How to make real money as a social media influencer
Whether you're starting out in business, building a side hustle or expanding an already successful business, you can leverage the power of social media.
Becoming an influencer in your own right isn't difficult.
You can build a strong presence, and use "influencer marketing" strategies to cash in on the ever-growing number of people spending more and more time (and money) on social media.
You just need to follow these three steps.
You've got to decide what it is that you want to sell online - be it a physical product or even yourself as an influencer.
There are two main things to be aware of in the decision-making phase.
The first is to find something that you want to sell and that you know is needed. If it's something you're also passionate about, that is even better! And if it's "Brand You" you want to sell (in other words, you become an influencer), then social media is the way to go.
Once you have made that decision, it's important to then choose the specific audience you want to sell this to.
If, for example, you have seen the rise in the popularity of soy candles and you know there is a market for them, you would then double down on the next steps, making soy candles the hero of all of your social media efforts.
You could share the life of a soy candle from concept to production to retail to the home. You may have decided that the people who buy these candles are women who love to decorate their home and have it well scented at all times. They love the fact that the candles are made of soy wax and don't contain even a hint of petroleum.
Alternatively, you might have seen the rise in the power of influencers online and you want to become an influencer in a specific industry. In this case, you need to become the face of your entire digital presence. Choose the industry that you want to represent and get ready to move to step two.
The payoff for making the decision to be specific about what you're going to focus on, and the audience that you're going to speak to, is that it helps you to build your brand presence faster and with consistency.
In the world of social media everyone is fighting to be seen and heard, to cut through the noise and stand out.
The answer to this is positioning, which is all about cultivating and enhancing the point of difference in you (or your company), not just your product.
People tend to skip the positioning step and go straight into advertising and marketing, which is not the best way to do things if you want to create a fast and lasting impact.
Advertising guru David Ogilvy famously said "positioning should be decided before the advertising is created", which is exactly why step two comes before deciding what platforms to use or creating any type of advertising material (which we'll discuss in step three).
You can become known as an influencer with a relatively small audience- it's what you do with that audience and how you communicate with it that counts.
If you want to be known as an influencer in the travel industry, for example, what makes you different from the other influencers in that area? Are you funny? Well travelled? Down to earth or the opposite of that? Perhaps you are completely new to travel and this can be an excellent point of difference.
Alternately, if you want to promote a product in the travel industry, what makes that product unique? You need to inspire, motivate and educate your audience in a range of different ways online, and there are a couple of steps to that.
The first thing to do while you're building your positioning is to own your space in the niche. This means embracing your inner confidence and being ready to share your knowledge freely and creatively with your audience.
Take on the stance that you are the expert and that what you have to say matters. This is about developing inner confidence and certainty before you start growing your positioning.
The second thing to do to use positioning as a tool to create influence and impact quickly is to start sharing these opinions and thoughts in your area of expertise online - this is commonly known as thought leadership.
Developing yourself as a thought leader helps you to create influence quickly and bolsters your positioning because it's based on a solid foundation - you.
Positioning is crucial to speedy influence building as it creates a point of difference and the space for you to cut through the noise online. Once you have this in place, it's time to start sharing it online.
You don't need to be on every social media platform to make money and build influence, particularly if you're time poor.
Best practice is to use your website as the first digital platform that you populate with content. You'll use Facebook because it has the largest, most targetable audience of all the social media platforms and then choose either Instagram or LinkedIn as the next platform to utilise depending on where your audience spends the most time.
If you decided to go down the product route, once you have the product sourced or in production you can then start promoting it by putting up posts, photos and videos.
This is particularly effective on Facebook and Instagram, given the high proportion of visual media that is posted every day. This works on everything from swimsuits to candles to pottery. Make sure you have a mix of stylised photos featuring your product as well as some images that show it in situ with people.
Hint: Be on both of these platforms and always add pictures. Customers are six times more likely to purchase a product if the page includes pictures from social media.
If this is about you becoming an influencer in your industry of choice (also known as micro-influencers), then it's critical to have photos of you living and breathing your philosophy in that area, and articles or text posts where you share your opinions and experiences.
When you have step three implemented, you'll find that with steady consistency your audience will build. More people will notice you and you will start being seen and heard, which leads to success.
While your audience and profile are growing, you can start to make money for what you're doing, and that can be as little as $50 to post and talk about someone else's product, or a 20% commission for recommending someone else's product, or even earning thousands of dollars if you're promoting your own product or service for sale.
Be sure to make it clear in your posts where and how your audience can purchase from you (this is known as your call to action) and you're on your way to making money using social media.