In today’s digital era where social media platforms are integral to everyday life, a new breed of celebrities has emerged: Social Media Influencers. We’ve seen their Instagram feed – from globe-trotting travelling vlogs to owning an impressive collection of luxurious goods. The question in all our minds is: How do they earn this money? And how much are they actually making? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about in this article.
The 10 Ways Influencers Make Money
Let’s start with how influencers monetize their Instagram posts, reels and generally, their content.
One of the primary sources of income for influencers is sponsored content. Brands pay influencers to create and share content featuring their products or services.
Typically, you’ll see an influencer holding up whatever new product that’s up for grabs and the caption is raving about it with a call to action to buy the product.
Influencers will usually get paid ranging from a few hundred to several thousand, depending on their reach, engagement rate, and niche, or in other words, the number of followers, likes, comments and shares they get. It’s a very numbers game.
Besides that, influencers can earn a commission for every sale made through a link they share. This is called affiliate marketing.
Usually, you’ll see this as a link on their Instagram story with maybe a promo code for the product or service. So, if you click on that link, use their promo code and actually buy the product, that influencer will earn a percentage of the sales generated through that link.
Some influencers land long-term deals with brands, becoming brand ambassadors. Think of Maggy Wang who’s an ambassador for Adidas. Brands like Samsung also tend to have influencers as their ambassadors.
This partnership involves a commitment to promote the brand regularly over a specified period, and in return, influencers receive a steady income, free products, or other perks.
You know those annoying ads that we always skip on YouTube? That’s ad revenue that platforms like YouTube and Facebook share with their content creators.
So, influencers (like us) who create engaging content can earn a substantial amount from the advertisements displayed on their videos, depending on the number of views and the CPM (Cost Per Mille) rate.
Like in the case of MrBeast, according to analysts, he makes $3 million a month in YouTube ad revenue alone.
Selling Products or Services
Many influencers leverage their online presence to sell their products or services. From merchandise and e-books to online courses and consulting services, influencers are capitalizing on their expertise and personal brand to generate additional income, most of the time, starting their own business.
Just look at Khairul Amin who started selling his sambal and now it has become a whole business of its own! He started by teaching cooking recipes online and garnered a following from that, then he came up with a product and used his online presence to promote and sell it.
Crowdfunding and Donations
Platforms like Patreon allow fans to support their favourite influencers through monthly subscriptions or one-time donations. In return, supporters often receive exclusive content, early access to new material, or personalized interactions with the influencer.
Besides Patreon, a more commonly known (and controversial) platform some influencers get income from is OnlyFans.
Hosting Events and Workshops
Leveraging their authority in a specific niche, influencers often host events, workshops, or webinars. Attendees are usually charged a fee, contributing to the influencer’s earnings.
Influencers can also take up hosting jobs where they become the emcee for a particular event. Usually, an agency will engage in these influencers and these influencers can then charge them based on their set rates.
A plus point to these events is that they also offer networking opportunities and increase the influencer’s visibility and credibility.
Licensing and Syndication
Some influencers license their content for reuse or syndication. Media outlets, other content creators, or brands may pay to use an influencer’s content, whether it be images, videos, or written material.
Generally, the amount charged is minimal, but again it depends on how long the brand wants to use it for.
Recognized influencers are often invited to speak at conferences, workshops, or educational institutions.
For us personally, we get invited to a few events to speak and this usually comes with some Instagram story postings to promote the event.
These speaking engagements not only bolster an influencer’s reputation but also provide additional income.
With their extensive knowledge of social media trends, audience behaviour, and content creation, some influencers offer consulting services to brands and other content creators, helping them optimize their online presence for a fee.
Think of it as a MasterClass on how to become an influencer!
Now, onto the most juiciest part.
How Much Do Malaysian Influencers Earn?
Based on a survey conducted by Malaysian marketing firm Envisage Media Solutions, influencers with up to 50 thousand followers earned an average income of RM10-15 thousand per month. On the other hand, influencers with more than 500 thousand followers could make upwards of RM50-100K a month.
Of course, take this with a grain of salt because the average earnings of Malaysian influencers can vary widely depending on several factors including the influencer's niche, the platform used, the number of followers, engagement rates, and the number of collaborations they secure.
Micro-influencers, with fewer followers, might earn a few hundred to a few thousand per post, while top influencers with larger followings and high engagement can earn significantly more, possibly tens of thousands per post or even more for larger campaigns.
In addition, influencers in specific niches like beauty, fashion, or fitness might have higher earning potential due to greater demand from brands in those industries. It’s also worth noting that earnings can fluctuate, as they are often project-based, and can be influenced by trends, market demand, and changes in the social media landscape.
Should You Be An Influencer?
Social media influencers have turned their online popularity into a lucrative career by diversifying their income streams. Their earnings can also span a broad spectrum, ranging from modest sums to astronomical figures.
The lucrative prospects and glamorous lifestyle depicted by top influencers paint a compelling picture, but it's important to look beyond the surface. The path to becoming an influencer is paved with hard work, consistency, creativity, and a dash of luck.
Given the potential rewards, should everyday people like you and me consider diving into the influencer realm? The answer isn't black and white. Becoming an influencer can be a rewarding journey, offering not just financial gains but also a platform for self-expression, connection, and impact. However, it also entails challenges and uncertainties, requiring dedication, resilience, and adaptability.
If you’re an aspiring influencer, you should weigh your motivations, assess your unique value proposition, and consider whether you are prepared for the highs and lows of the influencer lifestyle.
In a digital age where the influence economy continues to flourish, the prospect of joining its ranks is certainly enticing, but it is also essential to venture forth with a balanced perspective and realistic expectations.
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