How do Influencers Make Money?

By Julia Posillico | February 24, 2022

We’ve all seen it… influencers all over our Instagram “explore” and TikTok “for you” pages are going viral and becoming rich. The question that remains is how do influencers make such large sums of money from social media?

A common misconception is that influencers make money directly from social media services. Although there is some truth to this statement since social media brands such as YouTube and TikTok do pay some top creators, the money is nominal compared to other income streams made available through the fan bases influencers develop on these platforms. For many creators, this is actually better than TikTok, which does not give any portion of ad revenue to the creators but allows them to make money off systems such as “virtual gifts.” Creators can receive money from the “Creator Fund,” which is only available to influencers that have a minimum of ten thousand followers and one hundred thousand views in a thirty-day period.

Since influencers do not make a lot of money from the platforms, they find other ways to profit off of their large followings.

They do this by...

  • Posting Sponsored Content refers to when creators post something promoting a specific product. The brand will pay significant sums of money for that post depending on the number of followers you have. On Instagram, for every 1,000 followers an influencer has, influencers typically receive around $10 for each post.

  • Becoming a Brand Ambassador refers to when creators establish longer deals with companies to promote products through multiple posts and highlight the brand on a regular basis.

  • Creating Affiliate links and codes. Brands make deals with creators and give them unique codes or links that they promote through their social media pages. When people click that link or use that code to buy something the creator gets a percentage of the sale, and typically the codes provide a discount for the consumer so both sides benefit.

  • Developing personalized merchandise. Many of the biggest content creators sell merchandise with something relating to their brand on it. It often consists of clothing items, such as t-shirts and hoodies.

There are a lot of ways to make money off social media, and this leads to big-time creators becoming extremely wealthy. In 2021, Tik Tok influencer, Charli D’Amelio, made approximately seventeen point five million dollars, according to Forbes. She has over a hundred million followers, and she makes her money from a clothing line, promoting products in TikTok videos, and other ads. YouTube influencer, MrBeast was one of the most profitable people in social media making around fifty-four million dollars in 2021 with his over ninety million subscribers. His money comes mostly from ad revenue, sponsorship within his videos, and his merch.

Social media has created a new frontier of diverse marketing that can be very profitable. In today’s digital age, many large and small businesses are advertising through social media platforms, expanding the potential revenue for influencers and reshaping our approach to marketing.

Edited by Rachel Kunka