You’ve done it – put in all that work to create amazing content, figure out your vibe, grow your audience and have a social presence that you’re finally happy with. Now what? You deserve something more for all that hard work than just personal satisfaction, right? We get asked all the time “how to make money on social media” because in the end, being an influencer is a business. Yes, tons of likes and comments are good for your ego but those don’t pay the bills.
Here at Sidewalker Daily we work with travel bloggers and influencers and are always impressed with the innovative ways they use social media to make money. From selling services to even travel based side hustles, they really know how to leverage their social media presence to make ends meet. Of course, everyone’s main goal is to live off just their influence full-time but until then, we’ve got some creative ways influencers are leveraging their accounts so you can start making money from social media too!
How to Make Money off Social Media.
We totally get that sometimes being a travel blogger and influencer is tough when it comes to getting paid – yes, you are often offered amazing free trips and hotel stays around the world but those airline miles and passport stamps don’t cover your expenses. Until you make it to the big leagues you’re going to have to get creative on how to monetize your influence while jumping from city to city. Here are a few ideas on how you can make that happen:
1. Pitch Shooting Campaigns or Lookbooks While On Press Trips.
Let’s face it, we’re all content junkies. It seems we consume more content daily than water (don’t tell our doctor lol). What that means is all of the content we consume on the regular needs to be created by someone! Traditionally, brands and companies allocate a budget to do photoshoots and/or videoshoots throughout the year. But production costs can get crazy expensive after you pay for the location, photographer, videographer, models, stylist, hair, makeup, etc.
We see companies more and more skipping traditional shoots and turning to influencers that align with their brand image and aesthetic to help create content for their marketing materials, social media posts and even online ads. If you’re traveling on a press trip to an exotic location, why not pitch to travel brands the idea of shooting some fresh content while you’re there? Even if you’re not headed to an exotic destination, everyone needs new imagery and content.
If it’s a brand or company that aligns with your image, they will save a lot on production fees, time and energy and can allocate some of the money they would spend on content creation to compensate you for your time instead!
Just FYI, if you are going to shoot content for other brands and companies make sure you respect the client who is hosting you on the press trip (i.e. footing the bill for your flights, accommodations etc.) so you don’t ruin any professional relationships along the way.
Another option is pitching your services as a photographer on a press trip. You can talk to the person organizing the trip about doing a full on photoshoot and potentially hiring you as the photographer. The other press trip attendees can stand in as models (as long as they sign a photo waiver of course). Lots of times on influencer press trips, they’ll hire a photographer to come along – why not it be you?
2. Sell Your Photos or Videos.
Ok so maybe the client that you went on a press trip with doesn’t want to hire you to do a full blown photo shoot – so how about offering them the opportunity to buy a handful of your images. Chances are, if you’re on a press trip, you’ll be snapping lots of photos anyways so you may as well monetize them. For example, on the last press trip we organized we let the influencers know ahead of time that the client may be interested in photos of the resort so if they were interested in the opportunity they could snap away. The client ended up purchasing 10 photos off the influencer – win win!
If you end up going this route, make sure to prepare a contact sheet and not edit every photo. Let the client pick the ones they would like to purchase and then edit the images afterwards. We’d say that anywhere from $35-$75 per photo is a fair rate for an exclusive and edited image.
Another thought is selling your photos to a third party. Have you taken incredible pictures in the Namibian desert or the top of Machu Picchu that you aren’t planning on posting or using for yourself? Amazing photos are a hot commodity these days and companies are constantly on the lookout for images that align with their brand to use on their website, social media accounts, blog articles etc.
The days of traditional stock photos are numbered and instead, people are electing to buy from sites such as Twenty20, a website that sells images from photographers around the world that feel authentic (not contrived). The photos they feature range from amateur to professional so don’t feel intimidated if you’re not a photography expert just yet. The cool thing is it seems sourcing photos from user generated sites is definitely the new wave of photography.
So if you always have your camera in hand, consider uploading your photos to a stock photo website to be able to create some extra income. It’s an easy way to make money because after you upload them to various sites, you’ve done the upfront work and will just get paid when they sell.
Tip – While you’re traveling it’s a good idea and take tons of pictures along the way because the interesting thing about stock photos is you never know what someone is looking for! It could be a old man holding a gelato in Italy, a person riding a train in Switzerland, a tulip field in Amsterdam. Basically it’s better to take as many amazing pictures as possible so you can play photo roulette and up your chances of cashing in!
3. Land Partnerships, Collabs and Sponsored Posts with Brands.
We’re sure you’ve seen influencers toting their favorite products in posts, and using a hashtag #ad in the caption. Or even promoting their “favorite hotel” on Instagram with “paid partnership” at the top of the post. This is one of the most popular ways people are making money on Instagram and social by collaborating with brands who are promoting products and services online.
It’s important to remember that if you’re looking to make money with social media through brand partnerships and sponsorships then you have to make sure your influence is on point. Brands and companies are normally looking for people that can help them sell products, get more followers or even more likes. That means, no matter how many followers you have, you also need to have influence to make those things happen.
A good place to start is finding brands and companies that align with your vibe and you think your audience would love. If you’re wondering how best to get in touch with brands there are a few options to consider:
Through Connections: If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting or chatting with other online influencers that totally get you, consider asking them to connect you with some of your target brands they have already worked with. Remember that some people are sensitive about their professional contacts but if you do find someone willing to share, always make sure to repay them in the future (and of course give them a big thank you)!
Get Noticed: Another option would be to begin tagging companies you use on Instagram organically so if your brand and account match with what they’re looking for they’ll contact you for a collab. When doing so, you’ll want to notice posting strategies of brands you want to target and use hashtags to reach their audience.
Pitch Directly: Another approach is to pitch to brands you want to work with directly. When doing so, have an idea of how you can help them reach their goals and of course, when blogging for money you need to know your worth!
In finding your perfect first sponsored post, there are various online resources that exist for this specific purpose. They are basically influencer marketplaces for existing collaborations which almost act as a job board. Another option if you’re a more established blogger or influencer is teaming up with an agency that can work on your behalf to get you gigs and represent you as a creative influencer, almost like an agent.
And of course, once you seal the deal and are posting your partnerships on Instagram and social media, don’t forget to disclose them properly!
4. Be a Social Media Consultant and Work for (not with) Brands.
You can harness the skills you’ve gained while growing your community and audience by helping brands and companies do the same! To you everything influencer marketing and social media makes total sense but to others it can be as if you’re speaking a foreign language.
It seems that everyone wants to expand their influence right now, get more followers, up their engagement and make their business profitable online. If you’ve done that for yourself, then why not do it for someone else!
Consider becoming a social media consultant and selling your time to help companies create a strong social presence. The great thing about being a consultant is that you work for yourself and most of the work can be done remotely. Since wifi is available almost everywhere, you can spend your days exploring the city and your evenings coming up with social strategy for brands around the world!
5.Leverage Your Influence With Affiliate Marketing.
Affiliate marketing is another popular way to make money using social media. Although originally used primarily on blogs, you can use affiliate marketing via Instagram and social as well. Basically what happens is when you post a link and a follower or reader clicks on the link and buys the product, you’ll get a commission for the sale.
Every affiliate program is a little different, so you’ll have to get the specifics from your partner, but becoming an affiliate works a lot like finding someone to pay you for a sponsored post.
A good (and popular) example of affiliate marketing on Instagram is LIKEtoKNOW.it. Here’s how LIKEtoKNOW.it works on the customer end. When a customer signs up for LIKEtoKNOW.it, they can like a photo and will receive an email in about 5 minutes with product links in their inbox. Alternatively, the consumer can download the LIKEtoKNOW.it app, which connects to the screenshot album in photos. Once the user takes a screenshot of the thing they’d like to shop they get a notification from the app that it’s ready to shop.
On the influencer end, you receive a commission every time a piece is purchased using your link. So, if you’ve got a strong follower or fan base of people who already love your style and always take your recommendations, then you could use this service as a way to make money on social media, using photos you would’ve posted anyways (which is definitely a plus)! As you can see, affiliate marketing is an easy way to monetize your influence stat.
6. Sell A Service.
Do people always compliment you on your photo editing skills, way you frame a photo or are obsessed with your clothes and accessories? Consider leveraging your skills and providing what you’re good at as a service to others who need the extra help. Let’s go over some ideas:
Photo Editing: Are you an expert at taking mediocre pictures and making them super Insta-worthy? You can leverage your photo editing skills and sell this service to companies that need their photos to be retouched or edited.
Video Editing: Do you know how to take raw footage and turn it into a video that everyone is dying to share? Consider pitching your video editing service to clients looking to create video content for their company or brand.
Graphic Design: Are you good at creating the cutest story graphics or Insta promotional posts? Consider pitching your graphic design services to companies who need that extra creative touch.
Creative Direction: Does everyone freak out over your amazing style and photos you snap? Consider pitching yourself as a creative director and organizing anything from video shoots, photoshoots or even events for a brand or company.
Basically, your social accounts are a great way to advertise your services both by showing examples of your work and letting your followers know what you’re up to. Trust us, word of mouth travels fast!
On top of being an influencer, you can leverage your skill set to create a profitable business for yourself using all the work you’ve put into your social media accounts this far.
7. Create and Sell a Product.
If you have a knack for design or feel like there is a need in the marketplace for something your followers would love then consider coming up with a product to sell through your social accounts. This may require some upfront costs or you can always collaborate with an existing brand to come up with a product that’s designed by you! Whether it’s a piece of jewelry, luggage, summer dress – the possibilities are endless.
And if you have a strong social influence then you already have the potential customer base to purchase the product (which is every company’s dream)! Word to the wise – if you are going to collaborate with a brand to create a special product to sell, make sure you test your influence first.
The last thing you want to do is get a brand super excited to work with you and sell only 1 item. Yes, this can happen even if you do have a strong social influence but if you understand the ins and outs of your following from the get go, you’ll know how to market the product right to hedge your bets on making some sales. :)
Another option is if your community really enjoys the way you edit your photos, you can always sell Lightroom Presets. A cool thing about digital products like Lightroom Presets is they require limited upfront costs to create and launch and you won’t have any inventory to store which is always a win!
8. Start a Blog to Make Money From Website Traffic and Ads.
So this one would take a bit more effort than some of the other options, but doing so will increase your opportunities to make money in the long run. The thing is if you have a blog, you can implement any of the above options on your social media accounts as well as on your blog. You could be writing sponsored blog posts, and posting sponsored Instagram photos at the same time!
If you’ve built up a large following and audience you can make money through social media by driving traffic to your blog and website from your social accounts. If you have a following on many accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc.), consider creating unique trackable links for each account to put in the account bio. This will help you track which accounts your website and blog traffic are coming from.
You can also promote your blog posts on your social accounts to encourage people to click over to read them on your website. Then, once they get an idea of the information you’re offering on your blog, they will most likely recall it in the future. So next time they are looking for a restaurant guide to Thailand, they’ll remember to go to your website first.
When you’re working on driving traffic from your social accounts to your blog or website, try posting different captions to see what makes people actually click on website link. We love testing because a lot of times you’ll be surprised what your followers and fans are actually excited about (because often it’s not what you would have bet money on).
A blog will also allow you to have a platform and audience to do pretty much whatever you want, including marketing your own products and services in the future. It’s also ALL YOURS. Remember when all those Vine stars built up so much fame and then they shut the Vine platform down? No one could have ever guessed… so it’s always a good idea to have a little corner of the internet to call your own (and where you’re in complete control) even if you are a social media superstar.
9. Get Your Side Hustle On.
If you’re already traveling the world for press trips, content creation projects, partnerships or just for fun, there are other ways to make money to cover some of your expenses.
You can always use social media to make money indirectly from your travels. Here are some examples of ways to leverage your jetsetter lifestyle:
If you have a home base, consider listing your place on a vacation rental website while you travel.
If you have great social media aesthetic then you probably have amazing home decor too! Vacation rental sites such as AirBNB are a great way to make money while you’re traveling. It does take a bit of an initial investment of time to make sure your house is ready for guests (or you can just put all of your clutter into a closet and lock it), but if you live in the right place it will be worth the work.
Cute vacation rentals in large cities rival the prices of hotels in the area, so you’ll basically be getting paid to travel. If you’re worried about who will check people in and out while you’re on the road, you can always ask a family member or friend or hire someone to manage the property while you’re gone.
Consider teaching a language course or one-on-one tutoring.
We find that tons of travel bloggers and influencers speak more than one language. As the world gets more global, everyone is looking to up their language skills, especially English. There are website such as italki.com that allow you to offer your language skills to people around the world looking to practice or learn even just the basics. You can Skype with your students and even make some new friends around the world while you’re at it!
Use Grabr while you travel.
If you’ve lived abroad or traveled for long periods of time you totally understand what it’s like to miss things from your home country. Grabr.io (not .com) is an online marketplace where people can list what they would like from another city or country and if someone is coming their way, they will pay them to pick it up and bring it over. So basically by using Grabr you’ll get paid to deliver someone else’s international purchases for them, and so they pay you instead of having to pay hefty shipping prices- but not in a sketchy way.
What’s cool about Grabr is it not only cuts the costs of international shipping but also annoying customs procedures (and things getting lost or broken in transit too). You can search on Grabr to find any pending requests that may be on your next flight route so you can make some extra cash.
We know you’re asking yourself, “but really, how much money can you make on social media?”
While there is no exact formula, you can always come up with a budget that you have to meet monthly or quarterly to sustain your lifestyle – then get creative using a mix of the above ideas to make it work. As you can see, depending on how you’ve positioned your online brand, there are quite a few options when it comes to earning yourself some cash through social media.
We get that it’s tough, especially when you’re just starting as a blogger or influencer but the good news is there are creative ways to make money on social media behind the scenes too. Even if you’re not ready to start leveraging your social accounts right this second, it’s a good idea to figure out what you could do in the future so you can start working towards that goal in the meantime. And of course, don’t forget to track your income along the way so when it comes time to file your taxes you’ll have everything ready to go!
Did you find these ideas helpful? We’d love to know! Feel free to share in the comments section down below!
All information provided on this Website has been prepared for general educational and informational purposes only. The information on this Website does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, legal or financial advice and is general in nature.
MEET THE EXPERTS
Nina ZadehDirector of Partnerships, MBA
Clairesse BrogoittiDirector of Business Affairs, JD
We’re industry experts devoted to helping travel bloggers get more partnerships, understand their value, and turn their travel influence into a legit business.
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Sidewalker Daily is a team of marketing and business professionals dedicated to providing resources to travel bloggers and influencers who want to turn their social influence into a profitable and legitimate business. They also manage one of the original travel/style communities on Instagram of now over 60,000 travelers from around the globe – @sidewalkerdaily.