We associate the word influencer with the person who makes money by influencing people’s purchasing choices through their social media content. But how does this scheme work, how do influencers make money, and how many followers do you need to have to consider yourself an influencer?

Let’s find out.

Influencing 101

According to the latest stats, there are 3.2 to 37.8 million social media influencers in the world[1].

What does an influencer do? Influencers use their online presence to encourage their followers to buy certain products by promoting them through their social media platforms.

In short, influencers are people who:

  • Have a large number of followers (subscribers) who are actively engaged
  • Have the ability to change public perception on things like buying choices and brands’ trustworthiness.

Although having a lot of followers is vital, it’s not the be-all and end-all to becoming an influencer. You also have to generate income from your platform by publishing content on a regular basis.

By taking this route, you improve your chances of being discovered by brands who may want to collaborate with you in the future.

This brings us to influencer marketing. Through influencer marketing, brands pay influencers to promote their products.

You can develop your marketing strategy by:

  • Reaching out to brands directly and pitching them your ideas. Make sure to include a few sentences about yourself, who you create content for, the type of content you produce, and why you want to work with that specific brand.
  • Showcasing your social media statistics. Send them the number of followers and subscribers you have on different platforms and your engagement rates (likes, shares, comments)
  • Hashtagging brands in your posts. Find brands with which you could establish a partnership that would be mutually beneficial. Buy their products, create top-notch content, and tag them in your posts.

💰 According to one poll, businesses generate $6.50 for each dollar spent on influencer marketing[2].

In other words, to become a successful influencer, you need to create an active community of followers who are engaged with what you share. The more social media attention you have (shares, likes, and comments), the higher your influencer status will be.

That said, how many followers do you need to have before you can consider yourself an influencer?

It depends. There are different types of influencers, and each one has a different number of followers.

Based on one survey, 27.33% of Gen Z in the United States dream of becoming social media influencers instead of working regular 9–5 jobs after they graduate[3].

Types of Influencers

Based on the number of their followers, we can divide influencers into four main categories:

  • Nano influencers: 1,000–10,000 followers
  • Micro-influencers: 10,000–100,000 followers
  • Macro influencers: 100,000–1 million followers
  • Mega (AKA celebrity) influencers: over 1 million followers

Now, let’s get into more detail.

Nano Influencers

Nano influencers are social media personalities with relatively small (1,000–10,000 followers) but very engaged following. They tend to have high engagement rates, typically 3.86% on Instagram, which is much higher than mega influencers (1.21%)[4].

If you’re a nano influencer, you will also have a more personal relationship with your followers since you’ll work in smaller niches that are often connected with the local markets.

👉 Many marketers prefer nano influencers over macro-influencers because they are more authentic and have a closer connection with their followers.

Micro Influencers

To be considered a micro-influencer, you need to have anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. Micro-influencers typically focus on just one particular niche (such as gaming, travel, or fashion), making them experts in that field.

Like nano influencers, they also have high engagement rates — 2.39% on Instagram, 9.75% on TikTok, and 0.51% on YouTube.

📖 A recent study found that 82% of people are “highly likely” to listen and take action on a recommendation made by a micro-influencer[5].

Macro Influencers

When it comes to macro influencers, they usually have anywhere between 100,000 and 1 million followers, which makes them famous in the world of social media.

If you were to become a macro influencer, you’d have to produce regular content and manage your social media channels as if they were an actual business.

Unlike micro, macro influencers usually have a more diverse audience because they cover various topics. For example, one macro influencer could provide beauty routines, fitness tips, and baking advice all on the same social media platform.

Due to a large number of followers, macro influencers will have a lower engagement rate — 1.62% on Instagram, 6.67% on TikTok, and 0.43% on YouTube.

📽️ Achieving macro influencer status on YouTube is no easy feat. As of February 2024, only 321,100 YouTube channels have more than 100,000 subscribers[6].

Mega Influencers

Mega influencers (AKA celebrity influencers) and people with over 1 million followers. Most celebrity influencers are famous musicians, actors, or sportspeople.

⭐️ The most popular mega influencers on Instagram are Cristiano Ronaldo, with 622 million followers, and Selena Gomez, with 429 million followers[7].

They generally don’t have much knowledge about the products they endorse, and their followers usually don’t fit into one specific niche.

Moreover, their engagement rates are pretty low — 1.21% on Instagram, 4.96% on TikTok, and 0.37% on YouTube.

On the other hand, since celebrity influencers have a large number of followers, any product they endorse will reach a much broader audience.

8 Ways to Make Money as an Influencer

If you’re an influencer, you already have the tools to make money — you have followers. But how to turn your social media following into cold, hard cash? Here are five different strategies you could try:

1. Sponsored Content

One of the most common ways influencers make money is through sponsored posts. You will basically get paid to promote a specific product or service on your social media platform.

The amount of money you can make will depend on the number of your followers and the social platform you use.

PlatformNano InfluencersMicro InfluencersMacro InfluencersMega Influencers
Twitter$2–$20 per Tweet$20–$100 per Tweet$1,000–$2,000 per Tweet$2,000+ per Tweet
TikTok$5–$25 per TikTok post$25–$125 per TikTok post$1,250–$2,500 per TikTok post$2,500+ per TikTok post
Instagram$10–$100 per Instagram post$100–$500 per Instagram post$5,000–$10,000 per Instagram post$10,000+ per Instagram post
YouTube$20–$200 per YouTube post$200–$1,000 per YouTube post$10,000–$20,000 per YouTube post$20,000+ per YouTube post
Facebook$25–$250 per Facebook post$250–$1,250 per Facebook post$12,500–$25,000 per Facebook post$25,000+ per Facebook post

If you want to make money from sponsored posts, create profiles on websites that offer such opportunities, like Webfluential, Tap In Influence, or Clever, or reach out to brands directly.

2. Brand Ambassadors

Brand ambassadors get paid to promote services or products on their social media platforms. The process of making money as a brand ambassador is similar to that of sponsored posts.

However, brand ambassadors are typically long-term partners who help promote a product over an extended period rather than only for one post.

Moreover, influencers aren’t only restricted to promoting a brand (or a product) on social media. They can also be the spokespeople for the company.

The average hourly salary of a brand ambassador in the United States is $24.51, but you may choose to work full-time and receive an annual salary between $43,244 and $58,913[8].

💡 You can become a brand ambassador for a company by applying on its website or by checking online job boards.

3. Affiliate Marketing

With affiliate marketing, businesses pay influencers a commission each time someone uses their link to buy a specific product.

The average affiliate marketing commission is 5–30%. However, well-established influencers can make 8–12%.

To earn revenue through affiliate marketing, you need to:

  • Create a website rich in content. If you want your content to result in increased website traffic and sales, include a mixture of promotional and informational material
  • Attract traffic from Google by targeting keywords with commercial (such as “best” or “review”) and transactional (such as “for sale” or “buy”) intent
  • Promote products with high affiliate commissions

Your earnings from affiliate marketing will depend on the number of companies you are working with, your follower count, and the details of your affiliate contract.

4. Selling Digital and Physical Products

Many influencers make extra income by selling physical (e.g., mugs, toys, T-shirts) and digital products (e.g., templates, online courses, e-books). This is especially common with food, finance, and fitness influencers.

For example, food influencers peddle their recipes, fitness influencers sell their training programs, and financial experts advertise their subscription-based services.

💡 Kayla Itsines is a perfect example of an influencer who has made her fortune by selling digital products. She makes money from sales of her “High Impact with Kayla“ workout program and app, “Sweat With Kayla.“

5. Webinars 

A webinar is a seminar that’s done online and is mainly used to share educational information in an engaging, step-by-step way.

There are three ways influencers can make money from webinars:

  • They can charge access to the content
  • They can work with a brand to create content that is useful and engaging for their audience
  • They can use the webinar as a lead-generation tool

Webinars can be held live or taped beforehand and then posted on social media.

6. Off-Site Website Advertising

Off-site website advertising is a form of online marketing that involves promoting a brand or a product on other websites (or social media platforms).

It can be done through banner ads, links, or sponsored posts. The goal of off-site website advertising is to drive traffic back to the site being promoted.

As an influencer, you can make money in two ways. You can receive payment for ads placed on your site or earn a commission from sales that occur via clicks on the ad.

7. Events Hosting

Besides making money through online sponsorships, influencers can also get paid by hosting events or making appearances at stores.

If a brand has an event or new product launch coming up, teaming up with an influencer who appeals to a similar audience is a great way to generate more interest and exposure.

8. Subscriptions, Tips, and Donations

There are numerous ways that influencers can generate revenue. For example, you can set up a donation button on your website where your supporters can contribute money. You can also use Patreon.

With Patreon, you can collect monthly donations from your followers in exchange for access to exclusive content that you create, such as live streams, behind-the-scenes videos, or special podcasts.

On average, patrons pay around $7.00, which means you can earn anywhere between $315 and $1,575 per month (depending on the number of your followers)[9].

⭐️ The most popular Patreon creator is True Crime Obsessed, a podcast series dedicated to true crime documentaries. The series currently has 45,616 patrons[10].

Should You Become a Social Media Influencer?

Before you click the record button on your digital camera, you should consider the pros and cons of becoming an influencer.

While there are numerous benefits of becoming a self-employed social media consultant, such as promotions and deals with brands, you should also be ready to face some challenges.

🤔 First of all, ask yourself:

  • Are you ready to go public and share some of the details of your private life?
  • Can you handle the criticism and potential cyberbullying?
  • Does this job fit your lifestyle?

Remember that earning money as an influencer is not just about having fun on social media. You will have to put ongoing, continuous effort into marketing yourself and your ability to generate results for your clients. You’re in a competitive marketplace, and if you want people to pay you to use your influence, you’ll need to show them that they’re getting their money’s worth.

Becoming a social media influencer doesn’t mean you only get to post a video or two per week and make a living out of it. It will also become your new lifestyle. So make sure you have a good plan, choose your preferred niche, create engaging content, and, of course, have fun.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments