If you spend a good chunk of your day working on the content of your Instagram account, don’t you think it’s about time that you get paid?
That’s exactly what other IG influencers thought before they made an effort to cash in on their Instagram posts. According to CNBC, someone with 5,000 Instagram followers and 308 sponsored posts a year can make $100,000.
How much money you make will depend on other factors, sure. But the point is – you can make money on Instagram.
And what’s great about being an Instagram influencer is that there’s no barrier to entry. Just about anyone can create an Instagram account and work their way into building a sustainable business from it. You just have to know the most efficient way to get there.
So let’s talk about how to make money on Instagram so you could have a slice of this lucrative platform.
How many Instagram followers do you need?
First, let’s answer one of the most frequently asked questions about the business. How many followers do you need to make money on Instagram?
As it turns out, you don’t really need that many.
You can start making money even if you don’t have thousands of followers. What’s more appealing to advertisers is that your followers are active Instagram users and that they belong in the same niche or category.
Think about it:
What’s the point in advertising to thousands of users if only a handful are interested in what you’re selling? However, an Instagram account with only hundreds of Instagram users can make money if the majority of its followers fall under a specific niche like beauty, fashion, food, cars, or gardening.
This is not to say that having thousands of followers doesn’t help. Of course, it does. But it’s not the only metric you should be looking at.
And so many Instagram influencers have made money with less. So having fewer followers shouldn’t discourage you.
How to make money on Instagram: What you should know
There are plenty of ways to make money on Instagram. While there are some tactics here that you probably already know about, others aren’t as common. So it’s worth going through the whole list just so you know that you’ve explored all your options.
Also, it’s worth noting that you’ll need to have an Instagram business account for most of these to work.
Note: It is worth mentioning that earning money on Instagram gets easier if you have the right tools to help you. For example, you’ll need something to help you schedule posts in advance and research post ideas. The most affordable we’ve found is Pallyy. Click here to try it for free.
Here are the top ways you can make money on Instagram and what they’re all about.
1. Sponsored Instagram post
Sponsored posts are the most obvious way to make money on Instagram. And this has a lot to do with how good you are as an influencer.
To have a shot at being sponsored, you’ll need to know how to engage your followers. Both you and your followers need to be active. It would also help if you can get users to jump from other social media platforms.
But what does post sponsorship mean exactly?
How sponsored posts work
One simple way of looking at it is being a brand ambassador or endorser. This has huge implications. If the company you work with gets into any trouble, your name can get dragged along with it. That’s why it’s important to pick the right business partners.
Ideally, you’d want to endorse a product that you believe in — something that you use in real life.
For example, the Jenny Cho Hair account posted an ad about Bondi Boost. In the post, Jenny states just how excited she is about using the product. There’s a good chance that her 92,000 followers all care about what this hairstylist has to say about hair care. That’s why brands are willing to work with her.
When you do find a reputable company, you could cultivate that relationship so you get sponsored more frequently. It’s a win-win for both parties. You, the endorser, are paid to hype up a product or service without having to deal with the business end of it. The company gets to reach a broader audience through an influencer with a built-in audience.
How can you get sponsored posts?
If you have enough clout in your niche or have a huge following, sponsors will find you. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit around and wait. This business model allows influencers to be proactive. You can look for sponsored post opportunities.
You can look for businesses that you think would benefit from working with you. It doesn’t have to be big brands. Smaller companies are also looking to sponsor Instagram influencers as well. You’d have to prepare a compelling pitch though to prove that you are someone worth investing in.
But if you’re having a hard time finding sponsors, you can join an influencer marketing platform. These companies already work with brands for sponsorship deals. If your Instagram account matches a company, they’ll partner you up to do sponsored posts.
Note: In most markets, you’re required to disclose when you’re posting an ad. And you have to do it in a way that it’s immediately clear to your followers (no hiding ads below the fold).
2. Affiliate marketing
Maybe you’re a better salesperson than you are an influencer. Is there a way for you to make money on Instagram?
Yes, there is. You can start making money as an affiliate marketer.
This is simpler than being a brand ambassador. And in most cases, you can be an affiliate even if you don’t have that many followers. Even better, affiliate marketing works on different social media accounts and not just on Instagram.
What is affiliate marketing?
As an affiliate marketer, you make money through commissions. To make it work, you’ll have to add a special, clickable link that’s provided by your business partner into your post or Instagram Stories. When your Instagram audience clicks on it, they’ll be redirected to an online store or landing page.
Once they’re on the online store, every action they make is tracked by the business. If an IG follower of yours buys a product, the business will be able to tell that they came from your Instagram account. That’s when you get a commission.
In the example above, the post clearly states that if you’re interested in buying the promoted products, you’ll need to do so using the link in the Instagram bio. This is because the influencer gets a commission from the sales generated. The more people buy, the more money the influencer gets.
Every affiliate setup is different. You’ll have to look into the terms and conditions set by businesses to see how much you could make as well as their requirements.
Note: Interested in learning more about the basics of affiliate marketing? Check out our beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing.
Where do you find affiliate opportunities?
Just look for a big online store and there’s a chance that they have an affiliate program available. For example, Airbnb has an affiliate program that you could sign up for. You can refer guests and hosts to the platform using Instagram.
Amazon Associates is another way for users to earn commissions.
For more, check out our roundup of the best affiliate marketing networks.
One big advantage of affiliate networks is that you don’t have to worry about inventory and shipping. It’s like having your own ecommerce store minus all the hassle of having to run one.
How to do affiliate marketing on Instagram
Instagram is due to start testing its own affiliate tool during the latter half of 2021.
Here’s an example of our bio link page:
We use ours to drive traffic to specific content. You could easily use yours to drive traffic directly to affiliate offers or to reviews/tutorials that include your affiliate links.
Alternatively, you could use an all-in-one Instagram marketing tool like Pallyy which includes a bio link tool, scheduling, analytics, and more. Click here to try it for free.
3. Launch your own online store
If affiliate marketing or influencer posts aren’t that appealing to you, then why not set up your own store instead? This way, you’re making money selling your own products. Other perks like getting all the sales generated and complete control over how you market your products.
Setting up an ecommerce store isn’t as hard as it once was. Some third-party apps and services can help you set up your own site even if you have no experience with coding.
Alternatively, you can find companies that print products on demand so you don’t have to worry about inventory. They can print shirts, mugs, calendars, and other products. All you need to provide is the design.
PepperMayo is a popular online store that offers worldwide shipping. It uses Instagram to promote its products.
When you click on the link in the Instagram bio, you’ll be redirected to the company’s online store. Here, users can browse through all of the available selections. Promoting through IG is a great way to spark interest among followers.
What kind of products should you sell?
You should definitely align your product with your niche. If every Instagram Story you post has to do with beauty and wellness, then you’d want to sell products that complement that lifestyle.
If you’re respected in your community and have a strong online presence, selling online courses is a good way to make more money on the side. For example, influencers with good photography skills can teach students how they can create engaging posts for their own respective Instagram page.
Do keep in mind that selling physical products can be difficult which is why some influencers stick to digital merchandise.
Add a link to your online store in your Instagram bio and use relevant hashtags to attract your target audience.
4. Sell your photos
Have you thought about selling your photos? If photography is what makes people like you, then you should definitely lean into it.
Whether it be stock images or artwork, most brands pay for Instagram content. Some are willing to license photos to use on their own accounts. You also have the option of selling your prints to your followers. Offering them in multiple sizes gives your fans more choices.
You can even be creative with how you sell your images. Not only can you print them in shirts, but you can also have them printed on mouse pads, coasters, and similar products.
Where do you sell photos?
Just remember to familiarize yourself with the guidelines so that you know when your images are being misused.
5. Offer Instagram management services
Are you particularly good at Instagram? Great! Why don’t you use your talent and skills to help other users grow their Instagram following?
Instagram marketing is a growing business. You’ll find people who’d like to get bigger on the platform for personal or professional reasons but don’t have the time to be as hands-on as they’d like.
What kind of services can you offer?
You can be in charge of content creation or answer comments. Your client can also ask you to create and edit photos. There are also people that can create engaging copy for all social media accounts including Instagram. And if you really know your stuff, you can even create an entire Instagram strategy.
It all depends on what the client needs.
If you’d like to research jobs related to Instagram, you can check out Fiverr or other freelancing job sites.
6. Get Patreon
For the unfamiliar, Patreon is a website that allows your fans to donate money through memberships. In return, creators reward their members with perks like early access, discounts, one-on-one chats, and exclusive content.
What you give your members is entirely up to you.
It’s a fantastic way to generate recurring income. Plus, it keeps you in touch with your Instagram community.
Is Patreon free?
Yes and no. It’s free in the sense that you don’t have to pay money upfront. You can open an account and use it straight away. But Patreon does get a cut from your earnings. How much will depend on what plan you selected.
Lite plan subscribers pay 5% of their monthly income. Pro subscribers pay 8% of their income while Premium subscribers pay 12%. There are also payment processing fees.
7. Instagram coaching
Instagram coaching is similar to Instagram Management Services. The big difference is that coaching is less hands-on. You’re there to offer tips and tricks to other influencers and small businesses who need help with their social media marketing strategy.
As an influencer, you already know how to grow a personal brand. So why not share your knowledge with others and start earning money in the process?
Coaching can come in the form of one-on-one sessions that’s supplemented by an online course, e-books, or other resources. Teach your students how to grow an Instagram audience.
This is much easier than managing someone else’s profile entirely. So for some people, this might be the better option between the two.
If you think Instagram coaching doesn’t exist, think again. There are people who already do this to make money. Lychee Style and Kamelia Britton are just two examples. And if you’re really good at publishing amazing Instagram content, there’s no reason to think why you can’t be a coach as well.
How to market your coaching services
It’s all about what you can offer people. Start by identifying the problem. Who are you trying to target? What do these people have in common? What are their pain points?
Try to relate to them. Explain where you started and what you did to get to where you are today.
Also, explain to them the benefits of Instagram coaching. What do they get out of it? How long will it take? Paint them a picture.
More importantly, let people know what specific steps you’re going to take to help people improve their Instagram game. Will you do one-on-one sessions? Can people ask you all the social media questions that they want? Will they have your undivided attention? Will you give away free stuff?
And if your student doesn’t know where to begin, you can always provide a list of possible topics to discuss in your first session. This should get the ball rolling.
8. IGTV ads
You can also make money on Instagram by turning on IGTV ads. When enabled, businesses can promote themselves as your videos play. If you have a YouTube channel, you’re probably not new to inserting ad breaks in the middle of your video. IGTV ads fundamentally work the same way.
What’s interesting about this is that you get paid based on the number of plays that your video gets. You can get up to 55% of the ad revenue generated per view which you’ll get every month.
You can monitor your earnings and ad activity under Insights.
However, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old and have a creator or business account. You also need to comply with Instagram’s Partner Monetization Policies and Community Guidelines.
Unfortunately, IGTV Ads is only available in select regions (US, UK, and Australia) at this time though Instagram is working on expanding the list.
Other IGTV ad requirements
Assuming that you do qualify for IGTV Ads, what other requirements do you need to meet before making money on Instagram?
First, the content must be yours. You cannot post content from other creators. And if there’s music in your video, you must own the right to it. Instagram suggests that the video be between two to four minutes.
You’ll also need to turn on feed previews. This makes sense since people won’t see the ads if this configuration isn’t on. Another thing to note is that all of your content should be advertiser-friendly.
Videos should be at least two minutes or longer. And you can’t cheat the system — meaning polls, looped videos, static images, and the like do not qualify.
Finally, you shouldn’t incentivize people to click on a link in the video. That’s engagement baiting and Instagram doesn’t like that.
9. Instagram Badges
Instagram Badges are a way for your community to support you when you go live on the platform.
Your IG followers will purchase badges when they find your content engaging. You’ll know which followers bought badges because heart icons will appear beside their names.
You as the influencer will earn money whenever you get a badge. You can view how much you earned even when you’re streaming live. And after it ends, you can see your total earnings under Badge Settings.
Users can buy multiple badges as they watch your video. So the potential earnings are huge. All you need to do is interact with your audience as you normally do. Give them a reason to give you badges.
Note: For a single video, the amount of badges that you can earn from a fan is capped at $250.
Unlike IGTV Ads, Badges are available in more countries. Right now, anyone in the US, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Japan, and Germany can turn Badges on.
You still have to be at least 18 years old, have a creator or business account, and comply with the Partner Monetization Policies and Community Guidelines. You can set up direct deposit through a bank or PayPal. You’ll also need your SSN or EIN.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that we get about how to make money on Instagram.
Do Instagram users get paid?
Instagram users can get paid. An influencer can make money in different ways — typically through sponsorships and affiliate marketing. How much they earn will depend on different factors. So earnings are not the same across the board.
How many followers do you need to make money on Instagram?
The more followers you have, the better. Though it’s worth pointing out that you can make money on Instagram even if you don’t have a lot of followers. All it takes is to have the right Instagram strategy.
How do you start making money on Instagram?
You always start by figuring out your numbers and understanding your audience. If you’re doing sponsored posts, you’ll need to show advertisers your numbers and convince them that you have enough active followers for their investment to make sense.
Is it hard to make money on Instagram?
The answer depends on your strategy and attitude. It will take time and patience. Theoretically, it’s not really that difficult. But there are a lot of factors at play so it can be hit or miss.
Wrapping it up
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to make money on Instagram. And it’s no wonder that both influencers and businesses have flocked to this platform in recent years.
Especially when you consider that more than 1.4 billion people use the platform.
And the good news is that a lot of these methods don’t require a huge Instagram following.
For example, you can easily offer Instagram management services regardless of the number of followers you have.
How will you profit from Instagram?
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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we may make a small commission if you make a purchase.