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Johanna Adriaansen: Five Ways That Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand

I think collectively if I could inspire people to instead continue to improve themselves; focus on love, gratitude, generosity, compassion, inclusion, and kindness and really eliminate feelings of lack, jealousy, and greed then the way we live and make decisions would be for the better of humanity as a whole. Getting more connected to myself has allowed me to have deeper empathy for others. For me, compassion and living with as much gratitude as possible have been the tools to being a better human being on this planet.

As part of my series about “How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Johanna Adriaansen. Johanna is a digital marketing and brand strategist who uses her own personal brand as her main marketing tool. She works with clients to help them develop their personal brand and grow their service based businesses through multiple online courses and coaching programs.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is your “backstory”? What brought you to this point in your career?

In 2014 I was part way through my Nutritional Sciences degree and I started to see Instagram as a marketing opportunity instead of just a place to interact with friends. I began studying Instagram through blogs and podcasts and with my hobby background in photography I figured I could manage Instagram accounts for other people, capturing images and handling the posting, caption writing etc. I pitched a local juice and smoothie bar and landed my first client. From there my side hustle was born and I started as a social media manager. Within a few months I decided to niche down further and work with personal brands and Influencers specifically. Again I pitched, reaching out to my favorite influencer at the time, and asked her if I could support her in content development. Before I knew it I was writing copy and strategizing photoshoots for her brand partnerships. I continued to expand my content development and strategy services to other full-time Influencers (with audiences of 80K-200K) while building my own personal brand. Having an insight into the back end of what a personal brand as a business actually looked like for multiple Influencers allowed me to learn the Influencer industry from both the Influencer experience and also the brand experience. Now I am a full-time brand strategist and digital marketing consultant. I mainly help female solopreneurs develop and monetize their personal brands and market their businesses online, and I love every minute of it!

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?

I think the craziest client opportunity I had was joining as a plus one on a brand trip. I went from working virtually in my little home office in Canada to being flown to Mexico to stay at a 5 Diamond resort with Fairmont. I remember being at the first dinner thinking, “Omg there’s that blogger, and oh my god I follow her too!”. I was so inspired seeing the Influencers in their work mode, getting creative with their content and how they interacted with the brand. Definitely surreal!

Since then my career has led to other travel opportunities, I did another press trip with the Fairmont again in Vancouver last summer and have spent time in L.A. and North Carolina with clients as well. Recently I moved to Bali and when the decision had to be made about going home or staying during the CoronaVirus pandemic (which was a very hard decision), I locked down with 4 other creatives in an amazing accommodation in Bali and it may have been the best two months of my life! That definitely could have gone the other way!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am passionate about empowering women to build their own side hustle or business. I recently had a bit of an epiphany where I realized why I created my business to serve this specific audience. When I was growing up my Mom stayed home to take care of me and my 3 younger siblings. She gave up her career to raise us and run us around to our various sports and events. I could always tell that she missed working. She did hobby photography, joined multiple network marketing companies and sold handmade products. She was always trying to build a business but it was forced to take the back seat. While I believe she loved being our Mom I could see she craved having her own business. Now, I use my knowledge to help women create something that gives them time and financial freedom, and show them they truly can launch their own endeavour and be their own boss.

As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

Ahh, so many things. When it comes to building a personal brand that you are going to monetize with, it really is about playing the long game. Social media platforms have evolved a lot and we aren’t seeing massive overnight growth on Instagram anymore. It’s important not to be dead-set thinking that you have to make money directly off of posting on social media through brand partnerships (ie. #sponsored #ad) because there are many other ways to leverage your audience and create a stream of income! That being said, if you are selling a product or service via your personal brand you don’t need tens of thousands of people to have a 6-figure business. It should be a very high priority to nurture your audience, build real relationships, and from a business standpoint, make sure you are attracting people who are a good match for your offer. Be clear on who you serve and be consistent in how you show up.

None of us can achieve success without a bit of help along the way. Is there a particular person who made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful? Can you share a story?

Actually there isn’t one person who necessarily sparked a massive lightbulb for me. However, I attribute a lot of my success to surrounding myself with the people who I believe are going to challenge me to level up (virtually and in real life). I’ve lived in a city where barely anyone I knew was doing anything like me. I made it a priority to fill my hours with podcast episodes from people who were doing exactly what I wanted to do. By submerging myself in their content and their world I created my own ‘top 5’, as they say, you become like the 5 people you surround yourself with.

In October of 2019, I took it further and moved to an area in Bali that is known for its population of Influencers and Digital Nomads in every space. Immersing myself in networking events and meeting other people that were at the same part of the journey as me, as well as those further along in their career, and just having conversations alone made a profound difference for me and my business in the last 9 months.

So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

We recently had over 1000 new members into our Monetize Your Influence course which specifically teaches micro influencers (5K-50K audiences) how to work with brands for paid sponsorships. I’m really excited to work with that group and everyone else who joins in the next few months, receive their feedback, and continue to create resources for them.

Additionally, I’m enrolling 1:1 clients for the rest of 2020. I work with passionate, action taking people who are ready to build their business as the face of their brand!

What are your “Top Five Ways That Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand” . (Please share a story or example for each.)

Amazing, love this! Okay.

Brand Sponsorships

I think this is the most obvious thing people think of when they hear ‘Influencer’. We associate Influencer with ‘getting paid to post’ and #ad on Instagram. If this is the path you’re headed towards it’s important to get crystal clear on what value your content brings to your audience and who your audience is. If you can nail these down it will be easy to identify brands that would be a great partner to your brand. Brands of all sizes are looking for Influencer audiences of all sizes, so even if you are closer to the 2K audience mark you can still create partnership opportunities! Be consistent and pitch!

Creating a product to sell to your audience.

We see this often with photo editing presets from Influencers, or online courses. For example, it’s become common for travel bloggers to create Lightroom based presets so that their followers can edit their photos similar to theirs. I think having a product is both powerful and an important way to diversify your income. Sometimes the large audiences and sponsorships come first, but eventually we should diversify not just income but also where our audiences exist. If you only have an Instagram presence and your account gets compromised there is no way to reach those people again! I’d highly recommend starting a mailing list which gives you access to emails and the ability to communicate and promote to your audience whenever you’d like.

Create content for companies

Many Influencers also consider themselves content creators. For those who do have photography, videography and even writing skills there is definitely an opportunity for income creating and selling the content. This content may never actually go up on your page as a personal brand but your personal brand and presence can act as a portfolio and awareness generator for these services. Companies are likely hiring this work out anyway and they might be spending 10K on a commercial service that you can create for a few hundred or few thousand dollars with your friends.

Additionally, once you start creating high quality content like this there will be content licensing discussions. The longer a brand owns your content and the more places they are using it means more $ in your pocket. This is where contracts get super important. You don’t want a picture you sold to a brand for $50USD to end up on a billboard in Times Square making the brand hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Lastly, when it comes to big projects and videography make sure you and the brand are on the same page. You want to express your creativity but re-shooting/re-editing sucks! When you can both agree on a vision for the creative content the execution should be seamless!

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a bit different than brand partnerships. In general, a brand partnership has content approval processes and clear deliverables. The exchange is money for exposure and usually not commision based. Affiliate marketing however works on a commission system which may or may not include a discount for the Influencer’s audience. For example, a brand may offer 30% off to the Influencer, a minimum monthly purchase, a 30% off code for their audience and 50% commission on their sales. Alternatively, you could be an Influencer for a course creator and support them during their course launches by marketing their course and making a commission.

I think there is a lot of opportunity in affiliate marketing for a number of reasons. One, you can be selling/earning all the time. You don’t have to wait for the next brand partnership to come knocking at the door since many affiliate programs are free to sign up for. Second, there is no content approval process so you can post what you want on your own time and have full creative freedom. Third, you can sell whenever you want. You don’t have to make your own product. Sometimes it’s easier for us to sell someone else’s product.

At a minimum, adding affiliate links to blog posts and ‘swipe-up’ Instagram stories should definitely be part of your practice. If you’re recommending products and sending them a direct link you’re just leaving money on the table. Programs like Reward Style and Amazon Influencer are free to sign up for and even if you are only making <$2 on each purchase it can still add up when you constantly send out these links!


Monetizing as a coach, consultant or member is often a next fluid step for Influencers. When you have an audience of people who trust you and look up to you for a specific topic it’s likely that people have already asked you for one on one support or advice. For example, in my own journey, I started as a freelancer in social media and shared what that looked like for me. I was walking the walk by putting massive effort into my own content and after I found my own ‘secret sauce’ to succeed as a freelancer, I then transitioned to coaching on it and I now have a group coaching program which teaches others how to start their own freelance business as a social media account manager. This actually wasn’t intuitively a part of the plan, but of course it makes the most sense because it’s what my audience has watched me through!

As an influencer, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

There are so many powerful and important causes to stand behind that it would literally be impossible to identify which would bring the most good into the world, or choose which marginalized group, environmental impact or solving of injustice is a priority over the next. I think collectively if I could inspire people to instead continue to improve themselves; focus on love, gratitude, generosity, compassion, inclusion, and kindness and really eliminate feelings of lack, jealousy, and greed then the way we live and make decisions would be for the better of humanity as a whole. Getting more connected to myself has allowed me to have deeper empathy for others. For me, compassion and living with as much gratitude as possible have been the tools to being a better human being on this planet.I think as long as we continue to grow and be dedicated to learning about ourselves and the world around us, those actions will create more good.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. :-)

I try and keep a very small list of mentors and people I admire (otherwise it’s just too much noise). I am incredibly inspired by Amy Porterfield, Jerisha Hawk, and Gary Vaynerchuk. I admire Sarah Stephenson (of Sarah’s Day) and Lights, a Canadian music artist!

What is the best way our readers can follow your work online?

I’d love to hang out and meet you on Instagram. I’m @johhhanna. Chat soon!!

You can also find more information about my programs on my website at



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