9 Ways Influencers Make Money and Diversify Their Revenue Streams

Reading Time: 18 Minutes

GRIN also recommends this free guide:

How Much to Pay Influencers, Creators & Brand Ambassdors

Download Guide

Researchers expect influencer marketing spending to jump by nearly $1 billion from 2023 to 2024 in the United States. And as brands continue shelling out cash for the quality content you regularly put out, your options for monetizing that content have never been more diverse. 

Let’s have a look at what brands factor into how much they’re willing to pay creators, the top ways you can make money, and the unique features on each platform that will enable you to get it done.  

What factors determine an influencer’s rate?

The factors that determine an influencer’s rate include their audience size, engagement rate, content, past performance, type of campaign, and their social channels.

Audience size

More followers mean more eyes on your content, which is a no-brainer for brands looking to increase brand awareness. The more followers you gain, the more room you’ll have to negotiate your pay-per-post rate. And if you need a little inspiration to get those numbers up, just think of the $2 million paycheck you could get when you make it to the big leagues. 

Engagement rate

If you’re a nano or micro influencer, your engagement rate will play a huge role in the compensation you can expect from brands. Be sure to interact with your fans whenever possible to build a stronger bond and improve your engagement rate. And if your rate is already solid, make sure potential brand partners know just how valuable that metric can be. 

Content 

Most macro and celebrity influencers achieve that status—at least partly—by creating amazing content. But if you don’t have the name recognition to rely on yet, producing quality content that brands can repurpose across their comprehensive marketing strategy will be essential in getting the most compensation possible from your social media presence. 

Past performance

Brands are more likely to partner with creators with a proven track record. If you’re just starting out, keep a record of how your content performed for your partners so you can put together an impressive portfolio to up your chances of landing a deal. 

Type of campaign

The length of the campaign and how the brand intends to use your content help determine how much you can charge for your services. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • How long is it (seasonal, evergreen, etc.)?
  • Is there an exclusivity clause?
  • Will you repurpose my content?
  • How many different types of content will I need to post?

All these questions and more will determine how much you should earn for participating in a campaign, so make sure you get all the details before signing on.  

Social channel

Several factors determine how much you can make on a given social channel, but it mainly depends on how much time you spend creating the content. For example, a 10-minute product tutorial on YouTube will likely drive a far higher price than a static Instagram post from a creator of comparable size and engagement. 

Influencer advertising a product, one of the ways influencers make money

Top 9 ways influencers make money

1. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the most cost-efficient payment models for brands, making it also one of the most popular. In affiliate marketing, brands give a unique URL (or affiliate link) to a content creator who then showcases the link on their website, blog, newsletter, or social media channel. When a visitor uses that link to make a purchase, the affiliate earns a commission. 

Brands love affiliate marketing because they only have to pay creators who get results. And if your content and messaging are on point, you can make a hefty commission being one of them—regardless of your audience size. 

2. Sponsored posts

This is the classic money maker for creators and involves charging a fee for one or more posts promoting a brand or product on your social media page. Keep in mind that most brands see one-off partnerships as inauthentic since it’s hard to convey a sense of genuine connection to a brand with a single post. For best results, look to promote products you actually use and love with the goal of forming a long-term partnership with the brand. 

3. Public appearances

As you grow your following, people will begin to recognize you like any other celebrity. That means you have the power to make an event “the place to be.” 

Talk to your brand partners about conducting some experiential marketing events online or in person. If they’ll let you help plan and/or host the event, you’ll have an opportunity to negotiate some additional income—especially if you’re able to draw a nice crowd.  

4. Photo and video sales

If you have some photography chops, Instagram can basically serve as your online portfolio. Consider converting some of your best work into prints and selling them on your blog or online store. You can also snap some shots wearing your go-to brands or visiting your favorite local hot spot and pitch the content to their marketing teams for a potential partnership. 

5. Digital courses

If you have active brand partnerships, you have knowledge worth sharing. And offering some digital courses on how to make money as a creator in your niche or on your platform of choice can attract plenty of fans with similar aspirations. 

6. Subscriptions

Many social media platforms now offer creators the option to charge a monthly subscription fee in exchange for premium content. This is a great way to add a bit of “exclusivity” and create FOMO with your audience. But be sure to find ways to add a bit of extra engagement with your most loyal fans to let them know how much you appreciate their support. 

7. Product co-creation

@dunkin TikTok made me buy it. #CharliDunkinRemix #CharliColdFoam @charlidamelio ♬ original sound – Dunkin'

Dunkin’s partnership with Charli D’Amelio is one of the shiniest examples of brands tailoring a product to their favorite creator. But you don’t have to be TikTok royalty to have a successful co-creation campaign. Creators of all sizes have collaborated with their brand partners to give them expert advice on what their audience wants in a product and how they can implement it into their next release. 

8. Becoming a brand ambassador 

Many brands will recruit their highest-performing creators (regardless of audience size) to join their ambassador program. This promotion might come with additional responsibilities, but it adds compensation to match. 

As a general rule, brand ambassadors are more connected with the brands they partner with and act as true customer advocates. That said, you’ll have to put in the effort to really get to know a brand and its products if you want to make the leap.

9. Paid ads

If your partner plans to repurpose your content into paid ads, make sure your contract reflects that. Brands can save a lot of money by turning influencer content into branded content, so consider that when discussing payment terms.

How social media platforms help creators make money

Many of the methods above will translate well to your platform of choice. But there are some platform-specific ways to monetize your content and help diversify your income. Here’s a look into some of the best. 

Instagram

Badges

IG creators with more than 10,000 followers can enable their audience to award them “badges” every time they go live. The badges are a great way for you to earn a little extra cash from your content with an opportunity to show some extra love to your biggest fans. 

Shopping

Instagram Shopping lets your audience buy products while viewing your content. Just post the product you’re promoting, tag it, and start earning.

Bonuses

Instagram offers bonuses based on the quality and engagement of your content. For example, the platform’s Reels Play pays creators based on various milestones for views. 

Subscriptions

IG’s subscription feature allows creators to set a price point on monthly fees for exclusive content. The subscription content shows up with a purple ring, and subscribers get a badge next to their name so they can stand out in your comment section. 

Facebook

Stars

Similar to IG badges, Facebook stars let your fans show you love and give you a chance to return the favor. Stars are now available for multiple content types, including live feeds, Reels, and on-demand video. 

Bonuses

Facebook creators can join a Bonus program and earn money based on performance, earnings or content challenges that reward reaching key milestones and achievements.

Subscriptions

Facebook Subscriptions allow you to receive consistent, predictable earnings while giving your followers the opportunity to support your work.

Ads on Reels

Ads on Facebook Reels integrate seamlessly into your reels, so you’ll get paid from reels while giving your audience the content they know and love.

X

Ads Revenue Sharing

Ads Revenue Sharing is available to eligible creators and enables you to share revenue from verified user’s organic impressions of ads displayed in replies to content you post on X.

Subscriptions

X also has a subscription option that allows creators to earn a monthly income from their content. 

Tips

Your fans can do more than just like, share, and follow you. Now, by linking your profile to a third-party payment platform, your audience can show their appreciation through a virtual “tip.”

Amplify Pre-roll

This feature will automatically pair pre-roll from advertisers with your content based on the tags you’ve chosen for your videos. Pre-roll is only available to members of the Amplify Publisher Program, so you’ll have to check to make sure you qualify. 

TikTok

Tips

Like X, TikTok’s Tip feature lets creators collect donations from their fans for simply doing what they do best. But to take advantage, you’ll have to opt-in to Creator Next

Live Gifts

Your audience can now send you a little present when you go live on the platform. They can also send you TikTok Diamonds, which you can redeem for cash. 

Creator Fund

TikTok’s Creator Fund rewards creators simply for making amazing content on its platform. Check out the eligibility requirements to see if you can get in on it. 

YouTube

Super Chat and Super Stickers

Viewers can purchase Super Chats to make a message stand out in a live chat. They can also buy Super Stickers to produce an animated figure that shows up in the chatbox. 

Shopping

With YouTube Shopping, you can promote products from your own store across the platform. 

Here’s a look at the Shopping features:

  • A store for your channel
  • Products in video end screens
  • Tagged products in your content
  • Pinned products in the live chat

Channel memberships 

Viewers can get members-only content with a monthly subscription. Subscribers also get access to unique badges, emojis, and other cool perks. 

YouTube Shorts Fund

The Shorts Fund is a way to attract more creators to the platform’s short-form video format. The fund has an annual $100 million budget it disperses to creators putting out the best Shorts, but you’ll have to apply to be considered. 

Pinterest

Creator Rewards

Pinterest’s Creator Rewards program helps creators earn money for original Idea Pins. The platform pays selected creators directly for inspiring messaging, quality content, and organic engagement. 

Product tagging

Tag a product on your next Idea Pin to let viewers shop your tagged products. Keep in mind that you can only add up to five product tags per page and up to 20 tags per Idea Pin. 

Snapchat

Gifting

Snapchat is another platform that lets your fans send you a virtual gift or tip. Users can buy Snap Tokens and send them to their favorite creators through Story replies. 

Spotlight rewards

Snapchat rewards creators with cash if they post a top Spotlight Snap. But if you want to be in on it, you’ll have to be eligible to receive Snap Crystals or be one of the platform’s “Snap Stars.”

Twitch

Bits

Bits are virtual tokens your viewers can use to “cheer” you on in a chat. You’ll get $0.01 for every cheer you get. It might not seem like much, but create enough quality content, and your bits will add up quickly. 

Subscriptions

Twitch offers subscription services with various features, including:

  • Subs – For a $4.99 monthly minimum, viewers can support your channel and access unique benefits.
  • Gifted Subscriptions – Viewers can “gift” a subscription to another user. 
  • Prime Gaming – Included with Amazon Prime, members get one free monthly channel subscription.
  • Sub-Only Perks – Decide which exclusive benefits to offer to your Twitch community.

Patreon

Subscriptions

Patreon is almost exclusively dedicated to membership services you can set up to offer to your fans. You can also set up subscription tiers with different offerings depending on the price. 

Merch

You can also add merch to your Patreon page. This feature is for creators with Pro and Premium plans and offers a good way to add a physical element to your revenue stream. 

Key takeaway: Focus on engaging, high-quality content to help diversify your income and maximize brand partnerships.

For creators who don’t have the power of millions of followers to rely on, creating high-quality content and focusing on having meaningful engagement with their fans is the best way to boost the qualities brands look for in well-paid partners. And if you want to diversify your revenue stream, be sure to get familiar with the unique monetization features on your platform of choice to get the most out of your content.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Influencers have multiple ways to make money on social media. Some of the most common include:

  • Sponsored posts
  • Commission from affiliate links
  • Photo and video sales
  • Subscriptions
  • Digital courses

The amount of money influencers make per post depends on various factors, including audience size, engagement rate, social media platform, and more. Basically, it all comes down to how much a brand is willing to pay. Some smaller creators might only make $50 per post, while mega-celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo often make more than $2 million per post. 

You generally need 1,000 or more followers to be considered an influencer. However, creators of any size can make money if their content is good. 

Yes. There are many ways for influencers to make money, but the most common way is by charging brands to promote products in social media posts. They also make money through affiliate links, earning a commission for every sale they’re responsible for. 

According to Vox, a micro influencer with 10,000 to 50,000 followers can earn $40,000 to $100,000 annually. 

Was this article helpful? Give it a share!

Want to be the first to know what’s new in the creator economy?

Our team keeps a finger on the pulse, so you’re always working with the latest information.

Get the GRIN newsletter for all the trends and insights you need to grow your business.

Written by Quinn Schwartz

Quinn studied journalism at the University of Kentucky and now lives in Portland, Oregon. He’s particularly interested in storytelling in digital marketing and cost-effective creator strategies for smaller brands. When he’s not writing, you can find him at a concert, dog park, or debating whether or not to go on a run.

white GRIN logo

All-in-one creator management platform helping ecommerce companies build more valuable brands through the power of creator partnerships.

© Grin Technologies Inc. 2024. All rights reserved.

Introducing
GRIN's Discovery Suite

Discover

Supercharge Your
Influencer Discovery Efforts

GRIN favicon

GRIN's NEW
Discovery Suite

Supercharge Your Influencer Discovery Efforts

GRIN's NEW
Discovery Suite

Introducing

GRIN's

Discovery Suite

Compare the Time of a Manual Process vs. GRIN

Compare the Time of a Manual Process vs. GRIN

GRIN favicon

GRIN + Uber Case Study

How did one person build Uber's robust TikTok community from scratch?

Find out here
GRIN logo

+

Uber logo

Introducing GRIN
Professional Services

Our team of experts is ready to drive the results you need.

Learn more