This year is the year I leave no money on the table. It will be a year of abundance for me. And if it can’t yet be a year of abundance, it will at least be the first year I intentionally set my focus on attaining it.
It occurred to me in the final months of 2023 that I had really missed out on money-making opportunities. And when I say opportunities, I mean found money. Found money can mean many things, but for my purposes here, I mean money that is relatively easy to come by and that you are, essentially, already doing the labor toward. Some people call this passive income.
I am an author, a business owner, and a digital content creator. I have successfully monetized my work as an author (I sold my first book to a publisher this year and received an advance, with royalties to come). I’ve, of course, also monetized my business.
Where I’ve been reluctant to earn income has been in my work as a digital creator. I’ve largely seen social media as a place to build a personal brand and promote my writing and business. I shied away from capitalizing on the many ways to profit from social media for several reasons, none of which seem as valid to me as they used to.
I thought that monetizing made me a sell-out; I would rather not be seen as an “influencer.” I also thought that if I was profiting from the content I shared every day for free, that constrained my freedom of speech. I would need to censor myself, or at least severely limit myself from talking about things that matter to me, for fear of upsetting my followers and losing revenue.
I didn’t want to enable ads on my website because I wanted a “clean” interface.
I refused brand collaborations because I thought it would turn off my audience. Looking back, that’s the one that vexes me the most. I share my favorite products all the time on my social media pages, and I go out of my way to not share links to, say, my Amazon affiliate account. I endorse all my favorite things for free—sending notoriety and revenue to those brands—while taking not a penny for myself. Why?
If I’m being really honest with myself, I think it was ego that got in the way. I sanctimoniously looked down on other people who found a way to earn a living from the work they were already doingbecause I thought that made them less pure in their ideals and values. Everyone can be bought—every opinion purchased.
But when I took some time to really look at my favorite accounts who had harnessed the passive income that can accompany their social media work, I didn’t see compromised ideals. I saw people, for the most part, sharing the things they loved and managing to profit from it at the same time. I listened to many of them tell stories of turning down brands because there was a misalignment of values. It turned out that there were plenty of virtuous influencers out there who found a way to make money while also adhering to their standards.
Yes, I am ashamed of my arrogance.
Live and learn, right?
So, in 2024 I am embracing every opportunity for found money, for passive income. I am leaving not a single penny on the table. It’s time to invite abundance into my life. Hell, it’s time to welcome simply earning money for the labor I’m already doing into my life.
Here are some of the things I’m doing this year to generate passive income for myself on social media. Mind you, some of these resources have barriers to entry, like a certain follower count or hours of watch time. I’ve shared the eligibility requirements for each of these resources where possible.
Enrolling in AdSense from Google only requires having a website. You get quite a lot of control over how the ads are placed, and what ads you want on your page when you enable Adsense Ads. I made sure to keep my page looking clean and not overwhelmed by ad real-estate, and I’m really liking it so far. I’ve already made a few cents after less than a week.
Instagram Reels Ads
Meta will place ads on your Reels and share the ad-spend with you. Currently, you can only enroll in Reels Ads by invitation from Instagram, but hopefully that will expand soon.
TikTok Creativity Beta Program
I really like TikTok’s Beta program. To enroll, you must have a U.S. based account, have at least 10,000 followers, and have at least 100,000 video views in the last 30 days. This is TikTok’s way of encouraging creators to make long-form (greater than 1 minute) content. So, only videos of 1 minute or more are monetized. As someone who is quite long-winded, that is great for me!
The TikTok Shop for creators is relatively new, but I think it’s a very cool prospect. There is some conflicting information online about eligibility requirements, but best I can tell, it looks like you only need 1,000 followers and to have posted a video to TikTok in the last month. The TikTok shop allows you to share your favorite products with your audience with a shoppable link directly in your video. You earn a commission on every sale that comes from your link. What I particularly like is that you can buy products from the TikTok shop at a discounted rate to share with your followers, and sometimes you can request a free sample. It seems like the TikTok shop is trying to compete with Amazon, and they have a product offering that nearly rivals it. I think it will be a very lucrative way to make money in 2024.
Subscriptions on Instagram
Instagram Subscriptions allow your followers to pay a small nominal fee to access exclusive content from you. I’m using Subscriptions as my main way to go Live with my audience, as I feel that the small paywall prevents would-be trolls from joining and harassing me and my followers. You must have 10,000 followers and be 18 years or older to use subscriptions.
Did you know that you can cross-post your 60-seconds or less videos from Instagram and TikTok to YouTube Shorts and make money? I failed to do that for most of 2023, and I could kick myself. Every day I fail to upload the videos to YouTube shorts that I’ve already created for Instagram and TikTok, I miss out on money. You must have at least 1,000 subscribers and a few other small requirements to enroll.
I blog on my website almost daily. I cross-post every blog I write to Medium, which is a blog-hosting website with a built-in social media and community-building aspects. The Medium Partner Program is open to anyone who is a paying Medium Member ($5/month), who has at least one published blog (called Stories on Medium) and who lives in an eligible country. Signing up is quick and easy, and you can start making money right away.
Anyone with a website, blog, or social media account is eligible to apply to the Amazon Affiliate Program. The exact metrics they use for accepting applications is murky, but they do mention that they like for applicants to have at least 500 followers on at least one social media account. I think the Amazon Affiliate Program is one of the most comprehensive ways to make money through product reviews on social media. Once you are in the program, you are given a unique referral code that you can use anywhere online when you promote, endorse, or review a product from Amazon.
I’m sure there are more great opportunities for generating passive income on social media, but these are the ones I’m using this year. If you have questions or recommendations, please leave them in the comments!
Here’s to a prosperous 2024!
Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.