When I launched my first online platform in 2006, I never imagined that publishing content online could earn me a living, much less become my career. Although I haven’t achieved the millions of followers necessary to be a bonafide influencer in 2020, I have still been able to earn enough to sustain myself full-time since 2012. Based on my experience, here are my five tips on how to make money as a micro-influencer.
What Is A Micro Influencer?
According to this post’s sponsor, Intellifluence, a micro influencer is defined as:
In essence, if you publish content with the goal of growing your audience, you are a micro-influencer.
Any Niche Can Be Profitable
There are few emotions more contagious than passion, and when influencers create content they are passionate about, that enthusiasm translates through every photo and word. Some niches are more profitable than others (beauty and wellness are two current examples), but those niches are also more competitive than sports like skiing and mountain biking.
Some skills, like writing, photography, and video editing can not only be learned but can transfer to any niche. Think about the activities that are most important to you each day, and brainstorm how you could translate that into written, photo, or video content.
Don’t Wait To Monetize
An audience of any size can be monetized, whether it’s 100 or 1 million. The moment you begin to create content, sign up for affiliate programs. Platforms like Skimlinks, Clickbank, MagicLinks, and Amazon Associates are great multi-brand platforms for smaller creators. As your audience and engagement begin to grow, consider branching out to larger affiliate networks like Awin, Share-a-Sale, Commission Junction, and RewardStyle. Each of these programs has its own approval process and requirements for approval will vary.
Influencer Marketing Platforms
A growing part of the influencer ecosystem is influencer marketing platforms like this post’s sponsor, Intellifluence. These platforms are a marketplace for brands and content creators to meet, express interest, and negotiate for opportunities. Brands find these types of marketplaces helpful because creators can express interest in campaigns and representatives receive transparent access to the campaign’s performance. In turn, influencers authorize access to their platforms via API access and the marketplace collects that data and provides performance metrics to the brands.
Opportunities in these marketplaces can range from sponsored posts (like this one), sponsored posts/videos/Stories, all the way to yearlong brand ambassadorships.
Innovate & Adapt
As frequently as Instagram changes its app layout or algorithm, influencers need to experiment with their content. Posting new post types, content formats, trends, and platforms all play a large part in connecting with current audiences and gaining new followers. When creators collaborate with brands, essentially what a brand is “purchasing” is exposure to an audience and the influencer’s creativity. In the case of micro-influencers, brands can often see larger results by partnering with creators who have smaller follower numbers but deeper connections to their audience.
How can micro influencers innovate?
Although I started my career as a blogger, I pivoted my focus based on the aspects of the social media industry that were getting the most attention from my audience & the press. Paying attention to press coverage is of particular importance because the media is often what brand representatives use to plan the direction of future campaigns. Exposure via a campaign is good, but multiplying that exposure through media buzz is even better.
If Instagram is an important publishing channel for you, when the platform releases new features, create content in that format immediately. This applies to Reels, IG TV, Stories, carousel posts, shop, and any other features that are newly prioritized. Experimenting with new concepts and taking inspiration from trending posts is a great way to push the limits of your creativity and reach new audiences.
Be Open To New Experiences
When I began blogging, I used “we” instead of “me” or “I” because I wanted to remain anonymous. Cut to 2015 and I’m being interviewed live on CNBC. As you begin to expand your presence within a specific niche, you may not only receive media inquiries, but brands may hire you for roles you’ve never done before. I never imagined myself as a spokesperson, but in 2016 I signed a contract to represent Dove (yes, THAT Dove) in tv interviews and in a panel event at SXSW.
Don’t close the door to new experiences or new ideals unless the detract from your long term goals. You never know where being a creator may take you!
Build A Community
While building a community is often synonymous with gaining followers, the two are not exactly equal. Followers merely add to a number, while a community is a reciprocal relationship between creators and their audience.
Communities typically grow around creators who educate, entertain, or inspire their audience, and in turn, the community rallies behind the creator with comments, subscriptions, Although communities are typically thought of as gathering around creators in Facebook Groups, Instagram accounts, and YouTube channels, email newsletters are often overlooked. Facebook has even released paid subscription tools for Groups that allow admins to monetize access to the group.
While newsfeed algorithms may hide your latest posts or choke your engagement rate, email newsletters are a way to create a community on a platform that you own. Email newsletter subscribers not only can be transferred from one email provider to another, but you can activate this community for any new project, regardless of the platform. My provider of choice is Flodesk.
Merch and Digital Products
Creating a merch line around a catchphrase or community saying is a great way to connect with your community offline. There are many options for physical products and websites that will take care of the product manufacturing + shipping. For Rascal Honey’s merch line, I chose Teepublic as a partner because of its extensive clothing sizing and variety of offered products (mugs, posters, tote bags, buttons, etc).
If you have knowledge that you can share with your audience, there are a variety of digital products that you can create, like e-books and courses. You could even use a workbook, guide, or other digital product to gain email subscribers.
Monetize Your Talent
Ultimately, as you establish yourself as a successful content creator, you will have acquired marketable skills beyond wielding your influence. Since 2006, I’ve learned photography, video editing, graphic design, writing, social media marketing, customer service, HTML, WordPress, and public speaking skills, all in the natural course of publishing content online.
Those skills and relationships I developed along the way allowed me to launch a successful consulting business. I work with fashion & beauty brands to develop strategy & execute their digital marking, all because of my 14 years of hands-on experience working in social media. For more on my work, please visit Sarah Conley Consulting.
If you are interested in monetizing these skills but don’t have brand connections, offering your services on marketplaces like Fiverr is a great place to start.