Social media influencer: How to work legally as an expat

  • jeune influenceuse
Published on 2022-01-25 at 07:00 by Mikki Beru
YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, etc., are part of our daily lives. Indeed, social media has transformed our way of consuming, creating new professions, new ways of reaching an audience, of getting a message across. Are they showcases or multi-faceted creators? And what if you are an expat who also wants to become a social media influencer?

Who are today's influencers?

A few years back, influencers had to bet on their own assets to get started. Today, real training exists to help them develop their activity and make it more profitable. As an expat-to-be, the first thing is to look for countries that offer significant tax benefits. The pandemic has revolutionized the world of immigration, making digital nomadism even more popular. Traditional celebrities (athletes, singers, etc.) who moved to more fiscally attractive countries are now joined by ultra-rich influencers whose daily life has nothing to do with that of a common YouTuber.

A multi-faceted job

For some, being an influencer means working with brands to promote their products on social networks in exchange for financial and/or in-kind compensation (remuneration is necessary for the activity to be considered as a job, not as volunteering). The influencer becomes a showcase for the brand, more affordable than celebrities and closer to common consumers.

Still, there are misconceptions about influencers. Indeed, for some, being an influencer is all about defending causes that are neglected or ignored by public authorities. The influencer then uses social media channels to raise public awareness and make their voice heard.

In between, influencers can also give their opinion on products, topics, and/or give advice.

These three different visions of the same profession have one thing in common: the need for a large number of active subscribers to establish notoriety.

What should you consider before getting started?

Whether or not they choose to move abroad, influencers take risks. But, first, they must have a good understanding of social media, a huge mine of possibilities and all dangers. At the same time, they should be able to create an intimate space with their subscribers.

Highlight your personality

Influencers are their own products. It's up to them to develop "the little extra". The new Tik Tok star, the Italian Khaby Lame, got started during the first lockdown. Although he had just lost his job, he decided to bring a smile to the world. Thanks to his non-verbal and facial expressions, to overcome the language barrier, he won the hearts of millions of people over the world.

Get some training

Even if there is officially no real training for this profession, studies in digital communication can definitely help. Self-training and proper study of competition in this field are other assets. Every space on social media has its own speciality: acting and timing for Tik Tok, video editing for YouTube, photos for Instagram, written expression for blogs, etc.

Choose your target

The gaming influencer will not capture the same audience as the culinary or decoration influencer. There may be interference since people do not limit themselves to a single area of ​​interest, but they are appreciated at the margin. It's up to the influencer to target their audience, especially regarding age.

Surround yourself

Influencers are their own boss. Hence the importance of defining their legal status and scope of action, especially for expatriates. Is it better to manage everything on your own, or would you instead get help from other professionals? After many years of managing her many tasks, Gaëlle Prudencio, a French lawyer in social law, converted into a fashion, body positive and self-acceptance influencer. In 2020, she signed with Soeurette Production. The company now represents the influencer who is also a business leader and author.

Remuneration and working time

Remuneration does not necessarily depend on the number of subscribers. Brands and other organizations juggle macro and micro-influencers. The power of macro-influencers is their large number of subscribers; however, they have a lower engagement rate. In short: their subscribers are not necessarily active ones. Micro and nano influencers with a few thousand or hundreds of thousands of subscribers have greater proximity to the public. This is precisely what brands are looking for. A post, a video or a photo can bring in a few hundred to several thousand euros. Hence, remuneration can vary according to peaks of activity and off-peak periods.

How to regularize your status as an expat influencer?

Digital nomadism has been a new trend since a couple of years. However, taxation remains a serious concern. Moving abroad is a good idea, but where should you pay taxes? Influencers often face difficulties similar to those of remote expatriate workers. So how do digital nomads locate their tax domicile? Where should they make their contributions for retirement? Influencers often feel like they can do whatever they want, but the reality is different. It usually depends on their legal status, whether they are a business creator (define the legal status for their business), auto-entrepreneur, sole proprietor, micro-entrepreneur, freelancer, etc.

Other influencers prefer to be employees: they work directly for a brand or are employed by an agency. Here again, things might be tricky both for the employer and the influencer. Are you fully an expat, or do you regularly travel to and from your host country? Depending on your situation, you could be perceived as a non-resident. In fact, you might have to pay taxes in your host country. In addition, your employer in your host country may have to register you for tax purposes. Another significant issue is that direct debit systems might be specific to each State. What should you do when tax is deducted at the source? Expat influencers must therefore think about their project and regularize their situation to ensure that they are working legally. This is precisely what Megane Salmon, a French expat entrepreneur and influence in Mauritius, told us in a recent Interview.

The new Eldorados for expat influencers

In practice, expatriate influencers are rare, closer to millionaire celebrities than to the unpaid micro-influencer. For these new expatriates, happiness combines with tax benefits.

Andorra, for example, has recently become a top destination in the eyes of expats, especially influencers. The principality mainly attracts macro-influencers, considering its 10% income tax compared to 50% in France or Spain. Andorra opened its doors by introducing the tailor-made Digital Nomad Residency visa. To be eligible, however, you must earn at least 300% of the country's minimum wage (1121€). The authorities are hoping to attract more tourists and long term visitors. Dubai, one of the most popular expat destinations worldwide, has no income tax and no corporate tax (except for the oil and gas fields). Many influencers have started their own business there, seduced by the high standard of living and security.

Is being an influencer a job with prospects? Vocations are multiplying, coated with visions of dreams broadcast on social networks. But the reality is less glamorous, even for new stars with millions of subscribers. One of the keys to success would perhaps be to consider being an influencer like any other job, with benefits and drawbacks.