How Do Influencers Make Money?

Let’s start unraveling the secret world of influencers. And what’s more interesting than talking about money? I’m going to dive into all of the different ways that an influencer could potentially generate revenue:

#Ad: Sponsored Instagram Posts

This is generally the most common as I’m sure you’ve seen #Ad several times as you scroll through your Instagram feed. Sometimes I’ve seen some brand partnerships say #[insert brand name]Partner or some variation of that in the caption – but it all generally means the same thing. There was an exchange of monetary compensation between an influencer and the brand.

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Instagram Stories and IGTV can also be sponsored as well!

As a side note, and for additional context on the importance of sponsored posts from a brand perspective, the sponsored Instagram content is great for big product or campaign launches, especially since there are usually more than one influencer involved in the campaign. The group of selected influencers will generally post their approved content either on the same day or within the same time frame for the big initial push. This generates buzz and excitement for a brand’s campaign!

Another way to generate brand and product awareness is through forming a long-term partnership with a set group of influencers. This way the influencers can build trust with their community by being a spokesperson for the brand for a longer period of time. This is where brands are moving toward, as audiences are feeling weary and fatigued by seeing so many ads, so trust is of utmost importance for an effective campaign!

I know that was a bit more detail on that part of sponsored Instagram posts but it’s an important point to mention for context on why you may see ads to begin with!

Sponsored Content On Other Channels

While I feel the hype is around Instagram ads, there can be ads run on any other digital channel, where ever the influencer has an audience. For example, I’ve had blog content sponsored before on a few occasions. Here is an example of a Daiya campaign I did earlier this year. There are YouTube influencers, even TikTok influencers at this point. And of course there is sponsored content on podcasts as well. Basically if you build a community somewhere, and have enough eyeballs/ears in a concentrated channel, advertisers will come.

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Affiliate Sales

Have you seen liketoknowit links in your feed or on blog posts? I don’t use it too much but there are many bloggers and influencers out there who make their whole living off of these and other affiliate network links.

Affiliate links are essentially when an influencer receives a percentage of an online sale that was referred from that link. There are different attribution days associated with each advertiser but the general principle is the same: Click on the influencer’s affiliate link, make a purchase within a certain time frame, and the influencer will then get paid a % of that sale. Depending on the purchase amount, that “cut” for the influencer could be as little as $.10 or it could be $10 or even more.

If you have large enough traffic driving to your affiliate links, this can be a nice way to pay some of your bills. 🙂

It’s also important to note that there is no additional cost to the purchaser. If you buy a $20 top from an influencer, you will only be charged $20. The influencer will receive $1 or so of that (again, all dependent on the specific advertiser).

Digital Products

I’m sure you’ve seen courses you can buy from experts in any kind of field or you’ve seen e-books or paid webinars. These are all digital products that the influencer has created for you.

It is also generally a way for the influencer (who is essentially a marketer at this point) to also collect e-mail addresses to be able to stay in touch with you.

Banner Ads

Many bloggers use banner ads and generate a lot of money this way. Some generate money through the number of impressions the ad runs on the site or money is generated through the number of clicks on the ad. It’s not just bloggers. Large sites like Facebook, CNN, or the like, all generate revenue from the clicks and impressions for the ads that are run on their sites.


Once you get to a certain level of expertise or have a following, you can get paid to attend or speak at events. Often times appearances can be in-kind as they are generally great exposure for the influencer as well but if there is a branded experience that is specific to a certain company, that’s when an influencer can generally charge an appearance fee.

Event organizer

This is where an influencer can host or produce events at a local scale and connect brands with the direct consumer. Brands need feedback. They want to know who their customer is and what their needs are. Events are a great way for brands to have real conversations directly with their target audience.


As brand’s look to influencers to help create social content and media awareness for their products, sometimes the influencer can become a consultant for the brand and help them with the brand’s social and digital strategies. After all there is no one better who understands social than someone who lives it and makes an income off of it!

Photography or Copy Assets

This is similar to being a consultant for a brand. Being a photographer or a copywriter for a brand as an influencer costs the company much less than if they were to hire a creative director, studio, staff writer, etc.

The brand gets to also work with someone who directly understands their brand’s mission, aesthetic, and so on, at a fraction of the cost.

Ok! I believe I covered a good majority of revenue streams that are available to influencers. I hope this helps shed light on how influencers are making money. As I was writing this I was thinking of what my next post will be on this influencer world and I think there’s a lot more to uncover on sponsored Instagram posts – so stay tuned! Let me know if there’s any other questions I can answer!

Leave a Comment


  1. Jessica wrote:

    I never knew there were so many different streams! Now I can definitely see the importance on why we should interact with our favorite people on social media. It helps support their business on so many different levels.

    Posted 10.12.19 Reply
    • Rachel wrote:

      Thank you Jessica! Yes there’s definitely so many different ways people can make money as an influencer. And the interaction and engagement from the community means so much! That’s actually going to be the next blog post this week – talking about the importance of engagement and the ins and outs of what goes into a sponsored Instagram post!

      Posted 10.13.19 Reply