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7 Ways to Monetize Your Social Media Presence

Growing a social media following is one of the best ways to bolster your personal brand, improve your online business, and benefit from business opportunities overall. But as your social media presence grows, you might want to take advantage of it – and monetize it directly – rather than using it to feed your other income streams.

Fortunately, there are many ways to monetize your social media presence, especially if you dedicate enough time and attention to doing so. Let’s break down those ways one by one in detail.

Join an Affiliate Marketing Program

Firstly, you can join an affiliate marketing program. “An affiliate marketing program has you directly advertise products to your social media following or audience,” says Christy Pyrz, Chief Marketing Officer of Paradigm Peptides. For example, you might make a Facebook post highlighting the benefits of a specific product or exploring how you use the product in your daily life with a short and informative video.

Then you include an affiliate marketing link in the social media post. “Whenever one of your followers clicks on the affiliate link and makes a purchase, you’ll get a cut of the profits in the form of a commission percentage,” says Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder and CEO of OSDB Sports. “That makes it one of the best ways to make passive income based on your social media following alone.

Affiliate marketing is so useful because you can make money from it on your social media posts, on blog posts, and on videos you create. All you have to do is make sure to include an affiliate link for the products you promote or advertise!

Even better, practically anyone can join an affiliate marketing program. Even if you don’t have a lot of followers or a massive social media presence quite yet, you can still join one of these programs and start making some money on the side, especially if your following grows at the same time.

Partner with Brands (Become an Influencer)

You can also monetize your social media presence by becoming an influencer. When you become an influencer, you partner with brands either outwardly or subtly. In either case, you use your social media presence to:

  • Promote certain brands, bolstering their audience’s brand awareness and market dominance

  • Promote or advertise specific products with the intent to drive sales for those products

  • Lead the conversation in certain industries or niches to divert traffic to different brands

  • And more

Partnering with brands is the ultimate goal for many social media influencers. However, note that you won’t necessarily strike it rich right off the bat.

To become a highly wealthy influencer and really monetize your social media presence, you’ll need to build up your following over time. Sean Doherty, General Manager of Box Genie, says, “A lot of important brands only partner with social media influencers who have massive audiences and personal brands that work with their own.”

To partner with brands more successfully:

  • Be sure that you have a personal brand that you stick to over time, such as an aesthetic, type of content you make, etc.

  • Start small by partnering with cheaper brands to learn how to do the work and how to speak to your audience to drive sales/conversions

Make an Online Course

Alternatively, you can create an online course and monetize your social media presence that way. If you have any skill and some ability to teach, you can use an online educational platform, such as Teachable, to make and deliver courses to your audience members quickly and easily.

You can monetize these online courses directly by requiring people to pay to receive their material. However, you can still monetize your social media presence with free courses by:

  • Using the courses as vectors to drive traffic to an online store (see more below)

  • Using the courses as vectors to drive purchases of specific products – you can practice this strategy in conjunction with partnering with brands as described above

“Making an online course has an additional benefit: improve your industry authority and knowledge in your niche,” says Kyle Clements, CEO of Quipli. “When you make online courses in one subject or another, your audience will become more likely to think of you as a major authority in your area(s). This can assist your other business ventures and prospects by making you a more trustworthy, worthwhile brand to partner with.”

Run an Online Store and Divert Traffic to It

As touched on above, you can create an online store – either on a dedicated website you whip up yourself or using a platform like Etsy – and then use your social media presence to divert traffic to its products.

Brian Lee, Co-Founder and CEO of ARENA CLUB, says, “Say that you like to create handmade jewelry. You can set up an online store on Etsy, complete with a charming storefront and a basic checkout experience. To drive traffic to that online store, you can plug it with every social media post you make, whether it’s for your own products or for someone else.”

This is a common tactic for practically any active social media presence these days. With the right strategy, you can combine this idea with the others and make money from several different channels or avenues simultaneously.

Offer Your Services as a Consultant

Have a lot of experience in social media marketing or in other areas? You can use your social media presence to advertise your skills as a consultant.

Alex Novak, CEO of SLR, says, “Say that you have a lot of experience in digital marketing. When you make posts on social media, you can add a tag or line at the end of each post stating that you are available for consulting services. Consultants can make a lot of money, especially if their skills are in high demand or are relatively rare.”

Of course, you need to have worthwhile skills to monetize your social media presence in this way. Still, should you have the right skills, leveraging your social media followers is the best way to get new clients.

Sell Leads to Companies

You can monetize your social media following by selling leads. In essence, leads are individuals or potential clients who are interested in what you or another brand are selling. If you have a large following with a specific interest, you can collect leads and sell them to other companies.

“For example, say that you are a fitness influencer and love to post social media content about eating well and exercising,” says Max Schwartzapfel, CMO of Fighting For You. “As you build up your following, you can sell those leads to apparel companies, fitness companies, nutritional snack brands, and so on.”

Selling leads to companies may also lead to beneficial influencer partnerships. Cody Candee, Founder and CEO of Bounce Luggage Storage, says, “This highlights the potential of monetizing your social media presence in multiple ways at the same time.”

Creator Funds

Lastly, you may be able to join a so-called creator fund depending on the social media platforms you are most active on. TikTok, for example, offers a creator fund in the form of payments to its most popular users.

“Essentially, if you build up a large enough following, your social media platforms will pay you to stay active and keep people engaged on the site,” says Sasha Ramani, Associate Director of Corporate Strategy at MPOWER Financing. The more people are engaged, the more likely they are to view advertisements and make purchases, after all! However, this strategy is only available if you have a sizable following in the first place.

How Many Followers Do You Need for Monetization?

When it comes to monetizing your social media following, the more followers you have, the better. No brand wants to partner with would-be “influencers” who only have 500 or so followers.

If you really want to start monetizing your followers, you need at least several thousand. Even then, that small number of followers will only be ideal for certain monetization strategies, such as diverting traffic to your online store.

Want to partner with major brands or score some advertising deals? You’ll need at least 50,000 followers on average to make your personal brand attractive to marketing agencies. Depending on your niche, personality, and your influencing strategy, this could take you anywhere from several months to several years.

“Fortunately, followers tend to snowball in number as you accumulate them,” says Omid Semino, CEO and Founder of Diamond Mansion. “It’s harder to get your first 1000 followers than it is to go from 1000 followers to 10,000, for instance.”

Bottom line: To maximize monetization of your social media presence, get as many followers as you can before pursuing advertising or brand partnership deals.

Summary

As you can see, monetizing your social media presence is a matter of:

  • Building up enough of an audience to be worthwhile to brands or advertisers

  • Choosing the right monetization avenue for your business or personal goals

  • Continuing to maintain and build your social media following over time

With the right monetization strategies, your social media following could turn into a major source of passive or active income, as well as directly bolster your other business ventures. Good luck!

McClatchy newsroom and editorial staff were not involved in the creation of this content.