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How do influencers make money? the complete guide

abril 3, 2023

How do influencers make money on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok?

Many of you are familiar with how YouTubers make money from ads running during their videos, but how do influencers make money beyond that?

What about influencers who only stream on Twitch or upload content to Instagram?

In this post, we list the most common (and some less common) monetization strategies that influencers use to fund their empires.

How do influencers make money? 11 Monetization Strategies That Work

1. Subscriptions

Because other monetization strategies on this list are hit or miss, many social media influencers turn to subscriptions.

You may charge subscription fees on YouTube (referred to as «channel subscriptions») and Twitch.

You can also use a third party service like Patreon.

Subscribers receive premium content and additional benefits, regardless of which option you decide to choose.

If you are active on YouTube, use channel subscriptions. If you are active on Twitch, please use Twitch Subscriptions. If you use both, use both!

However, both social media channels have partner programs that you must be a part of to use the subscription feature.

Here are the prerequisites you must meet before applying:

  • YouTube Partner Program
    • 1,000 subscribers
    • 4,000 hours of viewing in the last 12 months
    • You have a linked AdSense account
    • You live in a country where the program is available
    • You have no active Community Rules warnings
  • Twitch Affiliate Program
    • Stream at least 500 minutes in the last 30 days
    • Stream on 7 different days in the last 30 days
    • Average of 3 viewers competing in the last 30 days
  • Twitch Partner Program
    • Complete the path to association as a Twitch Affiliate
      • Stream for at least 25 hours
      • Stream on 12 different days
      • Average of 75 concurrent viewers during live broadcasts
    • Acceptance into the program is on a case-by-case basis, but mainly boils down to:
      • Average concurrent viewers
      • The type of content you broadcast (ad-friendly style, consistent)
      • how often do you stream
      • Your follower is based on other platforms

And yes, Twitch has two types of programs you can join that allow you to earn from the platform.

You will be accepted first in the affiliate program and then in the partner program when your number of followers is big enough.

Partners have more benefits than affiliates, but you can still collect Twitch subscriptions as an affiliate.

You can also collect subscription fees on Facebook, although the platform is still testing this feature.

You must have 10,000 Page followers or 250+ returning viewers, as well as «180,000 watch minutes» which is 3,000 hours.

Subscriber Benefits

YouTube and Twitch subscribers receive special «secondary badges» that appear next to their name when they enter messages in the chat section during live streams.

They also get special «secondary emotes,» which are emoticons they can use in chat.

pokemon low emotes

Each YouTuber or Twitch creator has their own badge and secondary emotes, either designed by themselves or with the help of a graphic designer.

Subscribers also have access to live events and exclusive videos.

While many influencers prefer to use the subscription features on the YouTube and Twitch platform, others use a third-party service like Patreon.

patreon hate 5 six

This is a fantastic alternative if you’re not already eligible to monetize on Twitch or YouTube.

It can also help you keep premium subscriber content separate from regular content.

2. Advertising revenue

Influencers can earn ad revenue from the content they upload to YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook.

This is the easiest and most passive way to earn money as a social media influencer because it requires no extra work behind the scenes. You just need to enable monetization and increase the number of views your videos get.

ads on youtube

However, the path to receiving that ability can be difficult.

All three platforms require you to become a partner (or an affiliate of Twitch).

We’ve already talked about what this requires on YouTube and Twitch, and Facebook is still testing revenue sharing strategies, so their requirements are likely to change.

For now, they mainly consist of adhering to several different policies.

In the meantime, Facebook recommends that you check your eligibility status yourself from the Creator Studio dashboard.

facebook ads

Some Instagram influencers earn ad revenue from Reels, but this program is invite-only and not a very popular way to earn money.

Keep in mind that the best way to earn ad revenue on YouTube is to make longer videos that are at least 10 minutes long each.

3. Affiliate Marketing

Like Patreon subscriptions, affiliate marketing is another monetization strategy suitable for both small and large creators.

This is because it does not depend on any associated programs, so you can start whenever you want.

Rather than views, your success depends on engagement rates.

Here’s a quick explanation of affiliate marketing in case you need it:

Companies create affiliate programs as a way to encourage content creators to promote their products and services in their content.

These creators receive their own affiliate links for the products and services they promote.

When your viewers click on these links and make purchases, the creators are compensated through commissions, which are typically percentages of what your viewers paid.

It’s a simple way to generate income from products and services that you may already be recommending in your content.

sephora affiliate program

You can even create content specifically designed to promote affiliate products, such as product reviews.

Getting started with affiliate marketing is also easy because most affiliate programs do not require a certain number of followers or views.

You only need to fill out a simple form in most cases.

After doing this, you can add affiliate links to your YouTube video descriptions, your Twitch channel page, and a link page in bio for platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

linktree kallmekris

4. Brand sponsorships

Sponsorship offers are a key component to receiving increased sources of income as an influencer.

They’re like affiliate marketing in that you get paid to promote other companies’ products and services, but they’re also quite different in some ways.

The first is what it takes to get sponsored.

While many companies don’t have strict requirements for their affiliate programs, most prefer that the influencers they sponsor have a large following.

youtube sponsored video

This is to ensure that they receive a decent return on their investment in sponsored posts, which brings us to the second way in which sponsorship offers differ from affiliate marketing and that is PATH Influencers are paid.

With affiliate marketing, you don’t earn a commission until one of your viewers clicks on your affiliate link and completes a purchase.

In the case of endorsement deals, sponsors often pay the influencer upfront in the expectation that they will receive an influx of sales by being featured in their content.

5. Become an ambassador Of the brand

Hiring brand ambassadors is another form of influencer marketing that brands use alongside affiliate marketing and sponsorships.

This strategy is more like sponsorships than anything else.

This is because brands pay ambassadors upfront with the expectation that they will appear in their content.

However, while sponsorships are typically one-off deals, meaning creators and brands negotiate an individual social media post or a single set of posts at a time, brands pay ambassadors to appear on their long term content.

This payment could be in the form of free products, a higher affiliate marketing commission, or even a payment agreement, the latter often based on the industry average cost per engagement.

The ambassador application of the pura vida brand

6. Branded products

Merch is one of the most popular ways for influencers to make money online, especially smaller creators who can’t join affiliate programs or sponsorship deals.

This monetization strategy has been used in the entertainment industry for decades, from merchandise booths to concerts to amusement park gift shops.

Now YouTubers, Twitch streamers, TikTok creators and Instagram influencers can use it to define their brand identity and earn income at the same time.

Most sell name-brand t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and tumblers, but some go a little further by offering jackets, bags, phone cases, and more.


Some influencers with large income streams choose to source from manufacturers and then handle inventory and shipping themselves.

Most use print-on-demand dropshipping services. These are services that handle printing, shipping, and returns for you.

All you need to do is create an online store to process orders and market your products.

Sellfy and Printful are great print-on-demand services for influencers.

7. Original products and services

Influencers who want to kick things up a notch can create their own original products or offer their services.

Branding the product is almost always the first step creators take to sell their own products, but they often follow things like books and online courses.

Some even offer one-on-one advice and niche-specific services, like an artist providing custom artwork.

morning coffee

Here are some examples of creators who have launched their own products:

  • mrbeast – Feastables, a snack brand.
  • jacksepticeye – Top of the Morning, a coffee brand.
  • Technical advice Linus – Screwdriver, an optimized tool for PC repair.
  • Simply Nailologic – Holo Taco, a nail polish brand.
  • Addison Rae – ITEM Beauty, a makeup brand.

8. Donations

Some smaller creators, and even some larger ones, finance their operations through donations from their fans.

These are different from subscriptions because subscribers donate without expecting to receive special benefits like premium content or exclusive emotes.

Influencers often receive donations through PayPal, Venmo, and the Cash app. Some even use a tip service like Ko-fi or Buy Me a Coffee.

For example, Adam uses the latter here on Blogging Wizard.

Adam Connell - Buy me a coffee

Check it out Adam’s page Buy me a coffee if you want to see a live example.

To encourage donations, influencers will place their donation links or IDs in their bios, video descriptions, social media posts, and on their website (if they have one).

Creators who go live on YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok are more likely to receive donations.

This is because these platforms allow donation messages to be highlighted in the chat section of the broadcast or displayed on the screen.

They are often read live by influencers themselves, so viewers are incentivized to donate to have their messages displayed during live streams.

9. Crowdfunding

Influencers with big projects in mind can rally their audience and raise the funds needed to make them happen.

Most creators use crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Indiegogo.

launch campaign with critical role

They use limited-time campaigns to make a lot of money in a short time.

Contributors receive hiring perks like free access to the completed project, exclusive content, free products, meetings, and even producer credits.

There are several tiers available for contributions, and the list of benefits differs for each one.

These are some examples of successful crowdfunding campaigns carried out by small and large influencers:

  • critical role
    • Project: Animated special from the group’s first Dungeons & Dragons campaign. He is now an Amazon Prime Original.
    • Port: $750,000
    • Promised amount: $11,385,449
  • History in real time
    • Project: World War II documentary about the Battle of the Rhineland.
    • Port: €25,000
    • Promised amount: €110,136
  • alex blue
    • Project: New album from former YouTuber turned folk singer Alex Blue (formerly Alex G).
    • Port: $40,000
    • Promised amount: $42,159

10. Network of influencers

An influencer network is a hub that connects brands with influencers who can promote their products.

It’s one of the easiest ways brands can use influencer marketing.

Without this type of network, influencers must either target potential sponsors through direct messages, contact forms, and apps, or wait for sponsorship opportunities to appear in their inboxes.

One of the most popular examples of this type of network is Upfluence.

influential people

On the branding side of the network, Upfluence offers several influencer marketing tools, including eCommerce tools, influencer discovery and analytics, campaign management, product seeding, influencer checkout management, affiliate management, and more. .

For creators, all you have to do is connect your Facebook account, install the Chrome extension, add other profiles, and then wait for the platform to analyze your profile and connect you with brands.

It’s very easy and there are many other networks to choose from as well.

11. Create your own product line

Influencers with a significant following can augment their endorsement deals and brand ambassadors with their own product lines.

This is a collaboration between a brand and an influencer where the brand creates a special product line integrated with the influencer’s brand.

Both sides then promote the line.

Influencers often receive much higher commissions on collaborations like these.

Better yet, commissions come from all the sales of the product line, not just those that the influencer refers to.

Here are three examples of brands that have collaborated with influencers.

Ninja x Wicked Cool Toys

collaboration ninja wicket cool toys
Fountain: cnet

Ninja, the prolific Twitch streamer, has teamed up with Wicked Cool Toys to launch a line of collectible figures made in his likeness. ninja

The collaboration included two-inch figures hidden in blind boxes, as well as larger «dancing» vinyl figures.

Additional products included Ninja hairstyle wigs, mini plushies and sticker packs.

Rhett & Link x Beard and Lady

mythical care products

Rhett & Link, hosts of the popular Good Mythical Morning YouTube channel, have teamed up with beauty brand Beard and Lady to create a line of care products with the brand of the channel.

Beard and Lady specializes in creating personal care products for men and women that have «unique scents and flavors that enhance relationship chemistry.»

The collaboration includes hand lotion, beard oil, pomade, beard balm, and lip balm products, as well as a comb and hairbrush.

G FUEL Collaborations

g fuel flavor collaborate

G FUEL, the creators of a popular energy drink formula, rely on influencer marketing for their entire marketing strategy.

They do this by releasing specials. «flavor collaborations» featuring popular creators like Pewdiepie, Roman Atwood, xQc, various members of the FaZe clan, and more.

Flavor collaborations are G FUEL flavors handpicked by the creators themselves, with creator-branded packaging for each flavor.

G FUEL has even become popular enough to partner with video game companies, releasing flavors for Sonic, Crash Bandicoot, Elden Ring, Fallout, and more.

How do influencers make money? Frequent questions

How much money can an influencer earn?

There is no limit to the amount of income an influencer can generate from their content.

Also, there is no set rule that says «X number of likes and views generate Y amount of money».

It all comes down to the type of content you create, the number of views and likes you get per video, how friendly your content is to advertisers, engagement rates, affiliate programs you join, and more.

How much do influencers earn per post?

Again, there is no set rule that states how much influencers earn per post. It is different for each influencer.

Also, some influencers only use ads. Some promote affiliate products in their posts. Some promote sponsored products. Others use all three.

And in some cases, the amount can vary between platforms. For example, for sponsored content, some creators will get different amounts from YouTube and TikTok.

All of this affects how many influencers earn per post.

How many followers do you need to be an influencer?

An influencer is any social media personality who has the ability to get their audience to take action, such as buying a product the influencer recommends.

By this definition, any creator who receives interactions on their posts can be considered an influencer.

Are Instagram influencers paid?

Instagram does not directly pay influencers for likes, video views, and stories.

Some influencers may earn ad revenue from Reels, but this program is still in its infancy and is currently invite-only.

Instead, influencers need to use Instagram to promote their own products, affiliate products, and sponsored products to generate a significant amount of revenue.

final thoughts

As you can see, influencers can earn money through a variety of different channels.

If you found this post helpful, I recommend you check out our other content:

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  • 50+ Best Side Hustle Ideas – Legitimate Ways to Earn Extra Cash