Photo: Agcreativelab, Milan, Italy, YFS Magazine, Adobe Stock

How To Make Your First $1,000 As An Influencer

You might just be an influencer if you have something to contribute to a niche market.

You might just be an influencer if you have something to contribute to a niche market. Making a living as an influencer can be a fulfilling career. But before we get that far — how do you tackle making that first $1,000?

Think of earning an income as filling eggs in a carton. Most likely, your income won’t come from a single source (an egg). But when you diversify your income streams — think affiliate links, selling eBooks, posting branded content, etc. — you begin to fill your carton. Before you know it, that first $1,000 will be in your pocket, with plenty more to come. Let’s cover everything you need to know to get started.


Quick Stats on Social Platforms’ Earning Potential



How to Make Your First $1,000 on Instagram

Instagram is arguably the most lucrative and popular platform for influencers across a wide swath of industries. Brands will typically pay influencers per post or per story, with a rate of $0.01 per follower as a rule of thumb. While it may not sound like much, even micro-influencers with just 10,000 followers are looking at $100 per post.

Photo: Agcreativelab, Milan, Italy, YFS Magazine, Adobe Stock
Photo: Agcreativelab, Milan, Italy, YFS Magazine

Brands may be willing to pay even more if your audience is highly engaged. To check your engagement stats, view your “Professional dashboard” on your Instagram account and view your “Account insights.” An engagement rate of 1–3% is considered the industry standard average for influencers. If you can prove a higher engagement rate, you may be able to charge more.


How to Make Your First $1,000 on TikTok

Influencers make money on TikTok from branded partnerships (we dive into tools that will help you land these later) — but you won’t make it on this platform unless you’re fully authentic. Only reach out to brands you trust and that align with your values. Make sure you’re using the branded content toggle for transparency with your followers. TikTok may take down sponsored videos that aren’t correctly labeled.

Along with video creation, consider hosting live streams. You’ll get to engage directly with your audience, answer questions, and earn TikTok coins, which can be exchanged for cash. This is a great opportunity to advertise your own products (if you have an e-commerce business) or another company’s products (if you have a partnership).

Lastly, you may be able to receive payouts from TikTok’s Creator Fund, launched in 2020. You’ll need to be 18 or older, have at least 10,000 followers, and have at least 100,000 video views in the past month to be eligible.


How to Make Your First $1,000 on Pinterest

Pinterest is a great way to show off products you use in your everyday life — from fashion and beauty to gardening and DIY. If you’re part of an affiliate link program (more on that later), share your affiliate links on Pinterest to drive sales when pinners make a purchase. You can also boost these posts with paid Pinterest ads to drive even more sales.

If you sell products through an e-commerce website, you can also use Pinterest’s shopping tool to drive sales directly through in-app checkout. You have to meet a few criteria, including having a Shopify account.


How to Make Your First $1,000 Using LTK

If you’re not already familiar, LTK is an influencer marketing platform that offers a program called Creator Commerce. It allows influencers to partner with over 1 million brands across 100 countries by sharing product links on social media, YouTube, or blogs. Influencers make a commission from each sale made from their shared links. It’s most prevalent among influencers in the fashion, beauty, home, and fitness industries.

Photo: Agcreativelab, Milan, Italy, YFS Magazine, Adobe Stock
Photo: Agcreativelab, Milan, Italy, YFS Magazine

While lucrative, the platform is notoriously hard to apply for. According to LTK, they require a public social media profile, an engaged following, and “high-quality shoppable content posted regularly.” Emphasis on the “regularly” — according to the platform, influencers who post at least three times per month on their shop make 35% more than those who post less than that.


How to Monetize Your Influencer Website

While social media is likely your main source of revenue, don’t forget about your website! Having a professional website and/or blog helps you come across as more legitimate and trustworthy to prospective brand partners. And it’s a great way to open more passive income streams, too.


Add Display Ads on Your Site

If you’re a blogger, display ads are another great way to diversify your income streams. While the payoff per view isn’t significant — about 10-50 cents per pageview — it can easily add up if you have a lot of monthly traffic. The most common ad networks include:

  • Google AdSense
  • Yahoo Publisher
  • Bing for Partners
  • Partner Network with Admitad
  • Amazon Publisher Services
  • PopAds


Join Affiliate Link Programs

Affiliate link programs are a great way to earn passive income while promoting products you genuinely believe in. Many companies offer their own unique affiliate link programs, but the Amazon Affiliate Link Program is a great place to start. Keep in mind that you’ll need a highly engaged audience before signing up. That’s because if you don’t make a sale within the first 180 days, your account will be deactivated permanently.

In September 2019, Google rolled out sponsored links. This is Google’s way of understanding which links on your site are pointing toward a brand whom you have a paid relationship with. To comply, make sure all of your advertising and sponsored links are marked with rel=”sponsored” in your HTML code so search engines know how to categorize them — otherwise, your SEO may be penalized.


Sell eBooks, Video Courses, or Other Educational Materials

Your audience looks to you as an authority in your industry — so why not put all that expertise into something tangible? By creating ebooks, video courses, curriculum, or even in-person classes, you give yourself another income stream. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Shorter is better. Rather than one massive ebook or video, can you break them down into bite-sized pieces? This helps your audience absorb information more easily.
  • Recycle content. Can you repurpose successful blog posts into ebook pages? What about turning a live stream into a video course?
  • Keep eBooks affordable. The eBook market can get saturated, so do some research to see what similar creators are selling their books for and price accordingly.


Legitimize Your Business

Influencers find their strength in creativity, but it’s often easy to let business logistics fall by the wayside. It’s important to remember that, as a content creator making an income, you’re running a business. You should treat your influencer business like any other business and set it up the right way from the get-go to avoid liability and tax issues down the line.


Choose a Business Structure

While there are many business structure options, you’ll likely want to form an LLC for liability protection as an influencer. If for any reason, your business finds itself in legal trouble, an LLC will protect your personal assets like your bank accounts, home, and car.


Consider Insurance

Another layer of protection, depending on your industry, includes insurance. Many times, a business won’t work with you unless you can show proof of insurance. This will protect you in legal cases, like if your messaging causes people to believe you’ve stolen their ideas or caused defamation.


Tools to Use

Aside from social media and your website, there are a few other tools you should be using to attract brand partnerships and sponsorships.


Outreach and PR Software for Influencers

If you’re a new influencer or trying to expand your audience, you’ll likely spend a lot of time pitching to brands to land paid partnerships. Use software and tools to make the process easier.

  • BuzzStream: An email outreach tool that helps you organize prospect relationships and create follow-up sequences
  • Meltwater: Similar to BuzzStream, a media relations management tool that helps you automate your important tasks
  • io: A Google Chrome plugin that allows you to scrape webpages for prospect contact information like email addresses
  • Muck Rack: A media database that helps you find relevant contact information and schedule personalized pitches


Branded Influencer Media Kit

An influencer media kit is one of the most powerful tools in your influencer arsenal. Think of it as a resume for potential brand partnerships. It should list key metrics about your audience, like Instagram followers or YouTube subscribers, engagement rates, website traffic, etc. The more specific you are about your potential to create sales and conversions, the more enticing you’ll be to brands.

You don’t have to be a professional designer to create an eye-catching media kit. Canva and Etsy offer virtually endless media kit template options you can purchase or use for free. Just customize them with your headshots, brand colors, and metrics, and you’re all set.


Filing Taxes as a Content Creator/Influencer

Whether you decide to form an LLC or work as a sole proprietor, you’ll need to file quarterly income tax. You should receive a form 1099-NEC from any partners you’ve worked with and earned more than $600. You should also receive a form 1099-NEC from display ad networks from which you earned more than $600. Even if you don’t receive a form, you’ll still need to report this income on your tax return.

Under the IRS’s gift tax regulations, influencers also need to pay taxes on free products sent to them by brands. The good news is influencers can write off a lot of expenses used for content creation, including (but not limited to):

  • Advertising and marketing
  • Website and software
  • Mileage and travel
  • Computers, laptops, phones, and tablets
  • Cameras and camera equipment

Your influencer journey will be a long and windy road, but if you stay true to your voice and only work with brands that you truly believe in, your audience will value your authenticity. That’s how the real creators shine. You’ll be filling your egg carton of influencer income in no time — and $1,000 is only the beginning.


Dustin Ray leads business development and growth initiatives at Incfile, a national document filing service company specializing in the formation of business entities. Founded in 2004, Incfile had assisted in the formation of more than 800,000 Corporations and LLCs. For only $49 a month + state fees, Incfile can help you easily and quickly form your LLC and start your business today.


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