How to Make Money on Social Media, According to a Consumer Expert

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The first thing to know about making money on social media as an influencer is that while many make the lifestyle look glamorous and carefree, getting there requires hundreds of hours of hustle. Your grid, your timeline, your feed—they all need to be treated like a full-time job.

“If you’re saying you want to make it your career, you have to really go into it with your eyes open and know that it takes a lot of time, a lot of persistence, and a lot of patience,” Money Crashers consumer expert and head of marketing Carly Fauth tells Backstage. “In order for it to become your career, you need to be putting so much time into it that you almost don’t have time for anything else.”

That’s not just about hours in the day; wannabe influencers should settle in for the long haul. “In order to reach the point where you have brands coming after you and to make it something like a career, you have to realize that there’s a lot of trial and error involved. It doesn’t just happen overnight,” adds Fauth.

Now that your expectations are tempered from immediate Kim Kardashian–level success, consider these four tips as you get started:

  1. Only take on what you can carry.
    When it comes to building your online brand, more is not always more. Dedicating yourself to regular, high-quality output on one or two platforms instead of five will be to your benefit. “If you’re not going to take the time to be consistent and post on them, it almost doesn’t even make sense to have them. Why have them if you’re not going to keep up with them?” Fauth says. “Pick the platforms that you feel most comfortable with and be consistent with your posting.”
  2. Divide the personal from the professional.
    People are following you for your dedicated niche content, not your family and pet photos. Fauth advises aspiring influencers to make two profiles: one for professional content, the other for private friends and family. “Don’t be posting a bunch of different things. Try to keep it in your niche.”
  3. Speaking of niche, nail yours down to stand out from the crowd.
    Fauth admits that it’s not always easy to find something to do on social media that no one else is doing, but squaring off a singular take on something universal is key to building an audience interested in what you have to say. “You need to find something that you’re passionate about. When you’re passionate about something, you’re more creative with it.”
  4. Lastly, for creatives looking to vlog or create a web series, don’t be afraid to take risks.
    “You’re putting yourself out there a little bit in the creative realm—you can’t be afraid of what people are going to think,” Fauth says. “You have to kind of go into it believing in yourself, believing what you’re posting, and just be confident about it.”

READ: A Social Media Consultant Tells You How to Become an Influencer

It’s only after taking these steps, building a foundation for your voice and content and finding a dedicated audience, that money can be made. Brands will back what you’re doing through initiatives like brand ambassador deals, ads bought within YouTube channels, invitations to participate in affiliate marketing campaigns, and more. When those factors are all lined up, you’re ready to do some outreach and ride the wave.

“Once you start to gain a bunch of followers and you start to gain some traction, reach out to some brands with ideas of how you can be a brand ambassador—and don’t be afraid of rejection. Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there,” Fauth says. Much as you would write a cover letter when applying for a job, create a template to send out to those you want to work with, personalize it to the brand you’re pitching, and wait for a response from your future collaborators. “It takes hustle a lot of the time, especially when you’re starting out, before you’ve made a name for yourself.”

But in the end, the hustle is worth it.

This story originally appeared in the April 2 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.

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Benjamin Lindsay
Benjamin Lindsay is managing editor at Backstage, where if you’re reading it in our magazine, he’s written or edited it first. He’s also producer and host of a number of our digital interview series, including our inaugural on-camera segment, Backstage Live.
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