Can You Make A Living on Social Media?
It’s easy to look at most influencers’ profiles and think they’ve got it made. All they do is post pictures! It may seem like they never actually work, or, perhaps more specifically, they get to make a living off posting photos and videos of themselves doing what they enjoy.
While there might be some truth to the latter concept of influencer life, the former idea—that influencers never have to really work—is fundamentally false for most people who make a living off having a following. Unless an influencer comes from a wealthy background, they must do the work required to build a following, seek out the right paid partnerships, work, or sponsorships, and maintain a captive audience if they want to make money to earn a living on social media. Not having a full-time job can be a full-time job.
The freelance influencer lifestyle seems to be an increasingly popular ideal, but it might not be for everyone. In general, the popularity of the traditional 9-to-5 job seems to be trending downward. A survey conducted by Upwork and the Freelancer’s Union estimates that the population of freelance workers in the US totals at around 57 million. But many people who work in media have voiced concerns about spinning this turn to freelancing as a win for individual professional freedom, noting that a lack of full-time creative jobs and industry support may force many into potentially precarious freelance lifestyles.
So, when considering how to make money on social media, it can be immensely helpful to think of every angle as a side hustle first. Indeed, it can be difficult to make a living as a freelancer, no matter what your line of work—as a full-time freelancer, you become responsible for being your own boss, from time management, to invoicing, to health insurance. If you’re interested in learning how to make money on social media, read on to get an idea of the different options for doing so—this way, you can assess what might work for you on a small scale before you start trying things out.
Sponsored posts, brand ambassadorship, and affiliate marketing
Sponsored posts are a classic way of using a social media following to earn money. If you have a big or engaged enough audience, you can pitch yourself directly to brands and marketing agencies as a possible partner. Since influencer marketing is such a large part of modern business, especially for direct-to-consumer companies, it’s relatively easy to find information on just how much accounts can earn on sponsored posts if they have followings over the 50k mark.
But it’s entirely possible to earn money from sponsored posts even if you have a smaller audience. If you have a decent engagement rate, you can pitch yourself to brands, big and small, that could benefit from the awareness of your audience. You might find it helpful to create a media kit that details your audience’s demographics, which Instagram’s ‘insights’ tool can show you, but there are other ways and services you can use to find the same information for other platforms—it just takes a little research. The same goes for knowing who to reach out to at a brand or marketing agency—you might find it helpful to do a little digging on their ‘contact’ page to find the right email or submission form.
If you don’t want to go the route of doing all that yourself, no worries. Influencer agencies, affiliate programs, and sponsored post platforms all exist with the express purpose of connecting individuals with brands—so you can earn money and brands can gain traction.
Influencer agencies function like talent agencies. They rep influencers directly and do the aforementioned pitching to brands in order to get them sponsorship gigs. Affiliate programs and sponsored post platforms, on the other hand, are a way to work directly with brands without having to pitch yourself. Affiliate programs give you a percentage of each sale, while sponsored post platforms each have their own rules on how you earn and connect you with a bunch of different brands. There’s a lot of overlap between those two categories, and you’ll have to research each type of program in your specific field to discover what’s right for you.
Many people use social media to sell products directly to their audience, whether those products are physical (like something you could receive in the mail) or digital (like something that’s delivered over email). The latter is less costly and potentially less time-consuming, but the former is good for people who want to create and sell products.
If you’re an aspiring fashion designer, for example, you could consider directly selling clothing via social media.
You might find it helpful to explore the idea of using your social media to sell zines, instructional PDFs, or digital webinars—if you feel you have a skill or product that could be delivered to your audience digitally, it’s certainly a valuable path to consider. In the end, a payment collection service like Stripe could be all you need to get started in selling directly to your audience while using social media.
Direct support via subscriptions
It’s entirely possible to make money on social media without ever being an “influencer,” in the colloquial sense of the word. You can work for your audience directly as a podcaster, writer, artist, or any number of other roles. There are crowdfunding platforms that sustain many successful creators of all kinds, from successful podcasters to well-known creatives.
Photographers, writers, community organizers, artists, and many other professionals use crowdfunding platforms to charge a customizable subscription fee for members in order to support their work.
You might also use an email newsletter service that operates in a similar way. You can set up a newsletter your audience can subscribe to, with the option of charging a fee via a payment platform. These platforms can be especially useful for writers, but this technology can have lots of different uses. Some services also allow you to distribute audio, making it possible to operate a podcast with a direct-to-inbox distribution approach.
Always keep your present and future financial health in mind
No matter what you choose to do in the way of earning money on social media—or with your professional life in general—it’s critical that you’re always thinking about your financial future. You don’t need a 9-to-5 in order to save or plan for the future—SoFi Invest® lets you take investing for your retirement into your own hands. SoFi offers individual retirement accounts (IRAs) with automatic rebalancing and complimentary access to our financial planners.
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