How To Make Money on Social Media: A Beginner’s Guide

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | May 30, 2024

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Social media is the ultimate powerhouse in the marketing world. It’s a goldmine for making money, changing how we shop, and shaping the online money-making game. But hold on, with so many options to make money on social media, where do you even begin? Making a living as a content creator is entirely doable with the right mindset and game plan. And brands, you’re included too.

There is more than one way to make that happen, so which one should you go with? Let’s admit it, figuring it all out can be overwhelming. If you’re in the middle of that thought process, this blog is here to the rescue. From earning a living as a creator to cracking the sales code, it is your one-stop shop for social media success.

So, creators and brands, dust off that marketing plan, and let’s help you get started.

A picture of dollars you can make on social media.

Why You Should Strive To Make Money on Social Media?

You’ve put in a lot of effort to grow your audience by posting engaging content and answering questions – now it’s time to be compensated for your efforts. Increasing brand awareness via social media has undeniable benefits.

But let’s be real; it’s time-consuming. Constantly navigating TikTok or Instagram’s rules may make you wonder if it’s all worth it. In a word, yes! You can make a comfortable wage and set your hours by putting your social media to work for you. You can shape the story and how others see you on the internet.

You, like most people, would’ve had the initial thought to try to make money on social media by posting sponsored ads. While this is one of the fantastic methods, it’s not the only one. Those who have built up a sizable online following do, in reality, have a lot of choices. In this blog, we’ll share those choices with you to make money on social media.

A picture of a person showing their Instagram metrics.

How To Seek Your Potential To Make Money on Social Media

Before we get to the nitty-gritty of business ideas and making money, we need to get settled with a few important questions. What’s your big dream? Are you entirely in this for money, freedom, or something else?

Get real with yourself and jot down your answer. This is your driving force when things get tough, so it better be a gut-punching, goosebump-inducing reason.

Once you’re sure your drive to make money on social media is real, you must seek your potential. Here are three steps that will help you figure that out.

1. Discover Your Goal 

Now, let’s break it down. What’s the endgame here? What do you want to achieve? Be specific, my friend. Don’t just aim to “make money”—let’s get into the details. Do you want $5000 monthly in affiliate income or to launch two kickass online products this year? Now, that’s what I’m talking about! Specific goals are like a treasure map to success.

2. Define Your Audience

Think of it like painting a masterpiece—you want to get into those intricate details and create something that stands out, not a sloppy mess. So, who’s your crowd? Don’t worry about turning some people off or boxing yourself in. Focus on one audience, and you’ll make a bigger impact. It’s like aiming for a bullseye rather than throwing darts randomly.

Get specific. For instance, your products want to cater to young female entrepreneurs between 21 and 30 or teens of both genders between 14 and 16. Give it more depth by defining the niche of this audience, like fitness enthusiasts, gamers, eco-friendly consumers, etc.

A person reading Google Analytics on their computer.

3. Validate Your Idea for Making Money on Social Media

Next up: validation time. Don’t skip this step—it’s like testing the waters before diving headfirst.

Does your niche market exist out there? Will your idea lead you to that pot of gold you’ve been dreaming of? Are enough people who have the problem you’re solving, and better yet, are they ready to pay for your solution? These are the questions we need answers to.

Head over to Google Trends and plug in your niche keyword. See that graph? A steady rise is a green signal to make money on social media with your idea. However, a decline means your idea may need some rethinking. Check out “related queries” and “related topics”—they’re like breadcrumbs leading you to more validation.

Next, scope out the competition. Search your niche topic on Amazon, Udemy, YouTube, and Instagram. If there are many reviews, ratings, and people engaging with the content, you’re onto something golden.

Once you’ve got your idea validated, it’s time to let those creative juices flow and figure out how to turn your passion into profit.

Two women shaking hands in an office, agreeing to a partnership.

How To Make Money on Instagram by Partnering With Brands

This is what most people think when they hear someone ask “how to make money on Instagram” The tried-and-true strategy: set yourself out on social media as an influencer.

But does that mean you would have to start posting pictures using the banana slicer in exchange for money? No. Absolutely not. Unless you believe in the usefulness of a banana slicer or anything, you’re promoting, for that matter.

That is because when you promote something ridiculous, people will see through you, might get annoyed, and unfollow you. So, your dream to influence your followers to make money on social media will die there.

You may stay true to yourself by only collaborating with brands that:

  • Sell products that you find useful
  • Are valuable to your target audience

Ensure you take your time making money on social media. Learn the ins and outs of how you can nail partnering with brands.

Build Your Brand Identity To Make Money on Social Media

Establish a strong and consistent brand identity before collaborating with other brands on Instagram and other social media platforms. Define your niche, aesthetic, and the type of content you’ll create. Brands look for influencers who align with their values and target audience.

Reach Out to Brands 

Approach brands that resonate with your niche. Craft a compelling pitch highlighting your unique selling points, engagement rates, and audience demographics. Personalize your outreach to increase the chances of collaboration.

Negotiate and Sign Contracts 

Once a brand shows interest, negotiate terms and compensation. Be clear about deliverables, timelines, and payment. Sign contracts to ensure a smooth and professional partnership.

Influencer packing shipping boxes to sell products and merchandise.

Sell Merchandise To Make Money on Social Media

A committed fan base is a vital requirement if you want to make a living selling your designs. You don’t need a million, but having at least a few hundred would be nice. But you can buy 1 million Instagram followers through various platforms if you need a million.

The production of the products is another phase that demands your focus. How will you design it? Will you do it yourself, or hire someone else to do it?

You must answer many questions before stepping into the huge commitment of selling your merchandise.

  1. Design Engaging Merchandise: Create merchandise that reflects your brand and appeals to your followers to make money on social media. Consider using popular catchphrases or inside jokes from your content.
  2. Partner with Print-on-Demand Companies: Use print-on-demand services to minimize upfront costs. These companies handle production, inventory, and shipping, allowing you to focus on marketing.
  3. Promote Your Merchandise: Market your merchandise regularly through posts, stories, and dedicated promotions. Engage with customers and ask for user-generated content to build social proof.

Create and Sell Digital Products To Make Money on Social Media

Producing and selling digital products that show your expertise is another option to make money on social media.

Ebooks and online courses are another option, but digital “printables” like motivational slogans and artwork that can be downloaded, printed, and displayed are another option.

There are numerous options for turning a physical or in-person business into a digital one. However, to give you an idea, let’s consider selling courses or eBooks to make money on social media.

  1. Identify Your Expertise: Determine your areas of expertise and knowledge. Consider what topics your followers would find valuable and be willing to pay for.
  2. Develop High-Quality Content: Create comprehensive and engaging content for your eBook or course. Utilize multimedia elements like videos, quizzes, and interactive exercises.
  3. Set Up an E-commerce Platform: Choose a user-friendly platform to host and sell digital products. Make the purchasing process easy and secure for your audience.

Host an Event or Workshop To Make Money on Social Media

The quickest way to make money on your social media from your following is to host events and workshops. If you’re starting from scratch, getting them up and running will take a lot of effort and getting the word out there.

However, if you record it, you can reuse its contents in various scenarios. For instance, you can divide it up into a series of tweets or Facebook updates. Or you can also convert the whole thing into a paid course you can offer online.

Let’s show you how to approach this strategy to make money on social media.

  1. Choose a Relevant Topic: Organize an event or workshop that aligns with your niche and expertise. This could be a live Q&A session, a masterclass, or a special event related to your content.
  2. Promote the Event: Use social media platforms to promote and build excitement. Leverage Instagram Stories, posts, and DMs to invite your followers to participate.
  3. Offer Tickets or Registrations: Depending on the format, you can sell tickets or registrations for your event. Use event management tools to handle sign-ups and payments efficiently.

A person is holding a phone opening a profile of a social media influencer with 136K following

Join an Affiliate Program To Make Money on Social Media

Whether you are or are not familiar with affiliate marketing on Instagram or any other platform, capitalize on this strategy. Using affiliate links is an increasingly popular strategy to earn passive income. They are low-cost and simple to implement because you don’t need to put your head at work to create original work.

All you need to do is act as a mediator for the buyer and the seller and collect a commission when you make a sale.

Make Money on Social Media With the Right Affiliate Programs

Research affiliate programs that match your niche and audience. Look for reputable programs that offer competitive commissions and valuable products.

Here is how you can choose the right program affiliate program to make money on social media.

  • Choose affiliate programs that match your chosen platform, niche, and audience interests.
  • Prioritize products with a good reputation and high-quality offerings.
  • Opt for programs with competitive commission rates and favorable cookie durations.
  • Select programs with reliable affiliate tracking systems to ensure accurate credit for sales.
  • Look for affiliate programs that offer ample support and resources for promotion.
  • Consider payment options and frequencies that suit your preferences. Promote popular products with high demand for better chances of successful conversions.
  • Read and understand the affiliate agreement, noting any promotional restrictions or exclusivity clauses.
  • Test a few programs to analyze performance and make data-driven decisions.

Align with ethical considerations and avoid promoting products that contradict your values.

How To Promote Affiliate Links To Make Money on Social Media

Always tell your readers whether a link they click on will take them to an affiliate site. You should act naturally on social media, whether advertising or selling something. The feeling of being repeatedly sold to is something no audience wants to experience.

A legitimate way to do this is to use the product and give a genuine review in your post, then include a link to the product. Justify your opinion by outlining the benefits and downsides of the product. If you want your audience to take you seriously, you shouldn’t try to sell them cheap knockoffs. Go for a product you want to buy to make money on social media.

Carefully select your affiliate links and use them selectively. Because if you need to be more careful, you will start sending them off instead of growing your following. Whether it’s a cosmetics line or the newest tech, only promote the products you’re truly confident in that align with your brand’s image.

Enroll in Platform-Specific Monetization Programs

Different social media platforms offer monetization programs that can help you make money on social media directly from your content. For instance:

  • TikTok Creator Fund: TikTok creators can earn money based on the views they receive on their videos. 
  • Pinterest Creator Rewards: Pinterest allows creators to earn money through sponsored content and affiliate links.
  • YouTube Partner Program: On YouTube, you can earn money through ad revenue and channel memberships.
  • Instagram Subscriptions: Instagram offers an option for creators to offer exclusive content to subscribers for a monthly fee.
  • Facebook and Instagram Reels Bonus Program: Creators on these platforms can earn bonuses based on the performance of their reels.

A laptop displaying TikTok on its screen.

Which Social Media Platform Pays the Most?

Now that you’re aiming to profit from platform-specific monetization, which social media platform pays the most? That is an important question about making money on social media. The reason is that the better the pay rate, the more you’ll make.

Well, the Epidemic Sound study of 1500 monetizing creators shows that TikTok is the best platform to make money on social media. About a third of people who responded to the poll responded with TikTok, which identified it as the highest-paying platform.

Facebook came in at 16.5%, Twitter at 13.1%, and Instagram at 7.1%, with YouTube a close second at 25.8%. So, while Facebook and Instagram may have the largest audiences, users can earn more on TikTok and YouTube.

However, when creators talk about making big money, YouTube is their main source of income. They make over $200,000 a year using this platform.

While we’ve given you the breakdown of the pay rate, it shouldn’t be the sole basis of your decision. See where you are getting more appreciation for your efforts, niche, and type of content. Otherwise, all your efforts to make money on social media will go to waste.

A screen showing a big sale of a brand.

How To Make Money Marketing on Social Media as a Brand

Social media, it’s not just a place to share cat videos anymore. It’s become a treasure box for brands like yours to make serious money.

Back then, it was all about promoting products and connecting with customers. But now, with all these fancy new features and advancements, it’s turned into a full-blown marketplace.

Let’s discover five clever ways to turn your social media presence into a money-making machine. You will learn how to make money marketing on social media as a brand.

1. How To Make Money on Social Media as a Brand: Extend Sales and Special Offers

Who doesn’t love a good deal, right? People on social media are no different. Discounts, sales, giveaways—these tricks give customers more reasons to spend money on your product.

That’s just the incentive they need to hit that “buy now” button. Plus, limited-time offers create a sense of urgency, pushing people to act fast and not wait around.

Remember to get creative with those discounts. Offer codes for email signups and exclusive deals for your top fans on Instagram; the possibilities are endless!

2. Attend to Your Best Customers To Make Money on Social Media

What’s even better than promoting your products to make money on social media? Letting your customers do it for you! User-generated content is a gem for boosting sales on social media. It’s like having an army of loyal fans singing your praises and tagging your products all at once.

Motivate your customers to share their love for your products with a branded hashtag and sweet incentives. But remember, always ask for permission to use their content. It’s not just good manners; it’s a chance to get those high-res assets for more eye-catching posts.

3. Create a Buzz for Product Launches

Social media is the perfect stage for building hype around your new products. You can reach millions of potential customers with a sprinkle of paid, organic, and influencer posts. Tease your prospects with upcoming launches to create anticipation and excitement.

And only some people want to leave Instagram to buy stuff from your website. So, ensure you continue to post to keep your prospects hooked on the product.

4. Direct Selling, No Fuss

Who says you need a fancy e-commerce site to sell stuff? Social commerce is where it’s at! More than half of social media users want to see brands selling their products on the platform. So why make them leave when you can offer a one-stop shopping experience?

With Shopify’s integration, you will make money on social media. Your products will sync seamlessly to Facebook and Instagram storefronts. Tag your goodies in shoppable posts, create ads, and let customers check out instantly!

5. Buddy up With Creators To Make Money on Social Media

Collaborate with social media influencers in your niche to expand your reach and credibility. Influencers can promote your products or services to their engaged audience, generating more leads and sales.

Make some new friends on social media—creators, to be exact. Partnering with influencers and creators puts your brand in front of fresh audiences eager to try new things. It’s like having your marketing squad, creating awesome content, and showcasing your products.

Two influencers are promoting a makeup brand through a video.

Make Money on Social Media With Path Social

One thing you need to remember when you set out to start making money on social media—success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work, honesty, and the ability to connect with your audience on a personal level.

Make sure that you’re always authentic to your brand and audience. Also, share useful information and maintain regular interaction with your followers.

Following our advice and using Path Social’s tools, you can transform your account into a lucrative business.

At Path Social, we can help you achieve your goals with our in-house platform of Instagram influencers and proprietary AI targeting algorithm. Join us today and start growing your Instagram followers and community while making money doing what you love.