How Social Media Influencers Make Money


As someone in the digital advertising space, and the founder of an Influencer Marketing business, I often get the question “But… how do you make money from Instagram?” when talking about social media content creators because a lot of people genuinely have NO idea how some people make money through a career as an “influencer”! And that’s fair! I don’t know how you’d know or be able to comprehend it without being in this industry yourself. So, I’m here to change that! Today I’m breaking down the major categories in which influencers make money and a bit about what that means.



Brand sponsorships typically make up the Lion’s share of income for influencers. As an agency, we’d handle most of the sponsorships for our influencers. We’d act as a bridge between the influencers and the brands and handle all of the contracts and negotiating. Influencers connect with sponsors/brands in a few different ways. First, brands may contact the influencer directly, via email, asking to work together. In that instance, assuming it is a brand influencers want to work with, they’d connect them with their agency team to take it from there. The management team also is actively pitching on behalf of influencers for campaigns they feel we might be a great fit for and will bring them offers from their efforts. And lastly, influecners email brands themselves and pitch them if it’s someone we genuinely want to work with.


Here’s a few different ways we work with brands once we connect with them:

Sponsored Blog Posts + Social Campaigns

Sponsored blog and social campaigns are the most common form of sponsorship in influencer marketing and what makes up the bulk of the income in this category. When influencers connect with the brands about a campaign, they typically have a specific product or message they are looking to promote. The brand then asks the influencer to create content around that product/message. Generally, influencers will receive a brief from the brand outlining the messaging, product incorporation requirements, timeline, links, tags and other expectations. The creative flexibility available to influencers varies greatly between brands. Some have a loose idea of what they want and look to us to conceptualize everything from top to bottom. Other brands have very specific guidelines for what they want incorporated in the content and influencers have to work within those parameters.

When it comes to the blog, typically the product has to be incorporated into at least a certain number of images and bloggers have a certain number of times they are required to mention it in the text as well. The content creator takes all of the information they’re given and then pitch them a concept that feels authentic to them while also achieving their goals for the campaign.

Almost all brands also pay for a round of social posts promoting the blog post. That includes a share on all (or some of, depending on what they choose) social platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and occasionally YouTube).

These days, many brands want to focus solely on social posts and only want to contract influencers for a partnership there. The process looks very similar as it does for a blog post, but instead of the blog post being the “hero” content, typically the “hero” content will live on Instagram and be promoted to other social media platforms from there.


Events + Appearances

Brands will often throw large scale events surrounding a product launch, holiday or other major event/milestone. They may contract influencers to do an “appearance” at the event where they will attend the event and promote it on their social media channels. If it’s a public event, they may ask them to promote it ahead of time and then again from the event and if it’s a private event, they may just ask them to do the latter. For this type of partnership, influencers are usually required to capture a certain element of the event, showcase a certain product at the event or get across another specific message.

Influencers have also hosted workshops for brands or acted as co-host of events if they are looking to incorporate Studio DIY deeper into the messaging of the event itself. These typically involve more hands-on time for the influencer because they will usually contribute creatively to the event instead of just attending.


Brand Ambassadorship/Long Term Partnerships

Sometimes brands are looking to partner with bloggers or influencers on a larger, more long-term basis. This can often be called a “brand ambassadorship” and will generally include several blog posts, social posts and events. But they can also include attending meetings at the brand’s headquarters, doing media interviews on behalf of the brand or giving creative input as they develop a new product or design.

These partnerships are great because they allow both the influencer and customers to get to know the brand over a long period of time. But with these partnerships also comes a lot of risks as you are often required to be exclusive with that brand in their category for a long period of time which could mean losing out on other campaigns. But in this industry where it’s not very easy to “guarantee” income, these partnerships are one of the few instances that allow you to do just that and that (combined with higher rates) typically makes it worth the exclusivity.


In conclusion, those are the typical revenue income streams for influencers! We’ve noticed a lot of influencers are currently working to make their profit pie chart a little more evenly split and not so heavily weighted in sponsorships. It’s never good to have all (or most) of your eggs in one basket so we work every day to make our ratios balance out a little more! But as mentioned before, brand sponsorships are the most crucial revenue source for social media influencers.


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