Let’s start with a few truths about social media influencing. Firstly, no matter what your dad or your smug ex-colleagues might think, being a full-time social media influencer is very much a real job.
In fact, it’s a real job at the heart of one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, with some estimates suggesting influencer marketing could be a $5-10 billion industry within the next five years. It’s now so established that even Forbes have recently released their first ever earning list exclusively for influencers. (Take that dad.)
Also, addressing the second biggest myth in social media influencing, the job itself is demanding, both in terms of your creative energy and your time. In other words, the idea that an influencer spends their days casually taking selfies, sipping coffee and waiting for the freebies to pour through the door, is nonsense.
So, now we’ve established that a.) social media influencing is a valid career path and b.) that there is potentially an awful lot of money to be made, how exactly do you turn your expert knowledge and creative flair into a way to pay the bills?
Another, less happy, truth about influencing is how tough it can be to make a go of it as a full-timer. Sadly, you won’t struggle to find stories of brilliant and popular influencers who attend plenty of VIP events, but don’t cash very many pay cheques.
But rather than worry about how you’re going to stand out in such a wildly competitive market, why not think about all the different opportunities you’ll have to monetise your talents.
It sounds really obvious but, trust us, it’s something that a lot of start-up influencers are totally overlooking.
When you think about how to make money as an influencer the obvious routes are through sponsored posts and brand partnerships – and that is clearly a very good place to start. Find a relationship that fits and that could easily become a regular and rewarding source of income.
And, as well as working with those brands on their campaigns and posts, be proactive in suggesting other ways you could be of value to their business – whether that is attending their events, helping to inspire their internal teams or even proposing new strategies for reaching the audience you know so well.
But, as well as this kind of work, it’s important to think about how you can (as any serious business type would say) ‘diversify your earning potential’.
The amazing thing that most new influencers overlook is their huge bank of specialist creative skill and expertise.
The knowledge and imagination you put into your posts is also a highly valuable asset for any business who would love to better understand your subject and your audience.
But, instead of resulting in paid posts or blogs, this could lead to helping shape the creative and communication direction for businesses that don’t necessarily have a huge social media presence.
After all, many of the best influencers are in fact a creative director, a photographer, a copywriter, a PR wizard and, of course, an expert in their field all rolled into one – which is a set of skills that a lot of businesses are going to find very useful.
And, if you get a few seconds in-between all of this to sip a coffee and take a selfie then we think you’ve earned it.