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How to become an influencer (and make money online)

6-minute read

Social media influencer creating content on their phone
Rosanna Parrish

Rosanna Parrish

12 February 2024

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From Twitch streamers to TikTok sensations, becoming an influencer is a dream for people across all walks of life. It’s natural to want to share your passions with the world, and being an influencer allows you to do just that – as well as make money doing it.

From content creation to regulatory bodies, here’s everything you need to know about how to be an influencer.

What is an influencer?

An influencer is someone who uses social media to make money – usually by ‘influencing’ their audience to make purchases. Depending on your success, this can be a part time or full time gig.

Influencers make money in lots of different ways; from affiliate links, brand deals, and advertising. But it’s important to remember that influencers generally find success by being authentic. If your audience thinks you’re only trying to sell them things, you’ll be less likely to succeed.

The most successful influencers build a meaningful and engaging relationship with their audience. This can come from sharing your life, being aspirational, or from good humour. So if you want to make money as an influencer, you’ll need to focus on these things first.

But how many followers do you need to become an influencer? The answer varies.


A micro-influencer is an influencer with a follower count of between 10,000 to 100,000. Whilst they don’t have the most followers and views around, what makes micro-influencers special is their sense of authenticity.

The smaller follower count makes them more personable and relatable to their audience, meaning they’re often more successful at influencing their audience’s behaviour – and purchases.

Brands are aware of this and will often choose to work with micro-influencers rather than those with higher follower counts as they’ll see a better pay off.

Micro-influencers’ followers tend to be more engaged and their content is often more niche – allowing brands to choose the perfect influencer to work with. For example, a publisher may choose to send a newly-released book to a micro-influencer whose content focuses on young adult fantasy novels, as they know this will be of interest to their audience.


A macro-influencer has between 100,000 and one million followers. As a macro-influencer, you’ll sit somewhere between having the higher engagement rates of a micro-influencer and the awareness and reach of a traditional celebrity.

While you may have a slightly lower engagement rate, macro-influencers show evidence of a consistent growth in followers. This is attractive to bigger and more well-known brands because any collaborations or brand deals will have a higher reach.

ASA guidelines

One of the most important things you need to know as an influencer is how to follow the ASA guidelines. The ASA, or Advertising Standards Authority, regulates every advertisement in the UK to make sure it’s following a certain set of rules and standards. This also includes ads from influencers.

As an influencer, you need to make sure that any payment or incentive you’ve received from a brand is clearly stated.

This doesn’t just include monetary payments though. Any incentive you’ve received from a brand – such as free gifts or working as a brand ambassador – needs to be as clear as possible.

To avoid any problems, the ASA say the easiest way to disclose something as an ad is to “include a clear and prominent ‘Ad’ label upfront before people view the rest of the content.” This means using this label at the start of your caption.

Acceptable ad labels according to the ASA include:

  • #Ad
  • #Advert
  • #Advertising
  • #Advertisement
  • #AdvertisementFeature

Just tagging the brand or even using the classics #spon or #gift aren’t recommended. The clearer you are about your relationship with the brand, the better.

The ASA revealed that there were 5,318 complaints made against influencers in 2022. High profile cases include Charlotte Dawson failing to disclose an advertisement for her own tanning line – leading her to be included on the ASA’s list of non-compliant social media influencers.

You can read the full ASA guidelines for influencers here. This covers everything from what content needs to be disclosed to affiliate links and relationship definitions.

How to become an influencer on Instagram

Instagram was one of the first social media platforms that really took off for influencers. Instagram stories, which disappear after 24 hours, allow influencers to show a sneak peak into their personal lives, while permanent grid posts and Reels are a perfect place for brand deals and sponsorships.

If you're looking to find success on Instagram, these steps can help you get started.

1. Define what makes you different

Content creation is the most important part of any influencer’s job. Not only do you need to make sure you’re creating content you’re passionate about, but it will need a hook to make people follow you.

Maybe you’re into sustainable fashion and post your second hand and thrifted finds to inspire others. Or perhaps you’re fixing up your first property and want to share your progress with the world.

What makes you different from every other influencer out there? Why should your audience follow you?

2. Create quality content

If you want people to follow you, you better make it worth their while. You’ll need to invest a lot of time and energy if you want to grow your following. One way to do this is to produce visually appealing and engaging content.

We have a whole guide on how to get followers on Instagram – but ultimately it comes down to being personable, authentic, and the quality of the posts you put out.

3. Engage with your audience

No one wants a one-sided relationship with the people they follow online, so build a community by engaging with your audience. Reply to comments and show your gratitude towards those who support you.

Your followers are more likely to stick around if they feel you appreciate them – and brands will take notice of this high engagement rate when considering you for partnership deals.

4. Network with others

Don’t forget about other influencers. If there are creators who produce content similar to yours, collaborating with them can be mutually beneficial.

Creating content together can allow you to share an audience and build a community around what you both love.

How to become an influencer on TikTok

TikTok is one of the fastest growing social networks around. Thanks to its unique algorithm, users are fed content outside of those they follow – giving you more of a chance to appear on someone’s feed if they enjoy similar content to yours.

Follow these steps in order to grow your following and make money on TikTok.

1. Be authentic

TikTok content is usually less polished than content on other platforms. Videos are often spontaneous, leading to a more authentic approach to content creation. Showcase your personality and let the algorithm do what it does best.

TikTok is famous for its quickly passing trends. This can be trending sounds, video formats, or challenges. By participating in popular trends, you can increase your visibility on the algorithm and attract new followers.

It’s important to jump on these trends whilst they’re still relevant, so make sure you’re keeping up with what’s currently popular on the app.

3. Be consistent

If one of your TikToks gets a lot of views, it’s important to stay relevant. Keep a consistent posting schedule in order to remain in your followers’ feeds. This will help keep your audience engaged and keep your content relevant.

4. Engage with the community

Not only can you like and reply to comments on TikTok, you can respond in video format. You can also easily collaborate with other TikTok influencers (regardless of their popularity) by using the duet or stitch features.

Duetting allows you to ‘interact’ with another creator’s video by displaying both videos next to each other – which is perfect for musicians and other creatives. Stitching a video is a great way to join in a conversation and build on another creator’s points – perhaps you have a book recommendation for them or an answer to a question they posed.

How much does an influencer make?

How much money an influencer makes will depend on their following and what social platforms they use. Some influencers earn money from the likes of affiliate links, where you get a cut of the money when someone buys something you promote. Many are part of a dedicated creator programme, getting money for each view they receive.

But a large part of any influencer’s income is through brand deals and partnerships. This is where you collaborate with a brand and create content that promotes a certain product.

As a freelancer, you can set your own rates when working with brands – but how much you charge will depend on your views, follower count, and engagement rate. And the more popular you are, the more you can charge.

How to get on a PR list

One way to secure brand deals and free products to promote is to get on a brand’s PR list. When looking for influencers and creators to work with, brands and PR companies will look for:

  • a loyal and engaged following
  • previous brand loyalty
  • relevant content (authenticity is key)
  • good quality content

Joining a talent or influencer marketing agency can also help you to receive PR packages, as they’ll negotiate on your behalf.

Not sure if social media influencing is for you? Find out more about how to make money on YouTube instead.

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Photo: BublikHaus/
Rosanna Parrish

Written by

Rosanna Parrish

​​Rosanna Parrish is a Copywriter at Simply Business, specialising in legal and HR content. Trained at London College of Communication, she has been creating content professionally for eight years at publications across the UK and Spain. Starting her career in health insurance, she also worked in education marketing before returning to the insurance world. Rosanna also writes about wellbeing in the workplace. She lives by the sea and does her best writing in coffee shops.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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