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How to Make Money as a Content Creator Regardless of Follower Count

How to Make Money as a Content Creator Regardless of Follower Count

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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Post Summary: We’re going to discuss how to make money as a content creator! New to the influencer space? This blog will help you decide where to start monetizing your Instagram and other social media accounts.

How to Make Money as a Content Creator Regardless of Follower Count

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? HOW do content creators make money? HOWWWWW?

I want to help answer that question for you today!

Before we get into the details on how to get paid as a content creator, allow me to quickly introduce myself.

My Content Creator Story

In case you’re new here, my name is Dani! I’m an influencer coach and a full-time lifestyle content creator. Unlike most influencers who quit their 9 to 5’s to live out their content creator dreams, I got started in this space after being fired from my big girl job. 

I’ll spare you the details, but in sum, I started learning how to monetize social media by offering to create content for large brands. As my photography portfolio grew and my audience grew, I eventually started making money from paid brand deals on Instagram

Fast-forward some more….

As of today, I’ve amassed an Instagram audience of 100,000+ followers, have traveled the world, and worked with brands like American Express, MAZDA, Adobe, and Tripadvisor. 

I recently started coaching micro-influencers on how to become a full-time Instagram influencer

In other words, my career as an influencer has come a long way since I’ve been fired!

My Mission with this How to Make Money as a Content Creator Guide

I want you to see what’s possible for you too! Hence why I started with my story. No, I’m not some trust fund baby who just got a lucky break. I simply took advantage of the opportunities available to EVERYONE because of the internet and social media. 

I learned how to make money as a content creator, and you can too!

Whether you’re looking to earn extra income for yourself, passive income, or want to become a full-time influencer, it doesn’t matter to me! 

All I care about is helping fellow creators. 

You see, when I was just starting out, NO ONE helped me, lmao. And honestly, as more and more people have started their own businesses as influencers, I’ve noticed that the industry has only gotten more secretive? 

I just don’t get it. 

Being a freelancer is already isolating in nature. And IDK about you, but I don’t want to have a lonesome career that forces me to figure things out the “hard” way. 

So consider this your official invitation into my influencer community. Go ahead, take my hand. 

*I stretch my hand out to you*

*Of course, you take it; you don’t have a choice muahahaha*. 

JK, but in all seriousness, I write these blogs to help as many content creators as I can!

I digress. None of that even matters. What matters to me is that I want to help folks like you stop DIYing your way to influence and start taking strategic steps to help you grow. I care because I was once in your shoes, Googling away for answers too!

TL;DR:

The purpose of this blog is to give you some ideas on how to make money as a content creator. 

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!

How to Make Money as a Micro Influencer

If you’re a nano or micro-influencer, yes! This blog applies to you as well. However, here’s the thing most folks won’t tell you: there isn’t a magic number to when you can start making money on Instagram or other social media. 

When it comes to how to make money as a micro influencer or nano influencer, you can start whenever you want! As a matter of fact, one of my “influencer regrets” is that I didn’t monetize sooner! I missed out on plenty of opportunities because I simply didn’t believe I was “worthy” of making money online, which wasn’t true at all. 

7 Ways to Make Money as a Content Creator

As we go through some of my favorite ways to make money as a content creator, hopefully, you’ll see just how many options you have, regardless of follower size!

So without further ado, let’s dive right in! We’ll be going over 7 ways to make money as a content creator, but below is a little graphic to sum up what we’ll discuss (taken from my influencer coaching IG page!):

Make Money as a Content Creator Idea #1: Sponsored Posts

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!

I like working with companies to do sponsored posts for a few reasons:

  • I have the opportunity to work with some of my favorite brands and show them off to my following.
  • The base rate I charge per post can increase as my audience grows.
  • They’re an excellent opportunity to show my followers products I love that I think will benefit their lives while making a bit of income. 
  • Sponsored posts are extremely common, and more and more brands are open to hiring influencers for campaigns, which means more opportunities for all of us!

As a matter of fact, sponsored posts are probably the most sought-after way to make money as a content creator. 

“But if sponsored posts are the most common way to make money as an influencer, why is no one talking about how much to charge for them?” 

I AM. HAHA.

I wrote up a complete guide on how much to charge for sponsored Instagram posts that you can read if you feel inclined to do so!

This Option is Great for:

  • Content creators who love the idea of working with brands and name-brand companies
  • Creators open to pitching brands for paid deals (at least when you’re starting out!)
  • Creators who want to keep things simple – nothing wrong with that!

Can Anyone Make Money as an Influencer with Sponsored Posts?

Yes! Small creators are in such high demand because they typically have better engagement than more prominent content creators. So if you’re a nano or micro-influencer, don’t think getting sponsored posts isn’t possible for you. When thinking about how to make money as a content creator, sometimes it’s easier to go with this popular option because there are SO many opportunities available.

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.

brand pitch email template by Dani The Explorer

The Downside to Sponsored Posts

The only problem I have with sponsored posts is that they’re subject to approval by the company they’re for. In addition, some sponsored posts have creative requirements, like a product must take up a specific size of the photo or needs to be spoken about a particular way in the caption. Therefore, I find that creating content for sponsored posts can come off a bit forced if you don’t genuinely love the product you’re talking about.

Also, this doesn’t happen often, BUT when there’s an economic downturn (like a pandemic), some companies cut their marketing budgets! That leaves influencers in a vulnerable position to lose clients. When the most recent pandemic happened, I had many content creator friends lose clients, but thankfully things recovered after a couple of months into 2020. 

SO, what does this teach us about sponsored posts?

It is NOT a good business strategy to have all of your money coming from sponsored content. But that’s business, right? You should never put all of your eggs in one basket. Instead, savvy influencers diversify their income streams, so their earnings are less vulnerable to hiccups in the market. 

So let’s get into more ways to make money as an influencer! 

Make Money as a Content Creator Idea #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 on how 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. 

This Option is Great for:

  • Content creators who love to write
  • Content creators who want more of a long-term strategy for making money – this is not a get-rich-quick option!
  • Creators who love the idea of passive income

How to Monetize Social Media with a Blog

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

Quite a bit, actually! For starters, you can share your blogs on your Instagram page to get more blog views, which will, in turn, make blog ad money for you (based on how many blog views you get). If a reader buys something using one of your affiliate links, that’s even better! 

In other words, you can use social media to your advantage and direct your followers to your website. But, of course, this 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. 

Affiliate links should not be reserved for only blogs! They’re one of the main ways you can learn how to 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?

How do content creators make money using affiliate links? EASY: Instagram Stories! 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.

This Option is Great for:

  • Creators who use/ review a lot of products
  • Small creators looking to get a brand(s) attention – more on this below
  • Creators who have a highly engaged audience that love recommendations

How to Become an Affiliate

Most companies have an affiliate program; you just have to search for it. By that, I mean literally, Google, “[Company Name] affiliate program,” and you should be able to find it! 

If searching for an affiliate program doesn’t work, try sending the company you want to be an affiliate for a DM! Sometimes the social media manager running the account will direct you to exactly where you need to go to get started.

How Content Creators Make Money with a Small Following

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. 

YOU’D LIKE: How to Beat the Instagram Algorithm

And believe it or not, sometimes brands recruit influencers in their affiliate programs for sponsored campaigns! If you’re already making a company money by driving sales, they’ll be more inclined to pay you for sponsored posts that get exposure to your audience. Just saying! One of my biggest brand deals to date was $30,000. The company learned about me because I was an affiliate for them. 

TL;DR, GET ON AFFILIATE PROGRAMS LIKE RIGHT, MEOW.

Make Money as a Content Creator Idea #4: Sell Products 

One of the best opportunities on how to make money as a content creator is products, in my opinion. By “products,” I mean things YOU create and sell. That can be merch, presets, or other online resources. Like templates! Did I mention that I sell brand pitch email templates and influencer media kit templates

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.

Also, think about it. If the economy is terrible and companies are cutting spending, they’ll cut contractors and influencers before cutting employees. We talked about this earlier. Products help create a security blanket around events like this. 

In addition to the above, what would happen to all those sponsorships if Instagram or social media disappeared? They would go too. At least by having a product to sell, you’ll likely be collecting customers’ email addresses, which means you have an additional way to get in contact with them later! 

Consider making a product for your business and promoting it to make money as a content creator!

This Option is Great for:

  • Content creators who enjoy creating something that is their own
  • Creators who like the idea of passive income
  • Creators looking to turn their influence into a business
Instagram influencer media kit template

Make Money as a Content Creator Idea #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. For example, let’s say you land a contract with Nordstrom to create 3 Reels for their organic social media.

You would be essentially “renting” these pieces of content to Nordstrom. Of course, they’d be paying a fee to use the content, which you would agree to beforehand. But the important thing to recognize is that YOU would NOT be posting these Reels to your social media accounts – they would be for Nordstrom’s use only.

There are several complicated pieces to licensing. And you can certainly sell content to a company outright, giving them complete ownership of the content, but we won’t get into that. 

Licensing is how I learned how to make money as an influencer. I would pitch brands on my photography services, offering to take photos of their products that they could use on their social media channels.

This was an excellent way to earn, grow my portfolio, and not have to post a gazillion sponsored posts! 

This Option is Great for:

  • Content creators who know their way around a camera
  • Creators looking to build their portfolio
  • Creators who want to work with brands but don’t want to do sponsored content

Gear I Use for Image Licensing

Want to create some better Instagram content? Maybe do some commercial photography gigs? Below are some of the gear items I use to capture stunning images to make money as a content creator! PS: The product links below are affiliate links which means I earn a small commission when you use my link to make a purchase – at no additional cost to you.

Like how I’m telling you my earning strategies and giving you real-life examples? 😉

Camera Bodies

I have been using my Canon 5D Mark IV for a while now and love it! However, if you’re looking for a mirrorless option, you can snag a Canon EOS R (mirrorless version). 

Lenses

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

Make Money as a Content Creator Idea #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 as a content creator!

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!

This Option is Great for:

  • Content creators who like the idea of creating subscription exclusive content
  • Content creators who want to build a community
  • Creators who like the idea of consistent income
  • Creators who have an engaged audience

Make Money as a Content Creator Idea #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!

This Option is Great for:

  • Creators who like the idea of community building
  • Creators who like the idea of hosting events or other group related activities
  • Content creators who want to build a more engaged audience

Facebook Groups by Small Creators 

The only downside here is that Facebook Groups take a while to grow, but the long-term gains can be impressive! 

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! Remember, when thinking about how to make money as a micro influencer or nano influencer, it’s essential to diversify and think about what strategies can grow as you grow your pages!

Facebook groups are also an excellent way to build a COMMUNITY around your business that loves and trusts you!

YOU’D LIKE: How to Gain Instagram Followers Organically

Tips on How to Make 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.

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. One of the critical points you must grasp when learning how content creators make money is that most of them are built on the TRUST your followers have in you.

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. 

This is especially true for affiliate marketing. Your followers are more likely to use your affiliate links if they KNOW you genuinely love the product you’re telling them about.

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. Ask a trusted friend to see how much to charge for a brand deal or product. 

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.

How to Make Money as a Content Creator: My Final Thoughts

While these are some ways to make money as a content creator, 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. Regardless of your follower count, you’re 1000% capable of making money on social media.

Whether it’s for side hustle purposes or becoming a full-time influencer, take advantage of the earning potential available to you today! If you’d like the help of an influencer coach like me, I encourage you to check out my Instagram influencer course! Otherwise, see you in the next blog 🙂

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  3. youthfashoni says:

    I have over ten thousand followers on Instagram and I try to make them more so that I can earn more on Instagram
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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!