Your online presence can pave the way for financial freedom. Today, social media is more than a platform for sharing your favourite vacation photos—it is an economic powerhouse that's spawned a new breed of entrepreneurs: social media influencers.
In Canada, these digital tastemakers captivate audiences and create lucrative income streams with their style, charisma, and original content. This article aims to demystify this innovative career path. It is a read for Canadians intrigued by the potential of social media influencing as not just a hobby but a valuable side hustle.
Whether you are an Instagram goddess, a TikTok queen, or a Twitter savant, let us explore how you can transform your passion for online interaction into money.
What is a social media influencer?
The social media influencing and digital marketing landscape in Canada is unique. Finding a foundation is critical.
A social media influencer is an individual, company, product, service, collaborative, or otherwise who uses their online presence to impact their followers' choices, perceptions, or behaviours. Their influence is based mainly on the trust and rapport they have established with their audience, often through sharing experiences, expertise, or lifestyle. This influence can extend to various fields, such as fashion, travel, fitness, technology, or even personal finance.
Are there different types of social media influencers?
There are three broad categories of social media influencers—micro, macro, and mega influencers—each distinguished by their follower count and the scope of their influence.
Micro-influencers typically have a following of around 1,000 to 100,000. Despite their relatively smaller audience size, they often possess a highly engaged and niche community, making them particularly effective for targeted marketing campaigns.
Macro-influencers usually boast a following of 100,000 to 1 million. These influencers have more widespread recognition and a more diverse follower base than their micro counterparts. They can effectively promote a brand or product to a larger audience while still maintaining a level of personal connection.
Mega influencers are generally celebrities. They have a following that extends beyond 1 million. These high-profile individuals often have a global audience and enjoy high fame and recognition. Their endorsement can catapult a brand or product into the limelight almost instantaneously.
What is the state of social media influencing in Canada?
For an influencer, the ability to understand, navigate, and cater to these variations could be the difference between fleeting popularity and sustained influence.
The social media influencing and digital marketing landscape in Canada is unique. Finding a foundation is critical, as each social media platform offers different engagement opportunities and has a distinct demographic composition.
The top social media platforms in Canada include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and, increasingly, TikTok.
Facebook remains a dominant platform, making it a valuable space for reaching a broad audience. Instagram, favoured by a younger demographic, is ideal for lifestyle, fashion, food, or travel influencers due to its visually-centric nature.
LinkedIn is the hub for professional networking and thought leadership, while Twitter provides a platform for real-time conversation and trending topics. Newcomer TikTok has gained immense popularity, particularly among Gen Z, offering a playground for creative, short-form video content. Even Snapchat is making a comeback with younger audiences (Shelley, 2023).
The Canadian audience can be differentiated from other international audiences in several ways. Canadians are known for their multiculturalism, politeness, and value for authenticity. This cultural nuance influences their online behaviour and expectations from social media influencers. They tend to resonate with content that is genuine, relatable, and respectful of diversity.
Targeting a Canadian audience as a social media influencer can be rewarding. According to Statistics Canada, as of 2021, over 90% of Canadians aged 15 to 34 reported using social media (Schimmele et al., 2021). Moreover, Canadians spend an average of nearly two hours on social media platforms every day. This demonstrates the potential reach and influence you could command as an influencer.
Remembering that the Canadian digital landscape is not a homogenous entity is essential. Each province, city, or even neighbourhood can have distinct cultural subtleties. For an influencer, the ability to understand, navigate, and cater to these variations could be the difference between fleeting popularity and sustained influence. This rich diversity also means there is room for influencers of every stripe to carve out their unique corner in the Canadian social media sphere.
How do social media influencers make money?
As a social media influencer, there are several avenues you can explore to monetize your online presence. The following are some most popular methods influencers use to generate income.
- Sponsored posts: This is one of the most common ways influencers make money. Brands pay influencers to create content highlighting and sharing a product or service with their followers. The payment can be either a flat fee, a percentage of sales, or free products/services.
- Affiliate marketing: Influencers can earn a commission on sales through specific referral links. This method is prevalent among influencers in the fashion, beauty, and tech niches, where followers are keen to buy the same products the influencer uses and recommends.
- Direct sales: As an influencer, you could leverage your brand to create and sell your products, such as clothing, beauty products, e-books, online courses, or artwork. This provides an additional income stream and enhances your brand's value and longevity.
- Collaborations/partnerships: Collaborations with brands or other influencers can take many forms, from co-created products to shared events or promotional campaigns. These partnerships can provide monetary compensation and help you grow your follower base.
- Ad revenues: If you have a YouTube channel or a blog, you can earn income through ad revenues. Platforms like YouTube pay creators some of the ad revenue generated from their videos.
- Paid subscriptions or Patreon: Some influencers offer exclusive content, perks, or community access to followers through subscription-based platforms like Patreon. This can create a reliable and recurring income source.
While these methods can generate income, their effectiveness depends on your niche, audience size, engagement rate, and demographics. Also, remember to maintain transparency about sponsored content with your audience, as required by the Canadian Ad Standards and the Competition Bureau of Canada.
Monetization reference guide
|Sponsored posts||Creating content for a brand's product or service in exchange for payment.|
|Affiliate marketing||Earning commission on sales made through your referral links.|
|Selling personal products/merchandise||Leveraging your brand to create and sell your products.|
|Collaborations and partnerships||Working with brands or other influencers on joint projects or campaigns.|
|Ad revenues||Earning income through ad revenues from YouTube or a blog.|
|Paid subscriptions||Offering exclusive content or perks for a subscription fee.|
It is essential to diversify your income streams as a social media influencer. Not only can this increase your overall earnings, but it can also provide financial stability should one income stream falter (Bilno et al., 2023).
Navigating Canadian tax implications for social media income
It is equally crucial to navigate the tax implications of your new income stream. As with any income-earning endeavour in Canada, money earned from social media influencing is subject to income tax, and it is your responsibility to report it accurately.
According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), income earned from social media is considered self-employment income (Canadian Revenue Agency, 2023). This encompasses all income received, including cash, free products, services, trips, sponsorships, ad revenue, and more. Even barter transactions—where you receive goods or services in exchange for promoting a product or a brand—must be reported.
You must track your income and any expenses related to your influencing activities. This could include costs for equipment, marketing, travel, home office expenses, or any other outlays necessary for creating content and managing your brand. These business expenses can be deducted, reducing your overall taxable income.
The table below summarizes the key points to keep in mind:
|Key tax considerations for social media influencers|
|All income earned, including barter transactions, must be reported|
|Maintain thorough records of income and business-related expenses|
|Business expenses can be deducted from income, reducing overall taxable income|
|Self-employed individuals may need to make quarterly instalment payments|
|Influencers may need to register for a GST/HST account if their revenue exceeds $30,000 in 12 months|
Also, remember that as a self-employed individual, you may need to make quarterly tax instalment payments if your net tax owing is more than $3,000 in the current year or the two preceding years.
Moreover, if your revenue exceeds $30,000 in 12 months, you are no longer considered a small supplier and must register for a GST/HST account, collect taxes on your sales, and remit them to the CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency, 2023).
Consider seeking advice from a tax professional to ensure you meet your tax obligations and take advantage of any possible deductions or credits.
How to become a social media influencer in Canada
Becoming a social media influencer in Canada involves critical steps: identifying your niche, building your online presence, engaging with your audience, and attracting sponsors or partners.
- Finding your niche: This is the first and most critical step. Your niche is the specific area of expertise or interest that you will focus on. It could be anything from fashion and beauty to fitness, wellness, food, travel, finance, or technology. Choose something you are passionate about and knowledgeable about; this genuine interest will resonate with your followers.
- Building your presence: Create engaging content. The type of content—blog posts, photos, videos, podcasts, or a combination—depends on your niche and the social media platforms you focus on. Consistency in posting and a unique style will help establish your brand and attract followers.
- Audience engagement: Responding to comments, hosting live Q&As, and encouraging follower participation are great ways to build rapport and foster community. The more your audience feels connected to you, the more engaged they will be—this engagement is often more important to potential sponsors than follower count alone.
- Attract partners: Once you have built a substantial and engaged following, brands may approach you for partnerships. However, you do not have to wait for them to come to you. Reach out to brands that align with your niche and values and pitch your collaboration ideas.
The table below summarises these steps:
|Steps to becoming a social media influencer|
|Find your niche|
|Build your online presence|
|Engage with your audience and build community|
|Attract potential sponsors or partners|
Becoming a successful social media influencer requires passion, creativity, perseverance, and strategic planning. It takes time and effort. Maintain authenticity—it is your unique perspective that your followers value and that brands will pay for.
Tips for balancing a full-time job while social media influencing
Becoming a social media influencer in Canada while holding down a full-time job might seem like a Herculean task. However, it is possible with some innovative strategies and effective time management. Here are some tips to help you balance your full-time job with your budding influencer career:
- Time management: Effective time management is a vital skill to master. Assess your daily routine and identify pockets of time that can be dedicated to your side hustle. This could be during your coffee, lunch break, or the evening after work. Prioritizing and focusing on tasks that generate the most value can also maximize your productivity.
- Planning and scheduling content: Use social media management tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Later to schedule your posts in advance. This way, you can ensure consistent content posting without needing to be online all the time. Additionally, having a content calendar helps you plan your content strategically and maintain a consistent posting schedule.
- Maintain a healthy work-life balance: While it is essential to devote time and energy to grow your influence, remember to take care of your physical and mental well-being. Ensure you set boundaries between your work, side hustle, and personal life. Remember, burnout can harm your job and your side hustle.
This table summarizes these key points:
|Balancing a full-time job with a social media influencer side hustle|
|Master time management|
|Schedule and plan content in advance|
|Maintain a healthy work-life balance|
Keep your goals and passion clear, and you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Is being a social media influencer a real career?
Yes. It has been referred to as the career of the decade (Suciu, 2023). However, it is essential to note that achieving and maintaining success in this field requires consistent effort in content creation, audience engagement, personal branding, and staying abreast of ever-changing social media trends. It may not be a traditional career path, but its relevance and potential profitability in our interconnected society must be considered.
Being a social media influencer in Canada holds immense potential as a lucrative side hustle. By tapping into your unique passions and interests, you can build an online presence that allows you to connect with others and opens up multiple avenues for additional income.
Remember, becoming a successful influencer involves finding your niche, building and maintaining an engaged online community, and effectively monetizing your influence through sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, ad revenues, and more. While balancing this with a full-time job might seem challenging, with strategic time management, planning, and a mindful approach to work-life balance, it is a feat well within your reach.
Furthermore, being savvy about your income, understanding your tax obligations, and adeptly navigating the Canadian social media landscape are all part and parcel of this exciting journey. This unique blend of creativity, connection, and commerce can empower you to boost your income and achieve your financial goals.
Resources and references
Here is a list of resources and references that can be useful for starting and managing a social media side hustle in Canada.
|Canada Revenue Agency||Information about self-employment income and tax obligations.||CRA – Self-employment income|
|Canadian Ads Standards||Guidelines for advertising, including influencer marketing practices||Canadian Ad Standards|
|Competition Bureau of Canada||Guidelines for influencers regarding transparency in advertising||Competition Bureau – Influencer Marketing|
|Hootsuite||Social media management platform for scheduling posts||Hootsuite|
|Buffer||Another platform for managing and scheduling social media posts||Buffer|
|Later||Visual social media planner, great for Instagram, Pinterest, etc.||Later|
|Shopify||Platform for creating an online store, useful for selling personal merchandise||Shopify|
|Patreon||Platform for creators to earn subscription income from followers||Patreon|
|Canva||Easy-to-use design tool for creating engaging visual content||Canva|
|Udemy||Online learning platform with courses on social media marketing and influence||Udemy|
|Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA)||Provides an annual report on Canada's internet factbook, including social media usage||Cira – Canada's Internet Factbook|
Remember to keep learning and stay updated on the trends in the ever-evolving world of social media influencing. These resources will help you become a successful social media influencer in Canada.