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One of the fairly newer business models that has solidified in recent years as a specific career option is that of a social media influencer. There have always been individuals, primarily celebrities, who have attracted the attention of brands and been gifted free products in exchange for a mention of them in public.

But now, anyone who can build a social following has the potential to become and influencer and build a formidable business out of their efforts. This can be done on almost any social media platform – including sites and apps like Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube and more.

With social media influencing, it’s a little harder to nail down the exact monetary compensation you might enjoy with this career. It will vary based on the niche, the number of followers you have, and the products that you are discussing.

However, what starts on a small scale may grow into a product empire of your own, if past success of other social media influencers is anything like your own path. Once you understand what makes a brand want to invest in your social media marketing, you will be able to expand those efforts and duplicate them so that you maximize your earnings.

What Is an Influencer?

A social media influencer is a person or account that has achieved a level of recognition due to their ability to persuade their followers to want to wear what they wear, eat what they eat, listen to what they listen to, and more.

This is a very aesthetic and socially engaging career. It took off primarily on Instagram, which is a social media site and app based on images, and later video. Some of the influencers developed a following that exploded almost overnight based on a few strategic posts.

This is almost identical to the business model of affiliate marketing, in regards to the way someone has to become a leader and guide in a niche in order to be able to make recommendations that are high converters.

When you decide to become a social media influencer, you need to know exactly what performs well on the social app or site that you intend on using. You need to study the images or videos to see what the aesthetic and technical details are like, including the length of videos.

Because these tools are often changing, you will be required to stay on top of the features that are released so that you can be one of the early users of whatever is new to the platform.

Becoming a Brand Ambassador

There are many social media influencers who start out as simple brand ambassadors. As your account begins to grow, you will have many different brands reach out to you wanting you to use their products or mention them in a good light to help bring about awareness of their products.

The payment for this type of online career can be anything from being gifted free products to earning a salary of up to $50,000 per year. Some brand ambassadors don’t just use their online platforms to create messaging for the company, but also represent the brand at special offline events.

When you set out to become a brand ambassador, make sure you become known for one major thing. Whether it’s beauty products or fitness, cooking or something else – build your channel and account around that topic.

Work on creating an aesthetic or style for your account that is easily recognizable. You don’t want to have a mix of content that doesn’t match well. If you want to, you can leverage the influence of others, too.

Using certain sites like Tik Tok, you can duet or stitch your video with that of someone else. A duet is a side-by-side video (or above/below), while a stitch starts out with one video, and then leads into the other person’s.

This can lead to some strategic collaborations if both audiences like the two of you working together. Just make sure you watch comments to see what the reactions are from the audience.

You can have guests on your channel to help with content creation. People love it when their favorite social media influencers crossover into other accounts. Just be strategic with who you do this with.

Bringing in Affiliate Influencer Income

The great thing about affiliate influencer careers is that it’s often built in a very natural and organic way. Oftentimes, the individuals who achieve influencer status are simply showcasing how they are living their life, and the way in which they do it attracts an audience that wants to mimic them.

You will be able to create posts, stories, and videos to attract and cater to the target audience that brands are hoping to reach. You want to have a voice and personality with your account, not simply say whatever a company has you read.

Make sure you are paying attention to trends that are happening on whatever social media site or app you are using. For example, on Tik Tok, there are certain sounds you can use that will be popular one day or a week.

When you use that song or sound in your own content, others can find it by looking at all of the videos using that particular sound. You can tailor your message to fit a brand’s request and capitalize on the popularity of the trend at the same time. 

When your posts begin to show great success and engagement for the brand, they will be more likely to hire you again and pay more the next time. So do your best to achieve organic results and never try to game the system with false followers or engagement they might be able to discover.

You’ll often see “follow and I’ll follow back” requests in the comments section of your posts. Never agree to these. These people will follow you, get you to follow them, and then unfollow you.

It’s better to focus on creating value-based, unique and original content that your target audience enjoys and attract a genuine following of people who like the type of content you’re putting out.

There are some influencer positions you can apply for with companies and brands, but most will seek you out. They will contact you via private message or direct message with an offer or opening discussion.

Consistency with your posts will be key to your success. You can’t expect to be paid as a social media influencer if you’re constantly abandoning your audience and only showing up whenever you feel like it.

This should be treated like a fulltime career, and ideally, you’ll be posting at least once per day, if not more. You have to take into consideration the time it requires to edit, post and share your content with others, making sure you use the right keywords or hashtags to help your content get found.

If you need to create any graphics for your channel or account, you can either do it yourself using tools like Canva, or outsource it to other individuals who work as freelancers on sites like Fiverr.

Charging for Sponsored Ads

Charli D’Amelio is a good example of someone who earns a great deal of money from sponsored ads as a social media influencer. What started out as a fun Tik Tok account of lip-syncing songs and dancing, has transformed into a business, TV show, and a lot of sponsored revenue.

She is the most followed creator on the app, and brought in over $4 million on her very first year as a Tik Tokker. Brands like Dunkin’, EOS Cosmetics, and Hollister pay her money for sponsored ads.

Understand that you’re not going to land a major account like these right off the bat. It takes time to grow your account to the place where brands would be interested in paying you money to mention their name.

So do some research about which brands in your niche deal with social influencers and then work to strategically land the smallest account, first. As other (bigger) brands see that you’re being hired and that your posts are working to increase brand awareness and sales, they’ll be more willing to take a look at what you can do for them.

You can find partners to work with if no one is approaching you by using services like Valued Voice. Here, you can create a profile and showcase your accounts. You’ll pick categories and what you charge to promote.

Brands can find your listing there, check out your channels, and contact you for a possible promotion opportunity. These platforms are typically free to use and they will take a small portion of the agreed upon price.

When you get a sponsor, you can create videos or take pictures of you using the product. Make sure you use the hashtags related to the product and come up with a good caption for it.

Partnering with Others for Income

From time to time, you will be approached with the offer to collaborate with another social media influencer. Sometimes, there are automated bot accounts that comment on your posts, but other times they will be genuine collaboration offers that may work out well for you.

You have to be careful about who you partner up with, because if they become known for anything unsavory, that may taint your reputation in the social stratosphere. Make sure you do adequate research beforehand about the other person prior to sealing any kind of deal with them.

There are some scams involving collaborations or social media ambassador positions, where they will ask you to purchase the product up front, and they will reimburse you at a later date (or so they say).

You never want to pay for a product that someone else is asking you to promote. If they want you to mention it, it needs to be gifted to you so that you can make an informed decision about it before you discuss it with your followers.

Embarking on a Product Creation Path

When your account grows substantially, you’ll want to consider creating products of your own. You can quickly and easily use online tools to create print on demand products like t-shirts, and also write and self-publish a book.

If you’re doing something like a beauty or skincare line, you can work with a company that can formulate it and design a product brand for you based on your name recognition.

If you want to see what some of the top social media influencers are doing with their accounts, you may want to check out individuals like Addison Rae, Khaby Lame, or Huda Beauty.

All of these have found influencer success and have companies and brands reaching out to them, or have created their own products based on the response they garnered on social media.

James Charles and Jeffree Star are two men who embarked on beauty influencing journeys. Both created their own product line of cosmetics, which were showcased in major retailers and allowed them to rake in over $22-200 million.

These two have both experienced drama and public “cancellations” due to previous or current behavior, but not before each earned millions to fund their lavish lifestyles and purchase mansions.

Keep in mind that social media stars will often be dragged into drama and situations that others will enjoy, so steer clear of any negative interactions with others. Brands won’t want to hire you – and consumers won’t buy your products – if they see you as tainted.

Addison Rae and Charli D’Amelio both have products, ranging from beauty to fashion. Emma Chamberlain has a coffee line, since she was frequently seen with a cup of coffee in her online social media posts.

Social media shows no signs of slowing down at this point. YouTube is the second largest search engine in existence. Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok see billions of users every month, followed by the popularity of Snapchat.

Keep an eye on the development of future social media so that you can create and position yourself on the site or app early on in its development. If you are using this strategy to create a career, you want to immerse yourself in everything there is to know about the social media platform you intend to use.

Becoming a social media influencer can be a fun and exciting journey. Not only do you get to inform and educate your audience, but you get to do so in a way that allows you to be creative and showcase your personality.

Don’t worry about any haters who try to stir up negative emotions in you along the way. This is to be expected and engaging with trolls only makes you look foolish, and will attract more of the same.