At the end of 2021 I shared how much money I made as a small influencer/content creator… and it went viral on TikTok. Which to be honest, was a little overwhelming, but that’s a story for another post.
While I’ve been content creating since 2016, it took me a while to develop a proper strategy. I really only started making a profit in 2020, where I made 10k CAD.
But then the year following kind of blew my mind.
In 2021 I made nearly $70,000 (CAD)…
- with fewer than 10k Instagram followers.
- while working a full time job. (Which I have since-quit).
This is the information I shared on TikTok, with the video garnering over 1.1 MILLION views. (I still can’t process the fact that so many people have seen my content).
In sharing that information, I wasn’t trying to brag or flaunt numbers in anyone’s face. I wasn’t even consciously trying to promote “radical rate transparency” (although I am aware of the power of being open about this information).
My intent was more so to show that you didn’t need a massive social media following to make a living wage as a content creator.
I wanted to show that if I could do it, you could too.
Responding to my viral video:
In response to my TikTok video blowing up, I shared the below YouTube video answering three of the most-asked questions/comments.
This blog post will cover what I shared and more, but take a look if you prefer audio-visual content!
And hit subscribe and the thumbsup while you’re at it! 🙂
So let’s talk about the money I made as a small content creator…
While my goal is to show that making money as a nano or micro influencer is incredibly achievable…
I never want to advertise content creation as a get-rich-quick scheme.
It isn’t particularly easy (it’s not just taking selfies and promoting slim teas), and at least in my case, it wasn’t quick. (I started back in 2016, remember?)
And with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s address my most-asked question…
Where did the money come from?!
The majority of my income came from landing brand deals or paid partnerships.
And a very small portion came from affiliate marketing and ad revenue from my blog. That being said, that small percentage was enough to offset operational costs like hosting fees and software subscriptions, so that’s a win in my books.
Let’s talk about these income streams in greater detail…
I know sharing where the money came from is all well-said and done..
But I think what people are really asking is how I made money using those revenue streams. They want the tips, the tutorial, the how-to.
And then there are those who are newer to the creator/influencer space who may have no idea what brand deals and ad revenue even entails.
So let’s dive into it a bit more.
Brand partnerships are when you get paid by a company to create content that features their products or services and share it with your audience.
We are most-familiar with brand deals being posted on Instagram, but I’ve also been paid to create content for my TikTok, my blog, Pinterest, and Youtube.
Ways you can land brand deals:
- Pitching brands yourself
- Have a media kit made and have a good understanding of the value you provide and the content you’d like to create and reach out to brands directly.
- Solicited by brands/PR agencies
- i.e. when a contact slides into your DMs, or more-often emails YOU with a pitch.
- Using hashtags relative to your niche and creating quality content and tagging brands are some methods that can help you get on their radar.
I feel extremely fortunate that I haven’t had to pitch much. The majority of my income has been from brands approaching me.
Related Video: How to get brand deals without pitching
How you can make more from brand deals:
One of the reasons I jumped from making 10k to 70k was learning how to make the most out of the partnerships I had on the table. There are many ways to negotiate more money other than just asking for a higher fee just because.
- Pitch a content bundle that includes additional content and platforms
- The more deliverables you add, the more value to the brand, and the more money you can make.
- Work with a brand long term
- Multiple rounds of content over a long period of time means more steady income.
- Charge for additional terms
- i.e. Whitelisting, Digital Usage Rights, Exclusivity.
Related Video: How to get BIGGER brand deals
Affiliate Marketing is a powerful form of passive income and I really look forward to spending more time on it this year.
At its simplest, affiliate income is when you get a commission for sales on products you’ve promoted or linked to on your platforms.
This works really well on blog posts where your audience usually has a search intent when discovering your page.
As an example, I have a post full of affiliate links that is a list of Books for Black kids. It still makes money to this day because it fulfills a search query, and I wrote it with the intent of making it evergreen.
Instagram can also be great for promoting affiliate links. Especially now that they’ve changed the game by letting us add link stickers to our stories.
This is when you make money through ad placements on your blog. You can probably see them right now along my sidebar, and in between the content.
I get a small percentage when people see them, and an even greater percentage when people click them. So the more traffic I drive to my website, the more money make.
While yes ads can be on the annoying side, content consumers are pretty used to them by now.
Last year I used a mix of Google Adsense and Ezoic for my ads, but Ezoic slowed down my site so I removed it earlier this year..
That being said there are tons of different ad publishers out there, but most do require a minimum site traffic to qualify.
Related Post: How to Write Product Reviews for Passive Income
Another comment I got a number of times on that TikTok video was something along the lines of “don’t tell the tax man”, alluding to the fact that I was running this business illegally…
Rest assured, I’ve been reporting my income and paying taxes accordingly from the moment I started making money. And as a Canadian, once I hit the 30k income mark, I also started collecting and paying GST/HST.
And I recommend that ANYONE wanting to make money from content creating look into their local tax rules.. and FOLLOW THEM.
Don’t be another person giving influencers a bad rap.
What’s this about quitting your day job?
In case you were thinking that the title of this blog post was clickbait…
Thanks to the income I made, I finally felt confident enough to take the BIG RISK, and quit my day job.
I put a loose notice in to my work in September of 2021, and my last day was May 13th 2022.
So as of writing this…
I AM A FULL TIME CONTENT CREATOR.
Which means I now *theoretically* have more time to share content creation tips with all of you. Though that hasn’t necessarily been the case…
So drop your most-pressing questions below in the comments!