Highest-Paid Social Media Influencers: How To Become One

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | May 22, 2024

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Becoming one of the highest-paid social media influencers doesn’t happen overnight by chance. It takes hard work unless you’re already a celebrity, like Kim Kardashian, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jennifer Lopez, or Kylie Jenner. They’re exceptions because they already have a huge following. For the rest of us, it’s all about doing the work correctly.

So, how do you get Insta famous if you’re not a celebrity? How can you follow in the footsteps of Zach King, Huda Kattan, and James Charles? Well, we’ve got the answers to your questions right up our sleeves. 

We will share easy tips and cool stories to help you become one of the celebrated social media personalities. So, let’s start exploring your way to the top. 

 A mobile screen with social media apps.

Why Become a Social Media Influencer? 

Have you ever thought about why being a social media influencer is cool? It’s not just about looking fancy. You receive many significant perks and fame. Here’s why being a top influencer is great:

  • Trendsetter and Impact: You set trends and make a big impact on brands and people. Your voice can change whole industries.
  • Financial Freedom and Flexibility: It gives you money freedom and allows you to choose your schedule.
  • Brand Collaborations: You can work with brands you like.
  • Exciting Projects: It’s an adventurous career with cool projects beyond the usual.

A person is scrolling through photos on their phone.

How Do You Become a Social Media Influencer?

Finding your niche is like finding your sweet spot in the vast online world. It isn’t just a category. It’s the unique space where your passion meets the interests of your potential followers.

1. Crafting Your Niche 

Selecting your niche involves blending your interests with what captivates your potential followers. Whether it’s beauty, fitness, or lifestyle, your niche is the playground where your influence will blossom.

2. Tailoring Content to Your Niche 

Once set, tailor your content to resonate with your audience. Share simple workout routines, easy-to-make healthy recipes, and your fitness journey if it’s fitness. By maintaining consistency in your niche, you can build a loyal following.

3. Embracing Authenticity 

Being a social media celebrity starts with authenticity. Share your real experiences within your chosen niche. Authenticity not only fosters trust but also sets you apart from the crowd.

4. Staying Trendy Within Your Niche 

Stay in the loop with trends within your niche. Adapt your content to incorporate these trends while staying true to your style. This approach keeps your content fresh and engaging.

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5. Engage With Your Audience

When your followers drop a question or comment on your posts, don’t ignore it. Take a moment to acknowledge and respond. This simple act can make them feel valued and shows that you genuinely want to assist. Plus, it’s a great way to build a connection with them. 

You can also gain follower engagement, which will get you more visibility. A little interaction can go a long way in fostering meaningful relationships on social media.

6. Network With Other Influencers

Collaborate with fellow influencers in your niche to broaden your audience and expand your network. Search for potential collaborators on social media and online communities or attend events and conventions. 

And don’t forget, having business cards on hand to share with potential collaborators is a smart move. Networking can open up new opportunities and collaborations that elevate your presence in the online space.

7. Create a Media Kit 

Having a media kit is essential for every influencer. It serves as your digital introduction when reaching out to marketing professionals, brand representatives, or agencies in search of collaborations. Consider a media kit as your influencer resume or portfolio. It shows your work, achievements, audience size, and the compelling reasons for brands to collaborate with you. 

Remember, the design of your kit is as vital as its content. Your personality should shine through its design because, in the world of influencers, personality is a key asset. Craft a media kit that blends information with your unique style. It is an excellent way to leave a lasting impression on potential collaborators.

Here’s a checklist for your media kit:

  • Your photo
  • A concise bio
  • Social media channels listed with respective follower counts
  • Engagement rate
  • Audience demographics
  • Website link
  • Information detailing past work and collaborations

A picture of assorted makeup products for brand promotion.

How To Create Quality Content for Social Media Success

Content creation emerges as the linchpin in becoming a successful social media influencer. So, you cannot become one of the highest-paid influencers without cracking the code to quality content. 

Are you wondering how to create interesting Instagram content that keeps your followers hooked? Here are some tricks. 

  1. Quality Over Quantity 

Distinguish yourself not by the volume but by the essence of your content. Prioritize authenticity, offering high-quality posts that genuinely reflect your personality.

  1. Luck Through Conversational Language 

Forge a stronger connection using everyday language your audience understands and appreciates. Make your content relatable, sparking conversations instead of just delivering information.

  1. The Power of a Single Post 

Highlight the transformative potential of a single, well-crafted post. A strategic and impactful post can create ripples and attract the attention of brands seeking authentic collaborations.

  1. Navigating Sponsored Content 

As you ascend, sponsored content becomes a potential revenue stream. Master the art of seamlessly integrating brand partnerships into your content, ensuring each collaboration aligns with your authentic voice.

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Tips To Grow Your Follower Base 

Transitioning toward becoming one of the most looked-at social media influencers involves more than just sporadic posting. It’s about fostering a dedicated audience. Let’s look into robust influencer marketing strategies for organic growth and cultivating a vibrant community around your digital persona.

  • Engage Actively

Move beyond mere posting. Actively respond to comments, host live sessions, and integrate audience feedback into your content. Genuine engagement forms the bedrock of a thriving community.

  • Collaborative Growth 

Work to collaborate with influencers or brands in your niche. These partnerships expose you to shared audiences, facilitating mutual growth. Opt for collaborations that seamlessly align with your values, ensuring authenticity.

  • Strategic Hashtag Use 

Elevate discoverability through strategic hashtag use. Research and incorporate popular hashtags within your niche naturally. This widens your reach and makes your content accessible to a broader audience.

  • Create Shareable Moments 

Craft content that compels your audience to share. This extends your reach organically and introduces your profile to potential new followers through the powerful mechanism of peer recommendation.

  • Consistent Posting Schedule 

Establish a consistent posting schedule to keep your audience engaged. Predictability instills a sense of anticipation, encouraging followers to check your profile regularly.

  • Host Giveaways and Contests 

Organize giveaways or contests to spark excitement. Encourage participants to share your content, amplifying its reach and drawing new followers intrigued by the prospect of winning.

  • Utilize Instagram Stories and Reels 

Use the features of Instagram Stories and Reels. These dynamic formats offer real-time opportunities to engage your audience, providing a more immersive experience.

Growing your follower base demands strategic efforts. It’s not solely about numbers but about creating a community genuinely invested in your journey. 

A person commenting on an Instagram post.

How To Get Paid on Instagram

Instagram isn’t like YouTube. You don’t directly get a payout on Instagram like YouTubers. Then, if you’re an influencer building your career online, how to get paid on Instagram? Let’s spill the secrets to help you take a big step toward becoming one of the highest-paid social media influencers.

1. Sell Your Merch

After establishing your brand on Instagram, sell merchandise reflecting your unique style. This generates sales and serves as free advertising when followers showcase your brand on everyday items.

2. Paid Subscriptions

Instagram influencers can offer paid subscriptions for exclusive, premium content. This creates a private space within the platform to share specialized, behind-the-scenes, or in-depth material. By providing extra value, influencers attract followers who pay for access to unique content like tutorials and live sessions.

3. Start Your E-Commerce Store

If you have good engagement as a content creator, consider selling your products. You can leverage your Instagram presence to market physical goods, services, or digital items. This boosts your brand’s reach and provides value to your audience.

This trend reflects a shift towards self-reliance and autonomy in pursuing financial success within the creator economy.

4. Leverage Live Badges

Instagram’s Live Badges offer a chance for creators in the U.S. to earn money while streaming live videos. Viewers can buy badges priced between $0.99 and $4.99 to show support during live sessions.

To activate Live Badges, visit your profile and find the Professional Dashboard. Enable Instagram’s monetization, and once approved, tap ‘Set Up Badges.’ This feature allows creators to earn and enhances interaction with their audience during live content.

5. Partnerships With Brands

Influencers make money on Instagram by teaming up with brands. Many influencers, about 40%, earn through sponsored posts. It’s important to choose a brand that fits your values. It may seem fake if your regular content doesn’t match the brand.

You can collaborate with brands for Instagram paid partnerships in different ways. Feature a product or receive free products for creating content and get paid, for instance. Start by showcasing your favorite things, like restaurants or skincare, to build a portfolio. These posts can be examples of reaching out to brands. Beauty and makeup influencers often do these brand deals.

6. Join an Affiliate Program

Affiliate marketers on Instagram share special links to earn a commission from sales. Unlike influencers, who get a fixed fee, affiliates earn solely from sales.

But is affiliate marketing worth it? Yes, it can help you earn millions. According to Glassdoor, the average salary of an affiliate marketer is $86K per year.

Diversify your affiliate links across your Instagram bio, Stories, and link-in-bio page to promote multiple brands. Using promo codes in captions where links aren’t allowed can expand opportunities for driving sales.

You can access affiliate programs by reaching out to brands directly. You can also explore popular affiliate marketplaces like Rakuten Advertising, LTK, and Amazon Associates.

7. Link to Your Blog or Vlog

Instagram influencers can make money by linking their profiles to blogs or vlogs. They build a solid reputation on Instagram, which helps when partnering with brands for sponsored posts or reviews. Their blogs or vlogs become money-makers through ads, subscriptions, merch sales, or exclusive content.

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Who Is the Highest Paid Social Media Influencer?

Many influencers are earning millions of dollars from Instagram. The value of their Instagram profiles depends on their massive following, interaction rate, and content. So, who is the highest-paid social media influencer? Let’s explore. 

Cristiano Ronaldo 

Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese football legend, works beyond the boundaries of sport. He’s a global sensation, a cultural icon, and the undisputed king of Instagram influencers.

With over 614 million followers (and counting), Ronaldo’s account is the most-followed Instagram account. Each of his posts is a goldmine, earning him $3.2 million. What brands wouldn’t pay to have the privilege to have a place on Ronaldo’s profile?

From sleek sportswear to high-end watches, Ronaldo’s endorsement is the Midas touch, turning products into must-haves.

Selena Gomez

Remember that girl belting out tunes on “Barney”? That little Disney darling? Selena Gomez, now an adult, isn’t just a childhood memory anymore. She’s a singing and acting sensation who climbed the ladder of fame faster than you can say, Rare Beauty.

Teenagers adore her. Brands crave her. With 429 million Instagram followers hanging on her every post, Selena’s engagement rate is practically celestial. No wonder cosmetic, fashion, and lifestyle giants consider her their lucky charm. Her charges for a single sponsored partnership? $2.5 million—sending her into the top ranks of highest-paid influencers.

Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock, isn’t just Hollywood muscle. He’s a chameleon, crushing it from wrestling rings to red carpets. He blends action moves with funny stories on Instagram, winning over 394 million fans. Fitness brands love him, too. He earns a minimum of $2.3M for a single post from brands of different niches.

Taylor Swift 

Taylor Swift is an award-winning queen, social media darling, and whisperer to young hearts. She has received awards like Grammys, Emmys, Country Music Association, and Billboard Music Awards. She is one of the most successful singers of all time. 

Swift was Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2023. This is just one of the reasons Taylor Swift’s name is buzzing on social media.

She’s someone who can inspire young girls because of her impressive career. With a massive following of 278 million, Taylor earns nearly $1.6 million for each post she shares.

Album cover of Taylor Swift.

Who Are Non-Celebrity Highest-Paid Male Social Media Influencers?

Many influencers earning millions are non-celebrities. Their great influence in promoting brands highly pays them on the platform. Here is a list of a few of these non-celebrity highest-paid male social media influencers. 

Zach King 

Zach King is synonymous with lightning-fast creativity and innovative storytelling. He rose to fame as a “Vine sensation” but has become a social media super force. With 27.8 million followers, he creates massive engagement on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. 

King creates captivating videos with mesmerizing illusions, seamless edits, and a playful wink in a few days. This agile approach is a key aspect of his brand.

His artistic vision and brand savvy make him a goldmine for major corporations like Chrysler and Lacoste. Each Instagram post nets him around $81,000. 

David Dobrik

David Dobrik, the prank-wielding, vlog-slinging kingpin of The Vlog Squad, isn’t just another funny guy on YouTube. He’s a social media supernova. David blasts through the internet with sketches, challenges, and a behind-the-scenes peek into his chaotic life. 

His 10.8 million Instagram followers hang on to every post, drawn in by his relatable antics and infectious energy. Brands know this, too. Dobrik’s authenticity is gold dust, transforming every sponsored post into a mini-event. 

Forget staged endorsements—you’ll find him gifting Teslas on a whim, showering friends with cash, or just hanging out. He earns $70,000 per Instagram post, as every online moment is a potential viral explosion. 

Logan Paul

From Vine stardom to Law & Order guest star, Logan’s journey is anything but ordinary. This Swedish vlogger isn’t your average face on TV. You might catch him cracking a case on Law & Order, but that’s just one chapter in his multi-platform saga. Before the lights and cameras of primetime, Logan gained 19 million followers on Vine with his charm and witty vlogs.

After Vine lost popularity, he migrated to Instagram, where his legion of admirers swelled to 27 million strong. Whether whipping up a viral challenge or throwing down in a friendly match, Logan keeps it real. And his fans love him. Brands do, too. Each of his Instagram posts carries a price tag of $65K.

Nash Grier

Nash Grier’s rocking #DadMode is like a pro. This video creator has 13.8 million Instagram followers, and his content revolves around his 4-year-old daughter. Scroll through his feed, and you will find adorable adventures, goofy bath times, and endless dad jokes. 

He also has a YouTube channel but is more famous on Instagram. Nash shares heartwarming moments and relatable glimpses of fatherhood. Brands find his content valuable, too. Each sponsored post from this full-time dad costs $41K to brands.

A social media influencer sets a ring light and a phone.

How To Stay Relevant in an Evolving Landscape

Staying relevant is the key to lasting success on social media. Here are a few ways you can stay relevant. 

  1. Discussing Evolving Trends: Stay ahead of the curve by keeping up with the evolving trends within your niche. Whether it’s new content formats, emerging platforms, or shifting audience preferences, understanding these trends positions you as a trendsetter.
  2. The Importance of Adaptability: Adaptability is your greatest asset. Explore how influencers successfully navigate changes, adjusting content strategies and staying nimble in response to the dynamic digital landscape.
  3. Building a Consistent Brand: While trends evolve, your brand must remain constant. Explore how successful influencers maintain consistency in their brand identity, establishing a recognizable presence.
  4. Utilizing User Feedback: Your audience’s feedback is invaluable. Learn how to leverage user feedback to refine your content strategy. This user-centric approach fosters engagement and ensures your content remains relevant and resonates with your audience.

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Become a Social Media Influencer With Path Social 

If you’ve started your influencer journey, remember that the climb to the top requires more than just passion and dedication. It demands strategic planning, tireless adaptability, and a keen understanding of the changing trends. You must work even harder if you’re not already a celebrity. 

Once you’re there, Instagram is your playground. See Ronaldo’s cool athletic or Selena’s awesome beauty posts to get ideas for making money. Create your brand like a strong fortress, and see those deals come your way. Remember, it’s a long journey, not a quick race, so be patient and keep working your way towards success. 

You must also recognize the tools and support available on your journey. At Path Social, we have a decade’s experience developing an in-house platform for Instagram influencers and an AI-targeting algorithm. This unique combination ensures that we reach organic users who are not only targeted but also genuinely interested and engaged.

Our results speak for themselves—they are irreplicable. Building an Instagram community that lasts is our commitment to you. So why wait? Start growing and gaining Instagram followers today with Path Social. Your journey to becoming among the highest-paid social media influencers is just a click away!