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What Is a Social Media Influencer?

In short, a social media influencer is someone who's built an audience on social media that looks to them for recommendations, entertainment and/or information.

When brands want to grow their audience, they work with influencers relevant to their niche to promote products or services. For instance, a culinary brand could work with an influencer who reviews food and beverages, or a clothing brand could work with an influencer who's known for their on-trend style.

Types of Influencers

  • Beauty or fashion
  • Home design
  • DIY projects and crafts
  • Food and recipes
  • Cars and trucks
  • Science and education
  • Video games
  • Sports and fitness
  • Movies or music
  • Photography or videography
  • Parenting and family life
  • Travel
  • Technology and computers
  • Business and finance

Influencers can also be categorized by the size of their following:

Influencer Categories
 

6 Steps to Becoming an Influencer

So you're sold on being an influencer, and you're ready to start making money from social media. But before you can start landing brand deals and collecting ad revenue, you'll first need to establish yourself as an influencer and build an audience.

Sure, creating interesting content is important, but it takes more than that to make it as an influencer. With our steps, you can go from an empty account with zero followers to a dedicated fan base of your own in no time.

1. Make a Business Plan

Business plans aren't just for traditional businesses like retail stores and restaurants — they can also benefit content creators. When you're creating yours, you can use the following general format:

  • An executive summary of your plan

    Once you've finished writing the rest of your business plan, create a brief one- or two-sentence summary of it here.

  • Your main goals

    For example, to build an audience of at least 10,000 followers, become a top influencer in your niche or earn $500 per month.

  • A description of your business

    Detail the niche you want to specialize in and the types of content you'll create.

  • A market and demand analysis

    Evaluate whether other influencers have been successful in your niche, whether there are a lot or a few of them and whether their audiences seem to be in search of similar influencers to follow.

  • An overview of your business structure

    For example, an LLC with one member (you!).

  • Your business model

    Define whether you want to sell your own products and services to your audience, promote other brands' products and services in exchange for money (or gifts), collect ad revenue or use another type of business model.

  • Your general marketing and sales plan

    Explain how you'll market and promote your content (and if you're planning on selling products and services, note where and how you'll sell them).

  • Financial projections

    Based on everything you know so far, how much money do you expect you'll be able to make in six months? What about one year or even five?

  • Appendices

    If you used any outside sources to create your business plan (for example, a study or an article), this is the place to write them down so you can find them again later.

2. Name Your Business

If you haven't already decided what your influencer business will be called, now is the time.

You can always name your business after yourself, of course — it's simple and straightforward, and you can tack on a word like "designs," "lifestyle," "looks" or "art" to make it stand out.

Or, if you're more of a creative type, you can create a completely unique name, too.

3. Register Your Business

Once you've formed a plan and settled on a business name, you're ready to make things official by registering your business with the government.

That means settling on a business structure. While there are several options, from S Corps to C Corps to nonprofits, most influencers (and most small business owners, for that matter) find that it makes the most sense to form a Limited Liability Company (LLC).

Why? LLCs are quick and easy to set up, and they protect your personal assets (i.e., bank accounts, house and car) in case your business finds itself in legal trouble.

Still not sure which type of business structure is right for you? Our Business Entity Quiz can help you find out.

And when you're ready to take the plunge and register your influencer business, you canfile it with Incfile for $0 plus state fees.

4. Create a Business Bank Account

Any experienced entrepreneur will tell you that you can avoid a lot of headaches by keeping your business finances separate from your personal ones.

How? By creating a business bank account. If you do, you'll be able to:

  • Keep track of your business' revenue and expenses.

  • Speed up your accounting and bookkeeping.

  • Limit your personal liability.

  • More easily comply with government regulations.

And since some business bank accounts don't have any monthly fees or minimum balance requirements — like Bluevine's business checking account, for example — there's no reason not to open one of your own.

(Psst: Our free Influencer Income Tracker Worksheet makes it even easier to keep tabs on your earnings and expenses.)

5. Prepare Legal Contracts

Every influencer should know how to protect themselves (and their income) with fair legal contracts.

Here's what we mean. Let's say you're exchanging direct messages with a brand that wants to pay you for a series of sponsored posts. They offer $200 per post, and you gladly accept. But after creating and publishing the posts, they say they'll only pay you $20 per post.

You go back to your direct messages to find the proof that they promised much more, but you find that all of their messages have been deleted. Now you have no proof, and you're stuck with a much lower payment than expected.

That whole situation could have been avoided if you and the brand had simply signed a legal contract before working together.

Luckily, you don't need a personal lawyer in order to prepare legitimate legal contracts. With Incfile's Business Contract and Legal Document Library, you can choose the template that works for you and start using it for your brand deals.

6. Develop a Media Kit

Once you've established an audience (even if it's relatively small) and created a variety of content, you can make your business look even more attractive to potential brand partners by creating a media kit.

In short, an influencer media kit is a polished, one-page portfolio that sums up your image, social media presence and content:

 

Best Social Media Platforms for Influencers

There is no one social media platform that's objectively better for influencers than others — some types of influencers tend to do well on some platforms, while some may thrive on others. And for many influencers, a combination of platforms works best.

Best social media platforms for influencers
 

How Influencers Make Money

So how do influencers make money, anyway? Possible income sources include:

How influencers make money

And remember that income doesn't always mean dollars and cents — many influencers are also paid in products and services from the brands they work with. (Influencers usually need to pay taxes on those gifts based on their monetary value, too.)

Generally speaking, the larger an influencer's audience, the more income they'll be able to make. But with an increasing number of brands recognizing the value of micro influencers (they have measurably higher engagement rates than their macro and mega counterparts), it's possible for more influencers than ever before to turn their clout into cash.

How Much Money Do Social Media Influencers Make?

If you want to become a social media influencer, you don't just want to know how influencers make money — you also want to know how much they make.

The answer isn't as straightforward as you might like, especially since many influencers are paid in gifts as well as money. But thanks to some data from Influencer Marketing Hub, we can at least get a clearer idea of common influencer rates.

Across all platforms, here’s what influencers typically make:

  •  

    1K–10K followers make $2–$250 per post

  •  

    10K–50K followers make $20–$1.25K per post

  •  

    50K–500K followers make $100–$12.5K per post

  •  

    500K–1M followers make $1K–$25K per post

  •  

    1M+ followers make $2K–$25K per post or more

Social media has launched the careers of many successful influencer marketers. If you can find a great niche, build an audience and put together a solid business plan, you will have every chance for success.

Want help launching and managing your influencer business? Incfile's got you covered. From forming an LLC to figuring out your finances and trademarking your brand, our services are built to make your life easier.

Ready to Become a Social Media Influencer?

Let content creation be your main focus. We'll take care of the rest.

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