What a world we live in today. Social media has become such a large platform that there are people making six-figures a year simply posting on social media, showcasing products or services and putting those companies in front of their following.

These are just regular people — not celebrities or stars. Mega stars like Kylie Jenner are on a different income level when it comes to their influencer payouts, as she commands one-million dollars per sponsored post. Now, those types of paydays are very few and far between, but the number of influencers that are earning a full-time living simply by being active on social media is mind boggling.

It’s a legit career these days, and there are very little barriers of entry, provided you have a somewhat large following that you have influence over. You don’t have to own a website, have your own product or sell your own services. Almost all brands are exploring influencer marketing these days, and they are turning their focus on small micro-influencers rather than the big names, for two main reasons.

First, they can secure posts for far less money, and they find that more niche-focused followings, even if small, produce a much better ROI. Brands are expected to spend more than $10 billion dollars on influencer marketing in the upcoming year, which gives aspiring influencers a huge window of opportunity.

If you are serious about leveraging your social media following into a profitable side-hustle or taking the next step to becoming a full-time influencer. It’s not as easy as just posting content and cashing checks — you have to develop a strategy and your brand, and treat it like a business.

Here are ten tips that will help you reach those goals and become a social media influencer.


1. Make your niche known in your bio and content.

Most brands are laser focused on finding influencers with a very specific audience, as opposed to how they used to approach it, and just focus on the number of followers someone had. In order to attract followers that will engage with your content and become a valuable asset, you need to make your bio and content very clear in regard to what your niche is.

For example, if you are focused on fitness and your goal is to attract supplement companies and other fitness related companies, you need to make sure you are attracting followers that are interested in the topic and are likely to engage with content related to the topic.

You would want to make sure that your bio has mention of your love for fitness, focusing on that only, and eliminating any extra fluff that would drown out what your main focus was. Then, keep your content super focused, posting pictures of the gym, workout routines, etc. The last thing you want to do is post fitness content and then mix in pictures of luxury watches and cars. You will experience a major disconnect with your audience if you don’t stay on topic.


2. Focus on increasing your engagement rates first, followers second.

Most influencers become so obsessed with increasing their followers that they ignore the one thing that all brands are focused on these days, which is the engagement rate the content receives, in terms of likes and comments.

Brands have become more educated and can quickly sniff out fake followers simply by looking at the engagement. A lot of people started to use power likes and automated likes to make their engagement appear to be high, but again, brands know what they are looking for.

If they see low engagement on an account that has 220,000 followers, they will assume most were purchased and/or fake. If post have thousands of likes and no comments it looks like bot likes were used. Focus on mastering engagement before you worry about attracting more followers. An account with 8,000 followers with 10% engagement is more valuable to a brand than an account with 60,000 followers and a 2% engagement rate.



3. Have realistic expectations regarding your worth.

There are stories in the media constantly about how the Kardashian’s are making $250,000 to upwards of $1 million per post, but that is such an isolated instance. You need to be very realistic when it comes to what you charge brands.

I see a lot of influencers that think just because they have some followers they are worth thousands of dollars per post. You should always consider what you are promoting, how effective your reach will be and whether or not there is long-term partnership potential.

Would you rather do a single post for $500 or work a deal with a brand that paid you $100 per post and it was for 3X a month on an annual basis. That one relationship would end up earning you $3,600. Always think about long-term deals and there are even equity deals available if you have a massive reach, which can be even more financially rewarding.

Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t expect the big payday in the beginning. Work with brands, build your relationships and learn how to interact with your followers in a way that proves to be beneficial to your partners, as the more value you can deliver, the more you will earn.


4. Use giveaways to grow your account.

If you spend any time on Instagram, then you have certainly seen some people do giveaways on their page, requiring someone to like the image and tag some friends in the comments for a chance to win. This is highly effective, and it also teaches you how to interact with your followers.

A lot of times, when you are just starting out you can approach brands and ask them to donate a prize for you to give away. If you ask the right brands (they have to offer something related to your niche) they will often gift giveaway items. You can then use this to help grow your followers, although this strategy will attract a lot of new followers, you have to realize some will follow you just to try to win the contest, then unfollow you if they don’t love your content.

Electronics are always a big hit, with iPhones, MacBooks and Go Pros being very popular. Think of the cost for prizes as a business expense. One influencer I spoke to in the past put away 10% of his earnings just to buy new prizes to give away. Their strategy works well and they have been growing 50,000+ per month, which continues to open up more opportunities.


5. Pick a platform and master it (Instagram for 99.9%).

If you master one network, you can usually leverage your following to grow additional social media platforms, but you will never be able to make money unless you have a solid presence on at least one.

Right now, Instagram is the social media platform that brands are focusing on. Very few brands are on Twitter looking for influencers, and Snapchat is quickly losing steam as well. If you are serious, then you have to have Instagram as your main focus. Now, there will always be exceptions, like a LinkedIn power user that has a large audience of SMB owners, or a teenager that is very popular on Snapchat and receives millions of views on each story post.

But, for the most part, Instagram is where the focus should be. Once you have a large and loyal following that actually cares what you post and engages back and forth, you can then push them to other social networks, but only if there are paid opportunities there.


6. Use hashtags intelligently.

When you are using social media with the goals and aspirations of turning it into a source of income, you need to approach your strategy much differently than you would if you were just a casual user without any interest in attracting followers or engagement beyond your close friends and family.

Hashtags are very powerful and can help you not only attract followers and be seen by people who have a high likelihood of being interested in your content, but many brands are now doing hashtag searches in order to uncover potential influencers.

You never want to just throw up 30 tags without a strategy. Select a few that have the potential to get you discovered, and don’t worry about their impression count. A hashtag with 5 million posts using it will be very hard to benefit from.

Also, you can game the system a bit, if you want to get clever. If you are fairly new and haven’t done a paid post yet, that doesn’t mean you have to appear totally green. You can stage a post, and promote a brand that you love, and include the #sp #ad hashtags, as that is what brands will often search to discover new influencers. Their thought is this — if it’s a recent post, chances are that person’s content performs well, and if you are seen promoting a well-known company, it gives you instant credibility.



7. Be transparent about paid and promotional posts.

As mentioned above, there are designated hashtags that are supposed to be used when you are posting after receiving either financial compensation or free product, and they are generally #sp #ad #sponsored.

Instagram and Facebook also give you the opportunity to tag a marketing partner in posts, and I suggest you do that as well. The FTC is really cracking down on this, and many celebrities have found themselves in hot water because they didn’t disclose advertisements.

Not only do you want to avoid possible fines, but your audience will respect you more if you are transparent. As long as you aren’t flooding your feed with sponsored posts you won’t experience a major disconnect is you fully disclose any promotional content.


8. Join Facebook groups for influencers.

There are several large Facebook groups that focus solely on influencer marketing, with both influencers and marketing brand managers as members. It’s a great place to learn about new strategies, build relationships and engagement pods, and look for paid opportunities.

As influencer marketing gains in popularity, more companies are now adding new roles to their marketing teams, creating an entirely new department. These professionals are often ex social media agency employees, so they are familiar with the best Facebook groups.

Join as many as you can and look for large active groups with several new posts daily, but also look at engagement. If other members aren’t answering questions, replying and offering help, the groups is unlikely to provide value.


9. Post high quality content.

This should be common sense, and maybe I should explain what I mean. You might post amazing content, but then posting something that wasn’t part of your strategy will stick out like a sore thumb, receive little to no engagement, and potentially be a turn-off to advertisers.

Stay “on-brand” at all times. Again, you have to think of your social media content as a business, and you don’t want to be unprofessional. Avoid posting about controversial topics or posting anything that is in bad taste. Keep the jokes and memes off of your feed, unless your niche is memes or comedy.

Some of the best accounts go as far as to maintain the same color scheme throughout their entire feed or create epic content featuring 3 to 6 pictures that tie together to deliver a message.


10. Create your own product or service.

You will see that the larger, most successful accounts eventually create their own product or service. When you have a captive and loyal audience, you are crazy not to do this.

Kylie Jenner launched her cosmetics brand, using only Instagram to market it. Imagine that?! She built a $1 billion-dollar company without spending a penny on advertising. She used Instagram exclusively, which cost her nothing. That is how powerful social media can be.

Even smaller influencers, in the fitness industry for example, create diet and training programs and monetize their following that way. This option allows you to create a recurring revenue stream and build something of value, rather than seeking out paid posting opportunities. Anytime you can build something and own it you are creating more than just a paycheck. You are building a real business that provide more stability than just sponsored posts.



There has never been a bigger opportunity to make money on social media then there is now, as many people of all ages and from all corners of the world are making money by leveraging their social presence.

It takes a lot of work and consistency to continue to build your following and engagement, but if you follow the tips outlined above you can grow your accounts into appealing marketing channels for brands related to the niche you focus on.

There are so many opportunities daily, so put in the work if you are serious about creating an income stream via social media.

Are you currently doing any sponsored posts or brand collaborations? If so, what do you think has contributed to your success? (And what has been your biggest payday from a brand? You know we all love to hear about the paydays!)

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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