How to Make Money as an Influencer

July 7, 2016 by Jenny Melrose

Last Updated on

Times have changed a great deal over the past thirty years.  As a thirty-six year old, cell phones and laptops were non-existent when I was in high school.  Buying a desktop computer was like purchasing a car and I’m pretty sure that my college desktop was more expensive than my 1981 Audi that I bought as my first car.  Now, Pinterest is taught as a college course as part of a marketing degree and everyone and their grandmother is on Facebook.  So many people that I meet are missing out on making money from their influence on social media though.  Did you know that a recent report shows that a company’s return on invest or {ROI} is 11x greater when marketed by an influencer?  Why wouldn’t you want to use an influencer or be an influencer for that matter?

How to Make Money as an Influencer

Curious how to make money online with the brands that you love? We want to walk you through how to make money as an influencer that can become an income.

Before we get into the how, we need to get into the what.  In other words, what is an influencer?  An influencer is defined as one that influences.  More importantly an influencer is the individual whose effect on the purchase decision is in some way significant or authoritative.  Think of it this way, if a friend buys a specific marinade or sauce to barbecue with and you want to make a similar recipe, wouldn’t you buy the marinade or sauce that they recommend?  You are 92% more likely to buy the friend recommended item over the t.v. advertisement recommended item.  It’s just a matter-of-fact and a large reason why there is such a resurgence of direct marketing companies.  Companies over the last ten years have seen the important role that influencers play since social media has become part of our everyday life.  We are able to reach friends that we haven’t seen in twenty years with one Facebook post and we are able to move complete strangers with one picture on Instagram.  It is quite remarkable when you think about it.

Here’s the fact of the matter though, you don’t need to be a blogger to have influence.  Gasp! Yes, I am a blogger and my influence has grown exponentially from that, but it takes one picture that captures a companies attention to be seen as influential.  Take for example the gorgeous shot below from my banker sister-in-law that she posted of her basement that West Elm ended up reposting on their Instagram channel.  There’s over 12K likes on that post!  She gave them content and probably sold tons of items because she tagged them on her original picture.  She gave them advertising, which in turn grew her Instagram following when they reposted it and tagged her. By the way, you should definitely check out the rest of her house.  It’s out of a magazine.  You can find it here.

Kristen.Lunsford West Elm

Something I didn’t mention and you’d only know if you clicked through to her profile, but as of today she has 1,353 followers.  You don’t need a ton of followers to be influential.  You just need to share what you love in an authentic way.  So let’s assume at this point that you have a social media channel that you either have a larger following or one that gets a ton of engagement with likes and comments, how should you leverage this following to make money as an influencer?

Attract Attention


Let’s be clear right from the start, that I am NOT telling you to do anything out of your character.  If you’re looking to work with Disney Junior because you love their programs and what they stand for then I would highly recommend NOT using the above photo.  Be you!  There is honestly nothing more important than being authentically you.  Reach out to brands on social media by tagging them and talking about them in a positive light.  Pay attention to any hashtags that they use on their social media channels.  As well as any products that they are highlighting on their social media channels.  In other words, do your research!  Here’s a perfect example, of a tweet that I put out about our upcoming stay in Key West.  I tagged the hotel that we are booked at and the facility that we plan on booking an excursion with.  The hope is that they notice the tweet and when we go to book they want to throw on some additional amenities or even comp part or all of the activities.  Most companies will check your social media channel that you tagged them on and see what your content looks like to see if it might be worthwhile to them to comp part of your expenses in exchange for social media blasts when you are at the facility.  A tweet like this is nothing out of the ordinary for me so it is authentic.  Now, if I put that same picture up on Instagram then I would be laughed out.  My Instagram channel is not where I post a lot of photos of myself.  It is branded more towards food.  You have to know your social media channels and the audience that you attract so that the return on investment is worthwhile for the company.

Realistic Pitch

Realistic Pitch

Your pitch needs to be realistic and authentic.  I initially didn’t like the connotation that the word “pitch” brought to the table, but it is essentially a pitch.  You are providing a brand with a service and pitching a way in which you can market their product or service for them.  The best way to pitch a brand or company is via email.  You can find most emails on the company’s website under media relations or press releases.  Sometimes an email is difficult to find so I’ll take to twitter to attract their attention for them to follow me and then direct message them asking for an email address.  Once you have the email address you want to present a personable pitch that shows them how you are going to stand out from the rest and show them a great return on investment.  I use my 9-Point Pitch Checklist to make sure that I cover all aspects of the pitch.  You can grab my 9-Point Pitch Checklist HERE.  The biggest take a way when pitching a brand is that you want to show them how you authentically love and use their product so that they can envision how your influence might result in sales.

9 point pitch ad

Knock it out of the Park

Knock it

Once you land that campaign, you need to knock it out of the park.  There are two reasons for this.  One is that you want the company to see their return on investment so that they continue to want to work with you and build the relationship further.  The second reason is that you want to be able to reference the work that you have done to other brands.  In order to knock it out of the park, you need to make sure that your photos are gorgeous.  You want your photos to be better than anything else you have ever taken.  Be sure to be engaging as possible with your audience as well.  Answer all questions and be sure to tag whoever you are replying to so that they possibly come back and continue to engage.

When I first introduced the idea of an influencer I stated that it was not necessary to have a blog, which I believe it is not.  If you are a blogger though, the expectations are a bit different because it is likely that you are pitching the idea of posting on your blog and then sharing the post across social media.  In order to knock it out of the park as a blogger, I highly recommend creating tribes or groups of like minded individuals that have the same goals as you do.  Within those groups, create social media shares where like minded bloggers are cross-promoting your social media content across their accounts.  It needs to be a group where strengths and weaknesses are are spread out in different areas so that you not only cross promote, but you also learn from each other.  Every blogger should have a mastermind group where they can bounce ideas and hardships off of each other.

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are.

Follow Up

The hardest part is behind you.  You’ve done all the work and you knocked it out of the park.  Here’s where many of us drop the ball and it is one of the simplest way to be remembered by a brand or agency.  Once the campaign is complete, follow up with them showing them just how well you knocked it out of the park.  If you received comments about how your followers were heading out the door to buy that product then let the brand know.  Give them an email that includes a follow up that was just as good as your proposal.  You want them to remember you for the next campaign or to create that long term relationship so show them how amazing you did for them the first time around.

10 Day Pitch Perfect Challenge


Now here’s the fun part!  I am running a 10 Day Pitch Perfect Challenge and I want you to join in for FREE!



  • Kelly Zaryk

    My FB page…What Moms Want Play and Network group

  • Celeste | The Whole Serving

    This is some valuable info, but I have a question. At what stage in the growth of a blog should one think about pitching a brand? I would really like to work with brands more, I have been working very, very hard to get my traffic numbers higher, but is’s slow going.

    • Jenny

      Hi Celeste!

      I think you’re in a very unique situation because you’re so niche specific. I highly recommend reaching out to specific brands that you’re interested in.

    Leave a Comment

    Your email is never shared.
    Required fields are marked *

The Melrose Family