How do influencers make money online? Let’s breakdown how influencers can make money online through brand partnerships, digital and physical products, and more!

6 Ways Influencers Can Make Money Online - How do bloggers make money – can you really make money blogging – how do influencers make money – how to become a social media influencer – how to make money as a microinfluencer

I’m a microinfluencer with under 50,000 followers on Instagram, driving 50,000-55,000 monthly page views a month on my blog, and I’ve replaced my former aerospace salary of $90,000 with content creation. My creative career was not an overnight success. I first started my blog and Instagram during my senior year of college in 2014. And in 2016, I decided to start taking my side hustle more seriously.

From 2016-2020, I balanced my aerospace career with my creative career and even completed a two-year Master of Communication Digital Media program. Year by year, I learned how to build an engaged audience, I learned how to create a clear content plan and strategy, and I learned how to work with brands.

In 2017, I was making a few hundred dollars a month just to cover the cost of hiring a photographer. In 2021, I’ve secured $60,000 in brand partnerships and we’re only at the start of 2Q2021. As someone who’s left her corporate career and pursued her creative career, I’m here to tell you that is possible to make a living as a full-time microinfluencer. Learning how to monetize your influencer comes with time, experience, and a little bit of guidance.

Before we jump into the 6 ways influencers can make money online, let’s first dispel the myth that it’s impossible to make money as a content creator.

One mindset shift I made back in 2017 is that it is possible to make money as a content creator. Once I believed it was possible, it allowed me to explore ways building my side hustle. I learned that clarifying my brand, focusing on creating consistent content, and building trust with community would eventually allow me to earn money online.

If you’re currently building up your side hustle, your Instagram, or your own platforms, have patience with yourself. You have time to figure out how to make money as a creator. If you take the time to develop your brand and build your community, you will figure out how you want to monetize your influence as a nano-influencer, microinfluencer, or even mega influencer.

6 Ways Influencers Can Make Money Online - How do bloggers make money – can you really make money blogging – how do influencers make money – how to become a social media influencer – how to make money as a microinfluencer

Here are a 6 ways influencers can make money online:

1.Influencers can earn money by through brand partnerships

One way content creators can monetize their influencer is by working with brands. Brands hire content creators to produce short form/long-form videos, photos, and copy (written work).

There are many reasons why brands choose to hire influencers for brand campaigns. Some brands might hire influencers to gain access to their audience (could be regionally or demographically). Other brands source influencers to drive brand awareness for a new product launch. Brands can also repurpose the content on their own websites, social media channels, and email newsletters.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a nanoinfluencer (under 10K), a microinfluencer (between 10K-100K), or a macroinfluencer (100K+), because you’ll find brands sourcing and hiring influencers at whatever audience size, you’re at.

2. Content creators can sell either digital or physical products.

Another way influencers can make money is by creating their own physical products. If you’ve seen influencers sell sweatshirts, t-shirts, or jewelry or open their own Etsy shops, that’s another way influencers can bring in money. If you’ve seen your favorite content creator, TikToker, or YouTuber create and sell merchandise (t-shirts, tote bags, crew necks, socks, etc.), that’s another example of physical goods.

There are other content creators who choose to sell digital products like media kits, presets, or e-books. For creators interested in selling educational products, courses are great for in-depth topics and showing processes.  For influencers who have mastered website design, they can explore selling WordPress, Blogger, or SquareSpace website layouts. For content creators who specialize in photography or photo editing, presets might be a great option in selling a digital product.

Personally, I earn money through the courses I’ve created: How to Negotiate (Paid) Brand Collaborations and How to Set Clear Goals for Your Brand and Business.

Pavement Austin - Colorful striped mural - image from Emma's Edition

3. Influencers can offer coaching or mentorship

For creators who love to teach, cultivate relationships, and build up others in their community, offering coaching or mentorship is another way to build your business. You might find these creators first establish themselves in their niche or fields as experts. Mentorship and coaching programs can look like a million different ways.

Some creators offer group coaching others offer 1 x 1. Some influencer coaches work with clients only on one off basis, others offer programs for 3 months, 6 months, or even a year.

4. Content creators, like podcasters can be invited to speak at events

Influencers, specifically podcasters can also make money by being paid to speak at events. Depending on your niche, your expertise, and your influence in your field, you could be asked to speak at corporate events, both digital and in-person conferences, or workshops.

You also don’t have to be a podcaster to be invited to speak at events. Create and Cultivate does a great job inviting influencers and content creators to speak at their events. If you’re interested in getting into speaking, I would recommend to start experimenting with videos (both long form and short form) or podcasting. Getting a feel for speaking in front of a camera or online audience will help you determine whether or not speaking professionally is something you’re interested in.

How do bloggers make money – can you really make money blogging – how do influencers make money – how to become a social media influencer – how to make money as a microinfluencer - image from - copyright @emmasedition

5. Podcasters can earn money with ads

Podcasters have the ability to earn money by hosting ads on their podcast episodes. If you’ve ever heard your favorite podcast, take a 30 second ad break, that podcast you’re listening to is most likely monetizing through advertisements. I’ve also listened to podcast shows where they partnered with a brand to produce a podcast episode. For example, Stuff You Missed in History Class has produced podcast episodes promoting upcoming movies.

6. Influencers can earn money through affiliate partnerships

Influencers who share or promote products they use or love and also earn money through affiliate partnerships. Creators in affiliate programs can invite their audiences to use their preferred products using their designated links. And businesses hosting the affiliate partnership can give influencers a percentage or a set dollar amount of each sale.

Brands offer affiliate partnerships because it expands their brand’s each as well as establishes credibility. If there are products and services that you use as a content creator and you’re regularly talking about, it might make sense to explore an affiliate partnership.

I’ve seen bloggers and content creators have earned money in affiliate programs with Amazon Associates, Reward Style, Blue Host, SiteGround, and more!

There are many other ways bloggers, content creators, and influencers can make money online.

How do bloggers make money – can you really make money blogging – how do influencers make money – how to become a social media influencer – how to make money as a microinfluencer - image from - copyright @emmasedition

What other ways have you seen creators earn money?

Thank you for reading! For other related posts about blogging and content creation, I recommend checking out:

What Brands Look for in Influencers and Content Creators

4 Pillars to Build an Engaged Community Online

Episode 52: 5 Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder as a Content Creator

Episode 49: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself If You’re Thinking About Becoming an Influencer