How Social Media Influencers Make Money

Nearly everyone has seen the Instagram posts for Flat Tummy Tea or SugarBearHair vitamins posted on their feed by their favorite influencers. The question is: do those influencers get paid to promote these products? The answer is yes, almost all of the time.

The way to tell if something is an advertisement in an Instagram post is the influencer’s inclusion of hashtags like #ad, #advertisement, #spons, #sponsor or #partner. There may be more hashtags to share with their audience to let them know, but these are the most common.

This is important because an influencer must actually disclose if they are getting paid to promote the product or not.

The amount of money an influencer is paid depends a lot on his or her follower count. Most of the time, the amount of money for small influencers isn’t substantial enough to make a living. But some influencers receive hefty sums for their posts, like Kylie Jenner or James Charles whose day jobs consist of being good at makeup, receiving sponsorships and posting content for their followers.

Marlena Stell, CEO of Makeup Geek, posted a recent video in which she talks about how influencers charge upwards of $60,000 to mention a product and talk highly of it. She also explains how her company cannot afford to do this.

A lot of subscribers were upset upon hearing her comment regarding their favorite influencers because many people rely on influencers such as James Charles or Jacklyn Hill for honest opinions of products. If there is that big of a paycheck involved, the opinion is bound to be biased.

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After the backlash of Marlena Stell’s video, James Charles posted a video with another influencer, Tati, during which they share their feelings on the matter. Charles breaks down the numbers and proves why influencers charge that price for a product mention or sponsorship.

“Brands have to adverstise,” Charles said.

He also talks about how it is cheaper for a brand to hire an influencer because the influencer does their makeup, video and product placement all on their own without a team. A traditional ad campaign involves renting studio space, equipment, makeup artists, lights, advertisement placement and so much more.

Charles goes on to say that the profit margin, or money made after the advertisement, is much wider when they hire an influencer to do it, because the price of $60,000 is just the beginning of what the brand would spend on a traditional commercial or advertisement, and it often times is not going directly to the consumer.

On top of these brand deals or sponsorships, influencers get “adsense” money that comes directly through YouTube. The amount of adsense depends on the amount of views they get and subscribers they have.

Smaller influencers can still make a decent amount of money. A smaller YouTuber by the name of Adelle Ramcharan talks about how she makes about $700 a month just by maintaing her weekly upload schedule and keeping her videos at around the same lengths. YouTubers only need a few thousand subscribers to make money through adsense, which is something many people aren’t aware of.

Influencers on all platforms are role models for their followers, and although they get paid, it does not mean that they don’t believe in the products they are promoting. Some influencers are like Tati Wesbrook, who even said in her video, “I don’t do sponsorships because the audience feels like it cuts back on trust.”

Charles says in his video, “I just think influencers should be more open and honest when they are doing sponsorships … they should only take sponsorships when it is a product they actually care about.”

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