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Influencer income: New research explores range of industry earning rates, impact of fraud

by | Jul 6, 2021 | Public Relations

With the industry of influencer marketing at the same time booming incessantly and facing new challenges of overhype and fraud, it’s no wonder that PR and marketers are scratching their heads about how much they should be paying, under what circumstances, the return they should expect, and what red flags they should be watching for. New research from influencer marketing AI analytics platform HypeAuditor offers a look at influencers from the inside out, providing insights into how they earn money, the varying degrees of income, and the impact of fraudulent activity.

The survey shows that close to half of the Instagram influencers surveyed reported that they earn money from their Instagram accounts (49 percent). Slightly under half also reported an increase in income after the onset of the COVID pandemic (47 percent). On average, influencers earn $2,970 per month from their Instagram account with micro-influencers (1K-10K followers) averaging $1,420 per month and mega-influencers (over 1M followers) averaging $15,356 per month.

Influencer income: New research explores range of industry earning rates, impact of fraud

“The creator-to-consumer (C2C) relationship in our current COVID-environment has been greatly strengthened,” said Qianna Smith Bruneteau, founder of the American Influencer Council, in a news release. “Consumers who follow influencers turn to them to learn about new products and brands. Many consumers are researching a product, experience, or service after they see an influencer endorsing it. The desire to upgrade your lifestyle due to COVID-times is unprecedented, and the vaccine is fueling renewed consumer spend.”

Influencer income: New research explores range of industry earning rates, impact of fraud

Only 4 percent of participants surveyed live on income from an account, but 26 percent of respondents hope to in the future. Brand promotion accounts for the majority of influencer income (40 percent) with most working with brands for barter and money (56 percent). Additionally, results showed that fraud continues to be prevalent with 47 percent of influencers reported being impacted by fraudulent activity and 50 percent experiencing an increase in fraudulent activity since the onset of the pandemic.

Influencer income: New research explores range of industry earning rates, impact of fraud

“The disparity in earnings from those with over 1 million followers and those beneath that level doesn’t surprise me, but it does concern me,” said Jason Falls, industry expert, author, and host of the Winfluence podcast in response to the survey findings, in the release. “I feel like the huge jump in average income data being out there is only going to encourage more fraudulent behavior from those under the 1 million follower mark. But if that’s the magic number to cross over into making career-changing revenue from just your Instagram account, some content creators are going to game the system to get to that level.”

Influencer income: New research explores range of industry earning rates, impact of fraud

Additional key findings of the survey include:

Mega-influencers earn $187 per hour compared to the average influencer at $31 per hour

The average influencer surveyed makes $31 an hour with Beauty influencers earning the most averaging $60 per hour. Mega-influencers earn from $187 per hour (in relation to the time spent on maintaining the account).

Brand promotion accounts for the majority of influencer income (40 percent)

Close to a quarter are building a personal brand and attracting customers to their businesses through Instagram (22 percent), participating in affiliate programs (15 percent), and selling courses (4 percent). Subscription services were noted as an additional source of income by 8 percent of influencers.

Influencer income: New research explores range of industry earning rates, impact of fraud

Only 4 percent of respondents live on income from an Instagram account, but 26 percent hope to in the future

On average, these influencers receive from $5,912 from their account per month.

Most work with brands for barter and money (56 percent)

One in five (21 percent) influencers work with brands through barter and slightly more (23 percent) for money. The majority disclose advertising arrangements (61 percent) but 12 percent of respondents admitted to not disclosing sponsorships.

Influencer income: New research explores range of industry earning rates, impact of fraud

Average time spent is 24 hours per week

Influencers spend approximately 24 hours a week on maintaining an account. Most of the time is devoted to posts, stories, and communication with followers. The least amount of time is spent on team management, marketing strategy and communication with partners. Influencers who earn money from their account spend 28.7 hours per week on average, while those who do not earn any money through their account spend 20.9 hours on average.

“We estimate that over 50 million people around the world consider themselves creators, despite the creator economy only being born a decade ago,” said Alex Frolov, CEO of HypeAuditor, in the release. “Our main goal with this survey is to provide a deeper understanding of the creator ecosystem as it is quickly becoming one the fastest-growing types of small business worldwide.”

Influencer income: New research explores range of industry earning rates, impact of fraud

Who took the survey?

The study was conducted as an online survey in June 2021 and analyzed responses from 1,865 people who self-identified as influencers and have Instagram accounts with over 1K followers (verified by HypeAuditor).

Among those surveyed, 46 percent were women and 33 percent were men. Responses from influencers in the 25-34 age category made up 28 percent of the results followed by the 18-24 age category with 23 percent. Influencers with 1K to 10K followers made up 50 percent of the results and influencers with 10K to 50K followers made up 32 percent of the results. Lifestyle influencers were the most popular surveyed coming in at 24%, followed by fashion with 12 percent.

HypeAuditor provides a comprehensive set of tools for brands to discover and analyze influencers on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, verify their authenticity, and track the results of influencer marketing campaigns.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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