Monetizing Influence: Does (Audience) Size Matter?

Sachit Gupta works with all kinds of internet personalities, from top podcasters to NYT bestselling authors, and Instagram content creators, turning what they’re already doing in to a profitable business. He finds that a large number of content creators don’t have enough capital behind their platform to sustain their business, and in order to help create the revenue stream they need, Sachit comes in as a consultant and creates systems of monetization. This way, they can take the revenue they produce and use it to invest in the growth they want.

Read our interview with him, and bask in his limitless knowledge of the internet economy:

How did you get started as a business consultant in such a specialized field?

Out of college, I started off working with GE capital. Five days in, I knew the corporate structure wasn’t for me. But I stuck it out for a year!

When I left the company, the first thing I did was book a one-way ticket to Bangkok. I ended up travelling Asia for 5 months, and came back with a better idea of where my next step would be. I wanted to learn from the best, so I had to surround myself with the best. I chose to move to San Francisco because it’s a real hub for up-and-coming innovation.

I started reaching out to different companies and people I believed I could learn from, and offered general marketing services by sending out a bunch of emails.

I had no idea what I was doing, but I had a little experience under my belt from college, and I hoped I would get it together along the way.

Sachit with Andrew Warner

I think one of the biggest challenges I had during that time was selling myself. I was emailing CEOs, and getting coffee with them all the time. The problem was, I couldn’t turn those meetings into something more.

After about a year of trying, Andrew Warner from the Mixergy podcast finally gave me a shot on a small project. I did really well with that, so he kept feeding me more and more to do; I’ve done some impressive work for him over the years. Soon, other people began to notice me and started reaching out with other projects, and this industry full of internet personalities became my market niche. It was kind of an accident, I just wanted to be around people I was inspired by, and it turned into my work.

What challenges do you see content creators face?

One of the most common problems I run into is influencers who are focusing on the wrong parts of their business. They’re stuck on fame and growing a bigger audience. But they don’t have a sustainable way to monetize on any of that. I show them how they can start making money with what they currently have, and then they can continue focusing on the actual growth and expansion.

In a way, social media is a tool. Let’s say you go to the hardware store to buy a hammer and nails. You don’t really care about the hammer, or the nails, you’re buying them to achieve a certain goal. In the same way, social media is a tool to achieve certain goals, whether it’s business or something else. But now, that tool has somehow become the goal. In many cases, people’s goals are to have a huge Instagram following, without really having a form of income or purpose. It’s like having the nicest hammer in the world, but no nails or wood. There has to be a point behind it all, and monetization is a great point to have. Once you start properly monetizing, you go from being a hobby blogger or Instagrammer to running a sustainable business. Once you have predictable revenue, you can re-invest into growth, build a team, and act like a normal business.

At what point can influencers start monetizing their business?

I don’t think a lot of influencers realize there are ways to monetize outside of sponsorships, and you don’t necessarily need any size following to start monetization. Actually, I think the best way to monetize is to start by having expertise in something, that way you can provide value to people in creative ways. Coaching or consulting is a great beginning. If you can find just one person in your audience willing to pay for coaching, you’ll make money right off the bat.

Give us another example?

Let’s say someone has a fashion-focused Instagram account. They might assume that the only way to monetize is by convincing brands to sponsor them. I show them another facet. Maybe in their network there’s a lot of people who work in offices, then a great way to monetize would be by offering fashion-consulting services to executives or office workers. The possibilities are endless when you can connect the right offer with the right niche. It can’t be about you, it’s about adding value to other people’s lives.

Is it important to diversify the platforms content creators use to engage with their audience?

Influencers and content creators need to build a direct relationship with their audience outside of social media. Maintaining ownership of viewers is important to longevity, especially since we have seen platforms like Facebook and Instagram tweak their algorithms in ways that can drastically alter your engagement.

In the influencer world, the best way to have a direct relationship with your audience is by having an email list. That way, you have the contacts of your subscribers.

Another interesting way internet personalities can have a more direct relationship with their audience is by getting more connected to them. I once had a podcaster I was working with call all his subscribers up on the phone. He ended up finding that a huge percentage of his listeners were all facing the same problems in their lives. With this information, he created a coaching program specializing in those issues, and grew it to $15,000 in revenue in 21 days. Talk about ROI.

Social media is commonly mistaken by influencers as a one-way communication street. In order to stay relevant, that shouldn’t be the case. It’s extremely important to listen to your audience at least as much as you speak to them, if not more.

What is your greatest strength?

What’s helped me the most in my career is being able to see a situation from many different perspectives. Growing up in India and moving to the US when I was 17 has really helped me learn how to do that. When you expose yourself to enough different environments, you learn that besides gravity, the sky, and water, everything is questionable.

It took me a long time to learn the different nuances between my two cultures. So now I apply that point of view in my work with clients. I help them see how they can bring value to others just as much as themselves. Because that’s what being an influencer is really about: bringing your passions and skills to your audience and helping them improve their day-to-day lives.

I live by this quote from Steve Jobs, “When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

How do you define happiness?

I’ve recently realized that if I’m not chasing some insane goal, or working on something that I’m really passionate about, I don’t feel happy. Because as humans, we constantly need to evolve. So, for me, happiness really comes down to challenging myself everyday to advance in different areas of my life. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards.

What are some traits successful people you’ve worked with have in common?

They always have bigger goals. Whether it’s numbers, growth, revenue, or even impact, they’re always pushing for more. The high achievers are the ones who always have something bigger to reach for.

Do you have a personal habit that helps your success?

When I have a consistent routine and I know what I want to accomplish everyday, that’s usually when I end up achieving the most. I don’t think people understand the freedom that comes from having a routine. When all of the nitty-gritty decisions and tasks are taken care of, I find that I’m more creative, and all around happier.

Book Recommendations?

Relentless by Tim Grover

Tim Glover has been a coach for Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and a bunch of other huge names in basketball for the past 30 years, all behind the scenes. In his book, he dives deep into the mentality of those players, investigating what keeps them wanting more even after they’ve been called the best. I strive to be like that. I don’t want to stop at some barrier, I want to keep improving; and that book has some really good lessons about just how to do that. It’s given me an understanding of what drives me.

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

Hendricks covers what he believes makes people successful in this book. He calls the issues that stop people from achieving great success “upper-limiting problems,” and talks about how people’s operations can be categorized into four zones: Incompetence, Zone of Competence, Zone of Excellence, and Zone of Genius. It’s a great read.

Sachit Gupta gave ARTRPRNR founder Mike Tewel tons of his best tips for social media content creators looking to make an income off of their following, and we just couldn’t fit it all here. For a podcast of the full interview, subscribe to our newsletter!