- Affiliate marketing and paid advertising are one of the top revenue sources but the real bread and butter of influencer income is brand sponsorships reveals a survey of 69 digital stars by Influencer.co
- The survey results were gathered at the beginning of 2020, before the pandemic that has changed the consumer and digital landscape.
- The result highlighted that influencers have diversified income sources and can help them earn even in an economic downturn.
A goal is a dream with a deadline.
– Napoleon Hill
Making a living out of online business is a dream that is now achievable. For many, it is a dream turned reality but with a fair share of struggles. A survey of 69 influencers conducted earlier this year by influencer platform Influence.co highlighted myriad ways available for creators to make big money in 2020.
The results gathered before the pandemic outbreak reveals Brand sponsorship as the top moneymaker with 78% of creators calling it the main source of income. 58% of creators highlight paid advertising like YouTube AdSense also amongst the top three sources of income. However, this category has been dropped off recently as advertiser demand has run down due to the pandemic.
However, influencers have leaned on alternate revenue streams and moved away from sponsored posts as brands have paused/postponed influencer campaigns in 2020. 41% of survey respondents have named commission-based revenue as a key income driver followed by affiliate marketing (39%). Respondents also pointed to physical merchandise (26%) as one of the top income sources.
These are income sources where influencers are paid a fee for e-commerce sales that they drive from their social accounts.
Below is the breakdown of income sources that is listed by influencers as primary revenue sources in the survey.
1. Brand Sponsorships (78%)
78% of influencers surveyed listed brand sponsorships as a primary source of income.
H&M has the largest followings as women reflect H&M style all by themselves as a part of the influencer campaign. H&M partnered for its fall 2017 collection with two influencers -fashion blogger Julie Sariñana and model Ela Velden. Sariñana promoted the clothes on her own Instagram account as she loved them.
Brand sponsorships are mostly sponsored posts on social platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. The most reliable way of making money and the main source of income has taken a hit in the last few months mainly because:
- Advertisers have trimmed their budget to save costs.
- Brands are facing economic headwinds caused by the pandemic.
As reported by Business Insider, the frequency of sponsored posts has dropped down on Instagram and 22% of creators have lowered their rates due to slow demand.
As this category is affected by the economic downturn, brands are partnering with influencers to conduct live streaming as consumers at-home interest in real-time videos have spiked.
2. Paid Ads (58%)
The second-highest source of income listed by influencers in the survey with 58%.
Influencers can directly earn through ads that play in their videos across platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Instagram says that Live creators have seen a 70% increase in video views during the pandemic. It now prepares to launch new tools that enable video creators to earn money that includes badges that viewers can purchase during Live Instagram videos and the introduction of IGTV ads.
YouTube’s Partner Program allows influencers to earn money by placing ad breaks within the content on their channel. Ad revenue earned directly through Google placed ads is the main source of revenue and the rate YouTube pays creators depends on factors like video watch time. And viewer demographics. And if a video climbs millions of views then creators receive a big check from YouTube.
For instance, YouTube creator Groth told Business Insider that normally his channel earns $9 and $12 for every 1,000 views. BI also reported that YouTube creators earned from $3600 to $40,000 off a video with 1 million views.
3. Commissions (41%) and affiliate marketing (39%)
Affiliate marketing has been a popular source of income for influencers and 41% of influencers surveyed pointed out commission on sales as a top source of income.
Another popular revenue source for influencers.- fashion and lifestyle influencers on Instagram, Tech reviewers on YouTube, and media publishers like The New York Times that generates affiliate income on its review site, The Wirecutter.com
In this type of arrangement, creators can earn a commission on sales made through a promotional code and affiliate marketing where they promote products with a trackable link.
In March 2020, the category saw a rise in revenue as many companies shifted their focus to e-commerce sales due to lockdown policies whereas April was a mixed bag as some brands like Walmart, Victoria Secret suspended their services.
4. Event Appearances (29%)
Event Appearances and Speaking engagements are big revenue streams for some YouTube creators who have diversified their businesses.
A recent college grad and YouTube creator Ruby Asabor (170,000 subscribers) have presented for events of universities like NYU and Rutgers in the US. She is a motivational speaker and recently many events and tours have been canceled owing to the pandemic. She explains in her video how the business has changed due to coronavirus and events are postponed.
5. Physical- Merchandise sales (26%)
26% of the influencers points out physical merchandise sales as a source of revenue. The ‘merch’ trend has picked up in recent years. While some have built online direct sales to consumers and others have partnered with retailers like Walmart and others.
Blippi is a popular YouTube star who makes educational videos and has more than 21 million subscribers. The man behind the creation is Stevin John. Recently, Jazwares LLC which makes toys has created a line of items “My Buddy Blippi” which includes figures, plush toys, and toy vehicles. It aims at helping children count or learn colors by putting accessories inside numbered or colored boxes. The products will be released through Walmart and Amazon.
The North Start for the toy industry is Ryan Kaji, an 8-year-old who is the face of YouTube channel ‘Ryan’s World.’ According to Pocket. Watch, retail sales for Ryan-branded products had hit $200 million in 2019.
6. Digital Product Sales (16%):
Fitness influencers on Instagram and YouTube witnessed a spike in engagement and direct-to-consumer sales due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many fitness influencers sell fitness digital membership programs in the form of app or classes or websites. For instance, Rachel Brathen, aka Yoga Girl, is a Swedish yoga teacher and a New York Times’ best-selling author. She leverages her Instagram account to preach and encourages yoga lifestyle and sell classes from anywhere in the world.
As reported by Business Insider, a fashion stylist, and influencer, Audree Kate Lopez has nearly 30,000 followers and conducts an online course Fashion Fundamentals for college students.
7. Followers donations(6%)
Many influencers receive donations or gifts via live streaming through membership platforms and social media platforms respectively. Take a look:
- Influencers receive donations from followers through Patreon or Buy me Coffee.
- TikTok, Twitch also has features to donate to influencers in real-time.
- In April, Facebook announced the rollout of its star monetization program, where fans can send virtual stars to a live-streaming creator worth $0.01 each.
- YouTube content company launched the “FBE Super” Membership program using Patreon’s Memberful platform. It offers three paid tiers for fans to contribute either $5,$10, or $15 a month to receive exclusive live streams, discounts, or an opportunity to be cast in episodes.