How to Become a Social Media Influencer and Make Money

by Dan Hughes

Posted on Mar 22, 2022

How to Become a Social Media Influencer and Make Money

Getting paid to play around and promote brands on social media is a dream come true for many.

But, while the life of a paid social media influencer is certainly rewarding, earning the status to become one takes a little more than pushing out the occasional TikTok video or Instagram Story.

If you've already gained celebrity status or you're renowned in a certain field, you can simply sign up for social media accounts, start posting, and watch those followers grow (almost instantly). But, for most of us, to become a paid social media influencer, you have to build an audience from the ground up.

While gaining influencer status in an increasingly competitive digital landscape is challenging, by doing the right things consistently, it is possible. And, once you become an influencer in your field, you stand to enjoy a healthy income from doing what you love—just look at our 20 surprising influencer marketing statistics for inspiration. Oh, and check out how much TikTok pays influential creators.

Sounds good? Let’s take a look at how to become a social media influencer and make money.

How does a social media influencer make their money?

We can learn a lot from some of the world’s biggest social media influencers—particularly when it comes to making money.

Tip: Our influencer tracker tool will help you curate a list of popular social media personalities you respect and are related to your niche or industry.

Successful influencers leverage their social media followings to work with businesses in their niche—offering powerful promotions that significantly boost their brand reach, awareness, and reputation.

By knowing how you can make money as a social media influencer, you can give your social media marketing efforts a definitive direction. That said, here are the main ways social media influencers like PewDiePie and Addison Rae (among many others) get paid.

Sponsored content

Arguably the main source of income for most social media influencers, sponsored content is when a brand pays you to put out a post on a certain platform (or sometimes several) to plug a new service or product.

Just one simple piece of content (from an image to a short video endorsement) can skyrocket a brand’s reach or earn a spike in sales—which means that people will pay good money to influencers with the right following (especially given the fact that 92% of today’s consumers trust social media influencers more than traditional celebrities).

Content collaborations

Another means of maintaining respect and making a steady income as a social media influencer is through carefully-crafted content collaborations.

Content collaborations come in many forms, from guest posting on a brand’s blog or publication and social media takeovers to full omnichannel marketing campaigns where the influencer essentially becomes the ‘face’ or brand ambassador.

The reason this type of collaboration works for businesses is because by creating content with the right influencer it’s possible to extend brand reach across a multitude of channels while offering a deeper level of value to their target audience. In turn, this offers an excellent return on social media influencer investment.

As an influencer, content collaborations are an attractive option as not only are they lucrative, but they will also position you as a genuine thought-leader in your field—growing your following and reputation further in the process.

Affiliate marketing

This is a slightly less trodden path for many influencers, but it’s a viable source of income nonetheless.

Essentially, affiliate marketing is sharing a link in a social media post or a piece of content and taking a commission (or percentage) from any sales generated from clicking through.

Remember: If you're a popular or respected influencer, your opinions or recommendations will hold a lot of weight, increasing your chances of enjoying a steady stream of passive income from sharing affiliate links.

This concept can be difficult to get your head around at first but we’ve produced a guide that explains affiliate marketing to guide you through the essentials.

How much do social media influencers get paid?

Like any profession, the amount you’re likely to get paid as an influencer depends on a variety of factors including your popularity, follower base, niche, preferred platform, and even timing.

But, as a general rule of thumb, here is a breakdown of what you might earn according to your platform and level of influencer status:

How do I become a successful paid social media influencer?

Now that you know how to make money as a social influencer—and how much you can potentially earn—let’s look at what you need to do to become one.

Pick your niche

Followers aside, social media influencers are valuable to brands because they are authoritative in their niche.

With this in mind, to become a successful influencer and stand out from the crowd, you have to establish yourself in a specific niche or industry. For example, maybe your passion is dealing in secondhand clothing or you’ve been running drop shipping for a while.

Play to your passions and strengths and you will remain motivated to post, create or share the kind of social media content that turns heads and really resonates with your audience.

Optimize your preferred profiles

In addition to picking a niche, you should decide on a primary social media channel to focus on to concentrate your content creation efforts.

This doesn’t mean you should neglect your other profiles—it means choosing a social media HQ and using your other profiles to cross-promote your content and expand your reach.

Our 8 tips for content optimization for every social media channel will help you engage the right followers and stand out in your niche.

To maximize your success of becoming an influencer, it’s important to optimize your main profile, as well as a secondary profile (for example, Instagram as a primary and TikTok as a secondary.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Switch from a regular to a business account to gain access to additional engagement metrics and more promotional options
  • Fill out every informational field and produce an engaging bio to help you tell your story, showcase your personality, and make a personal connection with your audience
  • Add a compelling profile picture and eye-grabbing cover image that’s relevant to your mission and your niche

Know your audience

To grow your audience and become that glistening influencer needle in a giant digital haystack, consistently posting quality, relevant content at the times your target audience is likely to engage is essential.

Riding the crest of trending waves and leveraging hashtags will increase your chances of gaining traction with your social media content—but, there’s no substitute for sharing or producing content that strikes a personal chord with your target audience.

To do just that, you should consult your preferred social media platforms’ in-built analytics to drill down into the type of content that your audience engages with most as well as the demographics of your current or potential social media followers.

Armed with a newfound understanding of your audience, you can start creating and schedule content that is likely to inspire and ultimately, travel further. Another key reason for taking the time to know your audience is the fact that you will be able to tap into the right conversations and make more connections.

Here are two resources that will help you know your social media audience better:

Tip: In addition to knowing your audience, you should take the time to learn from the world’s biggest social media influencers. By analyzing the kind of content and methods your favorite influencers use, you’ll be able to emulate them, using an original spin.

“Nobody is going to buy from you because you have a quota to meet. They are going to buy from you because they see the value in doing so” Bob Burg

Learn the right skills

To become a successful influencer, you need to play the game—and play it well. If you want to get ahead as a social media influencer and get paid, gaining the right skills is vital.

As an influencer, you are essentially an influencer marketer and by gaining the right credentials, not only will you have all of the knowledge you need to succeed, but you’ll be more credible in the eyes of brands, businesses, and your audience.

The life of an influencer is paved with gold and to give yourself the best possible chance, you should get certified.


Dan Hughes

Dan is a content writer specializing in digital marketing, emerging tech, music and looking after a toddler. You can find out more about him and his work by visiting his Catchy Space.

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