Can You Really Earn Money as a Social Media “Influencer”?
Blogging is big business in Singapore. Certain bloggers are even more well-known than actual TV celebrities. I mean, I have no idea who all the hot new Channel 8 actors these days are, but I could probably spot Xiaxue from a mile away.
After the recent catfight between two blog advertising networks and some of their bloggers, the real question on everybody’s mind is: can you really earn money through blogging and posting on Twitter and Instagram?
Traffic = money
If you can get this step right, you can monetise anything. Why do bloggers attack each other so viciously, post scandalous “exposés” and stick up half-naked photos of themselves? In the world of blogging and online advertising, the more eyeballs you get, the better.
And contrary to what the local blogosphere might lead you to believe, there are ways to boost traffic other than earning the title of “most controversial blogger”.
Based on Alexa rankings, the most popular Singapore blog is actually—surprise surprise—ladyironchef, which isn’t exactly the most risqué of blogs out there, but provides such comprehensive lists and reviews of F&B establishments that you can’t help but stumble upon the site when googling for information on restaurants.
In fact, becoming a social media “influencer” doesn’t even have to start with a blog. A popular YouTube channel or Instagram account might work better for some people.
Carve out a niche audience
Making it in the online world is very much like starting a business. While there are some bloggers like Xiaxue who start in a more organic way, just by writing on a regular blog that just “happens to” make it big, it can take years to start earning an income that way.
If you’re going to start a blog or social media account with the aim of earg an income, you’ll be much better off if you determine your niche audience from the start, much like you would define your target market if you were selling a product or service.
While many bloggers appear to be shooting for the “Singaporeans in general” category, even the most vapid, poorly thought out blog attracts a more narrowly defined subset of the population.
For example, the target audience of a scantily clad female blogger who’s had loads of plastic surgery might be “Singaporean men in general and Singaporean females interested in gossip”, while a blog about DIY cosplay or lightsabre fighting techniques might get a big share of the geek market.
Skills you need
While there are some bloggers out there who don’t write particularly well and aren’t particularly creative but still manage to earn a modest income from their blogs, if you want to make it big you’ll need to have some basic skills. Here’s what helps:
- Understanding what your niche audience wants: Being the next Shakespeare isn’t going to do you any good if you’re writing to an audience of semi-literate trolls, but posting scandalous pictures will. Knowing what your audience wants and feeding it to them are more important than great writing or photography skills. Hint: If your life is painfully average, it is unlikely posting selfies of yourself and talking writing about what you had for lunch are going to win over an audience, unless that audience is your mum.
- Consistency: In the early days, being consistent and building up a stable of content is going to be the key to your success. Your content will probably morph a little as you discover what your audience likes and hates, but the only way to know which direction to take is to stick at it.
The most obvious way to earn money online is through advertising, which is also the model that many of Singapore’s “top bloggers” use. Advertising can come in the form of banners pasted on your site, sponsored blog posts, and promotional tweets and Instagram posts.
Advertising revenue generally comes from three sources:
- Google Adsense: Google runs its own advertising programme. Basically, you stick banners up on your site and then you get paid for every click you receive. This is the easiest to implement as any Tom, Dick and Harry can stick the banners up on his site, but it also offers the lowest returns.
- Local advertising networks like Nuffnang and Gushcloud: These companies can act as middlemen, helping to pitch you to advertisers in exchange for a cut of advertising revenue.
- Liaising with advertisers directly: As your blog gains popularity, you will almost definitely start receiving emails from people who want to advertise on your site. You’ll have some negotiating power in determining how much you get paid.
Advertising isn’t the only way to monetise your online presence
Just because everyone else is saturating their blogs with annoying sponsored posts doesn’t mean you have to.
While the most prominent characters in the Singapore blogging scene tend to earn most of their revenue through advertising, this is by no means the only way.
Here are some common ways bloggers make money online:
- By writing and selling e-books
- By providing consulting services online
- By becoming an affiliate of sites like Amazon and selling their products for a small cut
And these are just the easy ways, the ones that don’t require any special technical skills. The thing about making money through blogs and social media is that it takes time, as an online following isn’t built in a day. Stick with it and you might not become rich, but you’ll definitely have a high chance of earning at least a few extra hundred dollars each month.
Do you plan to make money through your blog and social media accounts this year? Let us know in the comments.