Do you have lots of social media followers? Do you want to learn how to turn those followers into dollars?

Right now, there are people making a living on social media without selling anything. We’ve all seen those profiles of seemingly regular people with tons of followers.

It always seems as if they’re traveling or doing something fun. But what exactly do they do to fund this fairytale lifestyle? Simple. They are social influencers. Its unsurprising that these social influencers are making bank when you consider that the global influencing market has more than doubled since 2019. According to 2023 statistics its currently sitting at $21.1 billion.

This is promising news if you’re interested in making a living on social media as an influencer. Even if you don’t have lots of followers right now, this guide will show you what you need to do to make yourself more appealing to marketers and brands.

We’ve previously explained how to use micro influencers to increase your product credibility. But now we wanted to write an informative guide aimed to help influencers make more money.

With influencer marketing making our list of the top marketing trends to look for, there is plenty of money to be made in this space if you position yourself accordingly.

11 Steps to Make Money on Social Media

These are the 11 steps to take to make a living on social media without selling any products.

  1. Pick a platform
  2. Join a network for influencers
  3. Boost your engagement rates
  4. Give away free stuff
  5. Use multiple hashtags
  6. Partner with a mobile app
  7. Find your niche
  8. Know your worth
  9. Post high-quality photos
  10. Fully disclose your relationships with brands
  11. Promote your services

Step 1. Pick a platform

The first thing you need to do is decide which platform you’re going to prioritize the most.

Ultimately, you’ll want to have profiles set up on as many social networks as possible, but one needs to be your bread and butter.

Research shows that nearly all social influencers work on Instagram.

pick a platform infographic
More influencers use Instagram than most other social media platforms.

In 2018, more than 82% of social influencers said that Instagram is their number one platform. This is probably because 76% of influencers say that Instagram has the best tools compared to other social platforms.

In addition recent data from Statistica has demonstrated that although TikTok and Facebook have significant influencer following Instagram still outdoes them with 28.7% of people follow influencers on Instagram.

Based on these numbers, we highly recommend picking Instagram as your top priority.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. If other influencers are having so much success on Instagram, you should be able to follow in their footsteps.

Your other social profiles should be used to enhance the image of your personal brand and ultimately expand your reach. For example, you can use Facebook and Twitter to try to get more followers on Instagram.

Step 2. Join a network for influencers

Another way to make money on social media is by joining networks made for influencers.

These platforms are used to connect brands with people based on their followers and specialties.

Brandwatch is a great place to start.

A screenshot of the Bandwatch homepage.
Bandwatch will let you determine what you’re auience is interested in.

Let’s say you share lots of content related to yoga and holistic health on your social media profiles.

Your followers are obviously interested in this content as well, which is why they are following you in the first place.

If you join one of these networks, it will be easier for brands to find you if they have a product or service related to your content.

If a brand wants to work with an influencer to sell their newest yoga mat and yoga clothing, it’ll get matched with you through these networks.

You can handle all communication with the brands through these platforms as well.

This can help you stay organized as opposed to using direct messaging through social media. Once you get lots of followers, it’s tough to keep up with all of the messages in your inbox.

Step 3. Boost your engagement rates

The reason why brands want to work with social influencers is they historically have extremely high engagement rates.

In fact, brands named engagement as the top metric for measuring the success of influencer marketing campaigns.

BI intelligence engagement rates infographic
Brands measure success through different avenues including product sales, engagement, and conversions.

If you want to make yourself more appealing, you can show brands how high your engagement rates are with your followers.

Starting is simple. Simply begin with learning how to write captions that drive engagement.

You want your followers to like, comment, tag, view, and share your content so having engaging captions will ensure they do this.

You also need to respond to your followers.

We know, this can be tricky, especially for those of you who have tens of thousands of followers. But the key is getting into a habit of making time to respond. At the very least, like their comment if you can’t respond to it.

Remember, we’re treating this as your job. If you want to make a living on social media, you need to dedicate a certain amount of time each day toward making yourself a more valuable influencer.

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Essentially, engaging with your followers will help them feel a personal connection with you. When you recommend a brand to them, they will be more likely to act on your recommendation, making your marketing campaigns more successful.

Step 4. Give away free stuff

Everyone wants to get something free.

To increase engagement with your followers, hosting a giveaway is one of your top options.

Once you start negotiating with brands and deciding what kind of content you should be posting, you can suggest a giveaway.

Ultimately, the decision is theirs. They will be the ones paying you for sponsored content.

But you don’t have to commit to anything you’re uncomfortable with. If you think the content they want you to post doesn’t add value to your followers, you can respectfully turn down the offer.

After all, you don’t want to lose credibility by posting everything and anything someone presents to you.

Otherwise, you could see a drop in engagement from your followers.

Take a look at this post from Instagram personality Jen Selter:

Instagram post by Jen Selter

Jen has more than 12 million followers on Instagram.

How do you keep 12 million people entertained? Don’t spam them.

Yes, it’s clear that this post is promoting a brand. But she’s doing it in a way that adds value to her followers by giving them a chance to win something free.

This post has all the elements required to run a profitable giveaway.

If you are still trying to grow your following, giving something away could be the best way to do that, even if you aren’t getting paid by any brands yet.

It may be worth spending $100 out of your own pocket on a gift card, for example, to give away to your followers.

Then you can show brands how good your engagement rates were for that campaign as you move forward with your career as an influencer.

Step 5. Use multiple hashtags

If you’re trying to make money on social media, you can’t be afraid to use hashtags.

But don’t use only one per post.

Research shows that using multiple hashtags leads to higher engagement rates.

Infographic of likes per 100 posts based on number of hashtags
Multiple hashtags generate more sales.

The magic number here is seven.

Posts with seven hashtags have the highest engagement rates.

But that doesn’t mean you should go overboard. Using more than eight hashtags on one single post can seem spammy.

You should also use a variety of hashtags. Some should be broad and intended to reach the highest number of people. For example, #love and #instagood are popular hashtags used on Instagram while #fyp (for you page) and #viral are popular on TikTok at the moment.

The better your hashtag game the more your post will be exposed to the masses.

However, you don’t want to get lost in the shuffle.

Create some unique and more specific hashtags appropriate for each campaign. If you look at the giveaway example again, you’ll see that Jen used #JenSelterGIVEAWAY in per post to stand out.

Step 6. Partner with a mobile app

All too often I see social influencers partner with the same types of brands. They’re promoting clothing, fitness apparel, accessories, and food.

While there is nothing wrong with this strategy, it may not be sustainable for long-term growth.

Those brands will end up using other influencers in the future once they feel they’ve gotten the most out of you and if your cost per post rate gets too high.

Thats why you need to think outside the box and try to partner with unique brands, such as mobile applications.

Here’s a great example of this strategy was used by social influencer Eric Rubens:

Instragram profile erubes1 - chief partnerships @Explorest example
Eric is a travel influencer.

Before his profile was set to private Eric had more than 380k followers on Instagram.

If you look at his previous bio, he promoted a few different things related to his personal brand image. You can see his YouTube name and link to his website.

But look at what we highlighted. It’s his partnership with Explorest, a mobile application.

The idea behind this app is very unique. It shows users exact directions to places where they can take cool photographs.

This idea also fits within Eric’s personal image. If you looked through his profile in the past, he takes amazing photographs of places all over the world. So his followers are obviously interested in this type of content.

That’s why he was able to successfully partner with a mobile app such as Explorest.

Step 7. Find your niche

It’s tempting for new influencers to take jobs from any brand that offers them money. But you need to understand how these posts can impact your future.

You don’t want to partner with any brand that goes against your core values and beliefs, like we said earlier.

Furthermore, you need to analyze how this content will affect your followers and how you’re perceived by other brands moving forward.

If you join a community that connects brands and influencers, you want to make sure your content fits your specialty.

Don’t say you’re a foodie in your biography and then never share content related to food or work with brands in that industry. It doesn’t make sense, and it won’t make you any money.

Step 8. Know your worth

According to research, 80% of influencers say sponsored content is their primary source of income.

This ranked higher than advertisements and affiliate links. Only about 33% of influencers actually sign a contract with sponsors.

As you can imagine this is a potential problem so you’ve got to make sure you protect yourself and get paid for your work.

Don’t just post content for brands who offer to send you free products. That’s not enough if you’re trying to make a living.

According to 2023 statistics its believed that about 64% of marketers are planning to increase their marketing budgets for influencers in the coming months.

So the money is out there. It’s just a matter of finding it. Don’t settle.

Yet, how much is a post worth? The numbers will vary based on the number of followers you have and your engagement rates.

For example, on average those with a follower count of 15,001 to 25,000 receive about $150 per Instagram post with reals bringing slightly more at roughly $277,29.

It’s evident that unless you’re a celebrity, you probably won’t see $3,000 for one post. But with that said, it’s not unreasonable to aim for more.

Let’s say in a week you share two sponsored posts from two different brands. One pays you $750, and the other pays $250 based on your follower count. This means that if you can continue getting rates like that steadily throughout the year, you’ll make more than $50k annually.

Step 9. Post high-quality photos

Look back at all the examples I showed you so far. What do all of them have in common?

High-quality content.

If you want to become a social influencer, you need to make sure you’re sharing only quality photos.

Buy a professional camera if you have to. Or at least get yourself a new smartphone that takes better pictures.

Invest in yourself because taking high-quality photos can lead to big opportunities for you.

Just look at Albert Hongbo Yang’s Instagram profile:

A screenshot of Alberthbyangs profile on Instagram.
An Instagram profile with the right imagery makes a world of difference.

These images are breathtaking.

Albert has over 170k followers who are interested in his photos, which is a huge leveraging point when it comes to working with brands.

Even if you don’t want to sell products on Instagram, if your photos are good enough, you can make money as a photographer.

Post pictures that draw attention and make you seem more legitimate.

Step 10. Fully disclose your relationships with brands

Part of being a social influencer means you need to fully disclose your relationships with brands.

First of all, you don’t want to mislead any of your followers or cause them to distrust you. That’s not right.

But more importantly, it’s a requirement by the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC says that these disclosures must be clear and obvious. It doesn’t want you to use anything ambiguous, like #thanks or #collab, which could be misinterpreted.

You also can’t rely on a disclosure that will only be seen if people “click more” or view the content on a separate landing page.

To show you how to properly disclosure your relationships, look at this post from Anastasia Ashley:

Instagram post by anastasiaashley disclosing her brand relationships in the caption

Anastasia is promoting La Roche-Posay skincare products.

As you can see, she clearly tagged them in her caption and used the hashtag #sponsored to disclose her relationship with the brand.

There is definitely nothing ambiguous about that. She’s complying with FTC regulations.

Step 11. Promote your services

OK, so you want to make a living on social media without selling any products. But you can still sell your services.

Earlier we explained how you could make a living by taking high-quality photos and then leverage your photography skills to make money.

That’s just one way to do it, but there are plenty of others.

For example, let’s take a look at Rob Atkin’s Instagram profile.

Rob_atkin Instagram profile advertising his services as a fitness specialist for coaching and linking his website

Rob is promoting his personal website in the biography.

Clearly, he’s a personal trainer. But the way he positions his services is much more creative than just saying “personal trainer.”

Instead, he uses creative phrases such as “I help busy people get abs” and “fitness specialist” to promote his services.

As you can see from his posts, his content fits into that niche, which is extremely important, as we mentioned earlier.

So if you want to make money on social media without selling any products, consider using your distribution channels to promote your services instead.


There is tons of money to be made on social media right now.

People are making a living without selling a single product.

Those of you who have a large social following can use your profiles to get paid by brands.

Even if you don’t have lots of followers right now, you can increase your following and engagement metrics to make yourself more appealing to prospective clients.

If you follow the tips and advice we’ve outlined in this guide, you can turn your social media profile into a money-making machine.