Partnering with businesses as an influencer is potentially a good source of income; that is, if you can make a solid plan and work hard to follow that plan. In today’s blog post, I run down 6 types of influencer marketing you can do to earn money from your blog or website.
The rise of social media and digital marketing resulted in the rise of the digital influencer and changed how businesses reach and advertise to their audiences.
But what is an influencer exactly? And what is influencer marketing?
An influencer, specifically a digital influencer, is someone who has influence over a certain target audience through digital media, such as their blogs or social media through their authority, knowledge, and relationship with their audience.
Thus, influencer marketing is when brands and businesses enlist digital influencers to promote products and services to their respective audiences with the objective of growing awareness and increasing sales.
The thing is, there isn’t a magic number of followers to be considered an influencer, but in general, influencers with more than 10,000 followers are considered macroinfluencers; these are influencers who are household names, such as the likes of the Kardashians.
On the other hand, a huge number of influencers are considered microinfluencers; these are influencers with less than 10,000 followers but who have definitely proven their influence on their audiences’ purchasing decisions. Thus, you may already be an influencer without even knowing it.
In today’s blog post, I run through the different types of influencer marketing that businesses engage in so you can get an idea of what you can go into and what type of influencer you want to be to increase the chances of getting excellent results, happy customers, and satisfied brands and businesses.
Influencer marketing is increasing in popularity with businesses recently. But why exactly do brands and businesses think that influencer marketing is a suitable alternative to traditional marketing? Here are some of the reasons why.
Influencers are called that because they influence the purchase decisions of their audience. One favorable review from them is enough to drive plenty of traffic to a website, inquiries, and ultimately plenty of purchases.
How do they do this? Their audience trusts them and they’ve certainly earned that trust by building relationships with their audience. As a result, influencers are seen more like fellow consumers than someone who’s just convincing them to buy. Thus, they’re more likely to put credence in an influencer’s word than in the businesses and brands themselves.
According to fairly recent research, 84% of millenials are at least partly influenced by user-generated content (source).
Influencers technically produce user-generated content in that they aren’t employees of the company who they’re creating the content about. The difference is that this user-generated content already has a wider audience base than usual who are receptive to that content.
Aside from creating high-quality content, they share this content on social media as well as to their email lists. Moreover, they’re likely to have optimized their blog posts and other content for search engines, making sure that people who’re searching for information about the product or service they’ve written about will find them.
There are millions of digital influencers in cyberspace, and for an influencer to stand out, they have to have the creativity to produce unique, distinctive content that speaks to their target audience. They tend to think outside the box, which is not only a positive attribute but a needed one in order to stay relevant and keep their authority.
Thus, their individual ideas and experiences lend a fresh perspective to a brand, how it’s presented and how it’s perceived by the target audience, and make suggestions for improvement.
Of course, not every recommendation that an influencer makes is accepted by the business, but the feedback and viewpoint of someone who knows their audience and knows them well are valuable to the business and should at least be considered.
As the digital landscape becomes more and more saturated, the need for businesses to build their brand awareness among their target audience becomes even more pressing. Influencers fill that need with their target audience, and they can do it in the short term.
When businesses work with influencers long term, they become even more valuable in that they eventually become brand advocates; the most faithful, intensely loyal consumers a brand can ever hope for.
Brand advocates can be anyone: customers, shareholders, employees of the business. But having an influencer as a brand advocate does so much more for the brand because of the extent of their effect on consumers. Not only are they praising the product or service but they’re doing so in full view of their followers.
To be able to create high-quality, popular content, influencers have to know who exactly they’re talking to. Influencers invest time and money in researching their target market, creating personas, and A/B testing every aspect of their content creation and marketing processes to ensure that they’re targeting the right people.
Even after doing all that, influencers don’t rest; they engage with their audience, build relationships, and exert every effort to establish trust. Not every business can boast of having this much focus on their target audience because it’s time- and labor-intensive.
Influencers are able to give their unique insight on their target audience, and this is precious to businesses because not only do they learn plenty but they can use this information to step up their game in terms of product development, marketing tactics, and branding strategy.
Businesses have different marketing goals that different types of influencer marketing strategies can help achieve. You can pick and choose which type (or types) of influencer you want to be. Here are the different types of influencer marketing you can get into.
Competitions and giveaways sponsored by businesses are a great promotion tactic to introduce themselves to potential customers who may not have heard of them yet.
Why does it work? People can’t resist free stuff.
You can host a competition on your blog and advertise it using your social media and email list. That way, the brands you’re working with get plenty of referral traffic from your channels, and they get to reach your followers instead of being confined only to their own followers.
The guidelines should ultimately depend on the business you’re working with, but since you should know your target audience intimately, consider making suggestions on their strategies and rules.
On your end, continue posting consistently and engage with your followers, as consistency and engagement are qualities that businesses are looking for in influencers who host giveaways.
Businesses, especially fledgling ones, aspire to have as many social media followers as they possibly can. There are plenty of tactics to that end, but at times, a single mention from an influencer can result in a huge amount of follower requests.
You can get paid for every social media post that mentions a brand and invites your followers to follow them too.
Depending on the business, they can pay you to post a shout out for them in any of the following formats.
Caption-only shoutout. This is when you post an image relevant to the business you’re working with, such as a simple flatlay, a hero shot, or preferably of you using their products. Most importantly, the caption should mention the brand’s social media account and invite your followers to check it out and follow it too.
Caption + image shoutout. In this type of shoutout, you overlay the image with the brand name and account. This type of shoutout is preferred by businesses than caption-only because their brand name is prominently displayed on the image itself.
The call to action (CTA) here can be for your followers to follow the brand’s account and/or for your followers to share your post to their followers. You can even turn it into a competition if your sponsor agrees. For example, you can raffle off a prize for your followers who shared your post.
Plus, if your followers share this image to their followers, even if they forget to include the caption, their brand name doesn’t get lost in the sharing shuffle, again, because it’s literally on the image.
Screenshot of your caption + image shoutout. First, you do a shoutout, and then you take a screenshot of it, and then you give permission to the business to post it in their social media account and/or social media ads as social proof. It’s like telling their followers that “Look, [influencer] is using our product!”
To be noticed by businesses and for them to want to work with you, you’ll not only have to have numerous social media followers (Instagram and Facebook in particular) but also have high engagement; that is, your followers shouldn’t just be looking at your posts; they should also be liking, commenting, and sharing your social media posts.
Businesses may want a short-term arrangement but want something way more substantial and informative than social media mentions or a periodic competition. They may also want to “audition” you or read samples of your content so they’ll know if they’re making the right decision to work with you.
In this case, they may want to sponsor your content.
Sponsored content is a type of native advertisement wherein paid content is made in your own writing style and voice. There are various types of sponsored content that you can create for businesses. Here are some of them.
Blog posts. Sponsored blog posts, sometimes known as advertorials, are articles written as you would write a normal blog post, but with the spotlight on something specific that a business wants to advertise.
For example, a new product they’re launching, a new service they’re offering, or an improved version of a product they already have.
Social media. Facebook and Instagram allow sponsored posts subject to their terms and conditions, including clearly indicating that your post is sponsored.
Labeling your sponsored content sounds like it’ll turn off many of your followers, but it doesn’t have to. Labeling sponsored content actually allows you to accept sponsorships while being completely honest with your audience and preserve your integrity.
Podcast or video. If you already have a strong following on your YouTube channel and/or podcast, brands can decide to sponsor a whole episode of your podcast or a 5- to 10-minute video on your channel.
You can certainly earn a lot from sponsored content, and it’s tempting to focus on producing sponsored content for many different brands in your niche to maximize your earning potential.
But if your website is beginning to feel like an ad space and your content looks like a scrolling billboard, your followers will lose interest, you’ll lose traffic, and there goes that income stream.
Aim to create a nice balance between sponsored posts and organic content on your blog. What you want is to keep creating content that excites your followers while creating a few sponsored posts that are still interesting to your readers while painting the sponsor in a positive light.
Hosting competitions and giveaways and mentioning businesses on social media may be short-term or even one-time arrangements. If you want a steady income, though, you might want to try for a brand ambassador role in a business that you honestly admire.
A brand ambassador is someone hired by a company for a certain period of time to promote their products and services.
Previously, this type of position has been dominated by celebrities such as movie and TV stars, sports stars, and supermodels, but now that the age of the influencer is upon us, businesses are wising up and getting influencers as their brand ambassadors.
Businesses are looking for brand ambassadors who have a wide online reach, at least some knowledge of marketing, and most importantly, an image and reputation that matches theirs. For instance, a fun, quirky brand will be looking for different brand ambassadors than professional, no-nonsense brands.
To be an effective brand ambassador, think about the brands in your niche that you want to work with long-term, do your research, and align yourself with the image and message that the brand is all about. Meanwhile, you’ll need to remain focused on creating high-quality content and growing your following and engagement because these are what brands are looking for in an ambassador.
Another mid- to long-term arrangement is working as an affiliate marketer with an established business. It involves partnering with businesses to promote products and services and earn commissions from those partnerships.
Affiliate marketing has actually been a great source of online income even before influencer marketing became popular.
If you already have a sizeable number of followers and promote the right products or services, you can potentially earn a great deal of money from affiliate commissions.
The way to get started with affiliate marketing is to write reviews, if you haven’t been writing them for products already. Once you find businesses whose products you actually use and like using, you can then write honest reviews of these products and show these reviews to the businesses you want to work with as a demonstration of both your content creation skills and your goodwill toward the business.
We’ve previously covered affiliate marketing, and you can read more about it in the following articles:
Posting your content on other businesses’ platforms or vice versa—that is, hosting guest content created by brands on your website—is a great way for businesses to expand their reach and introduce themselves to new audiences. Here are some ways you can go into guest content and earn commissions for it.
Guest blogging. Guest blogging can be done two ways: you can post a guest article on the business’s blog, or they can post their content on your blog. Either way, the goal is to drive traffic back to their websites.
Social media takeover. This involves taking over a brand’s Instagram for a certain period of time—a day, a week, a month—and posting their own content on their account, with a caption indicating who’s taking over the account.
You can also sometimes take over a brand’s Twitter and host a Q&A session where their followers can ask you about anything and attach a hashtag to all the tweets so you can easily see them and also to increase engagement when it becomes trending.
Other guest content. If you’re into vlogging and the business has a vlog as well, you can take over their channel and post your own content there. You can also host guestographics, which are infographics that the business has created specifically as guest content for influencers’ blogs.
The key to success for guest content is word-of-mouth; you need to be able to promote the content to your followers and convince them to view your content, even if it’s found on another site.
Similarly, when you’re the one hosting, you need to be able to convince your followers to still engage with the content even if you’re not actually the one who made it. Make sure you assess all the content that you agree to place on your site, because you can earn money from it in the short term, but constantly placing substandard content on your site is a sure way to ruin your reputation.
There are plenty of ways to monetize your blog, and being a digital influencer is one of them. It sounds glamorous and high-profile, but it takes a lot of hard work to be a successful one. Good thing about it is that you can decide what kind of influencer you want to be.
Here again are the 6 types of influencer marketing I discussed.
And here are a few more reminders before you strive to be a digital influencer.
How much money you earn as an influencer doesn’t only depend on how hard you work, but on the quality of the businesses you work with. It doesn’t matter if they’re startups or established businesses; if their products are inferior, you shouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole.
On the other hand, even if their products are excellent, if you agree to host their content or post content created by them, you need to make sure that their content is up to your standards on your blog. You risk turning off your readers and followers when they read content that clashes with your normal, organic content.
It’s tempting to pad your traffic data and user engagement statistics when businesses ask to see them or when you advertise your services as an influencer. You understandably want to put your best foot forward and convince them that you’re the right person for the job.
But don’t fake your numbers just because you want to seem like a good fit for them. When they find out the truth, not only are they not going to work with you but you’re going to lose their trust and respect. It’s your reputation on the line, and as an influencer, your reputation is of utmost value.
Being authentic also applies to your organic content. If you start sounding like an advertiser instead of an actual consumer, your followers will get turned off and abandon ship. Continue creating real and relatable organic content for your audience.
You can view influencer marketing as a symbiosis between a business and an influencer as they help each other expand their reach and achieve their respective goals.
However, remember that the success of an influencer largely depends on the trust of their audience. The moment your follower feels that they can’t trust your content because it’s not high-quality, too biased, or if you’re working closely with too many disreputable businesses and brands, your follower can unfollow you that very minute.
When the trust is gone, it’s nearly impossible to bring back. So don’t give your audience a reason to distrust you; put out excellent content and give out honest, impartial opinions every single time.
Do you think you have what it takes to be an influencer? What type of influencer do you think you’re going to be? Share your thoughts in the comments!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.