How to make money as an online influencer

Could you be the next blogging or vlogging sensation? If you’ve got a knack for producing compelling content then this is the business opportunity for you...

Useful links

What is an online influencer and who is the business opportunity suited to?
Creating an online influencer business plan
Online influencer rules and regulations
How much does it cost to become an online influencer?
How much can you earn as an online influencer?
Tips and useful contacts

What is an online influencer and who is the business opportunity suited to?

In the last 20 years, the internet has changed the world of business and commerce beyond recognition, opening up opportunities for budding entrepreneurs that would have previously been unfathomable.

Not least in the blogosphere, where those that are digitally-savvy can conceivably make millions without ever leaving their bedrooms.

Becoming an online influencer means you can use different social media platforms to promote products and services to your followers, which could be in the form of a direct endorsement, review, paid advertising, partnerships and much more.

Different personalities choose to express themselves in different ways depending on their skill set, giving brands and marketing companies a range of options when it comes to using influencer marketing for promotional activities.

If you have a popular blog, video blog or an active presence on social media and don’t yet monetise it, then you could make the jump to become an online entrepreneur and influencer.

So, how can you become a successful online influencer? There are several different routes to take:


Action point:
See if you can get a Start Up Loan to help you start a business idea
(external site, opens in new tab)

Blogging

Which usually take the form of written content, uploaded frequently to a hosting site. Blogs are often focused around a single topic and target a particular audience – a useful platform for brands wishing to promote a niche or specialist product or service. A blogger should have excellent grasp of the English language and a creative nature; you’ll need to be able to produce compelling and concise content regularly.

Also see: How to make money from a blog using e-commerce 

Vlogging (video blogging)

A form of visual content where you upload videos which resonate with your followers/fans. Usually uploaded on YouTube – now the second most visited website in the world – vlogs have the potential to reach huge (and usually young) audiences and can turn vloggers into hugely influential, and profitable, business men and women as brands look to partner with these vloggers and maximise on their fan base. Just look at the success of Alfie Deyes of PointlessBlog and Zoe Sugg of Zoella fame for example. It is essential that you are comfortable in front of a camera and have the ability to engage your audience with exciting and unique visual content.

Become an Instagram entrepreneur aka ‘Instapreneur

One of the hottest business ideas in 2016, in recent years we’ve seen the rise of budding entrepreneurs who use image sharing site Instagram to create a brand around them. While these Instapreneurs typically use Instagram to promote an existing blog/vlog or business – there’s also the potential to create a business on Instagram organically (for instance you could take pictures while you travel, gain a following and then look to travel brands to sponsor you). The advantage of using Instagram lies in its simplicity, you can share beautiful photography and short, snappy video content to engage users. Judicious use of hashtags, the ability to create eye-catching photographs and short but compelling videos is imperative.

To find out what it takes to become a successful social media influencer, we asked three people from the emerging sector to share their knowledge, advice and insights:

Matt Donegan, CEO of London-based marketing agency Social Circle defines online influencers as “social media stars with a large and loyal following across social media platforms”. He explains that brands partner with these influencers to “create content that engages with their audience and delivers a brand’s message”. In particular, using social influencers is a great way for them to connect with the “the hard to reach under-25 market”.

Donegan says that it’s “a nascent sector with huge shifts, often on a month-by-month basis”, which makes it an “exciting environment to work in”.

One such influencer is Beckii Cruel, a creative liason with Social Circle. According to Cruel, “an influencer doesn’t have to be someone with millions of followers – it can even be someone with a few hundred followers. As long as their audience is engaged, the message will be effective”.

Donegan agrees: “We’ve worked with influencers with millions of followers, but also niche influencers who have highly engaged but smaller audience – which is often more valuable for a start up / upcoming brand”.

But what kind of person has the right skills to be an influencer? Well, “anyone” both Donegan and Cruel agree. Cruel: “It’s all about finding a community and sharing something you are passionate about, rather than the traditional means of celebrity, in that you had to know the right people and be in the right place. For YouTube and social media, it feels a little more democratised in that the viewers are the ones who choose who to support and therefore who is successful”.

However, she warns that not just anybody “should go into  an influencer role for the sole purpose of getting brand deals and monetising their platform. The most important thing is believing in the content you are making”, Cruel asserts.

Bill Warren, global head of sales at BzzAgent says influencer marketing is essentially the oldest and most trusted type of marketing” as it relies on word-of-mouth: “Influencer marketing is a shift away from brands using advertising to promote themselves and a move towards having their consumers, from celebrities to your next door neighbour, market for them”.

Put simply, Warren states “it is the most authentic way for brands to tell their story because people trust people” and he argues that you have the opportunity to “highlight benefits of a product in a more authentic manner than a traditional advertisement”.

“Every person with a smartphone and a social presence” has the potential to be a social influencer Warren concludes.

So you’re connected to an audience and think you have what it takes to create compelling content, and look to monetise it? Well, before you start, it’s time to plan exactly how you’re going to maximise your chances to succeed in this still nascent but increasingly competitive space…