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How to be a Social Media Influencer and get paid

What is required to be a social media influencer? What is it like, being a content creator? And how many followers do you need to get paid for your social media posts? Read this blog to find out.

‘I’m a social media interior influencer on Instagram.’ ‘Say what?’
Social media content creation in the loft style home of Whispering Bold

Being an influencer on social media and getting paid

‘What do you do?’ ‘I’m an Instagram / social media interior influencer.’ ‘Say what?’ A giggle. Or simply a blank expression.

And then the questions come.

My peers will probably nod in agreement. The idea of influencer itself is quite controversial. Some people see it as a real job, others see it as an excuse not to get a real job. Those who (think they) understand what an influencer is or does, probably conjure up the image of a young ditzy girl, showing a lot of flesh while flaunting the latest fashion accessory.

I actually don’t love calling myself an influencer. I am an interior designer and create social media content. And if I do it well, people are influenced by it. I know that makes me an influencer but there’s so much more behind that label. Cristiano Ronaldo probably has the most followers on Instagram (460M at time of writing) and influences millions around the world. If you were to ask him ‘What do you do for a living?’, he’d most likely answer ‘I’m a professional football player’. He would never say ‘I’m an influencer’, would he? But let’s leave that, shall we?

Truth is, being influenced is nothing new. It’s called marketing. Perhaps it’s the specific marketing channel of social media influencing that’s been getting a lot of attention nowadays. And not just in fashion. Any industry can (and does) use influencers and there seems to be no stopping of the movement. More companies are willing to invest time and money in these influencers simply for being themselves and engaging with their audience.

What’s so interesting about influencers is the fact that they are trusted as industry ‘experts’ but by sharing content and insight in a certain way, consumers view them more as their peers. Therefore, these days becoming a celebrity is no longer a primary goal for many millennials and Gen Z. No, it’s becoming a social media influencer (and becoming a celebrity along the way).

What is a social media influencer?

First things first. What is an influencer actually? An influencer is a person who has the ability to affect the behaviour of other people as a result of the size of their audience or their individual persuasiveness. Influencers can influence through the overall size of their audience (total reach) or because of their authority and reputation within a smaller community of people. Influencers are of interest to companies who wish to pursue influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing rose from the common practice of celebrity endorsement. A typical influencer marketing arrangement includes a brand paying an influencer for mentions or promotions of their products.

social media content creation in action - Whispering Bold

So, an influencer has:

  • the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience.

  • a following in a distinct niche, with whom he or she actively engages. The size of the following depends on the size of his/her topic of the niche.

According to the ( you can separate you can separate different types of influencers in multiple ways.

Some of the most common methods are by follower numbers, by types of content, and by the level of influence. You can also group influencers by the niche in which they operate. This means that influencers who may appear in a low category by one measure may seem more influential when looked at in another way. Some micro and even nano-influencers can have a tremendous impact on followers in their specialist niche without being a national or international celebrity. They may be of significant benefit to a firm selling a product targeting that sector.

Types of influencers by follower numbers


Mega influencers are the people with a vast number of followers on their social networks. Although there are no fixed rules on the boundaries between the different types of followers, a common view is that mega-influencers have more than 1 million followers on at least one social platform.

Many mega-influencers are celebrities who have gained their fame offline – movie stars, sportspeople, musicians, and even reality television stars. Some mega-influencers have gained their vast followings through their online and social activities, however.

Generally, only major brands approach mega-influencers for influencer marketing. Their services will be costly, up to $1 million per post, and they will most likely be extremely fussy about with whom they choose to partner. In virtually every case, mega-influencers will have agents working on their behalf to make any marketing deals.


Macro-influencers are one step down from the mega-influencers, and maybe more accessible as influencer marketers. One would consider people with followers in the range between 40,000 and 1 million followers on a social network to be macro-influencers. I'm probably one of those people.

This group tends to consists of two types of people. They are either minor celebrities or they are successful online experts, who have built up more significant followings than the typical micro-influencers. The latter type of macro-influencer is likely to be more useful for firms engaging in influencer marketing.

Macro-influencers generally have a high profile and can be excellent at raising awareness. There are more macro-influencers than mega-influencers, so it is easier for a brand to find a macro-influencer willing to work with them. They are also more likely to be used to working with brands than micro-influencers, making communication easier and generally more professional.

Whispering Bold social media content creation


Micro-influencers are ordinary everyday people who have become known for their knowledge about some specialist niche. As such, they have usually gained a sizeable social media following amongst devotees of that niche. Of course, it is not just the number of followers that indicates a level of influence; it is the relationship and interaction that a micro-influencer has with his or her followers.

Although views differ, you could consider micro-influencers as having between 1,000 and 40,000 followers on a single social platform.

A micro-influencer may not be aware of the existence of a company before that company tries to reach out to him or her. If that is the case, the company will have first to convince the influencer of its worth. Micro-influencers have built up specialist followings, and they will not want to harm their relationship with their fans if they are seen to promote a lemon.

This requirement for the relationship between micro-influencers and brands to align with target audiences means that influencers are often picky about with whom they work. Some micro-influencers are happy to promote a brand for free. Others will expect some form of payment. Regardless of the price, any influencer is unlikely to want involvement with an "inappropriate" brand for their audience. If you’re reading this with the wish to become an influencer, or are dabbling into the business, I am telling you now, don’t work for free. We’ve all done it, all started that way, but influencing is hard work, and should be compensated as such. The only reason companies reach out to you for a collaboration deal is because there’s something in it for them, not to do you a favour. Treat it as a job.

The nature of influence is changing. Micro-influencers are becoming more common and more famous. Some have risen from virtual obscurity to being nearly as well-known as traditional celebrities. This is particularly the case for Generation Z, who spend more time on the internet than watching television or going to sports or movies.

Micro-influencers are the influencers of the future. The internet has led to the fragmentation of the media into many small niche topics. Even if you are into something relatively obscure, you are likely to find a Facebook group or Pinterest board devoted to it. And it is in these niche groups and boards that micro-influencers establish themselves as genuine influencers.


The newest influencer-type to gain recognition is the nano-influencer. These people only have a small number of followers, but they tend to be experts in an obscure or highly specialised field. You can think of nano-influencers as being the proverbial big fish in a small pond. In many cases, they have fewer than 1,000 followers – but they will be keen and interested followers, willing to engage with the nano-influencer, and listen to his/her opinions. While many brands would consider nano-influencers as being inconsequential, they can be of extreme importance to firms who make highly specialised and niche products.

For most firms, however, nano-influencers probably lack sufficient influence to be of much use. They may be cheap and carry tremendous sway with a small number of people, but in most niches, you would need to work with hundreds of nano-influencers to reach a broad audience.

Types of influencers by types of content

The bulk of influencer marketing today occurs in social media, predominantly with micro-influencers, and blogging. With an increased interest in video, YouTubers are rapidly becoming more important too.


Bloggers and influencers in social media (predominantly micro-bloggers) have the most authentic and active relationships with their fans. Brands are now recognising and encouraging this. Blogging has been connected to influencer marketing for some time now. There are many highly influential blogs on the internet. If a popular blogger positively mentions your product in a post, it can lead to the blogger’s supporters wanting to try out your product.

Many bloggers have built up sizeable followings in specific sectors. For instance, there are highly influential blogs about personal development, finance, health, childrearing, music, and many other topics, including blogging itself. The critical thing successful blogs have in common is the respect of their readers. If a blog is large and influential enough, you may be able to buy a sponsored post on their site. This allows you to either write a post yourself or heavily influence the blogger to write a post on your behalf. Unlike a casual mention in a blogger’s post or a guest post you have written, you will have to pay for a sponsored post (and it is likely to be labelled as such). However, this hasn’t harmed the results for many firms that have sponsored posts on blogs. Generation Z, in particular, seems to be immune to the sponsored post tag, and as long as the product aligns with the blog’s core audience, there shouldn’t be a problem.


Of course, a blog is not the only type of popular content on the internet. Another favourite type of content is video. In this case, rather than each video maker having their own site, most create a channel on YouTube. Brands often align with popular YouTube content creators.


Podcasting is a relatively recent form of online content that is growing in popularity. It is even growing in popularity in my own niche, interior design. And that’s interesting, for such a visual industry.

Social Posts Only

Of course, bloggers, podcasters, and YouTubers rarely rely solely on their existing audiences to just turn up to their site, hoping there is new material. They usually promote new posts or videos heavily on social media.

In fact, the vast majority of influencers now make their name on social media. While you will find influencers on all the leading social channels, the standout network in recent years has been Instagram, where many influencers craft their posts around a stunning image or video footage. Tik Tok is rapidly gaining popularity too.

Social media content creation - exposed brick wall and puppy - whispering bold

Influencer types by level of influence


Celebrities were the original influencers, and they still have a role to play, although their importance as influencers is waning. Influencer marketing grew out of celebrity endorsement. Businesses have found for many years that their sales usually rise when a celebrity promotes or endorses their product. There are still many cases of companies, particularly high-end brands, using celebrities as influencers.

The problem for most brands is that there are only so many traditional celebrities willing to participate in this kind of influencer campaign, and they are unlikely to come cheaply. The exception will if a firm makes a product that a celebrity already likes and uses. In that situation, the celebrity may well be prepared to use his or her influence to say how good he/she believes the product to be.

Key Opinion Leaders

Industry experts and thought leaders such as journalists can also be considered influencers and hold an important position for brands. Industry leaders and thought leaders gain respect because of their qualifications, position, or experience about their topic of expertise. Often, this respect is earned more because of the reputation of where they work.

One thing to be aware of when working with key opinion leaders is that many have built up their reputation in an offline setting and may not have a large or active social following.

People with Above Average Influence on Their Audience

In many ways, the best influencers have built their reputation online for being an expert in some particular niche. They are similar to key opinion leaders but usually have gained their reputation more informally through their online activity. And they have created that reputation through the quality of the social posts they make, the blog posts they write, the podcasts they speak, and the videos they craft and post on their YouTube channels.

6 Factors showing you what’s it REALLY like to be a social media influencer

There is a lot more to being an influencer than just taking some photos of yourself, wearing nice clothes, and posting ads on your social media channels. The job requires a lot of dedication, effort, hard work, business smarts, and social media savviness. It’s also a bit of a blurry line between engaging in social media for fun and the time when you believe it’s right to call yourself an influencer.

Transforming your social media hobby into a full-time career sound like a dream job for some people, but is it really all what it’s cracked up to be? What’s going on underneath all the glitz and glam?

Let me break it down for you.

1. There is no such thing as a day (or even a night) off.

For me, this is probably the number one factor to keep in mind, when longing for a career as an influencer. Unlike your regular office workers, there’s no fixed time in influencer’s business hours. Influencers rely on social media as their main source of income, hence it’s imperative for them to be online ALL THE TIME, even during weekends and vacations. There is no pause in being an influencer, especially if you’re an influencer-founded brand.

Posting the picture is just the end result of often a lengthy process. Unlike what the general public think, being an influencer also means doing all the social media marketing processes that are often time-consuming, including researching, planning, styling, analysing, shooting, post-processing, writing, and website management and maintenance.

Marieke - Whispering Bold

2. You have to be flexible.

Influencers deal directly with social media, and as we know it, social media and internet trends change all the time. It’s crucial for influencers to be susceptible to change and welcome evolution. After all, influencers have to be able to come up with fresh content to keep their audience entertained and stay relevant.

3. You have to be authentic yet unique.

Being authentic is an extremely important part of being an influencer. The power of influencer marketing is the inherent trust that they built with the people who follow and read their content. In the era where people value transparency above all, it’s important for these people to see influencers as “real people”. The minute they think an influencer just partners with a brand for money, there’s a huge potential they will lose interest.

And this is where it gets tricky. Being authentic is important, but it’s just as important to be unique. The influencer world is very saturated and highly competitive, that’s why you need to be different in order to stand out. The pressure of being constantly creative is tough, and on top of that, you need to stay consistent and deliver high-value content every single time you post. Often without a break.

4. You have to engage and pay attention to your followers.

Today, with the rising popularity of micro and nano influencers, a large number of followers is not the goal. An engaged follower is. If an influencer has 200k followers but none of them engage with him or her, you can bet that brands will steer clear. They would much rather work with someone who has 5k followers and a huge engagement rate.

This is why most influencers have to stay engaged with their community 24/7. It shows the followers that this particular influencer is a real person and their friend, not just some fantasy-unattainable-online-celebrity.

5. Personal branding is crucial.

One of the most important things about being an influencer is personal branding and being able to leverage that. Influencers have to have the confidence to push themselves on their audience and on brands and companies they want to collaborate with, and they will have to stay true to themselves at the same time.

6. Your finances are unpredictable.

It's not always what it seems. And jealousy of influencers is a real thing. In the end, marketing is also all about the end picture and message. To make someone or something look the very best with the most amazing content. It looks like a life of the rich and the privileged. However, you don’t always get to see the entire process of how the end result got into play.

Comments such as ‘Oh, you got something again…’ or ‘Lucky you, I never get free stuff’ is very common. I’ve experienced it, my peers have all experienced it. And on social media it’s very easy for people to express their feelings, good or bad, there is no filter. There are trolls everywhere.

Well, while there are certainly big influencers out there that do particularly well for themselves, this it isn’t always the case for the vast majority of influencers. In fact, being an influencer also means you have to settle for an unstable and highly unpredictable income. After all, influencers cannot be sure when or where they will attain another gig or job or partnership with brands. However, if successful, it can be a very lucrative career with a lot of opportunities.

Whispering Bold Interior Design content creation of exposed brick wall and puppy

How many followers do you need to be an influencer?

There is no simple answer to this question. It totally depends on your nice and your audience. I started to get fun collaborations from 3k followers, some pretty big ones too!

Why do brands like to work with nano influencers?

Nano influencers create content as their side hustle; but their authenticity and relatability mean they have some of the most loyal followers around. They’re seen as the guy or gal next door — so people trust what they have to say. This means brands can count on unbeatable levels of engagement.

Why do brands like to work with micro influencers?

Micro influencers occupy somewhat of an influencer marketing sweet spot. Their services are reasonably priced, they have decent reach and they offer great levels of engagement because they generally have a niche following.

Why do brands like to work with macro influencers?

Macro influencers have reached internet celebrity status. They have loads of followers. This means they probably don’t engage with their followers as much as nano and micro influencers do, but brands can count on impressive reach for any promotional content posted.

Why do brands like to work with mega influencers?

When working with mega influencers, brands accept that engagement won’t be particularly high. Mega influencer followers tend to be a very diverse group of people so chances are that your marketing efforts are not very targeted. However, brands know that their promotional post will reach millions of potential customers, so some are prepared to pay big bucks for this privilege.

Urban Chic Vintage Dining - Whispering Bold

How many followers do you need to get paid for a post?

Alright, your first collaboration is most likely a barter deal. Just like most of you, I started my Instagram account as a hobby. Having established my marketing career in pharmaceuticals, I was keen to explore new interests. I thought influencer marketing was fascinating and set off to find out for myself how things worked. How did this business model become so successful? I ‘happen to be’ an interior designer as well, and just so ‘happen’ to have completed a large renovation project. My niche was easily chosen. My first goal was to gain followers as quickly as I could, for brands to be interested in wanting to work with me. To create an instagram persona in my chosen niche, that brands wanted to identify with. My first milestone was my first barter deals. To my shame I have to admit that I simply cannot remember what first barter deal it was.

When you are starting out as an influencer, you'll likely be offered free product, coupons, or discount codes in exchange for content. When we are discussing collaborations, I am going to tell you that this should not be the case. You’re providing a service and should be paid as such. But we’ve all been there and leant along the way.

Barter deals are nice but the real fun starts when you start making actual money. The type of money that allows you to pay the bills. I still get surprised (and something downright rude) responses when I tell brands I cannot accept their barter deals as I, too, need to pay my bills and go to the supermarket. My influencer career has evolved to the extent that that I now rely on income generated in one way or another by instagram. Why should I work for free, for other people to make money?

How much do social media influencers get paid?

It seems like the top influencers are growing their following by leaps and bounds every day. That makes it really hard to pinpoint where they got their start. When was the first deal offered and how much was it for? set out to answer this question and surveyed over 300 paid Instagram influencers. They also surveyed over 50 brands as a cross check to the Instagram influencer research.

The results are broken out by industry in the table below and rounded for comparison purposes:


Avg. Instagram follower count for first paid offer

Avg. $USD per post fee paid to influencer

Casual Fashion/Clothing









Food / Beverage



High Fashion/Clothing






​Makeup / Cosmetics



Outdoor / Adventure



Travel / Hotels



It’s a shame the above research did not include my own niche, interiors, but I would say from my own experience it would be roughly similar to the fitness industry. It also greatly depends on the country you operate in, and how large your market is.

Be in a competitive category in order to maximise your earnings as a social media influencer

Ever wonder why you see so many fitness, jewellery, and makeup sponsored posts on IG? It's because those are some of the best paying content categories on a per follower basis. While it may seem counterintuitive to be in a hyper-competitive space, it's actually a great way to become an influencer.

Brands and their marketing teams are searching for new influencers every day. The people with the right follower counts show up first, and if you're using the right category hashtags and content you'll be included in those lists.

How much should I charge as a social media influencer?

After the initial eye roll at dinner parties when being introduced as ‘the influencer’, followed by the discussion on ‘what products did you get’ and ‘why do you pay you for that’, people inevitably wonder exactly how much you got for a specific post. And then wonder, surely, I can do this myself? Can I get paid?

It’s common to get paid more per post if you have a higher follower count. This logic stems from the idea that the more eyes that see the content, the more brands are willing to pay. But what determines that magic number one must hit before these posts actually become profitable?

‍‍ has put a table together that you can filter by followers count, industry and location to determine what you could ask (and get) for a post. Then it’s up to you to determine how often you think you’ll be able to score a paid collaboration and if that fits with your income goals.

So how do you become a social media influencer?

It’s about finding the balance, the sweet spot.
Marieke Rijksen - Whispering Bold

No one becomes an influencer overnight. And not everyone who wants to become an influencer actually gets there. And then there are the accidental influencers.

The one thing you can be sure of, you’ll need to choose a niche you’re passionate about, create a snazzy bio, share often and consistently (including stories) and obviously create fabulous content.

Make sure you have a creator or business account, engage meaningfully, tag the brands you want to work with and don’t be afraid to contact them. Whatever you do, don’t ever buy followers.

The common pitfalls wannabe influencers make are not having a specific goal or nice, being confused about what personal brand they want to portray, posting poor quality imaging, having a dull or boring profile and sharing too much or too little personal information. It’s about finding the balance, the sweet spot.

Good luck!

Would you like to be an influencer?

  • 0%No way!

  • 0%Would love to.

  • 0%I already am.


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Hi! Thanks for stopping by.

I am Marieke, a Dutch Australian interior designer, business executive, tutor, content creator and social media influencer.


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