By Dan Kieran, co-founder and CEO of Unbound
As a career choice becoming an online content creator and influencer is popular and people can start a business in this way. It is potentially lucrative with some influencer getting highly paid for their relevant content/followers. However, there are surprisingly few ways for influencers and creators to monetise their audiences outside of professional endorsement and ad revenues.
In this guide, I’ve shared my top tips for monetising social media followers, while maintaining control over your personal brand.
You can put your branding on e.g. Mugs and T-shirts, but your fans will want something unique and recognisable. When our authors crowdfund their books on Unbound, they offer a range of merch and other rewards. It’s incredibly popular. YouTube comedian, Stuart Ashen, offered a ‘box of mystery tat’ during his Unbound crowdfunding campaign. He sold three (£250 each) giving his super fans something hilarious and unique.
Amazon recently launched an influencer program on all major social platforms. Influencers make their own Amazon page, recommending products from the array on Amazon. They get a personalised link to share, earning commission from sales of qualifying products sold via the link. However, huge amounts of product have to be shifted for relatively small amounts of money.
Collating content into a book
From years online you’ll have a collection of media assets and followers who love consuming it.
Publishing a book lets you collate your best work and control the narrative to keep true to your online image.
Finding a publisher isn’t easy. Many rely solely on looking at which titles have previously sold well. You’ve probably built your following by offering something that mainstream popular culture has missed. Therefore, publishing the book yourself may be the best route.
The obvious solution to funding your book without the initial capital, and without losing creative control, is crowdfunding. This will produce something you truly care about, follows your vision, and appeals to your followers. By crowdfunding your book, you can set your own price range and also offer merch.
For example, video games social media influencer, Dan Hardcastle, raised over £300k for his book, Fuck Yeah, Video Games, on Unbound.
We’ve even developed a machine learning algorithm, using social media engagement as a key variable, that helps us to tell, with a high degree of accuracy, how much a book is likely to raise before an author crowdfunds it.
When people start to follow your content avidly, they’ll want as much of it as they can get. So if, for instance, you write a popular blog, you’ll be able to put some articles behind a paywall, just as many newspapers and new media organisations do. This means that only paid subscribers will be able to view certain content. YouTubers and podcasters might also offer exclusive, early access, or bonus content on their website that only paid backers can access.
You can also offer exclusive content via your own personalised app, which you can build for free using templates from a range of creators. If you have a certain expertise and your content is educational, you could even run your own paid course. Naturally, this will require a significant amount of time, effort, and extra time, cost and resources.
Another way to offer exclusive content is through live events. You could hold a physical event, although this will require a lot of logistical planning and extra cost. It would also rely on your fan’s dedication and, of course, their geographical location. The most logical way to run a live event is to hold it where all of your fans can access it: online. By holding some form of online event, such as a live Q&A, demonstration, performance, or other event, fans will buy their own access link and join you.
Whichever method you choose, if you’re offering a unique brand, and working hard building a large audience, you’ll get paid, eventually. I’m sure that you’re creating great content, and you love the process and the relationship with your online community. I hope these tips will also help monetise your efforts.
About the author
Dan Kieran is the Co-Founder and CEO of Unbound, a crowdfunding publisher that combines data science and an award-winning publishing brand with an online marketplace. Readers pre-order books through pledging, Unbound publishes and sells them, giving authors a 50/50 profit split and access to an engaged community.
The publisher’s 200k users from 195 countries have pledged £7m+ to fund 436 books to-date, including bestsellers like Letters of Note and The Good Immigrant.
By predicting future trends, Unbound funds books more quickly and reaches instant, data-driven acquisition decisions. The best example involves a video games influencer, who raised £300k on Unbound, £100k of which in a single day.