If you’ve built up any sort of a social media following, the thought has probably crossed your mind – what would it take to start earning some money from my accounts?
That’s a complicated question to answer. We reached out to some of our favorite content creators for a little perspective. We’ll take a closer look at how much they actually make from Instagram and TikTok, and what it took to get there.
How Much do Content Creators Make?
The amount that social media content creators earn depends on the number of followers, type of post, specific niche and the sponsoring company’s budget. Jen Ruiz, who runs the blog Jen on a Jet Plane, has 185,000 followers on TikTok and 25,000 followers on Instagram. She currently earns $10,000 per month on both platforms.
She charges between $500 and $1,000 per sponsored post, and the exact cost depends on the brand and whether or not she’s receiving anything else in return, like a free press trip.
Catherine Alford, author of “Mom’s Got Money: A Millennial Mom’s Guide to Managing Money Like a Boss,” started using Instagram nine years ago. As a personal finance educator, she focuses on helping working moms manage their money. She has 6,000 followers and her Instagram branded sponsorship packages start at $1,000.
There are multiple ways to earn money through social media:
- Affiliate revenue: When you post a personalized link to a specific product or service, you’ll earn a percentage of each sale. The range depends on the product, but can be as high as 40%.
- Selling your own products: If you have your own physical or digital products, selling them via social media can be an effective strategy. For example, if you create printable wedding invitations, you can share designs on social media and link to your Etsy site.
- Sponsored posts: Brands may pay you to mention their product or service.
- Ads: If you have a YouTube platform, you can make money through ad revenue.
How to Get Started
If you’re interested in building a business on Instagram or TikTok, there are a few key principles you should follow. Here are some tips from the experts:
Reach Out to Companies First
Alford said once you have 1,000 followers on Instagram, you can start reaching out to companies directly. She recommends asking for a free product to promote on your profile.
Once you have a few sponsored posts under your belt, you can use them as your portfolio when pitching companies for paid sponsorships.
“I would not rely on growing Instagram and waiting for companies to come to you,” Alford said.
Personal finance influencer Allison Baggerly of Inspired Budget has 121,000 followers on Instagram and 39,000 followers on TikTok. She grew her Instagram following from 0 to 40,000 followers in just one year. She sells paid memberships to a private Facebook group where users can ask her advice on how to budget, pay off debt and improve their credit. Baggerly uses her social media profiles to promote the group.
She credits her rapid social media growth to consistency. If you want the same growth, aim to post at least five days a week.
“For years I would post inspiring and educational content consistently and then engage with my followers,” she said. “Engagement looked like responding to messages and comments every day.”
She also recommends setting aside time once a week to brainstorm ideas for content. Do a brain dump and write down every idea you have. Don’t erase any ideas, just get them all out. You can use a Google Doc or a physical notebook.
If you’re stumped for ideas, use sites like NationalToday that list national holidays to get post ideas. For example, if you’re a food blogger and see that National Donut Day is coming up in a few weeks, you can schedule a post about your favorite donut recipes.
Treat it Like a Business
Treat your social media work like a real job, even if you’re only making a few hundred bucks a month. Respond to companies in a timely manner, deliver what they ask for and be professional. Read through the contracts carefully so you understand what is expected. Even if you’re conversing via social media, always communicate like you’re writing an email to a supervisor.
“If you want to make money from it, act like it’s your job,” Alford said.
She recommends having a professional media kit that lists packages with different prices for sponsored posts, videos, TikTok videos, Instagram Reels and more. These will vary depending on your social media platform. If you have a blog, you can also include a custom blog post in your package.
Master One Platform at a Time
Alford said it can be tempting to feel like you need to start several social media accounts at once. She recommends building a steady following on one platform before you move to another.
“I think people underestimate how much time it takes to build a quality following on any social media site,” she said.
Once you have a few thousand followers, you can launch a new profile and ask your current followers to join you. Make sure to post consistently on all your accounts and don’t be shy about reusing content.
Know Your Audience
Having your audience’s trust is more important for long-term success than making a quick buck. It may be tempting to reach for any opportunity to make money, but it’s important to be selective about which brands you work with.
Only promote products and services you believe in. Your followers will be more likely to consistently look to you for advice and recommendations.
Talk to Other Creators
Ruiz said it’s hard to know what to charge as an influencer because the rates can vary so much. It’s also easy to underprice yourself.
“You should make friends with other creators and ask what they charge,” she said.
Ruiz also recommends following accounts like @influencerpaygap which post real examples of sponsored posts and how much they pay.