social media influencer

Digital Marketing

Who Are Social Media Influencers and How Can You Make Money With Influencer Marketing?

Remember Jenna Marbles? How about Pewdiepie? What can these social media legends teach us about influencer marketing today?


07/12/2022 | By Hotmart

Back in the day, artists, actors, and athletes who were lucky enough to become celebrities depended on leading studios and agencies to get paid and reach their followers. 

Only the top earned enough to make a living out of it, and if those select few made an ad or endorsed a product, it influenced the purchasing habits of millions.

Now, social media influencer is the name of the game. Sure, folks like Christiano Ronaldo and Justin Beber are still at the helm, but the cast of figures that follow them is vast. 

Many of the most famous faces on Instagram and YouTube in 2022 have never been seen on the big screen or won a major sporting championship. They’ve found their way by creating engaging content to post on social media and won over a specific niche. 

No matter how they got there, these are the people who now carry sway in politics, opinions, and purchases, and modern-day marketing is paying attention. 

Let’s take a look back at how we got here and see if being a social media influencer is in your future. 



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Social media influencer: the early days

Digital influencers have always existed. Pages like Friendster, MySpace, and Second Life had their stars, but it wasn’t until the mid-2000s and the advent of YouTube that brands began to use social media as strategic advertising channels for their products and services. 

In 2005, Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla – or “Smosh,” two pioneering influencers, uploaded their first video online. Their channel currently has approximately 25.1 million subscribers. 


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But despite these impressive numbers, they’re not even close to being the biggest YouTubers in the world.

This honor belongs to PewDiePie, who has over 111 million subscribers on his channel and is widely recognized as the most famous YouTuber in the world. 

But after a decade of YouTube leading the way, platforms like Snapchat and Instagram started seeing major influencers step up in the sports, fashion, and beauty niches.

Future stars like Jen Selter, who started sharing her daily diet and fitness routine at a young age, now has more than 13.5 million Instagram followers. 

Another example of an influencer who emerged outside YouTube is DJ Khaled. In 2015, he became a hit because of his short videos on Snapchat and was able to catapult his career.

Image of Dj Khaled's Snapchat - social media influencer

The examples above drew the attention of major brands not only because of the number of followers they had but also because they target very specific niches

An ad with these influencers meant reaching the exact profile that would buy their products, something that billboards and TV commercials can’t always promise.

 To top it off, a social media influencer tends to have highly engaged audiences.  

A Nielsen survey showed that 71% of consumers trust the recommendation of influencers, while only 36% said they trust regular social media ads. 

Because of this potential to generate business, social media influencers have gained independence to negotiate their price and make money from the content they were already producing.

Not bad, considering that they used to do it as a hobby. 

The Pros and Cons of being a social media influencer

As with any other profession, being a social media influencer also has its pros and cons. Let’s take a look.  



One of the greatest advantages for those who work online is the possibility of working remotely, whether at home, in traffic or anywhere in the world. All you need is an internet connection, a smartphone, and maybe a camera or laptop to be connected to all of your followers.  

Editorial freedom 

Another positive factor of being a social media influencer is that they can produce the content they want to about subjects in which they are most interested, except in cases where this editorial freedom is negotiated with the company that hired the service.  

Access to experiences 

Nowadays, influencers are one of the most sought-after professionals to endorse products and services. Because of this, they obtain certain contractual advantages that go beyond their fees, such as trips, access to events, and even products.

This type of payment is common, especially at the beginning when the influencer still hasn’t built up their audience within their niche. In these cases, they tend to trade their influence for the advertiser’s products or services.   

Flexible schedule 

Since most of the influencer’s work can be done at home, they have more freedom to organize their schedule and divide their day between personal and professional appointments. 

But it is important to pay attention to this point and not be too flexible with your hours, because you will need to constantly produce content for your channels if you wish to keep your audience engaged.


Spending less time with your family 

As demand for your work increases, you might have to take a few trips and attend events to promote products and services, which means spending more time away from home. This can be a major setback for those who are very attached to their family, especially for influencers who have children. 

But don’t get discouraged! Think of it this way: the more value you generate for the companies who hire your services, the easier it will be to negotiate conditions, such as requesting that your family travel with you, as is the case of Chloe and Lily, from the famous internet meme

Picture of Chloe and Lily with their dad on Instagram

Lack of Privacy 

Because of overexposure many followers feel as if they knew you and might become invasive during your moments of leisure. It is common for these people to want to take a selfie with those they follow on social networks, but it is important to establish limits to preserve your privacy and those who are with you.  


Haters are users whose greatest hobby is visiting profiles of well-known people to make mean comments. According to the number of comments this person makes, and the level of the offense, the best thing to do is to ignore them. 

In cases of bigoted comments or threats to your safety, print the posts and call the police department specialized in virtual crimes. 

Companies not paying 

The popularity of influencers does not make them immune to people and companies going back on what was agreed. Before entering a partnership, search for information on the advertiser, check customer comments and whenever possible, formalize your agreement in a service contract. 

If you don’t have a contract, make sure you document the emails and messages you exchange with the company.

How much does a social media influencer make?

So, how much does a social media influencer make? 

There isn’t a precise number; it all depends on the number of followers you have on your social networks. 

However, there are a few studies that show the average amount these professionals are paid per partnership.

With this information in hand, you can decide if leaving your conventional job to dedicate more time to the internet and your followers is worthwhile. 


YouTube is the influencer champion.

An influencer with over 7 million followers on the video platform can earn up to US$ 300k per campaign, far higher than the amounts generated in other channels, such as Facebook or Instagram. The information is from the Captiv8 platform and takes influencers from around the world into consideration.  

A recent news story on Business Insider showed that a major digital influencer in the world makes between US$ 2M to US$ 78M a year.

Where does this amount come from?
When you opt for monetizing your videos on YouTube, the platforms transfers between U$ 0.04 to U$ 0.15 per viewing, and may vary up to U$ 0.25 depending on your niche.


On Instagram, fees are negotiated based on the CPM (cost per thousand impressions). A user with over 100k followers can receive between 5k and 10k per sponsored ad. 

This amount can be incremented if the influencer posts more than once, use hashtags, record videos in the stories feature, etc.  

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Twitter and Facebook 

Bloglovin, an advertising agency in New York, conducted a survey with 2,500 North-American influencers and found that:

– 90% of the respondents charged less than US$ 250 per Facebook post.

– On Twitter, 96% of the influencers charge less than US$ 100 per post. 

Consider your number of followers and the engagement of your audience on your page (likes, shares, etc.) to find an amount that is attractive to you as well as to the advertiser. 


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According to the website Dummies, digital influencers can make between U$175 and U$ 5,000 + per sponsored post.

As in social networks, the amount varies according to the volume of visits to the blog.

Value of sponsored post by volume of monthly visitors

How to make money as a social media influencer

There are several forms of generating income with your online influence, either directly or indirectly.
Learn about the most common:  

Sponsored Posts 

Sponsored posts work in the following manner: a company pays an amount and in exchange, you recommend its product or service.

The text of the post or the script of the video can be written by the advertiser, but we recommend that you actively participate in the process so that it will sound more personal and genuine as possible. 

Sponsored post values must be defined by the social media influencer according to their audience, i.e., the more followers you have, the more you can charge. 

Despite sponsored posts being a common practice, it is necessary to be careful when recommending products and choose only those that you know and trust. It is also good to include hashtags to identify this type of content such as #sponsoredpost, #paidad, etc. 

Attending events

Attending events is another form of making money with your social networks, although it is less common. 

At first, most events that you attend will be in the form of swaps, but when you become known, your presence will become an asset for companies and brands, which means that you can charge for it. 


If you are already an expert in your niche, you can also offer consultations and talks on the subject you master.

These are also good opportunities to connect with other people in your market and establish business partnerships with brands. 

Affiliate Marketing 

Another business model that can yield good results for digital influencers is Affiliate Marketing, which consists of advertising third-party products on your blog, channel, or social networks in exchange for commissions. 

The difference between Affiliate Marketing and sponsored posts is that with the former, the revenue is recurring; each new sale made through one of your ads generates a commission while with sponsored posts, you receive a one-time payment.


Many influencers are registered on Google AdSense to post ads on your pages.

Each time someone visits your YouTube channel or blog and clicks on the Google ads, you will receive a small amount.

This is one of the simplest ways to monetize your website or blog, but in order to make it worthwhile, you will need a lot of traffic. 

Important tip: excessive ads might compromise user experience so be careful not to place too many banners on your blog and scare off your followers. 

Online courses 

In the digital market, it is common to hear that influencers who don’t create their own products are “leaving money at the table.” 

Think about it, you already have in-depth knowledge about the subject, an interested audience, and experience in talking to people.

Why not use these features to create your own online course

Another important question: will you still be working as a social media influencer in a few years? After all, we are talking about the internet, a “place” where everything changes constantly. 

An online course isn’t only an alternative to stay relevant in the market as a scalable business model, but it means you can sell the same product forever without spending more money on production. 

Here are some advantages of selling online courses:

Variety of formats 

When you create your online course, you choose how you want to transmit knowledge to your audience. Your knowledge can be sold in videos, ebooks, audio, or even a subscription service. 

The choice of format may or may not be aligned with the work you already do as a social media influencer, but ideally, it shouldn’t be too different from your current content so you don’t surprise your audience.  


Unlike physical products, delivery of online courses is much simpler and, best of all, immediate! At the same time that payment is approved, the buyer has access to the course that was purchased, which means fewer expenses and especially, less bureaucracy in the process.  

This is possible thanks to the platforms that offer the tools needed to make your online course available. This technical support frees you up to focus on your efforts to create and advertise your product.  

Low Investment 

Producing an online course is much cheaper than most physical products. It’s also easier to distribute since digital products only need to be produced once and then can be accessed by thousands of people around the world. 

Here’s a list of tools to help you create your online course.

How to become a social media influencer

If you’ve read this far, you are certainly considering the possibility of working as a social media influencer.

As you’ve observed, this career isn’t as easy as some make it sound. You’ll need to create relevant content and win over an audience before brands start noticing you.

Unlike what many people imagine, being a social media influencer does not depend on luck, but on the dedication and the ability to take advantage of good opportunities.

To do this, here are some tips:  

Be yourself 

It might sound like a cliché, but this is the first step toward becoming a social media influencer.

In the end, you’re transforming your personality into a brand. This brand needs to be different from all others out there. 

Even in niches such as beauty and makeup, it’s possible to innovate and make unique tutorials for your audience.

And believe me, people engage more with content that they find genuine. 

Choose a niche that is aligned with your skills 

With increasing numbers of influencers, choosing your niche is the best way to be successful in this market.

It may seem counterintuitive; after all, you are limiting your audience. But choosing a subject to specialize in helps create more assertive and personalized content.  

Your choice of niche also allows for you to be approached by brands who are interested in your work. 

The ItsMommysLife channel is an example of a channel created for a specific audience: people who wish to learn more about the challenges of motherhood.  

Homme page of ItsMommysLife channel - social media influencer

ItsMommysLife channel

Create quality content 

Taking pretty photos isn’t enough to become a social media influencer.

Of course, well-produced images and videos get the audience’s attention, but if you don’t deliver any value in your posts, over time people will stop following you. 

Be consistent in your posts 

Just like in the real world, the internet is in a state of constant change.

You can’t count on the content you post today to be relevant for a long.

You need to create something new constantly so that people don’t forget about you. 

Consistency in your posts is also essential to meet the demands of your audience when it manifests problems, and with this, build a relationship of trust.

This trust will be useful later when you advertise a product or service. 

Contact local brands 

Large companies won’t always find your profile. You need to create a business relationship with local brands to strengthen your service portfolio.

Take at least thirty minutes of your day to contact these advertisers and propose partnerships. 

These companies will often like to learn more about you.

Always have an updated media kit to send, including the partnership formats and the amounts you charge per post. This will give you a more professional image.  

And speaking of professionalism, it’s important that your contact with these brands also be appropriate.

Remember: show them that you take your job seriously.


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Be patient 

Although everything happens faster online, you need patience to build a solid foundation. 

Media professionals aren’t stupid. They know when an influencer can bring financial returns to the brands they represent.

Don’t use gimmicks like buying followers and likes. This type of practice is frowned upon in the market and can make you lose contracts. 

Don’t overfocus on increasing your number of followers, but concentrate on building connections with the followers you have. If you regularly post solid content that serves your audience, your audience will grow.   

How to speed up your growth as a social media influencer

Becoming an expert doesn’t happen overnight, but there are certain actions you can take to speed up the process. 

Collaborate with influencers 

Collabs are an excellent option to attract visibility to your channel and find followers that are interested in the subject you address and vice versa. 

A collab is when two or more social media influencers join forces to carry out a collaboration action together, through a video, photos, or a post in order to generate more exposure for each of them.

Find YouTubers, Instagrammers, or bloggers who talk to the same niche as yours and propose to create content together.  

You can record videos for both channels, create photo editorials, exploit new formats and test the reception of each one’s audience. 

Magician Pyong Lee, who was one of 2017 FIRE Festival speakers, said that he had a growth of over 100% in his channel’s audience in one month by using this strategy. 

When you create collaborative content, make an agreement with the other influencer that they will recommend each other’s channel or will insert cards into the videos so that your joint efforts can generate results in numbers.

We’d like to emphasize that you can join other influencers that are also starting out. Creating this type of partnership doesn’t require millions of followers.

Remember, when you are starting out in this business, even the smallest additional exposure is great.

Collaboration of Yellowpaco with Nigahiga - social media influencer

Participate in Tags and Challenges 

Tags generally work as a type of virtual game of questions and answers. Things like “50 facts about me,” or, “Confessions of a girl who loves shoes,” among others. They are created by a specific user but can be answered by anyone. 

Video with the tag mom - social media influencer

Why is participating in tags a good thing? 

This way your video may appear on the search box related to a major influencer. The tagged video is also easier to be located by users who have searched about the subject on the YouTube search box. 

Make your call-to-action clear

All content is created with a purpose: attract visibility, strengthen expertise, attract more followers, sell a product, and so forth. But in order to do so, your followers need to know what your call to action is. 

Are you familiar with this concept?

A call to action is the text that summarizes what you expect from your audience after they watch your video or read your post. 

If you want to increase the visibility of your YouTube channel, you should ask people to subscribe, like, or activate the notifications on the right corner of the screen. 

Although it seems annoying, this type of engagement that will generate income for you and help your channel grow. 

But remember to deliver at least some interesting content before making this request and be careful not to annoy your audience.  

Become solely dedicated to this activity 

At first, social media might be a hobby, but as they begin to generate income, you will need to be fully dedicated to this activity. 

Producing content and posting it isn’t enough. You’ll have all kinds of things to do, like answer comments, conduct surveys, analyze the market, and record videos. If you don’t take these activities seriously, your end results will be compromised. 

Start paying attention to major influencers’ older posts.

Do you notice how they improved a lot over time? It’s because they started honing their focus.

This type of continuous work is what will ensure your longevity as a digital influencer.

Social media influencer agencies

Depending on the size of your base, you’ll need help with all this work. 

Nowadays, there are companies dedicated solely to promoting and representing social media influencers.

The work of these agencies consists of mediating the relationship between brands and influencers, taking care of the bureaucratic aspects involved in the business partnerships, and providing media relations. 

They can be hired for a specific demand or to handle all of the digital influencer’s professional appointments.

Regardless of the contract’s terms, these professionals ensure that the commercial relationships established between the brand and the influencer are beneficial for both parties and will provide a financial return and visibility. 

Hiring an agency can be a good thing for influencers with over 100k followers and recurring demands for partnerships and event participation.

Before you get to this moment, following our tips carefully will help you a lot! 

Conclusion about being a social media influencer

The evolution of the smartphone radically changed the way we communicate and consume information.

Nowadays, people are more impacted by social media than by traditional marketing, and brands are increasingly looking for social media influencers to become ambassadors for their products or services. 

While this growth is good, it also means increased competition.

That’s why it is essential to think of new ways of attracting a qualified audience on your social media. This will allow you to generate income from your work.   

The challenge here is to find a balance between a subject that you enjoy and one that is interesting for your audience.  

There is no readymade answer, but investing in content quality and maintaining daily contact with your followers is essential for those who wish to become a social media influencer

We hope that this content has helped clear up your questions on the matter! 

Are you thinking about starting a career as a social media influencer right now? Learn how to grow on Instagram