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Yep, you read the title correctly- you can earn a whopping £30,000 per month from your influencer income. In fact, you can probably earn more!
This was just one of the many interesting findings that arose in my recent academic research on travel influencers. You see, whilst there are a lot of posts on the Internet about how to be an influencer or how to make money as an influencer, there was no clear-cut evidence of what the average influencer actually earns! So I set out to get some…
Through the distribution of an electronic survey to 255 travel influencers I have analysed who they are, what they do and how they do it. For more about me and my research credentials visit my about me page. All of these things are due to be published in a series of blog posts on Lifeasabutterfly. If you’re interested you can find a summary of the findings here or download the full research report here.
Today, however, I am going to focus on how YOU can earn as much as £30,000 from your influencer income!
How to make money as an influencer
It is clear that there are big Bucks to be made as an influencer, whatever your niche might be. However, it is also true to say that most of us don’t make anywhere close to that amount!
If you’re wondering how much the average travel influencer makes, I have revealed all in this post.
My research found that the top influencers operating in the travel sector earned an average of £30,000 per month. Whilst many influencers claim that it is difficult to be amongst these top earners, others, such as World Travel Family, say that it is actually very easy, if you know how!
You might also be interested in my post- What is a Travel Influencer? Travel influencer Defined
Whilst I can only dream of a day when I might made as much as £30,000 a month from my blog and social media accounts (you can give me a break though, I haven’t long finished my PhD and have since been busy juggling full time work with motherhood!), there is lots of information available on how you can make this possible. I have summarised this below for you.
Build a foundation for influencing
You can’t just open up a shop and make money. You need to invest in your business, both in terms of money and time. Cas from Y Travel Blog, for example, states that ‘You can’t build a skyscraper on a one-inch slab of concrete. Build your foundation!‘ This really could not be more true. You ned to be prepared to put in some hard work with little rewards at the beginning. This means spending a little bit of money and probably a lot of time. The rewards will come… it just might not be instant!
There are several key things that you must do in order to build the foundation of your influencer or blogging business and thus to yield an influencer income of up to £30,000 each month!
1- Establish your ‘brand’
You might not think of yourself as a ‘brand’, but that’s effectively what influencers are! And that’s what your followers buy in to!
Some people claim that you need to have a specific niche, whereas others say that it’s easier to keep your blog broad in scope. Elna, from Twins Mommy, knows her stuff about SEO and ranking in Google (which I’ll come to later), and she explains how keeping your niche specific can help you to rank easier. On the other hand, I recently read an article on World Travel Family where they claimed that they felt a little restricted by the title of their blog now that their children were almost grown up and that in hindsight a more generic title may have had more longevity and scope.
So it seems that the consensus is varied and that whether you have a tight niche or whether you keep your blog/ influencer activity more open, you are still in a strong position to make an influencer income.
The important thing is, however, that you have a strong brand.
For many influencers, their brands is simply themselves. Your personality and the way that you share information essentially becomes your ‘brand’. For me, my brand is all about making the most out of life, which I portray largely through my content on family travel, travel in general and academia. I also have two secondary websites which focus on Cabin Crew and TEFL tourism. Whilst my content varies, the brand stays the same- it’s all about getting out there and achieving the things that you want in life.
Many people will choose to represent their brand by using particular logos, colours, fonts etc. I recommend investing a little bit of time into making sure that your styling sufficiently represents your brand. I recently got a new logo, designed specifically for me by a graphic designer (I would highly recommend Vinspirational Designs if you’re looking for a logo/website designer).
I also have standardised headers for all of my social media accounts, using my logos. I’m relatively new to Pinterest so I am experimenting with pin designs at the moment, but many people also recommend having set designs that incorporate your branding for all of your pins (I’ll get to why you need Pinterest shortly).
You might also be interested in my post- Travel Influencer income: How much can I earn per month?
2- Optimise your blog and social media accounts
If you want to turn your blog or social media campaigns into a business and make an influencer income then you need to make sure that it is optimised. Yes, you can do a lot of this for free, BUT this will limit how much you can achieve!
I started out using a free WordPress.com account for this blog. This was absolutely fine at the time as I had no intentions of monetising my writing, it was simply an online journal while I went travelling to keep my friends and family back home updated on what I was doing. Plus, it was 2011- was influencer income even a thing back then?? If it was, I certainly didn’t know about it!
If your intention is to make an influencer income, however, a free WordPress blog is no good. There are a lot of limitations on layout and design and it doesn’t give you the option to put adverts etc on your blog (which is one of the main ways that influencers make money- I discuss this later in the post). Instead, you will need to invest in a hosting provider and migrate/set up your blog using WordPress.org or which ever other platform you choose.
There are lots of host providers to choose from and it can be difficult to know which is best for you! Personally, I am not very technical-minded and I am always finding myself caught out with various different things. Just last week, for example, I couldn’t figure out why my new logo was appearing on a desktop, but not on a tablet! If you’re anything like me, you will want to choose a host that’s both affordable and also available to help you out when you need assistance. My website is hosted through Dreamhost, who have been super helpful and are always there when I need them! You can find out more about Dreamhost and their current prices here.
Once you have a self-hosted blog up and running, you also want to make sure that it looks good and runs fast. This is where your theme comes in. WordPress have a lot of free themes for you to choose from and I would recommend trying some of these out at first to get a feel for what you like and what you don’t like.
I used the free WordPress theme Photolite for years and it worked just fine. But that was it- fine. It wasn’t actually until recently that I found out how important themes are and how my free theme was actually slowing my website down!
Why does this matter I hear you ask? Well, it all comes down to Google. Google wants to provide their users with the best possible search engine experience and so they carefully monitor all websites to assess whether users are likely to have a good experience with them or not. There are lots of different metrics that are taken into account with this and nobody outside of the Google staffroom really knows the exact science behind the algorithm changes, updates and ranking preferences, but what we do know is that a slow performing website is not likely to be highly ranked by Google.
So, this means that if your website is running slowly, you will be unlikely to rank. If you don’;t rank you will have less visitors to your site. If you have less visitors you will be sacrificing your influencer income. It’s as simple as that!
You might also be interested in my post-How much can I charge for a ‘do-follow’ link?
The good thing is that this is an easy fix. Was soon as I became aware of this important fact I started researching the best performing WordPress themes and I found that there was a very strong support amongst the Online community for Studio Press. Studio Press enables you to purchase one of their genesis themes. This is a one-off fee that is pretty reasonable. You can then buy further child themes at a lower rate, starting off at around $30. My website has performed much better since I installed my Studio Press theme and any stats have been gradually increasing each day, I kind of regret not spending a few Pounds sooner! You can find more information about Studio Press themes and their prices here.
For more details on how to set up a blog, I recommend that you visit this post.
3- Set up social media
Once you have your blog set up you want to create and grow your social media channels. Some influencers choose to focus solely on one or two social media channels. There are a lot of Instagram influencers, for example. Others decide to use several.
Believe me when I tell you that having multiple social media accounts across different platforms can be extremely time-consuming! I was pretty lapse at keeping up with my social media until I decided to automate a few things. You will find your own way of doing things that works best for you, but here are the tool tools that I use: Buffer and Tailwind.
I have built up my social media presence over a number of years (yes, this will take you some time!). What I have come to realise in this time is that my followers on my different accounts are actually very different!
On Twitter I have around 25k followers (you can find me here), but my engagement is generally quite low. I am not an expert on hashtags but I have found a few that work for me. My most popular posts on Twitter are, without a doubt, my PhD-related posts such as how to write your PhD faster or Should I do a PhD? 5 reasons for and against. This is largely because of the active community using the hashtag #phdchat.
In contrast, my almost 5000 Facebook followers (click here to join me on Facebook) rarely click on anything academic or PhD related. Instead, they prefer personal status updates about my daughter, travel mishaps or engaging questions. They also love it when I share photos and videos with them.
Instagram lends itself well to travel photography, so it is here that I share my favourite photographs, with an engaging caption. You can’t share links directly in your updates, so this content naturally differs from that that I post on Twitter and Facebook (I’d love to have you follow me on Instagram- you can find me here).
Whilst many travel bloggers won’t necessarily choose to focus their attention on Linkedin, this is one of my most worth-while social media channels. Because of the academic context that I put across in many of my blog posts, I am often able to engage a totally different audience through Linkedin. Here I have fellow academics, students and industry practitioners who read my content. I write my updates in a different voice and tone on Linkedin to what I use on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. If you would like to join me on Linkedin, click here.
As you can see, I have quite different audiences on these different social media channels, who respond differently to different types of content. This means that a one-size-fits-all approach simply does not work. Whilst a status of ‘yes, I did poo in a bush *embarrassed face* which links to my post of the Kilimanjaro toilet experience might be a hit on Facebook, it would be cringe-worthy to share this on Linkedin with my professional colleagues!
As a result, I need to create different content for each of my different social media channels at regular intervals. When this became too overwhelming for me, I decided to invest around £10 a month on Buffer. Buffer is a scheduling tool that lets you connect up to ten social media accounts and to schedule up to 100 statuses for each account. You will need to figure out what is the optimum amount of scheduling for you and your followers, but to give you a guide, this is my breakdown-
Twitter- 3x per day
Facebook page- 4x per week
Facebook group- 3x per week
Instagram- 2x per week
Linked- 2x per week
I also share any new posts and adhoc content in addition to this. If you would like to know more about social media activity amongst travel bloggers, take a look at my research findings, which explains more about average number of followers, frequency update etc.
Whilst these social media accounts to bring in some page views for my blog and do have potential to bring money in (I will cover this shortly), the social media platform with the biggest potential is definitely Pinterest.
If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, then I Will tell you know that you need to become familiar with it! I really lost out by not signing up for Pinterest during my first eight years of blogging, because my traffic has at least doubled since I started using it a few months ago!
Pinterest is classed as a social media platform, but really it is more like a search engine. You create a vertical pin and link it to your content and click share. It’s as easy as that! Once your pin is floating around in Pinterest it stays there for people to click on and repin. In order to make the most out of Pinterest you do need to spend some time managing it, which is why I recommend that you sign up for Tailwind. At only a few Pounds a month, Tailwind has enabled me to schedule all of my pins and to analyse which ones are performing the best, which has allowed me to optimise my pinning schedules. They say that the optimum amount of pins for a new Pinner is around 30-50 a day. This would be impossible to distribute evenly manually, so Tailwind has been a life-saver (the proof is in the pudding, oh-I mean, stats!). For a free trial on Tailwind, click here.
4- Get the know the ‘influencer scene’
The last thing I would recommend in building the foundation for your influencer income is to really understand the business and the market within which you are choosing to operate in.
Get to know other influencers in your niche. What type of content are they posting? What do they seem to be doing well? We can learn from others who are more established than us!
These past few months I have decided to focus more on my blog and I quickly realised that a lot has changed in the business since I first set up my blog in 2011. So I signed up for two courses, which have been super helpful in helping me identify suitable strategies to increase my influencer income.
The first course is Nomadic Matt’s Superstar Blogging. This is a comprehensive course that walks you through all of the stages of turning your blog into a successful business. This is a ten week programme that is perfect for beginners and more established bloggers (like me). Matt provides lots of details about his course with student reviews etc here- Superstar Blogging.
I have also been working my way through Elna’s course called Ready Set Blog for Traffic. This is a shorter (and cheaper!) course with a totally different focus. It addresses the two main areas of SEO (search engine optimisation) and Pinterest. When I started my blog back in 2011 SEO wasn’t really a thing and until recently I had never dabbled with Pinterest. I have since found that these are two fantastic ways of driving traffic to your website and I have doubled my traffic in the past few weeks since starting her course! It is pretty generic so suitable for any type of influencer, whatever your niche. You can read more about her course here- Ready Set Blog Traffic.
My final recommendation is the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. This gives an excellent overview on the methods that you can use to influence and it highly recommended amongst many successful influencers! You can find the book on Amazon here.
You might also be interested in my post- The Travel Influencer: The First Research of Its Kind
Methods of making money as an influencer
Know that you know how to build a foundation for yielding an influencer income, you are probably asking how exactly do you make money?
This is a question that I am asked frequently and one that can be easily answered! In fact, there are lots of revenue streams for influencers. My advice is never to put all of your eggs in one basket, because if you over-rely on one revenue stream and it dries up, this could cause you problems!
This actually happened to me a couple of years back. Whilst I didn’t make a lot of money, I did have a steady stream of sales from my self-published book that I was selling on Amazon- Becoming Cabin Crew. Almost all of the sales came from links that I placed on this blog. At the time I was getting about 1000 views a day for half a dozen posts on Cabin Crew, which converted to around one sale per day. Overnight, however this dropped dramatically. A change to Google’s algorithms had occurred and my posts were no longer ranking as they were. My views plummeted over the course of the next few months, with a low of around 100 a day- a 10th of what they were! This meant that less people were seeing the links to my book and therefore sales dropped (and have never recovered!).
So this is an example of why you should always invest in multiple income streams in order to yield an influencer income that is as reliable as it can be! Here are some tried and tested strategies:
1- Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is when you promote a product for somebody else receive a commission in exchange. If done well, this can be extremely profitable for influencers. There are a wide variety of affiliate programmes that you can join.
Amazon is very popular as it allows you to link to any product on the website. The bonus here is that the reader doesn’t even need to buy the item that you suggest, if they click on your link and then proceed to purchase ANYTHING on the site, then you receive a commission! You can sign up to the Amazon Associates programme here.
Share a sale is another popular affiliate network. This is a company which hosts lots of affiliate programmes from a wide range of merchants. They have categories for most niches including parenting, travel, lifestyle, fashion and sports. The good thing about this network is that they add up your affiliate income from all of the different merchants and give you one flat payout each month. You can sign up for Share a Sale here.
Many individuals will have affiliate programmes for their own products. If you do an online course or come across a blogger with an Etsy store then the chances are they will have an affiliate scheme. Many influencers will offer very attractive commission rates too (the one’s that I’ve seen tend to be 25%-45%).
Depending on your niche, there are often more specific affiliate networks that could work for you and your influencer income too. If you write about travel, for example, you may find that the booking.com and Skyscanner affiliate programmes are good for you.
There are also programmes that don’t offer money but instead offer free subscriptions or discounted services. Air b’n’b is a good example of this, where you get credit for each person who books with them through your referral link (fancy a night away? here’s my link!
The key to succeeding with affiliate marketing is to promote the right products or services to the right people. There’s no point in trying to sell nappies to somebody who doesn’t have kids…. think about what affiliate programmes you join and recommend them in your influencer content genuinely.
2- Place advertisements on your content
Another popular way of making an influencer income is through joint an ad network. When they are first starting out, many people will join Google AdSense. I have never considered joining an ad network until recently, when I signed up for Google AdSense. Whilst some people do claim to make large amounts of money from Adsense, you really do need a lot of traffic to make this happen! I made around £6 last month….
Many people will aim to build up their traffic enough that they will qualify for a higher paying ad network. I certainly know this is my goal. One of the most highly recommended is Mediavine, who require you to have at least 25k sessions per month to be eligible to join. I am monitoring my Google Analytics carefully and I am hoping I will get there soon! I have heard that people have doubled or tripled their Adsense income upon joining Mediavine…. so watch this space!
Another way of growing your influencer income through adverts is to host private sale ads. You can sell banner space, sidebar space or in-text space and agree your own terms and conditions. This can work out to be pretty profitable, although this is more difficult to come by.
3- Sponsored posts
Sponsored posts are essentially posts that include a do-follow- link. This is when companies want to promote their business, usually by ‘buying link juice’. You will likely be approached via e-mail and asked to place a sponsored post on your website for a particular fee. This is usually negotiable.
Whilst there is an ongoing debate about whether influencers should allow sponsored posts on their blogs and what the impact of this might be (remember- I said Google takes lots of things into account when deciding how well your site will rank), many people do choose to do this as a way to make profit. This is one of the areas that I looked at as part of my research. To find out more about how much you can charge for a do-follow link and why they might not be recommended for you, visit this post- how much can I charge for a ‘do-follow’ link?
4- Paid campaigns
Lots of companies run promotional campaigns and will pay you as an influencer to be a part of this. There are lots of different ways that you can be included. Here are some examples:
-Facebook/Twitter/social media status
I actually recently watched a Netflix documentary about how a bunch of influencers were paid to promote a festival in the Bahamas. I’d recommend a watch if you’re interested! Here is the trailer-
5- Sell your own products
Many influencers make an influencer income from selling their own products. You can create your own Etsy store, Amazon shop, sell physical or digital products or courses, to name a few. I
Developing products to sell can be timely and sometimes it might be more worthwhile to sell somebody else’s through affiliate marketing so don’t think that this is necessarily a ‘get rich quick’ scheme.
I suggest that you create and sell products only if you are confident that there is a market for them. I have identified a market, for example, for people who want help to prepare for their Cabin Crew assessment day. I therefore recently launched my new online course in Cabin Crew Assessment Day Mastery.
When creating and selling your own products you also need to consider marketing. When I launched my first online Cabin Crew course I spent more money on advertising than I made in profits! If you plan to promote your products yourself then make sure that you have the means to do so successfully i.e. sufficient traffic/social media followers.
6- Leverage work from your blog
The last method of making an influencer income that I will outline is to leverage work from your blog or social media platforms. This type of work can come in many shapes and forms and may be adhoc or permanent. Here are some examples-
-Freelance writing for other websites/print publications
-Virtual assistant work
-Pinterest/social media management
The list of possibilities is endless and will vary depending on your niche. For example, as a University Lecturer I have been asked to write courses and deliver guest lectures, but this wouldn’t be appropriate for everyone. I suggest that you explore the options most applicable to you.
So, all in all, you can see that whilst there is work to be done, there is also money to be made as an influencer! And if you get it right, your influencer income just might top £30,000 a month or more!
Do you have any tips to add or questions? Please drop them in the comment box below!