The Rise of the Social Media Influencer: What Do They Do?

Have you ever scrolled through your social media feed and wondered how some people seem to make a living just by posting photos and videos of themselves? These social media mavens are influencers, and their rise to fame is a fascinating phenomenon. You follow them to get lifestyle inspiration or the latest fashion and beauty tips, all while they share snippets of their glamorous lives with you. 

But have you ever stopped to wonder what exactly do social media influencers do? How did they become influencers, and how do they make money from social media? The life of an influencer seems aspirational, but it requires a lot more work behind the scenes than you might realize. Let’s take a look at the rise of the social media influencer and find out what it really takes to make it as an influencer. The influencer lifestyle may be goals, but it’s not all selfies and sponsored content.

What Is a Social Media Influencer?

A social media influencer is someone who has built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. They have a dedicated social following and readers value their opinions and recommendations.

  • They focus on a niche: Influencers specialize in a particular industry, subject area, or type of content. It could be travel, food, fashion, technology, etc. By focusing on a niche, they become a trusted source of information for that topic.
  • They have an engaged following: Influencers work to build an audience that actively engages with their content. Their followers like, comment on, and share their posts. Engagement is key! Brands want to see that influencers have an invested following. If you’re an influencer on TikTok and you don’t have enough followers, then it’s time for a change! As of today, you can buy real followers from TikTokstorm at great prices. 
  • They create shareable content: Photos, videos, blog posts, tweets, whatever platform they’re on, influencers post content that their audience wants to consume and share. The content has to be high quality, authentic, and reflect their area of expertise.
  • They collaborate with brands: Once influencers have built a loyal following, brands will reach out to partner with them. Influencers can endorse products, create ads, go on press trips, review services, etc. Collaborating with brands is how many influencers make a living.
  • Their opinions impact others:  When influencers share their thoughts on products or places, their followers listen. A positive review or recommendation from an influencer can drive sales and boost business. Their opinions carry weight and influence the decisions of others.

How Social Media Influencers Make Money

As an influencer, making money from social media likely tops your list of priorities. The good news is, there are several ways to monetize your influence.

Sponsored posts:  Companies will pay you to promote their product or service to your followers. You’ll need to disclose the sponsorship in accordance with FTC guidelines. Rates vary but can be $100 to $10,000 per post or more, depending on your niche and number of followers.

Affiliate marketing: Promote other brands’ products and services and earn a commission for any sales or leads you drive. Many influencers make affiliate links a major source of revenue. You’ll need to build trust and only promote products you genuinely like.

Product placement: Get paid to feature brands and products in your social media content, stories, and videos. Rates depend on factors like audience size and engagement. Establish yourself as an influencer first before pursuing paid product placements.

Consulting and speaking: Leverage your expertise and share insights with brands and at industry events. Consulting fees range from $50 to $500 per hour. Speaking engagements typically pay $1,000 to $10,000 or more. Build your credibility and experience over time.

Online courses: Create and sell your own online video course teaching others your skills and knowledge. Prices vary but $99 to $499 is typical. You keep most of the profits. Develop a loyal follower base first before launching your own course.

Merchandising:  Sell your own line of merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, phone cases and more featuring your brand and messaging. You keep a portion of all sales. Requires a substantial investment of time and money so make sure you have an engaged following.

Key Platforms Influencers Use and Why

As an influencer, you have several major social media platforms to choose from. Each has its strengths, so many influencers use a combination to maximize their reach.


Instagram reigns supreme for influencers. Its focus on visual sharing and short videos is ideal for lifestyle influencers. You can post curated photos and 15-second stories to give followers a glimpse into your daily life, share your latest outfits, review products, and more. Instagram is great for building connections with your followers and potential brand partners. Over 1 billion people use Instagram, so the potential audience is huge.


If video is your thing, YouTube is the place to be. You can create tutorials, product reviews, day-in-the-life vlogs, and other long-form content. YouTube has over 2 billion monthly users, and influencers can make money through ads, sponsorships, and affiliate links. However, it does require a major time commitment to build up your viewership and create regular video content.


The hottest new platform, TikTok is ideal for short-form video content, reactions, duets, and more. TikTok has over 800 million monthly active users and is growing like wildfire, especially with Gen Z. If you can create fun and engaging 15 to 60 second videos, TikTok offers major opportunities for influencers to gain new followers and work with brands. However, its audience does tend to skew younger.


While less flashy, blogs remain an important platform for influencers. You can share more in-depth content, establish yourself as an expert in your niche, and drive traffic to your social channels. Blogs also give you more control over your content and brand. The key is to post regularly and promote your blog posts on social media to increase visibility. Some influencers make money from ads, affiliate links, and sponsorships on their blogs.

Using these platforms strategically will allow you to maximize your influence, connect with new audiences, and work with more brands. But don’t spread yourself too thin—pick 2 or 3 to focus on, then you can expand from there. Consistency is key to success as an influencer.


So there you have it, the life of a social media influencer. While it may seem like an easy gig to some, creating content and building an audience is no small feat. It takes dedication, consistency, and a lot of creativity to become an influencer. But for those able to crack the code, the payoff can be life-changing. The influencer marketing industry is booming and influencers at the top of their game have opportunities for brand deals, sponsorships, and new revenue streams. The next time you watch an influencer’s Instagram story or YouTube video, appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes. These social media stars are hustling and paving the way for an entirely new type of career and new ways for brands to connect with audiences. Not too shabby for a day’s work posting on social media, right?

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