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An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Just be kind to each other and pack a bit of patience no matter where you go. You never know what other people are going through, and showing a little kindness and patience with people could make their days a bit easier.

As part of my series about “How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Wolters.

Mark Wolters is an award-winning travel vlogger and educator. With a keen eye for honest travel advice Mark has been producing travel videos and blogs for over 14 years. His Wolters World travel YouTube channel has over 210,000,000 views and 920,000 subscribers. When Mark is not traveling the world with his family, he is a Teaching Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was recognized by Poets and Quants as one of the top 50 undergraduate business professors and has received numerous other teaching awards. On his Professor Wolters education channel Mark strives to make marketing and social media education accessible to all people.

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?

I have been traveling the world since I was 16 when I was an exchange student on a ranch in Australia, and have spent the last 30 years doing my best to see as much of the world as possible. I did my undergrad in the US, my masters in Germany, my PhD in Portugal and I have taught business in a dozen other countries around the world. I have always loved getting to know about new cultures, and I have used that as motivation to make numerous YouTube channels where I educate people on a variety of topics, from travel to business to food to languages.

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

You know, whenever you travel with your friends there is always some way that you will be humbled. I was in New Orleans with two of my best friends from high school, and we were wandering around the French Quarter and this lady came up to me and said she was a fan and loved our videos. So, we spoke for a few minutes then another lady walks by and screams, ARE YOU WOLTER?! And I told her yes, and she also said she loved our videos and that she was a huge fan. We took pictures and went on our way. The entire rest of the day my friends kept saying how much they love WOLTER, and that they were also huge fans. The thing is, my name is Mark, but people will assume that my first name is Wolter since our channel is called Wolters World, even though in every video I start with “Hey there fellow travelers, this is Mark from Wolters World.” So my friends to this day, when they want to put me in my place tell me, “I’m your biggest fan… WOLTER.”

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

I love to teach, and in my videos I want to help people learn. It doesn’t matter if it is learning how to have a great vacation, or how to run your business’s social media, or how to discover true local foods around the world, I want to help people learn to do things on their own. It is all about the democratization of education, if I can help other people learn, I feel I should help them learn. That is why I put so much content out on all of my YouTube channels. If I can help a mother start a part-time business to help support her family, or help a young family take their first trip with a new baby, or just help to put a smile on someone’s face, I want to do it.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. 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?

Realize that being successful online via social media is not about “getting lucky” or “going viral.” It is about having a long-term vision on what you want to do with your online presence. It takes a long time to make it in any industry, and as people tend to only notice YouTubers or Instagrammers when they are already huge, they forget that that success took time to build. Don’t start a podcast or YouTube channel thinking you will be quitting your day job in a few months. It can take years to build up the following that affords you the income that allows you to not keep that day job.

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?

I would say that my wife has been both a protagonist and antagonist along the way. She told me once I was making too many videos, and not enjoying our travels. It seemed to her that our travels had become more of a job than a fun experience. This really got me to refocus on how and what I film and produce. Instead of making 12 random videos about various topics in each city we visited, I focused on making three thorough videos on that city. That helped me really change how our travels worked. I now film in the early morning while my wife and kids are getting ready, and when I come home from filming, we go back out and explore the cities we travel to as a family instead of the family waiting for me to film another video. It is funny how sometimes one off-the-cuff comment can have such a profound effect on you.

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

I have started a new series called, “Ugly Tourists In” and the series focuses on the little things that tourists do that upset locals in various cities and countries around the world. It is funny because we are pointing out the little things that tourists would never even realize they were doing that annoyed the locals. It has been one of the most fun projects I have worked on, and the comments we get on those videos almost always have me laughing.

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

Influencers come in all shapes, sizes, ages, nationalities, genders, and more. However, there is one thing that, no matter, if they are an influencer on YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter that they all worry about — how they can make money with their social media following. There are dozens of ways that influencers can make money online and offline, what I have here is a list of five of the most popular ways that influencers make money and use their influence to help pay their bills.

Platform Based Advertising:

The first way influencers can make money is basic advertising revenue that is run and supported by the platform they have their content on. The name varies by platform, but the overall scheme is the same. The influencer creates content for the platform and the platform places ads on said content. For example, YouTube has their Adsense programs. The program places ads before/during/after videos on YouTube, then YouTube splits the ad revenue with the influencer in a 55/45 revenue split.

Influencers can also make money by placing advertisements on their blogs as well. These can be in programs such as Adsense from Google or Mediavine or a number of other companies that supply advertising opportunities to brands.

Pros of Platform Based Advertising:

Influencers do not have to do much, the platform takes care of finding, curating, and placing advertisements on their platforms. Influencers can focus on content creation instead of searching for brands who want to advertise with them.

It is a passive way to monetize an influencer’s content.

Not every influencer is appealing to brands to set up brand deals, so this may be the only way for some influencers to monetize their content.

Cons of Platform Based Advertising:

The platform takes a percentage of the advertising revenue. This may be as little as 5% or as high as 55% or more.

Influencers may not have a lot of say in what type of advertisements show up with their content, and may have a negative impact on the influencers overall brand.

Some platforms require a certain level of production in order to join their program.

Affiliate Marketing:

One of the most profitable and lucrative means for influencers to make money online is to join affiliate marketing programs such as Amazon Associates. These programs incentivize creators to promote and sell products from the brand that has the affiliate marketing program. This way an influencer may get a percentage of the sales that come directly from their content. This could be an Amazon link to a product they featured in a post or a link to book a specific hotel from their website. The key thing is that influencers are affiliating themselves with different brands and those brands reward them for sales or traffic that comes to the brand’s own business and website.

Pros of Affiliate Marketing:

Many companies use affiliate marketing in order to entice creators to promote their products and services, so there are numerous opportunities to join affiliate programs.

The payout for bringing in sales to a firm can be substantial. Many influencers see double or triple or more the revenue from affiliate marketing programs over platform based advertising.

Influencers can choose which brands they want to work with so they can have brands that align with their business and their values.

Cons of Affiliate Marketing:

When influencers overuse and oversell affiliate marketing products they can be seen as a sellout, especially if the product they are trying to get people to buy does not align with their audience or the values that their content promotes.

There is no guarantee that the influencer’s audience will be enticed to buy the affiliated product, and thus the influencer earns no income off of an affiliate program if they do not sell any products.

The placement and use of affiliate marketing products can be stressful in finding ways that truly integrate the product into traditional content.


Some influencers are able to obtain funds from their audience directly through crowdsourcing. Platforms like Patreon or the YouTube Membership program allow fans of influencers to pay a fee in order to support their favorite influencers. This allows influencers to focus on creating content without having to work on brand deals or affiliate marketing programs.

Pros of Crowdsourcing:

Even small influencers can make money off of crowdsourcing. All it takes are dedicated fans who are willing to financially support a creator.

Microtransactions from as little as $2 a month can add up if the influencer can develop a large enough crowdsourcing community.

It helps influencers better connect with their core fans through additional paid engagements and websites.

Cons of Crowdsourcing:

Some crowdsourcing platforms require or at least request that influencers provide something extra for their paying fans. This may be merchandise, bonus content, live streaming events, or other services. These “freebees” may actually cost more time and money than what the crowdsourcing income brings in.

Not all influencers feel comfortable with a form of digital begging to their fans.

Brand Deals & Sponsorships:

With brand deals and sponsorships brands themselves may reach out to an influencer in order to work with them. The brand may pay the influencer directly for brand specific content or may want to just be associated with the influencer via a sponsorship. This may be a project where the brand pays a certain amount of money to be featured in one video, two twitter posts, and an Instagram story. Brand deals tend to be shorter than a sponsorship. Sponsorships may not directly require integration into content, however they may just want to be mentioned in a video or a post that the the content was sponsored by said brand.

Pros of Brand Deals & Sponsorships

They can be very lucrative if the influencer has the right audience that the brand wants to target.

Brand deals and sponsorships can help influencers’ credibility in the marketplace as they are now associated with established brands.

Brands may come with ideas for content that they think would work with integrating their brand with the influencer’s content.

Cons of Brand Deals & Sponsorships

Brands are very particular about how their brands are dealt with in brand deals. This may lead to numerous requests or changes in the finished post, certain rules that may change how influencers can use the product in their content, or who influencers are allowed to work with for a certain period of time after the brand deal content is released.

Not all brand deals fit with influencer’s content or audience. You may see this when an influencer is using a product or service that has little to no relevance to their main content theme, it is just because they were paid to use the product in a post.

Some firms want brand deals to be set up like an affiliate marketing program where the creator creates content for the brand, but only receives payments if the content drives sales for the hiring brand.

Merchandise and Digital Products:

Every influencer loves when they see their logo on a t-shirt or on a cup or a drink huggee. Merchandise can be a nice revenue stream for influencers as well. However, it is not as lucrative as the previous monetization programs in most cases. Thus it is important for influencers to choose which merchandise options fit best with their audience and change the merchandise offerings often so that fans go back to buy new merchandise. Additional to traditional merchandise like t-shirts and bottle openers influencers can develop digital products as well. These may be workbooks, worksheets, online courses, or other digital materials that their fan base would purchase.

Pros of Merchandise and Digital Products:

Fans become billboards for the influencer. The fans help spread the word of the influencer and their business.

It offers a way for fans to support their favorite creators and receive something tangible in the process.

Nothing beats the feeling of walking down the street and bumping into someone wearing your swag.

Digital products can be scaled to large numbers without having to deal with excess inventory.

Cons of Merchandise and Digital Products:

Supply chain issues and inventory management for merchandise. Where is the merchandise created, stored, and delivered from?

Headaches from lost orders, incorrect shipping labels, and merchandise returns.

Finding the right merchandise producer can take a lot of trial and error.

Digital products may be copied and made available for on the internet without the creator receiving any income.

Looking at these five ways influencers can make money online it shows you that there are numerous opportunities available for influencers to use their influence to help pay their bills and keep creating content to make their fans happy. Do not think that these are the only five ways influencers can make money. See our bonus video below for 20 Ways Influencers Can Make Money.

Bonus Video: 20 Ways Influencers Can Make Money

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.

Just be kind to each other and pack a bit of patience no matter where you go. You never know what other people are going through, and showing a little kindness and patience with people could make their days a bit easier.

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. 🙂

Joseph Rosendo from Travelscope on PBS. He is a true traveler and wants people to see the world, so they can be inspired as well. He has inspired me to visit many destinations around the world, and I would just love to have lunch with him to talk about travel, culture, and how he got to where he is today.

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

They can find me on a few different YouTube channels. Our main travel and culture channel is or if you want to know what you should eat while you are traveling the world you could find us at Though if you want to learn about marketing, business, and social media you can find us at our business education channel, If you just want to chat on social just find @woltersworld and we will be there on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Mark Wolters Of Wolters World On Five Ways For Influencers To Monetize Their Brand was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.