Let's begin with the bread and butter of influencers:
They seem like a fun way to make money, if you forget that the rate for sponsored posts is very low, unless your following is well above 10,000.
Let me paint a picture of it, which looks like this:
◾ You have to SEARCH out available sponsored opportunities on multiple influencer websites that you register for and compete with literally hundreds of thousands of other influencers in hopes that you get picked.
◾ Often companies make you write a lengthy idea pitch during the application process to see if it’s a good fit for them and never end up selecting you.
◾ Then if you're lucky enough to be selected, you have to receive the product to be advertised physically ( which means you cannot be remote or travel all the time), come up with a concept, take photos and stories with it, then edit it.
◾ You submit a draft of your potential post for approval with all the details and wait until they approve
Sometimes you have you make changes/reshoot, then finally post it.
By our calculations, it takes on average 2.5-5 hours for this process and you’d be lucky to secure 10 of them a month at around $20-$100 per post. That also means you have to do double the amount of non-sponsored content at the same time which you don’t get paid for, otherwise your followers will leave you. You see what I mean? It’s not as glamorous as you think unless you can command several thousands per post.
So think then, what happens if you want to take a vacation, or step back for a month or two? Your income goes to zero. If you don't constantly work it, you won't make money. No passive income, no scalability.
So what are our other options? You could offer services.
If you have some teachable skills (like editing , photography, online marketing, coaching, etc), you could start offering these services to your following. The problem is with this option is you ALWAYS have to work to make that income as well. If you take a vacation to enjoy that free hotel stay or a break to spend a weekend with your family, you will inadvertently “lose” money because this is not the type of business that can be outsourced or scaled. So if the idea of working for every dollar you make sounds good to you, and you have skills galore, this is a good option.
What if you have really awesome editing skills and can make presets, or create online courses for people to buy. That’s a great option for people looking to be remote but there are two downsides to it. You have to spend a lot of time beforehand creating the digital products, often using skills you do not yet have ( so there’s a learning curve). Then you hope people consider you enough of an expert to buy it and each purchase is a one time thing. You have to ALWAYS look for new customers or ALWAYS create new products to sell. You can't resell existing customers.
And don’t forget about the constant need to market yourself since the field is saturated with competitors who are spending advertising dollars to get in front of potential customers. While it’s great as a side passion project when you don’t have anything else to do, there are better ways of monetizing your social media.
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT
A lot of people on Instagram offer social media management services for other brands as a way to make money. That’s a great way to take a skill you learned and make a living on it, if you're willing to rebrand your account. However you have to deal with needy and demanding clients, make sure you can perform and grow their channels consistently ( pressssssssure), it’s getting increasingly hard to find clients and you are the one performing the service which means you are always working and can’t scale it.
This is something I have done, as well, and I found it more pain in the butt than the “dream life” I wanted.
Finally if you are really ambitious and skilled, you can start an ecommerce store, where you sell your own products that you manufacture ( if you know how to) or ones that you drop ship. This is the hardest option of all four, because you need to pay someone to create a functioning e-commerce website or learn to do it yourself, input all the products in detail into it, market, track inventory, deal with shipping and returns, purchase inventory (so you need large capital).
I have personally done this (I started an online clothing boutique) and I can tell you that out of all the businesses I have owned ( brick and mortar or online), this was by far the most work intensive one. After a while, I realized that it won't afford me the freedom to live and travel the way I want and I moved on, adding it to my tool belt of experience.