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Make Money with Snapchat: The Ultimate Guide

Jon Lee
Make Money with Snapchat: The Ultimate Guide

Snapchat is the newest form of social media, and with a 16 Billion dollar valuation, it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

In this guide I’m going to walk you through exactly what Snapchat is, how it works and how you can use it to make money in your business.

Let’s start by explaining exactly what Snapchat is and how it works.

It’s Not Just For Sexting Anymore

Snapchat was first released in 2011, amongst a mass of messaging apps from WhatsApp to Tango and many, many more forgotten apps that creators thought would be the next big thing.

Snapchat allows you to send pictures and videos to a list of friends/followers, much like a million other apps out there. What differentiated Snapchat from its competitors was its disappearing message feature which quickly caught on with those who wanted to “sext” but not have their pictures end up on one of those revenge porn sites.

Snaps disappear within 10 seconds of receiving them, which creates a level of engagement not found anywhere else on social media. If you don’t pay attention, the snap is gone forever, as though it never even existed. This taps into one of our most primal fears; missing out.

C.E.O. Evan Spiegel publicly said that about 500 million messages are exchanged on Snapchat every single day back in August of 2014. Snapchat is now believed to have between 100-200 million monthly users.

In January of 2014, they introduced the Discover feature, which allows companies like McDonald’s to present professionally created content from content creators such as CNN, Comedy Central and many more. They also have recently rolled out a feature called Live, which allows various users in a given city or at a given event to crowdsource their snaps. This can lead to HUGE numbers of views for anyone who is lucky or smart enough to get featured live (more on this later). User Martin Ferris reported having over 23 million views after making it into the Oktoberfest live stories:

Oktoberfest Snapchat

I’m sure you can see the value in being able to get your products or services in front of 23 million people.

Now you’re probably thinking: this all sounds well and good, but how do I start making money?

Step # 1: Build Your Audience!

The first step to making money on Snapchat is to build an audience.

When you sign up, Snapchat will ask you if you want to automatically add anyone in your phone’s contact list who has an Snapchat account.

Go ahead and add everyone who has an account, you can always unfollow them later. The reason we want to add everyone is simple, people are more than 75% more likely to add your Snapchat to their account when you add them first based on the results I’ve gotten with my clients. It’s the influence principle of reciprocity in action. People are much much more likely to add you if you add them first.

Also, unlike Twitter or Facebook where the amount of friend/followers you have is either limited or negatively affects your influencer score, there are no penalties for following as many people as you’d like.

After you add your contacts, it’s time to start creating content, as content is going to be the building block for attracting followers.

Step # 2 Create Great Content!

The most important parts of content creation on Snapchat:

  1. Be consistent. The most popular Snapchatters are snapping multiple times a day, every single day. No rest for the wicked, or Snapchat superstars. An audience needs to get used to seeing your content every single day if not a few times a day.
  2. Blend niche content with personality marketing. Snapchat allows you to blend two separate but equally important marketing concepts. First, it allows you to create niche content for your product or services. This means you can use Snapchat to create short demonstration videos, have quick testimonials, or what not. But it also allows you to show potential customers your life, dog, friends, etc so they feel like they are getting to know you, and so you’re not always selling. Remember it’s social media not selling media! Snapchat is much more personal than other social media apps because you are talking directly to your prospects.
  3. Take advantage of what we know works. According to my research, there are two Snapchat subjects that drive more engagement, they are: animals and attractive women. I’ve successfully used Instagram models to drive hundreds of thousands of views, on multiple occasions. Furthermore, both attractive women and animal snaps are often curated by sites like Buzzfeed, which obviously drives even more engagement and followers to your account.

So you’ve added your contacts, you’re producing content consistently that is both consistent with your niche and displays your winning personality, but you still only have a couple hundred followers or less.

First off, don’t worry, because of the massive level of engagement necessary for Snapchat, it’s not uncommon to have over 100k followers on Instagram and only 4,000 on Snapchat. Ideally your number of followers on Snapchat should be at least 5% of your list.

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3 Ways To Get More Snapchat Followers

  1. Post your snapcode EVERYWHERE. Your snapcode allows someone to add you by taking a picture of the code on their snapchat. This is by far the easiest and most fun way to add people on Snapchat. You should post your snap on all of your other social media sites. You can also use it when adding people in real life by having them take a picture of your code right then and there.
  2. Swap or pay for shoutouts. Another way you can increase the amount of followers you have is through shoutouts from other snapchatters. This could take the form of a picture or a video where the other person tells his/her followers to go follow you as well and gives either a discount, or other incentives for their followers to go follow you. If you already have an audience of over 1,000 followers you should be able to get shoutouts for free from all but the most popular accounts. If not, or if you want to start getting shoutouts from accounts like Mark Kaye who has hundreds of thousands of followers, you’ll need to make it worth their while. One thing to keep in mind is that there are no set prices for shoutouts, so don’t be afraid to lowball them. A client of mine who imports bikinis was able to get two super popular Instagram models to pose in her suits and give her multiple video shoutouts for two free bathing suits and $100 each.
  3. Get Live. By far, the most powerful way to get followers is through the Live feature as evidenced by the tweet I showed you earlier. But how do you get live? Snapchat guards their algorithms for how they select the live stories and pictures but here’s what I’ve learned. The most important thing is that you turn on Snapchat’s location services turned on. Once you do this if there is a live snapchat story happening at the same time, you’ll see the option to add your snap to the Live story in addition to adding it to your own story. The second thing to pay attention to is who is talking about snapchat in your area. For example the R&B group the Weeknd became extremely active on Snapchat leading up to his most recent concert in his hometown of Toronto, which was carried as a live story. While there are no guarantees you will make a live story, the more snaps you send, seem to affect your odds as one client of mine sent over 42 different snaps before she was added to the live story. As they expand the live feature, I expect them to add location-specific live events so that you have a greater chance to contribute to events near you.

By now, you should have a decent size and still building audience, so it’s time to turn our attention to how to turn those views into cold hard cash!

Step # 3 Start Making Money

3 Ways To Make Money On Snapchat:

  1. Offer expiring discounts. Scarcity or the fear of missing out that I talked about earlier is one of the most powerful motivators in making a buying decision. You can tap into that fear by offering a discount in a snap, which will disappear 10 seconds after the user watches it. The easiest way to do this is setup a discount page on your website something like yoururl.com/Snapchat and then send out a snap video where you quickly tell them about the code. It’s super important that you also write the URL out on the video which you can do by using the little text box icon at the top of the Snapchat screen. I like to have my clients also tell them that the code will expire in 1 hour, and then actually take the site down after an hour. This is important because it establishes that the scarcity is real and trains your followers to go immediately to your site if they want to cash in on the discount.
  2. Sell with Snapcash. So technically Snapcash, a joint venture with Paypal, is only supposed to be used for sending money to your friends but it can also be used to sell in small quantities. This is especially useful if you have a physical product. One of the best examples is the recent black market for “Hoverboards.” After celebrities like Justin Bieber and Wiz Khalifa were seen on them, many retailers immediately sold out, and there were several enterprising people selling them on Snapchat at up to a 50% markup over the $350 price tag. If you have a physical product, take a snap demonstrating something cool it can do and send it out to your followers. If anyone responds with questions, offer to sell them one right there using snapcash.
  3. Promote affiliates. The last way to make money on Snapchat is through affiliate marketing. Once you have an audience who trusts you, you can begin to recommend other products for them to try. One of my clients Amanda does affiliate deals with a company called FitTealife where they pay her around a $1 per view. Since she has over 10,000 Snapchat followers this can lead to some pretty nice paydays all for taking a picture or video with someone else’s product.


Snapchat is the future, as more than half of its users are in the 13-24 age range most coveted by marketers.

You now have all the tools necessary to get your business onto Snapchat and start raking in the cash!

Thanks for reading! Did I miss anything? Do you have more questions? Be sure to leave any questions you have in the comments section.

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Jon Lee is a Full Stack Marketer and content creator, who specializes in helping small businesses grow to 7 figures. His work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Gawker and Fast Company. You can find out more about him at www.thecontentmarketingking.com where you can check out his video about Content Marketing and download a free report on the 7 types of content you have to produce in 2015 and beyond. Jon lives in San Diego with his Baja Wolfdog, Raylan.
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