For many influencers, the time comes where they have to make a decision. Keep creating as a passion or turn it into a money-making business. To better understand the business of being an influencer and making money in that world of hustle, we asked influencer experts for their advice.
Kyle Dulay, co-founder of Collabstr, shared what the journey looks like for many influencers. “Most content creators will reach a fork in the road where they can begin monetizing or choose not to. I personally think that content creators should definitely take the chance to monetize their social media presence, but they need to only work with others that align with their brand. You never want to appear as a sellout.”
When influencers begin to monetize their business and treat it like work, they have to start making serious decisions and thinking ahead. “There are many influencers that are turning what they are passionate about into a business,” says Jacob Dayan, CEO and co-founder of Community Tax and FinancePal. "Every influencer has the opportunity to turn their social media presence into a business, but they should only do it if they are ready to take it seriously and not give up.”
One way to turn a passion project into a business and to start making money is by creating a business plan. But, is a business plan really necessary for influencer businesses? We asked the experts to find out.
Do You Need a Business Plan As an Influencer?
While a business plan isn't a legal requirement, it can have a lot of benefits for influencers.
When we asked Paola Mendez, founder of The Blogger Union, this question, she responded: “Absolutely, content creators, influencers and bloggers must treat their social media as a business if they are interested in monetizing their brand. Part of treating your social media as a business requires having the right foundation and a business plan will help with that.”
Creating a business plan is an important part of setting up your business as an influencer. “While a business plan is not necessary for success, it will most definitely give you a better chance at success,” says Dulay. “A business plan will keep you grounded as a creator; it’s the thing you can reference when you begin losing sight of the vision you set out for yourself as a creator.”
And sometimes writing things down makes them more real. “These are things that most content creators already think about,“ says Dulay. “By writing it down, you can get it out of your head and onto a piece of paper where you can easily reference your plan when you lose sight of your end goal.”
A business plan can also help your business to feel more real or legitimate. “Creating a business plan makes it easier to see your work as a business, and this mindset can be beneficial in working more effectively,” says Dymphe Mensink, content creator and influencer with 87k followers on Instagram. “You are working with brands and you are creating a product (content). Creating a business plan allows you to better set goals for yourself and to better work on different projects.” When you see your business as legitimate and worthy of your time, so will others.
So you while a business plan as an influencer isn't a requirement, it can definitely have a big impact on your business and help guide you on your path to success. For your best chance at a successful business, creating a business plan is a small investment of time. And really, the elements of the business plan are simple. Break it down into small elements and create it over time to make the process less overwhelming.
What to Include in Your Influencer Business Plan
A business plan for influencers is highly customizable. Think about it as a document that helps you to make decisions about your business and can be a reference point, so you don’t lose your brand voice or personality. What you should include is what’s most helpful to you. But, here are a few ideas of what you might find in a typical business plan.
Define Your Niche
When it comes to being an influencer, you have to intimately know your brand. One way to better get to know your brand is to define your niche. Your niche is the type of content you produce and what topics you cover.
For some people, it’s difficult to narrow down their niche. Start by defining what your niche is not to narrow it down.
Get to Know Your Audience
Your audience is the people you create content for. Without them, you don’t have a business. Your influencer business plan should include information about your target audience and how you plan to reach them.
By defining your audience and who you want to consume your content, you begin to better understand your followers. When you understand your followers, you know what type of content to create. As an influencer, your content is for your followers, so you want to make content that answers their questions, keeps them interested and solves their problems.
Write Your Mission and Vision Statements
Something to include in your influencer business plan is a mission and vision statement. Think of these as your aspirational business goals condensed into a couple of sentences or a short paragraph.
A vision statement is your vision or aspiration for yourself as a business owner and influencer. This is where you can add your dreams and passion and write down what you want to accomplish with your business.
In contrast, a mission statement is your why. It talks about why you’re taking action as a business owner and should explain your purpose as an influencer. Your mission statement can also include actions you’ll take to accomplish your vision.
One of the key elements of an influencer business plan is your goals. Goals have a number of benefits for influencers. Goals will help guide growth, but will also protect influencers. “Without measurable goals, content creators run the risk of getting burned out from posting content that has little engagement and growth,” says Mendez. “It's important to set milestones and prioritize what part of your content creation business you are focusing on at different stages in your journey.”
Goals aren’t just one and done — they fluctuate and change as your business grows. “Creating their goals will help them understand what they need to do each month or week to get there,” says Dayan.
When most people think of a business plan, they think of all the things their business will do, but the opposite can be just as important. Your influencer business plan needs to set boundaries. “Content creators should create a business plan, and it should contain a list of dos and don’ts —they can write down everything or everyone they are willing to work with and what they will not,” says Dayan.
Research Your Competition
As a business, you’re not creating content in a vacuum. The influencer world is constantly changing and evolving. To keep pace and stay up to date, one of the best things you can do is to research your competition. Mendez suggests looking for other influencers within your industry and niche, assessing the content they’re creating, identifying what makes them unique and getting inspired by what they’re creating.
Decide How You Want to Monetize
An influencer business plan should also include how you plan to make money as an influencer.
“Most influencers and content creators focus on monetizing their brands through paid brand partnerships,” says Mendez. “However, there are many different ways to create revenue streams once you have built an audience that is engaged and trusts your authority in your niche.” Make sure to research all the ways influencers make money and to set up multiple income streams, so you’re not fully dependent on one thing.
Choose Which Brands to Target
Something fun to include in your influencer business plan is a list of brands that you want to work with. Start out with a list of aspirational brands — all the brands you admire and would love to work with. Once you’ve built that list, try to identify what it is you like and respect about those brands.
Knowing what you like about those aspirational brands will help you to create a list of qualities you look for in future partnerships. Then, when a brand approaches you with a deal, you can quickly identify if it’s a good match or not.
Do Influencers Need an LLC?
If you’re an influencer considering a business plan, then you’re probably also thinking about whether or not you need an LLC. Whether or not you need an LLC is dependent on a few different factors. Dulay suggests, “If you’re making a few hundred here and there, it may be less of a concern, but once you start making a consistent income as a content creator, it’s almost always more beneficial to form an LLC. Funneling business transactions through an LLC will keep things more organized and also help when it comes to paying taxes.”
And, Mendez points out another benefit to forming an LLC: “you can deduct all business expenses related to your content creation. When it comes to deciding what type of corporation, I highly recommend asking a professional accountant or attorney to advise you as to what type of corporation best fits your needs.”
For some influencers, creating a business plan may seem like a lot of work for minimal benefit. But a business plan can really help influencers to legitimize their business for themselves, have a reference point for branding decisions and help them define their business brand. With all those benefits, it’s obvious how a business plan can support influencers in building a successful business.