of content.

The 5-3-2 principle means that in every ten posts in your social media, five should be valuable content that is written by another person (preferably someone who is a social media thought leader in your chosen niche), three are informative content that you wrote on your own, and two of these posts should be about yourself. This principle is a great strategy that can perfectly balance your target audience’s need for educational information while letting them know more about your personal side. Letting your personality shine in your content can help you create a brand and authority in a specific niche.

There are many other rules out there – including the 9-1-1 rule that I preach, but your posts should always be on-topic and incorporate the content of others to give your audience a wide variety of content to consume and not come across as being merely self-promotional all the time. A successful influencer is one who consistently engages with others, from followers to other influencers.

4. Distribute your content properly.

No matter how informative and innovative your content is, if no one actually sees it, all of your efforts will be useless. This is just one of the reasons why you should know how and where to distribute your content properly. Here are some tips to help you out during this process:

  • Stick to one theme per social media channel: Each social media channel is commonly used for a specific reason. Instagram can be used to market products and services through pictures, while Twitter, in 280 characters, is usually composed of text bursts. You can use different social media channels for different content, but make sure that you have the time to update all of these channels regularly. Using different social media channels that will only go stale can adversely affect your name as a social media influencer and decrease the likelihood of securing influencer marketing campaigns in the future.
  • Customize your message: Although you’re posting the same basic content in different social media channels, it’s best if you exert time customizing each piece of content. You want your target audience to feel that they’re actually appreciated and valued, and aren’t being bombarded with spam messages having fake news and myths. Targeting your audience without spamming and irritating them results in the true value of influencer marketing and its benefits.
  • Optimize your posts for mobile: If you want to succeed as a social media influencer, you should always consider that not everyone will use a desktop computer when they’re browsing the web. Because of the advent of technology, a lot of people are now surfing the Internet through handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets. For you to reach out to all of your target audience, make sure that all of your content is still accessible regardless of the device used.

5. Grow your community.

Grow your community.

Growing your community is vital if you are going to be an influencer, because your followers are actually the factor driving our growth and potential.

Using hashtags, partnering with other brands and influencers, and engaging readily with people are all excellent strategies to help you grow your community. Your engagement rate will also affect how often your posts are delivered and spread around social media channels, so make sure that you are engaging consistently with your followers and the followers of other influencers in your niche. Whether you take some time to engage a follower with questions about your personal life, or you respond to product questions, whether you have 5 followers or thousands of followers, you must consistently work on your engagement with your audience. Influencers are just ordinary people with a platform, and engagement with your followers makes this clear.

6. Engage and make friends with your followers.

The exact way you go about this will vary. For some, engaging with followers happens entirely on their social channels after they post content. For others, a lot of engagement occurs over email, whether through an email list or private content delivered on sites like Patreon. Your followers continue coming back to your profiles because they enjoy your personality, your writing, your photos, and your approach to influencer marketing. Continue providing them with content and a reason to stay by actually taking the time to forge connections and create friendships.

Although the perks of influencing on social media are often boiled down to the money and freedom involved, the friendships influencers can cultivate as a result of their position is another important reason why this particular vocation is growing in popularity. Genuine connections help foster more genuine and consistent engagement, and failing to address this part of your channel will damage your brand and likability.

How Can A Social Media Influencer Make Money?

Different people work as social media influencers for different reasons. While some of them are after convenience, others are in it for the money they can make within a short period. Yes, you read that right: social media influencers can make money even if they’re only using their social media profiles. To paint a clearer picture, here are some ways a social media influencer can easily monetize their online presence: 

1. Sponsorships or sponsored content

Sponsorships or sponsored content

One of the easiest ways to make money as a social media influencer is through sponsorships or sponsored content. If you have a million followers, you will get paid simply by posting content representing a particular brand or business. Depending on the product or service being endorsed, the influencer can simply post a picture wearing a product of the brand or visiting the business establishment of the sponsor. Celebrities who have the most number of Instagram followers typically use this strategy to earn money.

2. Produce high-quality content for brands

Content is king when it comes to social media marketing. Gone are the days when businesses will only market their products and services to their target audience; today, they need to publish content that can help their target audience realize how their lives will improve once they patronize a brand’s offerings. If you think you’re passionate enough to write different content for a specific niche, invest in high-quality content. Once you’re able to gain a strong online following, brands and businesses will soon reach out to you so you’ll write articles or blogs to represent them.

3. Webinars


Similar to articles and blogs, webinars are also a great way to make money as a social media influencer. Instead of writing content, a webinar will require you to record videos and discuss a particular topic. For instance, if you have years or decades of experience in business, you can monetize your knowledge through webinars.

4. Affiliate Marketing

This goes without saying!

Read Also:

5. Coaching


Why not take what you have learned and coach others on your process?

6. Consulting

Consulting is like coaching but for brands with different objectives that might require more of your time for hopefully a greater income.

7. Mastermind Community

If you end up doing a lot of coaching or consulting, why not launch your own mastermind type of group coaching community? This is what I did with the launch of my Digital First Group Coaching Membership Community.

8. (Digital) Product

Once you become influential, you can monetize your community by promoting a product to them, whether it is your own digital or physical product.

9. Dropshipping

Don’t have a product? Try dropshipping products made elsewhere instead!

The above are only a few to get you started. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out my post on How to Make Money on Instagram.

You’ll Reap What You Sow

Although working as a social media influencer is convenient, remember that you will only succeed in this career if you exert a lot of time and effort in building your brand, gaining credibility in your chosen niche, and getting your audience’s trust. Even though you’re just working in front of a laptop or desktop computer, you still need to be patient with the clients you’ll have, work on exceeding their expectations, and practice time management.

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This is a post written by me on behalf of one of my many marketing partners. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hero photo by Diggity on Unsplash

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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  1. Thanks for the info I have 690 followers on Instagram. I got them through paying for a service. Is that bad? Also are likes important for influencers and do views count for anything? Also my niche is sports and faith how competitive is that and is it lucrative? Thanks!

    • Hey Zachary, appreciate the comment! I think it is VERY hard to monetize an audience that you paid for because they are not real! They will also not engage with your content! So I recommend that you do a reset and start over by adding value through your content and developing relationships!

  2. Thank you so much… I want to be an influencer on Twitter. I often write about content marketing, business news, technology and same things. I will use your suggestions.

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