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How Do Influencers Make Money & How Much Do They Earn?

influencer singapore

Eugenia Liew

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We all know influencer marketing exists – just open Instagram and you’ll be bombarded with girls in bikinis, taking selfies with the newest “health supplements” and other trendy products. Oh, and not forgetting, their unique promo codes.

But have you wondered how these influencers in Singapore actually make money? I mean, sure, it’s pretty clear that they hardly have to pay for anything (remember Melissa C Koh and her heavily sponsored wedding?), but last I checked, nobody else accepts payment in Urban Decay lipsticks and slimming tea.

 

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So how do they put food on the table? Well, here’s one for those who are actually considering a career in “influencing” (and those who are just plain “kay poh”). If it’s not you, we all have at least one friend who’s an aspiring influencer – after all, it’s “very easy one what”, right?

 

How much do influencers get paid?

The first thing to know is that there’s no “average salary range” for bloggers, YouTubers and all other digital content creators. Some who are poor af, while others do well enough to afford their own swanky cars by age 24 (ahem, Jian Hao).

How much you can charge depends on a few factors but at the most basic level, advertisers will consider the influencer’s reach (usually measured by the number of followers).

 

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Kim Kardashian has 138 million followers, and reportedly charges US$250,000 (~S$342,253.75) per Instagram post. Our local influencers are considered small fries next to the OG Kardashian, but those with over 100,000 followers can still charge at least $1,000 per post. That’s easy money for a photo!

According to Get Kobe (a social marketing agency), these are the typical rates of influencers in Singapore.

Instagram influencer rates in Singapore

Instagram followers Rates (per Instagram post)
2,000 to 10,000 $75 to $250
10,000 to 50,000 $250 to $500
50,000 to 100,000 $500 to $1,000
100,000 to 500,000 $1,000 to $3,000
500,000 and up $3,000 and above

Blogger rates in Singapore

Blog’s monthly impressions Rates (per blog article)
10,000 to 50,000 $175 to $250
50,000 to 100,000 $250 to $500
100,000 to 500,000 $500 to $1,000
500,000 and up $1,000 to $5,000+

YouTube vlogger rates in Singapore

YouTube followers Rates (per video)
50,000 to 100,000 $250 to $500
100,000 to 500,000 $500 to $1,000
500,000 and up $1,000 to $5,000+

If they’re “big shot” enough to be managed by a company, then the prices may be higher as well (since the management will need to take a cut).

 

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Considering it’s usually in addition to a truckload of freebies, that’s quite a significant amount of money, right? IRAS agrees, and in 2016, they decided they want some of it too. According to IRAS, all payments (monetary or not) for influencer services are considered income and are taxable as well.

The only exception is if the “income” meets the 2 following conditions: The price of the non-monetary gifts are under $100, and B) they were given as an “ad hoc” gift for “one-time consumption”. If you want to read more about the tax laws, you can check out the official statement by IRAS.

 

How do influencers make money?

Now that we’ve established that not every Tom, Dick and Harry can make it as an influencer – you need quite a big fan base – let’s take a closer look at how they actually bring in the bucks.

Other than the “duh” way of sponsored Instagram posts, blog articles and YouTube videos, there are many other ways influencers earn money. In fact, it’s usually a combination of a few revenue channels because no one channel is lucrative enough.

 

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Sponsored content – paid posts, articles & videos

As mentioned above, sponsored content is the most direct way influencers make money. Sometimes advertisers just send freebies their way, but unless it’s really ridiculously good, most influencers won’t write a glowing review of anything unless they get paid for it. So in addition to the sponsored goodies, advertisers will pay for them to post a photo, video or article with their products.

Advertising – like banners

This is more for the bloggers and vloggers, not so much the Instagram influencers. Sometimes advertisers don’t want to pay for a dedicated feature on their product – instead, they pay to slip a banner or ad in a purely editorial (unpaid) article or video.

Sometimes they are paid according to how many people view the ad (cost per mile), sometimes it’s only for successful clicks (cost per click) – but let’s not get too technical here. This is not a social media marketing workshop.

Affiliate links – payment for referring customers

Many influencers who make a living doing product reviews have affiliate links set up. Say you watch a video on the top 10 red lipsticks to buy and decided on one that was featured by the beauty blogger.

After the video, you click on the product link in her YouTube video description and voila! She gets a small fee for referring you.

Endorsements – sponsorships, product placements & ambassadorship

So sometimes, instead of getting a one-time product sponsorship, influencers get a long-term one. This is kind of like athletes and sportsmen who are sponsored by a particular sportswear brand.

Typically it’s quite obvious, because the influencer will use the particular product – it could be a makeup brand or blogshop clothes – in several videos and posts. They will also not mention any competitors… which is quite telling lah, because if you’re completely objective you will do a comparison right?

 

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Merchandising – starting their own brand

Once they’re popular enough, many influencers turn into entrepreneurs. You know, #Bo$$Girl and all that nonsense. They start their own label, and die-hard fans buy it.

The most obvious example is Kylie Jenner and her Kylie Cosmetics brand. Despite speculations that the cult Kylie lip kits are essentially “repackaged Colorpop” formulas, the brand is still ridiculously successful because it’s got her name and face plastered all over it.

Closer to home, there’s Christabel Chua (@bellywellyjelly), who recently started her own brand Kāi. The kitschy handbags and accessories are by no means cheap (a pouch can cost $49.90), but when I visited the shop, many designs were already sold out.

Subscription fees – webinars, podcasts, even paid youtube channels

Many international influencers also move on to charge for their content – like paid YouTube channels and podcasts, for example. However, this is quite rare in the local context because many of us are so used to free content.

I mean, the whole point of the internet is that it’s free… right?

 

So what do you think – would you consider becoming an influencer? Tell us in the comments below!

 

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Eugenia Liew

I’m a 90s millennial who’s starting to realise that #adulting is more expensive than it seems on Instagram. When I’m not writing for MoneySmart, I’m usually playing with drain-dwelling stray cats or shopping at Sephora.