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How to Make Money as a Content Creator with Under 5K Followers

Jun 30, 2022

Your Influencer Coach & Fellow Content Creator

I'm an Instagram influencer coach and lifestyle content creator based in Arizona. I help others live out extraordinary lives through my influencer career advice, travel guides, and life hacks.

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Oh, hey there! One of the questions I get asked the most frequently is from folks wondering how content creators make money. I mean, sure, everyone knows that you can make money being an influencer, but….

Like… Where do you even start?

I want to help answer that question for you today!

In this post, we’ll go over 7 ways on how to make money as a content creator. The best part about them?

You can do these even with less than 5,000 followers! In fact, a lot of my Instagram influencer course students use these same tactics with a ton of success.

I will say that because I am primarily on Instagram, that’s where we’ll be focusing most of our attention, but the principles for other social media apps are super similar.

So feel free to take these tactics and apply them to your social channels as you see fit! And make sure you read these guides next:

Let’s begin!

Written by Influencer Coach Dani Rodriguez. Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links.

7 Ways to Make Money as a Content Creator with a Small Following

  1. Sponsored Posts
  2. Start a Blog
  3. Affiliate Links
  4. Sell Products
  5. Image and Video Licensing
  6. Subscriptions
  7. Facebook Groups

Let’s dive into each of these!

#1 Sponsored Posts (Most Common Way to Make Money as a Content Creator)

I’m sure by now you’ve seen plenty of sponsored posts from your favorite influencers. A sponsored post is when a company pays for ad space on an influencer’s social media pages.

Figuring out how to land a paid Instagram sponsorship isn’t as complicated as you might think, FYI!

As a matter of fact, sponsored posts are probably the most sought-after way to make money as a content creator. The key is to know your pricing so you can make as much as possible.

If you don’t know what to charge, then you’ll want to check out my free Influencer Rate Calculator!

And yes, they’re a GREAT option for small creators! Small creators are in such high demand because they typically have better engagement than more prominent content creators.

As a matter of fact, you can often pitch brands your campaign ideas and get their attention that way! 

If you need help pitching brands for sponsored content, I have fill-in-the-blank brand pitch email templates you can use! These are the pitch templates me and my influencer students use to score paid brand deals.

>>Click here to get the templates!<<

Influencer Brand Pitch Email Scripts

#2 Start a Blog 

If you haven’t started a blog yet, you should! I know writing isn’t everyone’s jam, and I get that. However, if you can commit to making one, it’ll be a GREAT source of income for you! 

You’ll find that blogs offer several opportunities to make money as a content creator. A few of the most popular ones you’ll see floating around are ad revenue, sponsored blog posts, and affiliate links. 

What does a blog have to do with making money on Instagram? Or how to monetize social media?

Quite a bit, actually! You can use social media to your advantage and direct your followers to your website.

The extra traffic offers more potential customers for any products you sell on your site, too. 

The reverse is true too. A blog can help drive more traffic to your social media pages, bringing in more engagement, reach, etc. 

Andddd, you can use blogs to write microblog Instagram captions to help with engagement!

Photo of a Full time instagram influencer's site

Affiliate links should not be reserved for only blogs! They’re one of the main ways you can make money as an influencer!

Before I get too far, let me explain what an affiliate link is. 

Affiliate links work by hyperlinking to a product or service that you love. Then, when someone clicks on the affiliate link and makes a purchase, you receive a percentage of that purchase at no additional cost to the buyer.

Pretty cool, right?

With the Link feature, you can create Stories linking to specific products you love and recommend to your followers. This can be anything from an iPhone to makeup to hiking gear. 

As a matter of fact, Instagram is starting to approve more creators to use their in-house Affiliate link program. So pretty soon, you’ll be able to create affiliate links directly in the Instagram app and tag affiliate products on your posts. 

And when you get more Story views on Instagram, you’ll get more potential clicks on your affiliate links.

If you’re a small creator with an engaged audience, I HIGHLY recommend jumping on the affiliate link game sooner than later.

They’re an easy answer for how to make money as a micro influencer or nano influencer. You can be sharing products you love with your followers and earning a commission.

Then, as you grow, your commissions will too. 

Instagram influencers stories

#4 Sell Products 

By “products,” I mean things YOU create and sell. That can be merch, presets, or other online resources.

Like my media kit template (which you should really have for getting brand deals by the way).

See what I did there 😉

The reason products are a great way to make money as an influencer is because you do not have to rely on a company for your income!

Products are a much more secure way to make a living because you can make money without managing much. AKA, if you set up your products the right way, you can be sitting on a beach somewhere exotic, earning passive income. 

Dreamyyyyyyyyy.

free media kit checklist

#5 Image & Video Licensing

I mean, we should all know this, but Instagram and other social media platforms are visual.

 If you’re someone with a camera or iPhone and some time to spare, which I’m guessing is you because you’re an aspiring influencer, then start creating content you can license to brands!

WTF do I mean by “license.” Think of a content license as a rental agreement between you and a company.

It’s like you letting a brand use your content for their marketing needs on billboards, print, ads, social media, etc.

You can even license viral Instagram Reels if you want to!

To create high quality images for licensing, I use my Canon 5D Mark IV and love it! However, if you’re looking for a mirrorless option, you can snag a Canon EOS R (mirrorless version). 

My go-to lens has always been a Canon 24-70 f/2.8—it’s an excellent lens for just about everything! 

And there’s tons of aesthetic photo editing apps you can use too!

photo of a paid brand deal from an influencer

#6 Subscriptions

I feel like more folks should be taking advantage of this, but having a subscription program for your followers to join is another excellent way to make money!

This is a feature Instagram is currently testing, but the most common platform to create a subscription/ membership program for your followers is Patreon

If you get enough subscribers, you could be earning consistent monthly income without much effort!

And now, Instagram is rolling out their subscription feature for influencers to manage directly through their profile.

photo of an instagram influencers feed

#7 Facebook Groups

This strategy is a bit newer (kind of) to influencers, but you can also make money by starting a Facebook group!

Think about it, if you build a trusted community where people can connect with others like them, you can then earn by promoting your own products in the group, sharing affiliates, or landing paid sponsors!

If done right, groups can be a great way to gain Instagram followers organically!

If you’re a small creator, I recommend starting a Facebook Group because it can help bring traffic to your other social media pages and any products you create in the future!

photo of an instagram influencers feed

Final Tips for Making Money as an Influencer

I think those were some great starting points for how to make money as a content creator! So, let’s talk about some tips for implementing these strategies.

Have a Media Kit

If you’re a new influencer, then you NEED a media kit. It’s like a resume for creators and is essential to pitching brands and landing deals.

Click here to read my guide on influencer media kits!

Always Be Genuine

There is NOTHING worse than someone who isn’t genuine. I mean, why would any of your followers want to buy something from you if they don’t trust you? So never promote something if you don’t believe it.

Always Try a Product First

Before promoting a product on your Instagram, TRY IT. You should not be selling something to your followers that you do not love and trust.

Think about it, if you advertise a faulty product and one of your followers has a negative experience with it, they’re likely not going to trust you in the future! So again, always promote products you believe. 

Put Out a Survey

Need to figure out what product your audience would be most into? Ask!

Put out an email survey or a poll on Instagram Stories. Ask your audience what they want to see from you and how you can help them succeed.

From there, make a product that’ll fit their needs!

Price Your Services Accordingly

Whether getting sponsorships from companies or landing commercial photography gigs, do your research and price yourself accordingly.

I have a blog you can read about this if you need help>> how much to charge for a brand deal

When you start to undersell yourself, you will be putting the whole creative industry at risk to make less money. When you do work for free, you’re sending a message out there that you are not worth much, which in turn will lead you to always getting lower-paying jobs.

Your Next Steps

While these are some of the main ways influencers can monetize, know that there are plenty more out there that we didn’t discuss! The opportunities are endless.

I hope this blog gave you some ideas and the encouragement to start earning sooner rather than later. If you enjoyed this blog, you should read these next:

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  4. Brianna says:

    Loving these Instagram tips!
    Brianna | https://dani-the-explorer.com/

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I'm a burrito loving explorer who got fired from corporate America and turned that into my dream career as a photographer and blogger. Now I'm here to help you explore life's magic. Thanks for stopping by!