How To Make Money On Social Media Without A Ton Of Followers

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If you’re reading this, you must already be attracted by the statistics clouding the air like the fact that Kim Kardashian made half a million dollars off of a single Instagram post in 2015, or that her social media empire is worth 350 million US dollars. Now, that’s understandable given that she does have a fan following of a whopping 205 million users across her social media accounts. Setting that insane popularity aside, where does that leave people like you and me?

The good news is that you can still bet your paychecks that you’ll make some cash off of social media if you invest your efforts into it, but the reality check that comes with that is that you’ll have to REALLY invest your efforts and put your best foot forward because not everyone can just sit on their couch and start a mediocre YouTube channel hoping to get some likes, shares, and subscribes, thinking that will earn them over ten thousand dollars at the end of the year.

Before we whip you up into your best possible money-making self, let’s just indulge in some of the highest paid social media influencers out there, because, why not?

Kim Kardashian may have brought you here, but her step sister, Kylie Jenner takes the cake with this one. Jenner is believed to earn a mindboggling one million US dollars per paid post on Instagram where she has a fan following of 112 million.

Who would’ve thought, Kim’s still not up on this list. The next spot goes to Selena Gomez who is estimated to make 800 thousand US dollars per Instagram post, shared with her 139 million followers.

One of the most highly rated football players is taking his cut from Instagram too. Cristiano Ronaldo earns three quarters of a million dollars per Instagram post and has 137 million followers to share those promotions with.

Oh, here’s who we’ve been waiting for. The infamous Kardashian, Kim has 114 million followers on Instagram, and, on average, she makes 720 thousand US dollars per post shared with them.

Queen Bey was an obvious hit on this list. She takes her cut of over 700 thousand US dollars per paid post with 116 million fans to reach out to with sponsored products and services.

And then we’ve got Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (USD $650,000 per post), Justin Bieber (USD $650,000 per post), Neymar da Silva Santos (USD $600,000 per post), Lionel Messi (USD $500,000 per post), and Kendall Jenner (USD $500,000 per post), all making upwards of half a million US dollars with empires of over a hundred million followers to thank for it.

Although you’re encouraged to strive for whatever you set your mind to, these celebrities’ fame has come from a multitude of things and their consequent massive fan following is what’s helped them ride the wave of good fortune as companies and businesses approach them to use their fan reach to promote their own product or service. Remember all the vitamin gummy bear snaps on Kim Kardashian’s Snapchat? Yeah, you bet she got paid more than your current net worth for just a few seconds worth of recording that day.

Touching back down to the ground reality of things, though, be hopeful but understand that those statistics are misleading in the grandeur of the yield of social media influencing, but that does not mean that you can’t make a decent living off online content and promotion. Now, the obvious question that comes along is, well, I don’t have a hundred million followers on social media. I don’t even have one million, or one hundred thousand. Likely, you have less than a thousand too, but this is where size doesn’t necessarily matter. It’s about quality, diversity, and the unique flare that you bring to the table that could put you in the running for building a massive online empire of your own.

Having studied and assessed the social media successes of some of the biggest names out there, as well as gaining know-how from some renowned businesses, companies, and rising social media stars, here are some tips, tricks, and solid pieces of advice that can help you make much more out of your online presence than you hitherto thought possible.

Your money-making social media presence boils down to two kinds: for others and for yourself. Let’s start with the two “for others” presences:

Image: Linkilike


When you become an affiliate, you’re in charge of promoting a company’s brand or product to different audiences. How this works if that you first sign up to become an affiliate. Popular affiliation banks are ClickBank, CJ Affiliate, and Amazon, a company that surely has no shortage of variety in the products you can choose to promote.

Once you’ve established your relationship as an affiliate, you can go your own way about this, but at the end of the day, your earning is directly correlated with how well you convince people to purchase a product online. For every click and purchase made, you earn a certain percent in commission and as the sales multiply through your promotion, you get a nice cut of the fruit that it bears.

Some things to keep in mind are that merely sharing a URL or mentioning a product aren’t the most effective ways to get clicks and purchases. The former seems rather pushy and the rather doesn’t spark enough interest. Effective ways to promote products require that you add your own touch to the promotion. You can do a review, create a video, or show a tutorial of a certain service or product.

With that, though, it’s also important that you keep your particular audience in mind. If you’re someone who enjoys sharing travel photos and scenery online, then promoting a cell phone or a perfume may not necessarily hit home with your audience. Stick to what you’re interested in and what your audience is in and don’t get carried away for the sake of your affiliation.

Perhaps the most convincing thing you could put out there is an actual personal review, especially if it’s accompanied with photos, results, or some substantial evidence that can persuade someone to try the product as well. This demands that you are truly honest and real. The audience can sense fake promotions and advancement of company taglines so don’t let it sound like you’re using poster board words or clichés that are meant to make the product sound nice.

Look into your life and brainstorm a list of products that you already use. Those are the best ones to review as you have tons of experience with them already. If you’ve tried something new and liked it, review it! This doesn’t require extra experimentation, just genuine feedback that could guide another customer to a product that is good for them.

YouTube Partner Program

This is a program that is less likely to get you the yield you’re looking for unless you already have decent clicks and traffic on your YouTube channel and want to use that momentum to make some more cash.

Here’s the low- down of how to pursue this path. First of all, you must have at least 10,000 views on your account (across any and all videos) since you started your YouTube journey. Next, you must be above 18 years old if you wish to directly have your earnings sent to you through the payment system; if you’re younger, you can always ask an older family member to accept the transactions on your behalf.

Once you’ve qualified for the bare basics, head over to the Creator Studio in your account settings. Then, go to Channel and then Status Features. In this section, find where it says Monetization and enable the option.

Once you do this, you’ll be prompted with YouTube’s terms and conditions for this program. After thoroughly reading it all… Please read it… We know you’re not going to read it, so we’ll just tell you. You are not allowed to use any borrowed content in your videos (no borrowed photos, video clips, music, anything). That will turn into a direct penalizable violation of the terms and conditions (which you should read!). You are also not allowed to violate any of the YouTube community guidelines regarding the kinds of content you can post online.

Next, you’ll be tasked with deciding how you want to generate your revenue. There are three options: overlay in-video ads, TrueView in-stream ads, and Standard in-stream ads. You must select at least one. Using all three will obviously maximize your revenue, but keep in mind that too many ads can throw users off your videos as well. Delving further into this, you can also choose the kinds of ads you’d like to have shown as well as if you’d like them shown on specific videos on your channel. Then, all that’s left to signing up is clicking “monetize my videos” and waiting for YouTube to review and approve your application.

Once you’re good to go from YouTube, you need to create a Google AdSense account. This will act as your digital wallet for the program. You can keep track of your payments through this. It is recommended that you monetize older videos that you posted to receive your cut as newer views arrive. You should also try out YouTube live to attract viewership as well as the other perks that come along as benefits to this program: custom thumbnails and in-video programming. It also helps to vary the kinds of ads you display on your account and especially choose ads that you think will interest your audience and not push them away from your video altogether.

Own Business

This next sort of digital promotion is promotion of your own skills, services, or products. If you make handicrafts, beauty products, jewelry, stationary, paintings, or just about anything, social media is the perfect marketing platform to promote your work as well as attract customers to your own personal business. This way all the revenue you earn is wholly yours to keep and as others enjoy your product and spread the word as well, it expands your reach, your sales, and your followers in a snowball effect of revenue gain.

Besides social media, if you want to use other renowned platforms with greater accessibility or viewership, services like Sellfy and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) are there for you to share your original content. You can use these to sell PDFs of your written work, MP3s of your composition, and uploads of videos that you’ve created yourself. The catch with these is that the platforms will take a certain cut of the revenue that you make, but if you’re someone with very limited reach, the benefit of using a renowned platform could outweigh whatever you would earn in 100% by using your own social media account.

Irrespective of the path you choose to go, these the two things will always heavily determine your popularity are authenticity and value.

Image: Food Navigator


When someone comes online to seek a review, some advice, or some unique content, they want something that’s honest and true to the message that it conveys. If you post photos or videos that look ever so obviously bought by a company as if they’re meant solely for paid promotion, you’re not going to attract anyone towards that product and, consequently, won’t make any money off of it. You want to establish a reputation for providing honest and true facts. Stay away from publicizing mediocre products just for the sake of promoting them. Stick to stuff you would personally prefer to use and treat others as you would want yourself treated: give good advice and always remain genuine. There is no bigger digital turn-off for a viewer than fake promotion and fake intent. One instance of this could cost you tons of viewership, lowering your chances of making any money at all from your digital endeavors.

If you start to take an affiliation route, you’ll be tempted to please the vendor by saying the words you think they want you to say. You’ll start to repeat their taglines and speak in exaggerations that the product you’re speaking of is the “best” or the “fastest” or the “most pure.” Unless there are actual solid statistics that haven’t been doctored with some fine print conditions, stay away from such statements. Overselling something can reflect poorly on you and can diminish your credibility as an online personality.


The best way to add value is to ensure that whatever you put forward is unique. If one thousand people have said the exact same cliché remarks about a makeup product, do something different to give better insight and add value to the review that you’re making of it. You need to have an X factor, some added substance, that drives people to prefer your content over others’.

Remember, that once you set a good impression through one post or one video, people remember your channel or account and come back to look at your other content as well, so never compromise on quality and always add an X factor to everything that you’re posting online.


When it comes to putting yourself out there in hopes of getting approached by a vendor or sponsor, you need to assess this from their eyes. As wonderful as big-time celebrity promotions are, firstly, not every company has the money to afford, let’s say, Kylie Jenner, and not every product is targeting the same audience as, let’s say, Kylie Jenner. Try to hold true to your own personality and interests. If you’re a “fitness freak” stay true to that and keep your online content about just that. Those with similar interests will flock towards you. If you’re a makeup mogul, then keep that as your centerpiece. It’s better to do a lot of one thing then a little of a lot of things. The latter flattens your online personality while the former gives people something to remember you by.

If you have a very particular niche, if you’re a dog person, for example, then consider running a separate public social media account just for that interest, which would be your dog in this case. Animal Instagram pages and snap stories have people murmuring ‘aww’ at their phone screens, with them liking, sharing, and forwarding your content around. An account like this also makes you a great candidate as an affiliate to an animal products brand. This applies to lots of other interests as well. Focusing your content on one thing will make you stand out as a credible source on that one thing and it will make you appealing for brands of that industry as well.

The Final Word

All in all, remember that while followers are important for becoming a social media personality that makes money, followers are not all that will help you reel in cash. If you’ve got authenticity, provide value, and have a niche fan base, then not only will your follower sky rocket as people start to fall in love with your original content, but vendors will be interested in calling you on board as well. Neither of these things is independent and you cannot have one and not the other. If you have a lot of followers, you must have posted something that has got them hooked to have earned those followers in the first place. If you do not have many followers yet, as long as you start to put up good content, then people will follow you and relevant vendors will want to hire you as well.

Remember, though, that just because you have a lot of followers doesn’t mean that you’re of use to a vendor. Meme and funny content accounts have tons of followers but are taken very lightly. Their followers will not take them seriously for putting up a lipstick or car advertisement which is why vendors won’t find them of much use either. Ensure that your followers are not only loyal to your account but also to the message that you propagate with a genuine interest. If that message resonates with a brand, you’ll be a great addition for them to take on board.

It’s not impossible, it just takes you to understand what the customer wants and what the brands want as well, and everything that we’ve said above should give you a good sense of what you’re in for. So, find something that you’re passionate about and share that passion with your followers. Launch your accounts on the social media platforms you most enjoy and remember that this shouldn’t feel like a chore. If you enjoy what you do, people will enjoy it too.

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