You’re probably already aware that developing a digital presence is an excellent marketing strategy for designers—but even more rewards await if you can start monetizing social media. If you’re looking to maximize your business, consider taking a page out of the influencer playbook.
“Monetizing your social channels could mean getting 100,000 followers who love your design style and then aligning with brand partners, or it could mean having a smaller curated following of people in your industry and driving them to hire you for projects,” says Michelle Mastrobattista, founder and creative marketing strategist at public relations agency Brand Paradise.
If you’ve been regularly producing quality content on your Instagram account or Facebook page and have grown a meaningful following, it may be time to expand your digital marketing strategy. Check out these five ideas for monetizing social media.
The ins and outs of social media monetization
There are three main ways to monetize social media accounts: affiliate marketing, brand partnerships, and creator funds.
Leverage your social media presence with affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a passive monetization strategy for social networks that requires pretty little effort, but can net a big payoff. It’s not only popular among social media stars, but also bloggers and even mainstream publications.
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“Signing up for an affiliate program, such as LTK, gives you the opportunity to link items you already showcase through social media. When items are purchased through your personalized links, you earn a small commission,” says Lidia Salazar, an interior designer with more than 200,000 followers on TikTok (@everyday_homedecor). “Although the commissions are small, they can add up to thousands of dollars per year.”
The trick here is not to go overboard and link to just any and every product out there. “As with any and all monetization and marketing tactics, selecting a partner that speaks not only to your audience but to your brand’s values and aesthetic is essential,” says Austin Reyes, digital media account coordinator at public relations agency Relevance International.
Set up brand partnerships
“If a brand’s products are often used in your work and consistently have helped bring your vision to light, connect with them directly and inquire about content creation partnerships or offering your followers a commissionable discount on those products,” says Reena Goodwin, founder and director of Facteur PR. Your following may align with their target audience—meaning greater brand awareness for their business. “Working on the brand side, I can say that most have budgets for content creators these days, and few in the decor and design category are actually more influential than interior designers. It never hurts to make the introduction and establish that relationship!”
This kind of influencer marketing is typically pretty labor intensive, but it also produces a better revenue stream than affiliate marketing. In fact, brand partnerships can be so lucrative that in some cases, they can become a main source of income. “Instead of charging people for my expertise, I do partnerships with home brands that I align with,” says interior designer Emily Rayna, a social media influencer with 5.4 million followers on TikTok (@emilyrayna). “This gives me the freedom to create educational content for my audience that they don’t have to pay for.”
Join a creator fund
Some social media platforms offer financial incentives to influential users—that is, ones with highly engaged and large followings. In the case of TikTok, the video-sharing platform gives out payments of various sizes to its most popular users as part of its $200-million Creator Fund. On YouTube, creators can earn 55% of the revenue generated by ads played on their videos.
Driving customers to your business
If you’re not as interested in developing partnerships to monetize your social media accounts, and you’d prefer your profiles prompt your audience to book your services, there are several techniques you should try to win over potential customers.
Give clients an inside look at your work
“I like to consider a static feed as a great place for that portfolio presentation, but with video, your audience can really get to know more about you and your work. What does it feel like to work with you, not just what it looks like,” Goodwin says.