Earning Power: Here’s How Much Top Influencers Can Make on Instagram and YouTube
Influence – the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
As we look at this definition of the word influence, we can see how over time, marketers came to the idea that influence can be monetized.
Marketing and sales are all about having an effect on someone – their behavior and choices, and influencers are a way of doing that.
Not only are influencers real people who have their own jobs and private lives, thus making them more relatable to us than some paid commercial actor, but we also have some sort of relationship with them because we follow them.
We trust influencers more than we trust companies or actors because influencers are real people – they have their own name, character and interests.
Social media influencers are becoming one of the most utilized channels companies use to help their product or service reach the desired audience.
Today, there are even companies whose main job is to help you find an influencer who matches your criteria and can help you achieve your desired goals.
Today, we will give the estimate of how much you’re able to make as an influencer on these two platforms.
The article is split into sections to help you understand both platforms in a better way.
We will cover how much money Instagram influencers make, how they do it and how you can do it too, and then we will cover the same topics for YouTube.
HOW MUCH CAN TOP INFLUENCERS MAKE ON INSTAGRAM?
The general rule of thumb is influencers get $100 per 10k followers.
With all of this buzz around influencers, especially those on currently the most popular platforms – Instagram and YouTube, one begs to question how much money do these people really make?
Of course, the answer to this question depends on a lot of factors:
- the number of followers/subscribers they have,
- the offers they get,
- the engagement of people who follow them,
- their production costs,
- campaign length,
- their previous work and results, etc.
If we’re to go into more detail, here’s how the calculation looks like for sponsored posts:
- 5-10k followers cost $100-$500
- 10-25k followers cost $500-$800
- 25-50k followers cost $800-$1,500
- 50k-100k followers cost $1,500-$2,000
- 100k-250k followers cost $2,000-$6,000
- 250k-1mil followers cost $6,000-$10,000
- 1mil+ followers cost $10,000
But, it’s important to mention that these are all estimates. Just like you can’t standardize how much a musician makes per performance, you can’t standardize how much influencers charge their services.
People who have exactly the same number of followers can charge at different rates.
This means that the market dictates the prices, and the influencer market is rising day by day. And no wonder that is happening, when 800 million people actively use Instagram every day.
When we talk about how much money companies are willing to invest in influencers, we see that this budget is as big as it’s ever been in 2019.
Before, it was common practice that influencers promote a brand in exchange for getting free products/services from it, but influencers evolved and now they demand a considerable amount of money to promote something.
As for Instagram stories, which are perhaps even more effective than regular posts, the prices also vary.
One Story with around 15,000 views can cost around $300. The more stories someone opts out for, the lower the price is usually.
Influencers usually offer different packages that they offer when making a sponsorship deal.
Here’s an example of a lifestyle influencer’s offer (the influencer has 118k followers):
WHAT TYPES OF INFLUENCERS ARE THERE ON INSTAGRAM?
Every influencer is different than the other.
They vary in audiences that follow them, in engagement rates, in the number of followers and so on.
If you’re going to do business with influencers, or you aspire to become one, it’s important to know the 4 basic categories:
Let’s take a look at all of them one by one!
Followers count: Less than 1000.
They are the newest type of influencers brands are approaching right now.
Brands found out that even though some people have a limited audience, that audience trusts that person because they know he/she isn’t a big influencer.
Nano-influencers are regular day-to-day people we encounter and that is where their power lies.
They have a strong impact in their communities because of the trusting relationship they built with their followers. Think of it like this, which restaurant are you rather going to visit:
- one that David Beckham recommends to you
- one that your best friend recommends to you
The majority would choose the latter because they trust their best friend to know better what is good for them.
Since posts from Nano-influencers seem more authentic than posts from bigger influencers, they tend to have the highest engagement rates.
The drawback here is that Nano-influencers have a very limited reach which isn’t good for big campaigns.
So, if you’re looking for a targeted niche and expect high engagement, pick a Nano-influencer and collaborate with them instead of someone bigger.
Follower count: 1,000 – 100,000
These people are usually focused around one topic and are considered experts in it. These topics can be:
- personal growth
- jewelry, etc.
They are often perceived as a leader in that industry so their followers take their opinions and recommendations seriously.
This is where marketers come in, and use that influence to spread awareness about their brand.
Here’s an example: a person who became popular and gained followers by playing video games is competent to say which games and brands are good. You will trust this person because of their expertise in the area.
Brands like to cooperate with Micro-influencers because they are the perfect balance of a good price and a good size of an audience.
They also usually get high rates of engagement.
However, this doesn’t mean that Micro-influencers are cheap, some of them can pack a price.
Followers count: 100,000 – 1,000,000
They are in-between Mega and Micro-influencers. Unlike most Micro-influencers, this type of influencers probably gained their fame through the internet and social media.
Brands work with Macro-influencers because they can reach masses while still having a specific target audience.
For example, when brands want to reach students, the best course of action would be to pick the right Macro-influencer in that field and partner up with him or her.
Since companies pay as much as $5 million for 30 seconds on air during the Super Bowl so they can reach 100 million people, who are very diverse, it doesn’t come as a surprise why they would rather pay less an influencer who has a niche market.
Followers count: 1,000,000+
The highest category of Instagram influencers.
These people are usually celebrities, who are more famous than influential.
What does that mean?
Well, people love celebrities for their work, but would you take a recommendation from a celebrity?
The majority of people don’t pay attention to what celebrities promote because they know they are paid good money to do it.
Mega-influencers are the most expensive ones and give the lowest conversion rates because their audience is so broad.
Novak Djokovic is followed by people of all ages, all around the world, who all have different spending standards and interests. Few of them will buy a Seiko watch he promotes because of him.
The relationship between Mega-influencers and their individual followers is more distant. They can’t possibly reply to all the messages and comments they get, which results in worse community management and relationships.
Although these people can’t really get a message out to specific people, they can get it out to a huge amount of people. It all comes at a price – a sponsored post can cost around $1 million.
All in all, Mega-influencers make a lot of money by promoting brands and they are a great way to reach masses.
This is why the product or service they promote should also be for the masses, with the goal to spread awareness to a lot of people of different demographics and behavior.
No wonder the common saying goes – the larger the influencer, the lower ROI (Return on Investment).
HOW MUCH CAN TOP INFLUENCERS MAKE ON YOUTUBE?
Over 1.8 billion people log in to YouTube every month to watch something on the most known video website on the world.
You know that when you go on YouTube, you’re not going to watch just one video, you’re going to watch many more.
YouTube is very good at keeping your attention on it, so it’s logical that influencers have a huge impact on their viewers here.
According to research conducted by Forbes, YouTube channels with more than 7 million subscribers can earn about $300,000 for a video partnership.
This is why partnerships became the main source of income for YouTubers, and ad-revenue became the second.
While views get you around 70 cents per 1,000 views, no wonder this source of income is often neglected when talking about how much YouTubers make.
However, it can be tricky for YouTube influencers to promote something, especially if their subscribers know they haven’t used that product or service before.
YouTube is known for its comment section and “trolls” and “haters” that can be found there, much more than on Instagram. So, comments stating that the influencer became a “sellout” because they promote a certain brand can happen.
This is very tricky for YouTube creators because their relationships with subscribers are usually closer than relationships between Instagram influencers and their followers.
YouTube creators make content that depends on people watching it, so they need to take care of their community much more than Instagrammers.
This is very good for brands who partner up with YouTube influencers because the stronger the relationship between the influencer and the audience, the better the results from the sponsorship will be.
HOW DO INFLUENCERS MAKE MONEY?
It’s common knowledge that the job description of an influencer consists of community management, content creation, design, photographing, video editing, public speaking, copywriting and so on.
But in what ways do influencers make money by doing all of this stuff.
Well, there is a vast number of ways influencers help brands promote themselves, let’s cover a couple of main ones:
1. Brand Ambassadors
This is one of the most effective ways a brand can promote itself. Companies make a long-term agreement with the influencer to become “the face of the brand” – someone who is known as a trusted user of that brand.
For example, Messi did this for Pepsi, Ronaldo for Nike, Novak Djokovic for Seiko, and so on.
These brand ambassadors are paid on a retainer basis. It’s their job to create or improve awareness of a brand among their audience. They do this through their social media channels.
On YouTube, it is very common practice that gamers become brand ambassadors of a company who is willing to provide them with hardware or games in exchange.
Companies choose their brand ambassadors so they fit the product/service, have a desired target audience and are in line with what the company does and values.
For example, if you want to promote your new alcoholic beverage, you’re not going to choose a YouTuber who is under 18 years old and has followers who are the same age as him/her.
2. Sponsored Posts on Social Media
Contrary to brand ambassadors deals which are made to last a long time, sponsored posts are a better short-term strategy.
This is the most common way influencers make money, especially when they’re fresh in the influencer waters.
The influencer creates a post, two, or more where he/she features the brand to his/her followers. The goals of these posts can vary, the brand may want to:
- promote a new product or service
- expose an existing product or service to a new market
- bring awareness to a cause etc.
You can recognize these posts on social media platforms as they usually state somewhere in the description that that picture, video or blog is to promote a partnership between the influencer and the brand.
3. Affiliate Marketing
When a sale is generated from content the influencer created and shared, and when the percentage of the sale goes to the influencer, that is called affiliate marketing.
This is a commission-based agreement and is one of the most effective ways brands measure how much the influencer is contributing to their sales.
It’s also one of the best ways to motivate influencers to create better content and drive more sales. Since they get a cut out of each one, the more sales the more money they make.
Affiliate marketing can also work as a pay-per-click or pay-per-lead model, where brands pay you by how much clicks or leads you generate for them.
This makes the job easier for the influencer since it’s not in his/her responsibility that their followers actually buy the product or service.
Instead, their responsibility is to get their followers interested in a product or service, and it’s up to the company to close the sale.
Affiliate marketing is good for brands for measuring the actual influence the influencer has. On the other hand, it’s good for influencers to make money by promoting things they really like or would recommend anyway.
However, affiliate marketing is unpredictable and unstable, so it’s usually not the main source of money for the influencer.
For example, gamers on YouTube are prone to promoting gaming websites, while fitness influencers usually promote fitness clothing lines, gyms or health products.
4. Podcasts and Webinars
A lot of people are starting their own podcasts. You don’t need to have previous radio host experience, nor expensive equipment.
All you need is a good microphone, audio editing software and something to talk about!
The most common way people earn money with podcasts is through sponsorships. Brands are willing to pay you for shout-outs about them.
Think of the last podcast you’ve listened to, it probably has ads at the beginning, at the end of it, or both.
Another way influencers can monetize their podcasts is by charging their followers to listen to them, but this is rarely the case.
Webinars are great because they give the value of a seminar without the hassle for anyone to get outside of their hose. It’s an education done online and is supposed to give value to people who show up for it, by educating them in a highly-engaging matter.
These can be live or pre-reordered, and influencers make money by selling spots for the webinar.
An influencer can make money by doing store appearances.
Brands are willing to pay a lot of money to get the influencer to show up somewhere and draw attention that way.
A lot of people are ready to do almost anything to get a picture with their favorite influencer, so they show up to the event.
Saying that an influencer will show up, or even host an event is a great way to build hype and awareness. Never underestimate the power of an influencer who just needs to meet and greet people.
6. In-Kind Partnerships
Some influencers prefer that they rather get an in-kind form of payment, instead of money, when they really like the product or service.
It’s good for companies to find influencers who already like and use their product or service and partner up with them.
They give them free in-kind and in return influencers promote something they really like. It’s a win-win situation.
7. Digital Products
E-products are very easy to create and produce and are also very scalable. This is a very popular way influencers can make money.
They can create an e-book, a guide, a program, an app or a template and promote it to their followers.
This way, influencers create something tangible that they can give to their followers/subscribers. These products are created based on their expertise on a topic.
People buy these products because of the trust they have in the people who created them.
Another way to go about creating a digital product is to co-create it with another brand or influencer. It is common practice for YouTubers to collaborate and merge their audiences by doing that.
People who like one influencer will be drawn to another influencer or brand because they are similar, so co-operating really is one of the strongest strategies out there.
HOW TO BECOME AN INFLUENCER?
If you are passionate about social media and you love interacting and influencing other people through digital channels, becoming an influencer can be a great profession for you! Influencers are among the top 10 influential factors that have an impact on people’s buying choices.
Let’s take a step by step look at how you can become an influencer yourself!
1. Choose something you’re passionate about and make content about it.
Why not make a profession out of traveling, or gaming, or bodybuilding, like so many people already did?
All you have to do is document your story of doing this thing you love and eventually if your content is good, people will notice and start to follow you for more.
2. Post consistently.
One of the most important things to do to succeed as an influencer who is in the making is to post content consistently.
You might think that the quality of your content is more important than quantity, but keep in mind how fast this world is moving.
If you don’t post something for a while, you will lose on relevance and people will easily forget you and make room for those who can feed their hunger for more content.
3. Engage with your followers/subscribers.
This is the main way how you form a relationship with them.
A relationship that is based on trust creates room for people to influence one another.
Remember to read and respond to as many comments as you can, to reply to messages and to give value to your fans all the time.
4. Tag the right brands.
At first, promote the things you already like and tag the brand so they can see it.
Once you get good enough someone will notice you and approach you for sponsorship.
Don’t be pushy at first with your pricing, you’ll have room for bigger prices when you become a more experienced influencer.
5. Know what is important for brands.
To improve your chances of getting your next sponsorship, focus on achieving the desired goals of brands you already work with. If you help brands achieve their goals, they will be all over you! This infographic shows what brands value most:
In conclusion, although it’s impossible to know precisely how much every Instagram or YouTube influencer makes, we can say for sure that this profession won’t leave you making ends meet if you’re good at it.
In the digital age, your influence isn’t limited by physical space, so think about using social media to spread it and earn money by doing it.
Hopefully, this article answered your questions and helped you better understand why brands are willing to spend so much money on influencers.
Who knows, maybe one day we will interview you to tell us how much money you make as an influencer!
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