3 Ways to Make Money on Instagram: In-Depth Guide
By Rita Cunha
If you aren’t already making money from Instagram, you’re missing out. Millions have already used the photo-sharing app to launch their careers and support their lavish lifestyles. To follow in their footsteps, you need to be strategic—and learn the ins and outs of how to make money on Instagram.
Can You Make Money on Instagram?
Yes, you can make money on Instagram.
Unlike YouTube, Instagram doesn’t pay you for driving traffic to the app. Instead, it has evolved to allow creators to monetize their Instagram content through sponsored content, influencer marketing, and other strategies.
Today, there are more than a few ways to get paid for posting videos and pictures.
1. Post Sponsored Content
The most popular and obvious way of making money from Instagram accounts is to make sponsored posts.
How Does Influencer Marketing Work?
Brands will pay you to publicize their products. They want you to show them off in your pictures, videos, and stories. This way, your followers can learn about a new product and potentially buy it.
This form of advertising is known as influencer marketing—and it works, just as well (or better!) than regular social media marketing. People are much more likely to buy something if someone they look up to (an Instagram influencer) endorses it. That is why brands spend millions every year on Instagram marketing.
How Much Can You Make?
This type of marketing can be incredibly lucrative. And while every influencer sets their own rates, they can make anywhere between $10 and upwards of $10,000. Or $1 million if you’re a Kardashian.
That is not bad for simply posting about a product. You don’t even have to worry about convincing your followers to buy it.
How much money you can expect to make depends on you. The more followers you have, the more you can charge. Brands will also pay you more if you have a high engagement rate. On top of that, you can charge more for sponsored posts on your feed than for fleeting Instagram stories.
Who Can Do It?
Not everyone with an Instagram account can become an influencer. You need followers and a decent engagement rate (around 3% or so). But you also don’t need a huge following.
We can break down the different types of Instagram influencers into several tiers:
- Nano-influencer: 1,000 to 10,000 followers
- Micro-influencer: 10,000 to 50,000 followers
- Mid-tier influencer: 50,000 to 500,000 followers
- Macro-influencer: 500,000 to 1,000,000 followers
- Mega-influencer: Over 1,000,000 followers
As you can see, even smaller influencers can get great partnerships with brands. In other words, how many Instagram followers you have isn’t the most important factor—how your followers engage with your content is.
How to Get Started
The first step to earning money from Instagram is landing a brand partnership.
You can wait for brands to come to you. If you’re already well-known on Instagram, you won’t have to wait for a long time. Keep an eye on your Instagram inbox or your work email—collab requests will show up pretty soon.
If you’re a smaller influencer, though, you will likely have to look for sponsored post opportunities yourself.
You can do this by joining an influencer marketing platform. Create a profile, enter your Instagram statistics, and brands will reach out to you. Often, you can also browse the platform’s marketplace board and contact the brand. These platforms are worth looking into:
Alternatively, you can reach out to your favorite brands and ask if they want to work with you. While you’re still getting started, choose smaller brands. They’re more likely to sponsor Instagram posts by small creators. Then, as your account grows, you can branch out.
Keep in mind that you need to be transparent about your brand partnerships. You should disclose to your followers that you are doing sponsored posts by using the relevant hashtags. #Sponsored, #Gifted (for when you get free stuff), and #Spon are all good tags to use.
2. Jump Into Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is another popular online income stream. It’s mostly used on other social media platforms (such as YouTube and Facebook) and in blogs, but it can be adapted to help you make money on Instagram, too.
How It Works
This type of marketing works in a very straightforward way. You talk about a brand’s product and give your followers a unique, trackable link to the product. Then, when someone clicks your affiliate link and buys the product, you get a commission.
Affiliate marketing also works if you have promo codes that can be entered at the check-out. Oftentimes, brands will even give your followers special discounts when they use your codes.
The best thing about affiliate marketing is that it’s relatively easy to do. You are selling other brands’ products, so you don’t even have to come up with your own product line. There is little work involved for you.
How Much Cash Can You Make?
Affiliate marketing pays you per sale. If you’re an adept salesperson, you can make quite a lot of money from it.
How much you can make depends on two things. First, how willing your followers are to make a purchase. Second, what commission rates you’re getting (different brands and affiliate networks pay different rates). The most profitable niches (e.g. tech and finance) also pay the highest rates.
However, generally speaking, many affiliate marketers make a six-figure income from this strategy.
Who Can Do It?
You don’t have to meet a specific threshold of Instagram followers to do affiliate marketing. You could start on the day you open your Instagram account. That said, you do need a decent number of engaged, interactive followers to turn a profit.
How to Get Started
There are two main ways of doing affiliate marketing.
You could reach out to a brand you love and ask to join their affiliate program. If they accept your application, you’ll get promotional codes to share with your followers. More often than not those codes are also tied to discounts for your audience.
Another way is to join affiliate platforms. They allow you to create the unique link your followers should use to shop. The most popular include:
What most beginners get confused about is how to share their affiliate links on Instagram. As you may know, the platform does not allow you to share a clickable link in your post descriptions or comments. But this doesn’t mean you have to shift to other marketing channels or abandon the platform.
You can add your affiliate links to your Instagram bio. Your followers can find it at a glance, which helps you make more money. Having a Linktree, an aesthetically pleasing website link curating solution, lets you display multiple links all in one easy-to-access place.
Alternatively, if you have over 10,000 followers, you can leave your affiliate links as a “swipe up” on your Instagram stories. Then, create an Instagram story highlight with all your “swipe up” links so they’re easy to access and easy to use.
You still need to be transparent when you do affiliate marketing. Let your followers know you will earn commission on sales and use the appropriate hashtags (e.g. #affiliate) on your posts and stories.
3. Sell Your Products on Instagram
If you don’t want to sell other brands’ products, why not launch your own online store? You can sell physical products and digital products designed to match your content.
How It Works
Plenty of small business owners use Instagram to sell services and their own products. Especially if they look good in photographs.
They create their products, show them off on their stories and feed, and wait for customers to buy them. Once they amass a sizeable following, they don’t even need Instagram ads to generate sales.
An interesting feature that Instagram added in the past few years is the “Shop” tab. It makes buying products without leaving the platform as easy as can be. Since then, we’ve seen a boom in in-app sales.
How Much You Can Make
We can’t tell you exactly how much you stand to make. It all depends on what products you’re selling, how you price them, and how eager Instagram users are to buy them.
Yet, if you put your heart to it and apply the best marketing tactics, you could make thousands of dollars from things you make yourself.
Who Can Do It?
Opening an online store is a great way for creative people to make money on Instagram. If you have awesome photography skills, you could sell a photo book with your best shots. Or you could make and sell your handmade jewelry if you like designing and creating new pieces.
How many followers you have isn’t what’s most important. You could start showing off your work today and expand your following at the same time. Eventually, word of mouth gets around and your sales increase.
How to Get Started
The first step is creating the products you want to sell. You could sell things made by you or items that you designed and had manufactured elsewhere. Make sure to come up with a creative and useful product you think your Instagram audience would want to buy.
Then, it’s time to set up the sales channels.
You can go as bare-bones as you want with your business model and eCommerce store. You could simply post pictures of your products, add details in the description, and ask people to message you if they want to buy them. Then, you can collect payments through PayPal, Venmo, or another online cash app.
If you want to go the extra mile, it’s a good idea to use the integrated sales channels (aka the “Shop” tab). To do that, you will need an Instagram business account, a Facebook page, and an approved Facebook store. Those are all easier to set up than creating your own site.
The One Marketing Strategy You Need to Follow: Stick to Your Brand
Most social media experts will tell you there are two things behind a good posting strategy: remembering to post regularly and create engaging posts. But they forget one golden rule—without which you can’t make money.
You need to stick to your brand. Your followers like your content for a reason. If you change things up too much, you could lose your target audience.
Imagine, for example, that you run an Instagram page all about photography. Your online presence is as a photographer. One day, you decide to do a sponsored Instagram post for a cast-iron pan. Then you start doing affiliate marketing for all kinds of kitchen appliances. Think about it, would your followers be interested in those items? Probably not—and they may get annoyed.
Instead, you’re better off promoting and selling things tied to your branding. So, if you’re a photographer, try showing your followers your favorite equipment—cameras, lenses, backpacks, tripods, and so on.
Lastly, remember that your reputation is your most important asset. People only buy things from creators they trust—and trust takes a long time to cultivate. If you sponsor content that is illegal, unethical, or poor-quality, your ability to make money can take a drastic hit.
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