Do Instagram influencers actually work?

A valid question from one of our very first readers – and a simple but resounding YES they do – and most of them a lot. The work can be hard and often take more time relative to the pay than in a standard 9-5 job. Most of these influencers you see getting paid to post with active loyal audiences have been working towards their goals for years and often with little to no income or funding as they grew. If their total pay was divided by the total hours they worked on their business to get to that point… Many would be making pennies per hour, and some would be in the negative over the course of their time spent. In recent years the light has been shining on how much work goes into running an account as an influencer, blogger or content creator, and pay transparency is becoming more prominent. Most are not being paid a fair rate, or even close to enough to cover their current business expenses if they’re being real with themselves in their accounting.

The work is endless, but for the right person it can be worth it if consistency and innovation in an ever changing industry is your thing. In the last few years of sponsored posts and social media becoming more popular in general, many have found success in their Instagram, TikTok or Youtube accounts, becoming even more of a full-time job to keep up with. Some get lucky and go viral easily, but most have put years of daily work into curating and creating targeted content within their niche and only after staying consistent through the ups and downs have they started to take off or begin to recoup their investments. It may seem on the surface that it’s just a picture to show the world what they are doing every day, that allowed them to build up an audience who followed them on social media – and before long they were making enough money to support themselves and their family… In most cases, this is far from the truth and there is an entire iceberg under the tip of their “fame” that you see.

This is a business, and managing the operations is an endless job…

Being successful in any creative startup business takes dedication, a vision, sharpening all sorts of skills and constant learning, more than ever these days as platforms and user trends are constantly evolving. Yes, I said the words business and startup. Creators who are able to get to the point of making money are running a business, whether they realize it or not. The payments from commissions, affiliates, sponsors and ads need to be reported in most cases. Once a profitable creator has made it through one tax season seeing their true profits and losses, the realization sinks in that being paid $50 a post is NOT worth anyone’s time… But I digress. Let’s talk about how creators must keep up with trends to maintain a profitable business – reels edition. One example that is fresh in everyone’s memory, even yours if you stop and think about it, is the way that short video clips have taken over the attention of the masses. There are accounts fully dedicated to helping creators maximize their time on social media so they can spend more time on the rest of what it takes to operate. We are also here to help with this platform Creators Communicate

Have to break it to ya – staying relevant is required…

…if you want to make the most of your time on social media, that is. As many of you may know, social media is an entire ecosystem on its own, with nuances and specifics that are so dynamic that simply posting and ghosting any old pic will often never help an account grow and maintain followers that are interested in what you’re doing. Niche specific, relevant and fresh content that follows or at least aligns with trending types of posts and engages the audience can be the key. Many creators also have businesses or other reasons to be on social media aside from just posting there. Whether it be a blog, ebook, products they make or intent to drive traffic or sales in any way, making money is part of most people’s accounts. With that, they need time to work on their business’ other needs and cannot waste their time being on social media more than necessary.

Remember when Instagram reels first came out? We were all watching longer videos, easily 15-30 seconds, then up to a minute once they released that. It was not very long ago and now you’ll be hard pressed to find a one minute video unless it is a very engaging story line or how to that you really want to see. More consistently, if your average video is longer than 7 seconds – yes SEVEN seconds – your chances of it doing well are much lower. But – you can still win attention in 7 seconds if you really keep it engaging! Why is this? Well, the data shows that people literally cannot get themselves to watch something hardly that long before scrolling to the next. That phenomenon is another topic in itself, but the part to takeaway as a creator is follow the trends to stay relevant. If they are out of your comfort zone of course then don’t jump on a trend… as in you do NOT have to do dance trends or use profanity in reels to grow your account. Of course there are some exceptions to this, but overall, the user trends have evolved quickly and if creators don’t keep up, their longer videos will be at best only of interest to a select few, or worse, totally obsolete.

So now the big question: is it all worth it?

That depends, but generally I would say yes, IF you already enjoy the type of work that it entails, love learning new things and are able to invest a lot of time and possibly money into this knowing that it may take years to pay off. Definitely make sure you start with a plan of some sorts, and be open to pivoting and catching new ideas as they come. I’ve been an Instagram influencer from the start and have a decent following, but most of our success monetarily has been in recent years. This is after putting many years into the blog, business, and branding behind our now successful account. When envisioning reaching any level of success when starting out, remember that it can take a lot more time and devotion than most people would expect. That’s why the best advice and answer to the “is it worth it” question is that it depends on whether you actually enjoy the work in itself. Above all, it’s important to consider that for every influencer who has “made it” there are many more who have “failed” or given up.

All of that to say, there are benefits to being an influencer, content creator, etc and if you have the ability to self manage and be your own motivator, it can really pay off and be enjoyable along the way. The biggest benefit is that you can be flexible in your working hours, and create a work life balance that fits your needs in the comfort of your home. Generally, as long as you reach deadlines as given and agreed to in contracts you engage in, you can get the work done as it fits into your life as it stands. For example, one could stay with a full time guaranteed career and work a few hours in the morning, lunch hour, evenings and on the weekend to build a creative business that they enjoy working on. The most important thing is that it allows you to have control over how you spend your days and gives you a creative outlet, connects you with likeminded people and allows for the potential to be paid very well for your creative work in many different ways. If you’ve made it this far, we hope you enjoyed this insight and look forward to answering any new questions you have in the form of new blog posts!

What do you think? Are you currently an influencer or creator of sorts? Tell us what benefits you have gotten from it. And if not, why would you consider being one? Is it worth the time and effort? We’d love to hear what you have to say.


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