Lately, we have been watching social media bloom before our eyes into a world where you can actually make a living by virtually sharing your life to strangers. This phenomenon has baffled Baby Boomers and X-Genners alike, but, for millennials and Generation Z, it has become a serious career to consider. However, how do you get to the point where it can be considered a legitimate career? Most people do not become social media moguls overnight and, on Instagram, one of the largest platforms for so-called “influencers,” it is not an easy process to stack up followers. To build a beautiful and profitable aesthetic, it takes hard work and determination, despite how seemingly effortless it typically appears on your screen.
For beginners with smaller followings, typically up to 5,000 on Instagram, you cannot expect to be making thousands of dollars on your posts quite yet. You have to start small and be willing to put in some work. A major factor in drawing individuals to your page is curating your own aesthetic–a combination of hues and photo styles that work together to radiate out the message and tone that you want your viewers to experience when checking out your feed. A simple way to begin this process is to find one or two photo filters, whether on Instagram or other editing apps such as VSCO, AfterLight, or Lightroom that you will consistently use.
“Create quality content that reflects you and who you are; always stay true to yourself. Find your “niche” and stick to it. Always post daily or twice daily,” Tara Roylance, blogger, content creator, and Instagram influencer with 34.6K followers, said.
Along with a pleasing aesthetic and “theme,” having high quality photos helps to boost your account to the highest standard. If you do not have a fancy camera, newer iPhones take high quality photos so a “real camera” is not totally necessary, just helpful. Many influencers’ pages are mostly photos of themselves featuring fashion, beauty, travel, etc. so it is crucial that you have some way to obtain these photos. It is common for these influencers to have fellow influencer friends, photographers, or significant others to take their photos, but, as Roylance suggests, a tripod with a remote can also do the trick.
When it comes to getting involved with companies/brand promotion, you are going to have to put in the work and the research to start. Without a large following, it is likely that brands will not be reaching out to you, so you should contact them. Companies including BANGS Shoes, Pura Vida Bracelets, Serengetee, and Keep it Wild Co. are consistently looking for unpaid brand ambassadors, who typically receive a discount for themselves and others in exchange for you promoting their brand on social media, also known as trade collaborations. I’ve personally worked as a brand ambassador for these companies, so I can vouch for the fact that they work well to allow you, as an ambassador, to develop your social media skills while compensating you for your effort. All brands do brand ambassador programs differently, so it is important to learn about their program before you join in order to ensure that you are able to commit to their requirements. Some programs, including the BANGS Shoes ambassador program, require you to post on certain days, while others are more lenient, allowing you to post at any time without consequences if you forget. Overall, these trade collaborations and brand ambassador programs are a great way to attract other opportunities and gain helpful experience that will benefit you when eventually receiving paid offers.
“Once I had 3k followers, brands reached out to me for a lot of trade collaborations. But once I hit 15K I started to get more paid opportunities. You have to be patient with the process, it definitely takes hard work and time” Roylance said.
Once your social media has developed and brands begin reaching out to you for paid opportunities, it can be hard to handle individual requests and establish a common price for your promotion. This depends on what the brand is offering you, how much they are asking for, and how important profiting off your posts is to you. One of the easiest ways to facilitate the process is to create a social media pricing kit, which outlines your fees per post or a combination of posts, so that your fees stay constant across the board.
“Every paid opportunity I have had with Instagram, the companies have reached out to me via email or Instagram DMs. I have a media kit I send them and they decide which package(s) they would like” Roylance said.
According to Georgie Cavanagh, creator of TRIBE, a platform to connect brands and influencers, via The Independent, Instagram influencers with 3K to 10K tend to make $75 to $150 per post, 10K to 25K make $150 to $220, 25K to 50K make $220 to $350, 50K to 100K make $350 to $500, and 100K+ make $500+, with YouTube influencers making similar profits.
“Most Youtubers with moderate success, like Vexxed who has 450,000 subscribers and 38,000,000 views, get $1.5 per 1000 views for an average income of $57,000 without taxes” Clara Facchetti, writer for Tech Advisor, reported.
While you may not see yourself making six figures a year from social media without being a top influencer, it does not take millions of followers for it to function as a real source of income or a “side-hustle.” In this day in age, with technology being more accessible than ever, a job working in the massive and still growing industry of social media is a great option to consider for creative and hard-working individuals.
Other than those whose accounts go virtual overnight, most social media mogul wannabees have to work hard and be patient. It takes determination in creating unique and quality content, being a positive influence, and differentiating yourself within your niche. Tips and tricks can give you a head start, but it is only you who can ensure your own success.