Audience size and engagement is the key! "Big-name" influencers sell adverting and product placement space in their content. They will usually charge their sponsors per 1k, 10k, or 100k views/actions.
Big-name influences make money via:
1. Third-Party adverts (ads such as YouTube, Google, Bing ads):
I know an influencer in the animation niche, he will regularly have 250k+ people engaging with his content each month. He uses YouTube / Google ads before content plays and ads are placed around his content. When people watch the video ads or click on the ads placed around the content he makes money.
Every month he generates a passive income from YouTube / Google ads of £1,500 to £2,500. If he had 10x as many people engaging each month potential he'd 10x his passive earnings. That is why audience size and engagement is so vital.
2. Sponsorship and product placement:
When you have a large, engaged, loyal audience/followers who respect your opinions you can then start selling personal sponsorship and product placement. For example, this could come in the form of clothing sponsorship or makeup sponsorships. Companies will pay for you to wear their clothing and use their products.
Their product become cool by association. Depending on your niche other suppliers may ask you to talk about, demonstrate, or feature their product or service in your videos. Again the point in this is to ensure their product or service becomes popular with your audience as a result of its association with you. Brands will of course pay more if you can prove a link between your content and their sales increasing.
Big names and niche micro-influencers can make money via:
Affiliate marketing/reward for sale:
The key to success as a micro-influencer is to have a very specific niche/audience. When you niche down it's easier to understand who your audience is and what their pain points are. After that is far easier to find suppliers and companies who want to speak to that audience and are willing to pay you for new leads or sales.
A supplier can provide you with an affiliate link, that's a unique link with a special code in it which tells the supplier that anyone clicking on that link comes from you and your content. As this can be tracked it's easy for the company to know how valuable you are as an influencer. Some suppliers may pay you per person who comes to the website, some will pay per action taken on the website, (actions such as a new user signing up to a newsletter), while other suppliers will need a sale to be made before they payout.
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Best wishes, Dom O'Neill - The Vlogging Guy at Vlogify