Five ways you can make money as an influencer

with Australia’s first professional Instagrammer.

In the age of Insta’, there is one common question on everyone’s mind (and everyone’s grandmother has asked it out loud at least once): how do social media influencers make their moolah?

 

Their lives seem dreamy on the ‘gram – paid trips to exotic places, unboxing gifts from big brands and sporting the latest Bose headphones on a fully paid for flight to Dubai. 

 

…but it doesn’t start out that way at all. Influencing and content creating is *hard work* (just ask Lauren!). 

 

So, we did ask Lauren and here’s what she had to say on the five ways influencers make bank… and how you can, too!

 

TL;DR

The five ways influencers make money:

 

  1. Not quite influencing 

  2. Getting free product

  3. Approaching small, local brands

  4. Sharing sponsored posts 

  5. Working on travel campaigns

 

1. Not quite influencing

The first way influencers make their money is, unlike most people would assume, not by influencing. Most influencers, at their core, are content creators. They are photographers, writers, videographers, designers and everything in the middle. 

 

So, how most influencers (Lauren included) make their money to start out with is through commercial work. In 2013, when Lauren quit her job as a chef, she worked loads of commercial jobs: wedding photography, family portrait sessions, events and even a baby-shoot or two. 

 

 

This is a rare commercial beauty sourced from Lauren’s Insta archives C.2014.

The difference between working commercially and working as an influencer is pretty distinct. When you work commercially, the client is paying you to create content that will help them market their biz. It’s an exchange of services (and skills) for money. Working as an influencer is entirely different. Businesses pay influencers to create content, and then share it via Instagram posts, stories & IGTV (or their reach on another platform, like Youtube or FB). Essentially, influencers are paid for their online reach. 

 

But, to have this online reach you have to establish yourself, and that’s why most influencers start off with commercial work – it helps hone-in on your skills, and offers great content for your socials.

2. Getting free product

This is a tricky one, but is a great form of payment when you are just starting out as an influencer. Here at The Travel Bootcamp we absolutely preach that creatives should honour their worth, but, the real payment with gifts is exposure – having your work shared on brands pages is great for building your audience. 

 

Lauren has even been on gifted trips, and she maintains that as long as the gift’s worth is equal to the value of your work, it’s a fair deal. 

 

But! Be warned, having too many sponsored posts on your page can dilute your authenticity and your voice, and your audience won’t stick around for it. Also, another tip, only share products you actually believe in or use – this ensures you stay authentically on brand.

3. Approach small, local brands

When influencers are looking to take the leap from gifted sponsored posts, to actually dollar-dollar-bills, the best place to start is small and local. 

 

Lauren wants to preface this section with a really hearty DREAM BIG reminder, but the steps to big dreams are small and consistent ones.  

 

So, pitch your idea to a local cafe, a regional tourism board, a small tour operator or an event in your area instead of shooting your idea straight off to GoPro. These pitches will still allow you to make money but are more realistic for an influencer starting out. 

 

These small and local businesses need marketing too, and if you do a brilliant job you can even feel free to ask for a testimonial for your media kit – small and local jobs are GREAT for building your portfolio as an influencer. 

4. Sponsored posts

The fourth way that you can make money as an influencer is through sponsored posts (ditch the gifts now, you’re making it big time). 

Sponsored posts are simply posts that you are paid for that market another brand. You’re offered money to promote a product/business/place. This is a great way to up revenue, but there are good and bad ways to go about it.

For example, some brands may request that you use a scripted caption and one of their images to promote their product. It sounds like easy money, right? 

This form of sponsored post, which is really controlled by the client, will actually make your own brand suffer. Your followers follow you for your unique voice and perspective, for your own content and images – so, Lauren suggests you avoid this type of sponsored post (she has turned down countless requests for the sake of staying authentic online).

 

Influencers make a huge chunk of their money through this income stream, and when done right it’s epic. Lauren has done sponsored posts for loads of companies (Olympus, Bose, Moët & Chandon) and has had great results…

Lauren Bath // Bose.

Lauren Bath // Moët & Chandon.

Lauren Bath // Bose.

…but she wants to encourage you to be selective with your sponsored posts.

 

There is no magic number, but saturating your grid (or other socials) with sponsored posts can be damaging to your following – so, only work with brands that align with your beliefs, only promote products that you love and make sure the agreement is always that you create the content and the copy for the post.

“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” –Chinua Achebe

5. Travel Campaigns

The holy grail of travel influencer jobs! 

 

Working with travel brands and tourism boards on location is a great way that you can make money as an influencer (and it’s potentially the most fun way, too).

 

Lauren has done loads of work with tourism boards and travel brands, including Tourism Switzerland, Canada and Finland (among many others). 

Lauren on location for Tourism Canada.

Believe it or not, this is not the most lucrative form of an income stream (in terms of dollars) for an influencer – but it’s worth the work for the experiences and the value of the travel. 

 

It is super important to note, however, that the terms of the agreement need to be outlined before you embark on a travel campaign – set clear deliverables, let the brand or tourism board know what moments you like to capture and what your audience responds to and make sure the itinerary is not too jam-packed that you can’t take the time to honour your craft.

There you have it! 

The five ways that influencers, both beginners and experts, make their money… and how you can, too! Whatever stage you’re at in your influencer career we hope this article has shed a little light on how to make your dreams come true. 

Lauren is very clear about overnight success: it doesn’t happen. 

So, put in the hard work and make your way through this income list. You’ve got this x. 

 

All 📷 in this post were captured by Lauren Bath. Wanna learn more of her tips? Check out the articles below 👇.

The five secrets to improve your photography

The five steps to increasing your Instagram engagement 

Tips to amp up your social media presence