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How to Make Money on Social Media: Tips for Brands and Creators

You can’t pay bills with followers and likes. This is how to make money on social media starting right now — for creators and brands.

Michelle Martin November 14, 2022
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The good news: There are so many ways to make money on social media!

The bad news: There are so many ways to make money on social media…

Where do you start? Earning a living as a creator is possible with the right strategy and mindset, but it can be overwhelming to figure out how.

And brands… As you know, social media changes constantly. What’s working to drive sales from social media right now? How do you work with creators?

Creators and brands, this article is chock full of strategies for both of you. Bust out your marketing plan and let’s go.

Bonus: Download a free, fully customizable influencer media kit template to help you introduce your accounts to brands, land sponsorship deals, and make more money on social media.

6 ways to make money on social media as a creator

1. Partner with brands

This is what most people think of when they hear “making money on social media.” The OG method: Becoming an influencer.

Relax. It doesn’t have to mean taking selfies for sponsored posts featuring “diet tea.” Not only should you avoid doing that because you’re gorgeous the way you are, but also because your audience will see right through it.

To maintain your integrity, work with brands that:

  • Naturally fit your content and personality
  • Have products you actually use
  • Offer value to your audience

Whoever you partner with, ensure the content on your social media accounts still feels like you.

Parenting-focused creator Lindsey Gurk creates hilarious Reels, often with her own (amazing) singing. This sponsored Reel feels as authentic as her organic content.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lindsey Simon Gurk (@lindseygurk)

As for what to charge, that’s up to you, but check out these influencer earnings benchmarks for inspiration. (Plus, learn more about sponsored content, a.k.a. sponcon.)

2. Join an affiliate program

Affiliate marketers share links to products or services and earn commissions when someone buys through that link (or via unique coupon code).

There are three ways to start affiliate marketing:

  1. Join an affiliate network: There are many options, such as Impact and ShareASale, where you can join multiple affiliate programs in one network.
  2. Join a specific company’s affiliate program: Many brands run their own affiliate programs, which often pay better than joining through larger networks.
  3. Pitch a custom affiliate relationship: Established creators often negotiate custom rates and contracts with brands for long-term partnerships.

Affiliate marketing is a snowball effect. At first, if you don’t have a large audience, you probably won’t make very much. (Not always true, though!) Sharing affiliate content over time will pay off, as long as you focus on serving your audience first.

LTK (formerly Like to Know It) is one of the most popular affiliate programs for fashion creators. When people visit the link in this post…


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by NIKKI, not Nicole. (@newtexacali)

…they can shop the entire outfit, neatly organized. Creators can add items from almost anywhere, earning commission on any sales, and LTK adds the FTC-required disclaimer at the top.

​​ Like to Know It affiliate marketing for fashion creators


A few important rules to follow for affiliate marketing:

  • Always disclose your links. When posting content that features affiliate products, be honest and let your audience know you’ll earn a commission if they buy. You can use hashtags like #affiliatelink or #ad. It’s required by the FTC.
  • Not everything needs to be an affiliate link. Don’t shy away from recommending your favorite items if they don’t have an affiliate program. You’re here to serve your audience first, remember?

3. Enroll in platform-specific monetization programs

Social media platforms need creators to keep users engaged so brands keep running ads. #RealTalk

Because of that, they’re constantly launching creator-friendly features to help you earn more money. I mean, help them earn more money off you…

But since you’re creating content anyway, sign up for every program you can. Why not, right?

TikTok Creator Fund

There are tons of ways to earn money on TikTok, including branded content, tips, gifts, and their dedicated Creator Marketplace. The Creator Fund is simple: TikTok pays you for views.

It’s a no-brainer if you meet the steep eligibility criteria. Earn more with the content you’re already making.

Pinterest Creator Rewards

Pinterest is currently testing a new rewards program for Idea Pins. They also offer an application-based fund which is unique as it’s meant to lift up underrepresented creators.

Check out more ways to make money on Pinterest.

YouTube Partner Program

The combination of video view earnings and partial ad revenue means YouTube creators can start earning decent money with an audience of a few thousand (or one really viral video). To sign up for the program, you need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours.

There are other ways to make money on YouTube, too.

Instagram Subscriptions

Subscriptions allows you to add a membership to your Instagram account. Followers can pay a monthly, in-app fee to access exclusive content, which can be anything from subscriber-only posts and Reels to group chats, livestreams, and more.

Dara Starr Tucker subscribe button


It basically combines the functionality of Patreon right inside Instagram. Currently, Instagram Subscriptions is available to U.S.-based creators.

Not to worry, there are lots of other ways to make money on Instagram.

Instagram and Facebook Reels Bonus Program

Meta runs ever-changing bonus programs that pay you for either Instagram Reels views, or reaching other achievements on Facebook. Currently, these are invite-only programs available to select U.S-based creators. If you’re eligible, you’ll get an in-app notification to sign up.

Increase your chances of getting in by:

  • Using Instagram to create your Reels. Instagram hints that creators using “Instagram creative tools” get priority.
  • Creating positive, original Reels. Instagram wants trend-setters, not trend-followers.
  • Removing watermarks. Don’t repost straight from TikTok. Remove any watermarks and ensure your upload quality is set to high. Turn this setting on in the app from Settings -> Account -> Data usage.

data usage upload at highest quality

4. Sell merch

Making decent money from your own merchandise requires a dedicated following. You don’t need a million followers, but may want more than, like, 100.

There’s also the actual making of the merch. What will you make? How will you make it—yourself, or outsource it?

There are lots of ways to outsource the production of apparel and gifts with sites like Printful. And, ways to sell it with an Etsy or Shopify store.

The key, besides loyal followers, is merch that makes sense. Tech reviewer Sara Dietschy’s line of tech accessories tie in nicely with her brand slogan of “rhymes with peachy” and align with her audience’s interest in technology.

Moment Peachy Merch


5. Create and sell an ebook or online course

Have a skill to teach? Diversify your income by creating your own course or book.

Emil Pakarklis wanted to get better at photography. He grew a following as he developed his skills armed with only an iPhone. He turned his experience into a course. Over 319,000 people have taken iPhone Photography School at about $75 USD.

Quick math here… That’s $23.9 million.

Here’s how he uses TikTok to promote his course.

iPhone Photography School TikTok


If course creation seems overwhelming, start small with something from the next section.

6. Host an event or workshop

Events and workshops are a quick way to monetize your social media presence.

They require a lot of work to set up and promote if you’re creating something from scratch. But, you can record it and use that content for lots of other things: Chop it up into many social media posts, or turn the whole thing into a course and sell it.

Event ideas to create and launch:

  • An in-person course or workshop.
  • An online webinar or livestream presentation.
  • A charity fundraiser and networking event.
  • A summit or convention, partnering with other creators or brands.

Alternatively, there are ways to reap the benefits of events without having to create it yourself, such as:

  • Becoming a paid speaker for conferences.
  • Podcast and media interviews. (Not always paid, but can be.)
  • Sponsoring or advertising at someone else’s event.

Thinking of hosting a virtual event? Make sure you do these 10 things.

4 ways to make money on social media as a brand

1. Sell your products using native commerce features

Social selling is one of the most powerful ways to use social media for your business. Brands that embrace social selling are 51% more likely to reach their sales goals.

Instagram Shop

Instagram currently offers brands the ability to display your products under a “Shop” profile tab.

Stoic Beauty Skincare


However, the Shop tab will disappear around March 2023—so make the most of it now. It appears Instagram will still offer brands some sort of Shop section after the change, so be ready to pivot in Q2.

For now, set up your Instagram Shop in a few easy steps.

Facebook Shop

Setting up an Instagram Shop automatically carries over to Facebook, too. Although with Instagram’s Shop tab ending soon, we can assume Facebook’s Shop tab will go along with that.

Commerce tools on Facebook remain murky, as Meta also removed the Live Shopping feature in October 2022.

One thing’s for sure, video content and Reels continue to be important for succeeding on Instagram and Facebook, so up your game with these Reels ideas.

Pinterest Shopping

Pinterest says their users spend up to 80% more shopping every month compared to users on other platforms. They offer multiple ways for brands to boost revenue:

  • Partnering with creators on branded Idea Pins.
  • Multiple ad formats, including dynamic Shopping ads and AI-powered “try-on” Pins.
  • A Shop profile tab that auto-imports your ecommerce catalog.

TikTok Shop

TikTok offers a robust ecommerce solution for brands. You can launch a Shop on your profile, run ads, partner with creators in-app, and feature products in videos with integrated checkout.

If you use TikTok, don’t sleep on this opportunity. TikTok users love to shop: 71.2% report buying something they saw on the app.

Note: TikTok’s social commerce solutions are only available in some countries.

Snapchat Store

Snapchat offers a Shop tab similar to Instagram’s current one: Your followers can browse products from your profile and checkout on your website. Right now it’s only available to verified Business accounts.

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2. Set up an affiliate program

Setting up your own will involve some legwork but creators love affiliate programs. You’ll have to create a legal contract for your affiliates to agree to, as well as decide on how much to pay.

There’s no right answer but most programs offer a flat rate per sale, or a percentage of one.

affiliate program graph with flat rate and percentage of sale


It’s possible to manage your own affiliate program on your website, or an easier option is to offer yours through a network like Impact.

3. Upsell with an AI chatbot

Heyday goes beyond basic chatbots by using advanced AI to adapt tone across sub-brands, learn from past interactions, and offer 24/7 multilingual support.

After Groupe Dynamite launched their custom Heyday chatbot on Facebook Messenger, their traffic went up 200% and 60% of all customer conversations were automated—with detailed analytics to ensure satisfaction remains high.

Product recommendations within Heyday dashboard

Plus, Heyday is made by Hootsuite, so you know it’s gonna be awesome, right?

Check out more chatbot examples to grow your business.

4. Work with social media influencers and content creators

It seems like every video about Procreate on YouTube is sponsored by screen protector brand Paperlike—because it works.

Their 2 minute Kickstarter launch video showed testimonials from real artists and designers and earned them $282,375—56 times more than their original campaign goal.

Lesson learned? Copy and paste that strategy to influencer marketing. Paperlike continues to partner with artists and creatives who use the product.

Paperlike’s strategy shows influencer marketing can be simple: Let your users do the talking, combined with genuine action (e.g. using it all the time, not just for a campaign).

Snag a complete strategy for your business from our guide to working with influencers.

Whether you’re a creator or brand, check out all the ways Hootsuite can help you run your social empire—beyond scheduling and publishing.

Maximize your earning potential by managing all your social media marketing and publishing with Hootsuite. Engage with and find your audience with innovative tools like Best Time to Publish and a unified DM inbox. Try it free today.

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By Michelle Martin

As an ex-agency strategist turned freelance WFH fashion icon, Michelle is passionate about putting the sass in SaaS content. She's known for quickly understanding and distilling complicated technical topics into conversational copy that gets results. She has written for Fortune 500 companies and startups, and her clients have earned features in Forbes, Strategy Magazine and Entrepreneur.

Read more by Michelle Martin

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