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