How Much Do Influencers Make For Mentioning Promotions And Sponsors In Videos?

In an era of skyrocketing housing, groceries, and all around cost-of-living expenses, millions of Americans are working several jobs just to make ends meet (if you're broke, here's how to still buy a house). Yet, upon opening TikTok or Instagram, they're greeted by a feed of posts from influencers who have ditched the 9-to-5 grind, and are instead earning several times their previous income as full-time content creators.

It's natural to wonder how on earth they achieved such a feat, and whether or not it's possible for anybody to follow suit. While someone doesn't have to boast a similar status to Kylie or Kendall Jenner to make big bucks through social media, there are a few caveats to consider.

A major one is that a large chunk of influencer earnings is brought in via promotions and sponsors. For example, content creators who tout the latest concealer, neck massager, or jeans, in a post, which oftentimes includes a direct link for viewers to purchase the item, are receiving a fee from the brand for helping with exposure. But how much are they actually making from this?

An influencer's income is dependent on their following

If a social media user has only 50 followers comprising family, friends, and colleagues, it's unlikely brands are going to be knocking down their door with a promotional contract (they may be better off checking out the highest-paying jobs in the United States instead). When it comes to working with content creators, a company needs some assurance that its product will get widespread exposure.

Therefore, one needs at least 500, 1,000, and 10,000 followers on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, respectively, to actually have a shot at earning money through promotions and sponsors mentioned in their posts. Those who are considered a "nano-influencer" — that is, with maximum followings of 10,000 (Instagram and TikTok) and 50,000 (YouTube) — can earn upward of $100 (Instagram), $25 (TikTok), and $200 (YouTube) per post.

As an influencer grows in popularity and followers, so does their paycheck. A "mega-influencer," who boasts more than 500,000 (Instagram) and 1 million (TikTok and YouTube) followers, can rake in a whopping $10,000, $2,500, and $20,000 per post, respectively. According to a HypeAuditor survey, nano-influencers earn, on average, around $17,000 a year, while mega-influencers earn nearly $185,000.

Still, there's not a one-size-fits-all method, with pricing dependent on other factors beyond follower count, including the manner in which the product is promoted. For example, a video demonstration of makeup influencer Mikayla Nogueira, who in 2023 was worth $7 million, trying a new foundation pays more than if she simply posted a photo of her finished look with a caption (and link) about the foundation.

Who are the highest-paid influencers?

There's an elite population of content creators who have surpassed the minimum requirements needed to achieve mega-influencer status, and are hailed as the pinnacle of financial success among those who make a living through social media platforms. In 2023, Forbes named Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, the top creator of the year. With over 400 million followers across all platforms, he's earned $82 million (but brings in upward of $700 million in annual revenue from all his businesses, per Time). After going viral on YouTube in 2017 thanks to a video that featured him counting to 100,000 over 44 hours, MrBeast has secured sponsorships from Quidd, Honey, and more.

However, he isn't hoarding all of that cash for himself. In addition to giving people the chance to earn large sums of money through challenges (like living in a grocery store for $10,000 a night), Donaldson launched the 501(c)(3) Beast Philanthropy. One-hundred percent of revenue from ads and brand deals earned through this channel is used to help others, whether it's donating 5.5 million pounds of food to those in need or $3 million to aid Ukrainian refugees.

Following MrBeast on Forbes' list of highest-earning content creators is rapper, boxer, and Prime Hydration co-founder Olajide Olatunji (also known as KSI), who has over 112 million followers and $24 million in earnings. Controversy-prone boxer/former Vine star Jake Paul, who has over 66 million followers and earnings of $34 million, is third.