Submitted by Livermore Lives as part of our contributors program.
Passionate social media users can make a few extra bucks just by doing what they do naturally. With Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) doing a nationwide IPO roadshow, investors and users alike are looking for a way to cash in on the new digital landscape. One investment possibility is the sponsorship marketplace, a micropayment-focused area of social media that focuses on ultra-personalized advertising.
Social sharing sites and microblogs are quickly taking over. From Twitter to Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA) to even new kids on the block like Pinterest, sharing is becoming the status quo for most online users.
As it turns out, you don’t need Ashton Kutcher’s two million followers to make a little extra money. Users who share/post/tweet/update the most in this new landscape can reap the rewards of targeting a niche audience. All that is really required is passion for something, a small but loyal following, and a desire to tell your followers about what is happening right now.
What is uniquely attractive about using social media is that the number of revenue streams opens up significantly as the ability to market forms niche-targeted groups. Although old websites could only use banner ads and some affiliate marketing, today’s social media marketplace can go far deeper.
Making money and investing in the sponsorship marketplace means using whatever tools you already use: cell phones, iPads, and laptops. Adding more revenue streams is as simple as signing up for a new service. Social media sharing is also easier than maintaining a website or blog if you aren’t a writer, and more natural, too.
Before you get started, let’s go over some of the ways you can make extra cash online.
This is the tried-and-true approach to making money online. If you have a website, getting started is fairly simple. Because online ads have been around for a relatively long time in Internet years, Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) AdSense has it down to a science. AdSense makes it easy to match up keywords to your own website’s SEO so that your users are only seeing relevant ads. You can also run tests to see which ad keywords are performing best or update keywords to go with the hot topic of the day.
Gone are the days when you had to put up ads from random sponsors with headache-inducing images. The downside to this approach, however, is that you may need a bigger following for this to work, as advertising programs now require more clicks before you get paid. One little-known trick is to select both text and image ads on the Adsense interface so that more ad contributors bid on your ad space. As a result, your payments per click will likely be higher than if you select text or image ads alone.
A less pro-active approach to earning money from the sponsorship marketplace in social media is affiliate marketing. The basic gist of affiliate marketing is that you earn a cut from what your users buy at the affiliate’s store. This is almost like working on commission- just without all the hassle of wrangling customers in the storefront.
One of the most well-known affiliate marketing schemes is Amazon Associates. Through this program, you can set up a virtual storefront on your website for users to peruse, or link directly to products through pages or blog posts. You can even make money from tweets and Facebook shares of products. Other affiliate marketing programs involve getting paid for email sign-ups, clicks, or surveys. Choose a program that works best for you and your users.
The advantages of affiliate programs over advertising are two-fold. First, advertisers like it because they only have to pay for actual conversions (buys, clicks, or sign ups) rather than just for the privilege of being on your website. Second, website owners can more easily customize the products they promote to their niche, thus increasing their sales.
What if you don’t have a website but a Tumblr or a popular Twitter account? Seeking out sponsorships might be your best bet. Sponsorships can also be a good addition to more traditional online revenue streams.
The attraction of sponsorships is that you do not need an enormous following to get immediate results. Striking a deal with a good brand you already use can get you $1 to $5 per post. Your followers will already trust your opinion, so the sponsorship is a good deal for advertisers, too.
The possibilities are only limited to the social media tools you use: reviewing a product or even showing how it works on YouTube; sharing photos of a product in use on Twitter or Pinterest; or writing a blog post about a new product version, among many other possibilities. Getting more creative with your promotion will increase sales and build trust with both the advertiser and your users. Izea.com provides some easy tools for signing up for sponsorships whenever you tweet, blog, status update, flick, or share a video.
Lastly, why not buy a small portion of the companies that offer the services and tools you use so much? LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD), Zynga, Instagram and Yelp (NYSE: YELP) are just a few of the companies that are making headway in the new digital landscape. Smaller companies like Izea (IZEA.PK) can also offer an interesting investment from a pure sponsorship play. As a niche marketing firm that does more than just advertising, sponsorship companies like Izea offer a large menu of services for brands and social media influencers alike – including everything mentioned above.
If you are serious about online marketing, or even if you are just a hobbyist, the online world has opened up so many more opportunities for you to make your passions profitable. Try some of the above tips for using social media in innovative ways to earn money today.