How influencers use affiliate marketing programs to make money and how much they earn

Tori Dunlap
Tori Dunlap is a personal finance influencer. Tori Dunlap/Her First $100K
  • Influencers frequently share links to their Instagram Stories or below their YouTube videos.
  • Those links are often affiliate links that let creators earn a commission on sales. 
  • We spoke with creators about how much money they earn using affiliate marketing. 
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Those “swipe-ups” and stickers on Instagram Stories or links below a YouTube video aren’t all for the convenience of the viewer — they’re how many influencers make money

When someone makes a purchase on a website after clicking through a trackable link or using a specific code, the influencer who posted it can earn a commission from that sale in what’s called affiliate marketing. 

Influencers often use affiliate marketing as a way to earn income outside of sponsored posts or ad revenue on videos. It’s also a way that emerging “nano” and “micro” influencers (with between 1,000 and 100,000 followers) start making money and working with sponsors as content creators.

How lucrative affiliate marketing is for an influencer depends on several factors such as their following size, engagement, and which industry they are in. It also depends on the commission rates brands and platforms put in place.

For instance, some finance influencers can make a decent portion of their income from affiliate links alone. They might work with investing apps like Robinhood or Acorns. 

Read more details about how much money finance apps and companies pay influencers through affiliate marketing

One personal-finance influencer, Tori Dunlap, told Insider she made more than $200,000 in eight months.

But finance isn’t the only well-paid category.

Skincare influencer Vi Lai said recently she was earning more than $5,000 each month from affiliate links, and a few other influencers say they earn a few hundred dollars here and there. 

From brands like Amazon to affiliate marketing platforms like LTK or MagicLinks, there’s a handful of ways for influencers to earn a commission from promoting products on social media. 

Here are 9 top platforms influencers use to make money from affiliate links

Some influencers have even started texting their followers with links to their favorite products as a way to drive sales. And platforms like Instagram are also tapping into this space with their own native affiliate marketing programs. 

Instagram’s affiliate program lets creators share shoppable feed posts and stories, as well as host a “shop” on their account where influencers can earn a commission on any sales from their page. Instagram is planning to expand its affiliate tools to more video content in 2022.

See 32 leaked commission rates for brands in Instagram’s affiliate test

In 2021, Instagram also made it easier for influencers to add affiliate links to their stories after the platform lifted its requirement that users either be verified or have at least 10,000 followers to use the feature. 

Insider has talked with many influencers and industry experts about affiliate marketing. Here’s a rundown of what they told us they have earned.

How much money do influencers make using affiliate marketing?

We spoke with a handful of influencers about how they incorporate affiliate links into their content. Several detailed their monthly earnings. They ranged from about $50 per month to more than $25,000 per month.

Here’s how much money 9 creators make from affiliates: