How many Instagram followers do you need to make money?
There are a lot of different factors that affect when you’re able to start generating an income from the platform as well as how much you’re able to generate.
We’re going to cover all of them in this post.
First, let’s talk about how influencers generate income from Instagram.
How do influencers make money on Instagram?
Instagram doesn’t pay you automatically when you get likes on posts and views on videos. So, how do influencers make money on the platform?
We have an entire post on this topic if you want to take a deep dive on it. We’ll give you the abridged version for now.
HypeAuditor did a survey of 1,865 Instagram influencers with followings ranging from 1,000 to over 1 million.
Here’s what they discovered when they asked respondents about their main sources of income:
- 40% generate income from branded promotions, such as sponsored posts.
- 22% use Instagram to acquire more clients.
- 15% of influencers generate income through affiliate marketing.
- 5% sell courses through Instagram.
- 4% of influencers use third-party subscription services, such as Patreon and OnlyFans.
- 6% use other sources, such as offering rebranding services, accepting donations, selling products and more.
This means if you don’t have a business outside of Instagram or products to open an Instagram shop, your best options are to seek sponsorship opportunities and affiliate programs to join.
This means content featuring products from sponsors or brands you’re an affiliate of.
Because Instagram only allows you to place one link in your Instagram bio and does not allow links in posts, many influencers use link-in-bio tools to list all of their affiliate links and other important content on one page.
They’ll then say “link in bio” in Instagram captions and videos.
Shorby is a fantastic dedicated link-in-bio tool.
You can also use a social media management tool like Pallyy to schedule Instagram content in advance & manage comments. It comes with its own link-in-bio tool.
Other ways influencers make money on Instagram include earning Instagram Badges while airing Instagram Lives, joining the Bonuses program for Instagram Reels and acquiring Instagram subscriptions.
When you join the Instagram Badges program, Instagram users can show their support when you’re live by buying badges in $0.99, $1.99 and $4.99 increments.
Such users will have hearts, or “badges,” next to their usernames when they comment on Lives, signaling their support for you.
Instagram is also experimenting with payouts for Reels.
Reels are Instagram’s answer to TikTok, and the Bonuses program for them is invite only while Instagram tests it out.
Instagram states participants can earn bonuses from Reels based on the performance of individual Reels, the number of Reels the participant produces or by fulfilling prompts, such as holiday-themed Reels.
If you’re eligible, you’ll find an invite on the dashboard of your Instagram Business account.
Instagram Subscriptions are Instagram’s answer to third-party subscription services like Patreon and OnlyFans.
The program enables you to create exclusive content for followers (subscribers) who pay you monthly subscription fees.
You can create exclusive Instagram Stories, posts, Reels, Lives, badges and group chats.
The program is only available to select influencers in the United States at the moment.
How much money can you make on Instagram?
HypeAuditor’s survey found that influencers earn $2,970/month on average.
Influencers with followings between 1,000 and 10,000 followers earn $1,420/month on average while influencers with over a million followers earn $15,356/month.
The survey revealed the most profitable categories to be Animals, Business & Marketing, Fitness & Sports, Family, Beauty, and Fashion in that order.
Because the majority of influencers earn most of their income from sponsored posts, let’s take a moment to review the survey’s data on sponsored Instagram posts before we continue.
HypeAuditor found that the majority of influencers (68%) work with one to three brands at a time.
They also found that most influencers make up to $100 per sponsored post at the least. Some make over $2,000 per post.
We’ll break these numbers down in the next section.
How many followers do you need to make money on Instagram?
This is a complicated question to answer, mostly because there isn’t a written rule that states “your Instagram account must have X amount of subscribers to make money on Instagram.”
Some programs have rules, such as Instagram’s Badges program, which requires influencers to have more than 10,000 followers.
When it comes to sponsored posts, affiliate links and selling products, the amount of money you make is tied to your niche, the number of engagements you’re able to generate as well as your ability to negotiate with potential sponsors.
Even so, let’s take a look at a few pieces of data that demonstrate how much money you’re able to earn based on follower count.
We’ll start with a smaller influencer. Business Insider published an article about YouTube and Instagram influencer Kayla Compton back in March of 2021.
Kayla had 3,400 YouTube subscribers and 1,900 Instagram followers at the time the article was published but was already generating money through YouTube ads, affiliate links and, most impressively, a sponsorship in which she became a brand ambassador for Pura Vida Bracelets.
The article states she generated $15,000 in sales for the company despite having a smaller following, and her deal came with a 10% commission rate.
Her secret? An eight-page media kit that briefly outlines her content, experience and demographics.
Here’s what’s on each page of that media kit:
- Page 1: Title Page – Features a casual image of Kayla, her brand name, which is just her full name, and relevant titles (she works as a full-time social media manager outside of her own ventures). She uses Content Creator, Social Media Manager, Small Business Owner and Podcaster.
- Page 2: Short Blurb – Two short paragraphs explaining her experience in social media, the type of content she creates and her mission as a content creator. This page also has her primary email address.
- Page 3: Social Media Platforms – A list of the platforms she’s active on. Each platform lists her handle/username, the number of subscribers/followers she has and a screenshot of her profile.
- Page 4-5: Profile Insights – The next two pages feature traffic and demographic insights for each platform. For Instagram, she lists her follower count, engagement rate, profile visits per month, and a breakdown of her demographics.
- Page 6: Sponsorships – A page dedicated to sponsorship deals she’s had in the past.
- Page 7: Other Projects – This page lists other projects she’s involved in, including her Etsy shop, website and podcast.
- Page 8: Send Off – A simple sendoff page with the text “Let’s collaborate!” It also lists her email address and Instagram handle again.
Kayla’s media kit says her engagement rate at the time was 5.6%, which is really good seeing as how the average engagement rate for influencer marketing is only 1.9%.
This one stat is likely a major contributor in her ability to get sponsorship deals with a smaller following.
Plus, because she showcases her biggest demographics, she can increase her odds of landing sponsorship deals by only targeting brands whose customer base matches those demographics.
Income potential by Instagram follower count
A separate study by HypeAuditor revealed that engagement rates are better among nano influencers.
Instagram accounts with 1,000 to 5,000 followers have an average engagement rate of 5.6%. Accounts with over 1 million followers have an average engagement rate of 1.97%.
HypeAuditor’s other survey revealed how much influencers make per sponsored post based on follower count.
71% of influencers with 1,000 to 10,000 followers only make up to $100 per sponsored post.
Some make more than that, but the numbers don’t really start to climb until you get to the 1 million follower-mark where the majority of influencers make over $1,000 per post.
That leaves us with the same question we started with: how many Instagram followers do you need to make money?
Frequently asked questions
How can I get paid by Instagram?
Instagram does have programs in which it pays influencers directly, such as bonuses for Reels.
However, most influencers get paid through sponsored posts and commissions generated through affiliate links.
When this happens, the brands you’re promoting pay you directly for mentioning them and featuring their products in your content.
Payouts typically occur through PayPal or direct payments to your bank account.
Few influencers get paid by Instagram directly.
Do you get paid for 1,000 followers on Instagram?
Instagram accounts with 1,000 followers make $1,420/month on average and up to $100 per sponsored post.
However, Instagram does not pay influencers directly, so you can begin making money whenever you land your first sponsorship deal or join an affiliate program, even if you don’t have 1,000 followers yet.
Does Instagram pay for likes?
Instagram’s limited creator programs do not include payments for likes.
However, higher engagement rates can open doors for bigger and better sponsorship deals.
The final verdict
Let’s recap everything we’ve covered in this post.
We know that:
- The majority of Instagram influencers generate income through sponsored posts and affiliate links.
- Nano influencers with high engagement rates can land successful sponsorship deals.
- How much you’re able to earn per sponsored post is based on the amount of followers you have.
So, to give a definitive answer to our original question, we’d have to say you can start earning money on Instagram when you have around 1,000 followers but not to expect it to replace your day job until you have well over 50,000.
The real answer is that whether or not you’re able to make money on Instagram is dependent on your niche, your engagement rates and how well you’re able to sell yourself to brands.
If you’re struggling to make money on Instagram, here’s a little checklist of things for you to work on:
- Getting more followers.
- Improving your engagement rates.
- Understanding who your audience is.
- Crafting a media kit, as Kayla has.
But don’t forget that the content that works on Instagram can also be cross-posted on other social networks such as TikTok. And now YouTube has shorts!
In that vein, you might want to check out our other posts in this series: