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Make Money

How to become an influencer

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Wondering how to become an influencer? Discover the best ways to make money from your interests by growing a dedicated following on social media. 

A young man looking excited as he looks at his phone

Credit: Roman Samborskyi - Shutterstock

Who doesn't want to make some cash doing what they love? Luckily, it's easier than ever to pursue your goals using social media. Thousands of influencers in the UK are making a full-time income from their Instagram or TikTok accounts.

With an engaged following, you can turn your favourite pastimes into a career with sponsored posts, partnerships and all-expenses-paid trips. Imagine living your dream life soaking up the sun while getting paid for it. Bliss!

Here's everything you need to know to become a successful influencer.

What is an influencer?

Influencers recommend products or services on social media in exchange for exciting freebies or payment. Brands typically work with influencers to raise brand awareness or boost sales of a particular item.

Influencers can inspire others to make a purchase through their marketing skills, expertise and strong relationships with their followers.

It's common for influencers to make money via Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. However, you could expand beyond these platforms to make money on Facebook and your own website, along with other social media sites.

How to become an influencer

Here's a step-by-step guide to becoming an influencer on social media:

  1. Create a business plan

    A young woman writing in a notebook while sat at her laptop

    Credit: Prostock Studio - Shutterstock

    If you're wondering how to make money as an influencer, you should treat it like a business from the start. Creating a business plan allows you to do just that.

    You can use it to outline your goals for building a profit and any business ideas you might have. That way, you can easily read it again to keep yourself on track.

    Although you don't need to share it with anyone, it's worth noting that you'll typically need to if you want business funding.

    Looking for more tips? Read our guide on how to start a business.
  2. Decide on your niche

    If you want to run successful influencer marketing campaigns, the key is to have a niche. Typically, people will follow you for a specific reason. For example, they'll want to keep up with your in-depth travel tips, home decor inspiration or healthy eating recipes.

    Let's say your account focuses on how to decorate on a budget. If one day you start posting book reviews or beauty tips, your audience will be confused.

    Having a clear focus will make people click the follow button if they enjoy your content. Not only that, but brands love it when your account clearly aligns with what they offer and you'll likely get more work.

    Choosing your niche should be quite easy. Think about your favourite interests and go from there. If you're addicted to travel, post photos from your trips. If you've been hitting the gym, start a fitness account. The possibilities are endless!

  3. Get creative with branding

    It's not a must, but branding your content is a good way to get it recognised. If you use the same fonts, colours or editing style, you'll become known for your work.

    By doing something unique, you'll help yourself stand out in the saturated world of social media.

  4. Decide on your platform(s)

    phone social media

    Although it might be tempting to post on as many platforms as possible, you'll likely spread yourself too thin. At the very most, choose two platforms to focus on (or less if you're short on time).

    It may not seem like it, but growing a successful account as an influencer takes a lot of work. If you're at uni and working part-time, you can quickly get burnt out if you do too much.

    Choose whichever platform(s) you're drawn to and stick to it. Don't get distracted by shiny new apps if you know you won't have much time to work on them.

  5. Build a content schedule and strategy

    When it comes to becoming an influencer, one of the most important things is strategy. As well as choosing a niche and deciding on your platform(s), you need a content schedule. You can't simply post once a month and expect to make a million.

    Most influencers post at least three times a week and consistency is key. By posting at the same time on the same days of the week, your followers will learn when to expect new content.

    The main thing here is to create a schedule you can stick to. It's no use planning to post on Tuesday mornings if you know you'll be taking notes in lectures.

    Get up your monthly calendar and see when you're free. If you've got a jam-packed diary, consider waking up half an hour early on posting days. You may not want to, but you'll thank yourself later when the money starts rolling in.

  6. Grow your skills in photography and videography


    Credit: ImageBySutipond - Shutterstock

    The more you practice taking photographs and videos as an influencer, the better you'll get. As you grow your account and get into a routine, your skills will flourish.

    However, there are many ways to boost your skillset even more. You could maybe watch free videos on YouTube or sign up for some classes on Skillshare to learn new techniques.

    There are also some free online courses with qualifications you can do related to social media, so look into these.

    Check out our guide to profitable hobbies for more fun ways to make money.
  7. Engage with your followers

    When people take the time to support your work, make sure you thank them. This allows you to build strong relationships with your audience. If they know you appreciate their time, they're more likely to support you in the future when you start posting sponsored content.

    Having an engaged audience is essential to secure ongoing brand deals. If your content performs well, companies will want to work with you again.

  8. Create a media kit

    A media kit is essentially a portfolio of reasons why a brand should work with you. Do you have a high engagement rate, strong photography skills or a large following on Instagram? Include examples.

    Typically, brands want to know a bit about you, your account statistics and the gender, age and location of your followers. You should also add a little about the services you offer.

    And while stats are important, so is the design. These days, many brands are sent media kits that are almost identical. To stand out from the crowd, avoid using the same Canva templates as everyone else and do something different.

    Think about your branding. Do you use specific fonts or colours in your work? Then use them in your media kit.

  9. Go to networking events and shows

    People networking at event

    Credit: DGLimages – Shutterstock

    One of the best qualities of a good influencer is strong networking skills. If you're hoping to break into the industry, you need to be comfortable sharing your talents. You may feel weird tooting your own horn, but nobody else will do it for you.

    By regularly attending events and shows, you can gain contacts and speak with marketing teams. These teams receive many collaboration requests via email. By having a friendly conversation in person, they're more likely to remember you and it could lead to a brand deal.

    Plus, attending events is one of the top ways to make friends with fellow influencers and bloggers.

  10. Pitch like a pro

    Some might think that influencers are constantly bombarded with collaboration requests and invites. However, that isn't always the case.

    While it may be true if you've gained a large following, you'll typically have to pitch if you're a smaller account. By getting into the habit of pitching regularly, you can bag a lot more partnerships (and cash).

    Here's how to pitch to brands as a social media influencer:

    • Collect a list of brands  – Start by creating a list of brands that you love and already use on a regular basis. For example, think about the make-up products you wear most often if you're a beauty influencer.
    • Find the correct email address – Once you have the initial list, head over to the contact page of their official websites. More often than not, you can find a PR or marketing email address. This is the best email to send your pitch to.
    • Craft your perfect pitch – Don't copy and paste a generic email to multiple brands. They can see right through it. As you would with a cover letter, write a tailored email that shares why your brands align and what you can offer. The best way to do this is by sharing your favourite things about the brand and any personal experience you have of using their products.
    • Hit send – Once you've perfected your email, press send.
    • Follow up – If you haven't heard anything within a week, send a quick follow-up email. It doesn't have to be long. Just reiterate how much you'd love to work with them and ask if they have any questions. If you still don't hear back, don't give up! Follow up two or three more times before moving on.
  11. Don't be afraid to negotiate

    two people shaking hands

    Bagged a perfect collaboration? Congrats! But the work doesn't stop here...

    Once you've received the contract and deliverables, read them in detail. If there's something you're unhappy with, don't be afraid to mention it. If they're a brand worth working with, they'll listen to your concerns.

    Sometimes, brands add sneaky terms to contracts in the hopes they'll get away with it. But some things are worth looking out for as you should get paid good money as the creator.

    Let's say a five-star hotel invites you for a complimentary two-night stay. In their email, they ask for an Instagram reel and a few stories. However, when you read the contract, they've added full perpetual rights to 10 photos. In this case, you need to get in touch.

    Signing over full rights to your work in perpetuity means that they own your photos forever. This gives them free use of the photos in magazines, social media posts and many more marketing campaigns without owing you extra money.

    Alongside the fact that a free hotel stay doesn't pay the bills, you deserve to be fairly compensated. As a general rule of thumb, you should charge four figures at a minimum to give away full rights (and yes, that's per photo).

    If this happens to you, kindly ask them to remove this from the contract or negotiate a fee. If they won't budge, it's up to you to decide if you still want to work with them.

    If you're unsure about anything in a contract, seek legal advice. Don't sign anything unless you're 100% happy.
  12. Build ongoing relationships with brands

    Once you've secured a collaboration, negotiated the terms and posted the content, you may think you're done. However, you'd be wrong. The key to a stable income as an influencer is long-term partnerships.

    Every time you work with a brand, send them a thank you email. Reiterate your appreciation for working with you and share your thoughts on the collaboration.

    This is also a great time to share a KPI kit (which stands for key performance indicators). Typically, this includes how the content performed, comments from your audience and any DMs you received.

    Afterwards, you can pitch more ideas to work together in the future. Not only will you build a long-lasting working relationship, but it's also a great way to drive more income working online.

  13. Make sure you follow the rules

    No matter which platform(s) you use, follow the ASA guidelines. Simply put, you should be clear when you've benefited from the post. Posts should be declared as an ad when:

    • You've been paid to promote a brand
    • You'll earn a commission from purchases
    • You've received something for free or at a discounted rate
    • You're an ambassador, stakeholder or work for the brand/company
    • You're promoting a brand, product or service owned by you (or your family and friends)

    Make it clear as soon as possible, such as by including "ad" at the start of your caption instead of the end. If it's not obvious, you could get in trouble with the ASA.

How do influencers make money?


Credit: Anastasija Vujic - Shutterstock

One of the main ways to make money as an influencer is through paid brand deals and collaborations. This is when the brand pays the influencer a set fee for posting about their product, service or experience.

However, there are many ways to make money on social media such as affiliate marketing, press trips, event invites, product reviews and interviews. Some influencers even sell their own merch and digital products or run in-person events.

If you have a dedicated audience, you can earn a decent income from social media with multiple income streams. You can turn it into a long-term career instead of just a side hustle.

As a micro-influencer with between 10k and 50k followers, you can expect to earn at least £100 – £250 (or more) per in-feed post. You can charge even more for reels as well as a high-engagement rate, exclusivity or whitelisting (which is when a brand wants to put ad spend behind your post).

With this in mind, you can see why many influencers make good money.

The difference between influencers and content creators

While influencers are paid to post on their channels, content creators make money by producing content for brands.

Surprisingly, you don't need a large following to work with brands. The rise of content creators means many now use their skills and experience to make good money.

Big brands such as tourism boards and hotel chains work with content creators to produce content for social media and marketing efforts. The main difference is that you're not expected to share the work on your channels.

If you have strong skills in photography or videography, but a small following on Instagram, this is a great way to earn some cash. While you may not make as much as an influencer, you could easily make a full-time income, especially if brands want full ownership of the content.

To become a successful content creator, all you need to do is create a portfolio, pitch to brands and produce your best work. That way, you'll always have them coming back for more.

Now you have a step-by-step guide to becoming an influencer, check out this guide to making money on YouTube.

Lauren Allen

WRITTEN BY Lauren Allen

Lauren Allen, content editor at Save the Student, is a freelance writer and editor. Passionate about travel, she’s always searching for budget-friendly getaways. Lauren has been featured as a travel expert by Iamsterdam, Wapp Travel Insurance and many more.
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