Looking at how insanely popular Instagram is today it’s hard to believe that it launched only 10 years ago and wasn’t monetized by its owners until 2015. And still many businesses, celebs, influencers, and regular bloggers manage to use it to their benefit and make money on Instagram.
Some say that the window of opportunity isn’t there anymore. That the platform had a huge potential at the start but now it’s extremely hard to monetize your IG account. But while this is not completely untrue, the platform still holds plenty of opportunities, no matter if you are a popular brand or a complete first-timer. Sure, it might take quite a lot of effort to make it really pay off. But the same can be said about other great things in life, right?
Instagram is still is one of the most popular and promising social platforms in terms of monetization. And you don’t have to just take my word for it. There is plenty of recent statistics to prove it. For example:
- The ad revenues on the platform have seen stable growth and are expected to continue growing.
- Instagram is the second (after its parent platform Facebook) most frequently used social network. What’s more, people spend 53 minutes daily on IG on average, which is almost as much as they spend on Facebook.
- The number of active IG users is expected to grow up to over 125 million by 2023.
- The overwhelming majority (over 90%) of Instagram users follow at least one brand account.
- Over 80% of all platform users learn about products and services on Instagram.
- Almost 90% of marketers admit that no other social platform proved to be as effective in terms of influencer marketing as Instagram.
These and other stats prove that IG remains as attractive as ever when it comes to effective methods of money-making online. So if you start now and use it right, you’ll build a dedicated following and monetize your Instagram presence without any major issues. How can you do that? Well, that’s exactly what I am going to talk about here.
Can you make money on Instagram?
In 2018 the number of Instagram users has reached 1 billion and it’s still growing. As does the interest in Instagram advertising:
So yes, you can absolutely make money on Instagram. It’s a huge market with a great deal of potential for marketers and anyone who wants to earn.
Of course, the most obvious strategy would be to build a substantial following and earn by posting sponsored content. However, this is not the only way to monetize your IG profile. The main thing and the first thing you’ll have to do is to choose the right niche.
There are multiple ways of monetizing your Instagram account. They can be roughly divided into two categories:
1. Promoting your own products and services.
This option is for you if you own a small business. Do you want to raise brand awareness? Maybe expanding your target audience is what you are after? Would you like to find more customers? Or do you want all of the above? Instagram works for all of these purposes and more.
There is a reason why you’ll be hard-pressed to find a brand that doesn’t have an IG profile. The prospective reach of IG promotion is over 800 million. And every third user makes purchases on the platform.
The effectiveness of your IG business account might depend on a few factors, such as:
- Number of subscribers;
- The relevance of your content for your TA;
- The quality of visual content;
- Use of paid methods of advertising and how effective it is.
2. Monetizing your online presence.
It’s quite possible to monetize your IG profile even if you don’t own a business and have no products or services to offer. There are a few different ways to do this:
- IG profile administration
While it might seem like everyone around is an influencer, more often than not Instagram users don’t always know how to promote their products, services, or personal brands. That’s why they prefer reaching out to people who know all the intricacies of the matter.
- Posting sponsored content in your profile
Links, mentions, posts, and more. If you’ve got a decent following and quality content, there’s plenty of opportunities to earn by posting sponsored content.
- Paid likes, comments, subscriptions
It’s worth noting that you can hardly earn much this way. Besides, the majority of IG users focus on organic engagement and authentic audiences. Nevertheless, the possibility is still there.
What are the requirements for making money on Instagram?
As the effectiveness of the advertising potential of the platform increases year by year, managing an active account often turns into a lucrative business. What’s more, it’s the kind of business anyone can start.
However, far from every profile on the platform lives long enough to become successful. Many beginners feel passionate about the idea of starting a potentially profitable IG blog at the start. Unfortunately, many of them quickly lose their motivation when they realize the amount of work it takes. To avoid this, you have to be aware of the main requirements every Instagram profile must meet. If monetization is what you really have in mind for it.
1. Take some time to study the basics of social media marketing (SMM). This knowledge will be of huge help in case you plan to monetize your profile. Luckily, there is no lack of information on this. Various online resources, books, and online/offline classes are at your service.
2. Do not buy fake followers, likes, and/or comments, however tempting this option might sound. Chances are you’ll find quite a few offers or recommendations to buy a certain amount of followers to boost your profile. However, this will do more harm than good. Firstly, an inactive audience that is nothing but a deadweight is pointless. The effectiveness of your account depends on your followers’ actions in a great measure!
Secondly, fake followers are extremely easy to see. Once a potential sponsor sees that you have a large number of those, they’ll decide to go elsewhere.
Thirdly, this option isn’t free. And in this case, you basically wash your money down the drain for all the good it does. Trust me, there are better ways to spend your hard-earned money.
3. Make sure that you produce high-quality content. It must be engaging, interesting, useful. It must be visually appealing. Sure, it’s not easy to create an Instagram profile that would appeal to many users. But if you feel you are capable of doing that and if you are ready to work, you might just succeed. Just choose the niche and the themes that you personally like.
4. Don’t expect your profile to bring crazy income right off the bat. More often than not, your hard work pays off with time. It wouldn’t be reasonable to expect it to be immediately profitable. Consider the fact that having a profitable IG profile is much like having a job. It requires a great deal of your personal involvement.
Again, Instagram is still growing and so does the competition within the platform. Making money here might not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done. But if organized and managed correctly, it will be able to generate significant income.
1. Choose your niche and stick to it. Let’s say you love traveling and your travel photography is what you want to focus on. Let’s also say a user notices one of your photos, likes it, and wants to check out your profile. If they see that your content is consistent with the niche you have chosen, they’ll follow and stay because that’s what caught their eye in the first place. A profile that is a hodgepodge of themes and topics plucked from thin air is a profile about nothing in particular. And as such, it’s interesting to no one.
2. Use hashtags. It seems like it’s an age-old question: how many hashtags should you use? Here’s the thing; if Instagram offers you to use up to thirty hashtags, use them all.
Just think about it. Each hashtag you put under your post is like a separate digital micro-market. For each market, there are users who look for a certain type of content. Wouldn’t you like to maximize the number of people who can see your photos? And in order to do so, wouldn’t it make sense to make your content visible for thirty markets at once?
3. Use your IG account in combination with other social media profiles. While staying within a single niche is the best idea, you still need to attract wider audiences. So use other social networks along with your Instagram profile. Content posted on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook will help you grow your following a great deal faster.
4. Think of an attractive grid layout. A grid layout is how your visual content is seen as a whole. It might seem like an insignificant thing, but in fact, it’s one of the most important aspects of the platform. Remember that Instagram is all about visuals. It’s great when each one of your photos looks stunning. It’s much better when all of them collectively look impressive.
1. Be consistent. Being an IG influencer is a job that requires consistency. You have to think hard of what your profile is going to be about long before you launch it. In some cases, it might be nice to be a jack of all trades, but Instagram isn’t it. Choose the topics you know a lot about, the ones you enjoy discussing.
Consistency also concerns the regularity of content publishing. Your posts should go live on certain days (if not every day) at certain times.
2. Create an activity community. By regularly posting authentic and high-quality content you form a community of followers who always excitedly wait for updates. They will read the new posts, they will give their feedback. This activity is what marketers look for first of all. So it would make sense to motivate discussions, ask your followers questions, suggest that they give their opinions.
3. Adapt to any changes. One of the most important requirements for making money on Instagram is being open to any changes and the ability to do some necessary course corrections. People’s interests change and so do the platform’s algorithms. You need to take this into consideration if you want to stay afloat.
1. Work on your strategy. Before you even launch your company’s IG profile, plan at least 10 first posts. Make a content plan and always stick to it. Offer your followers an original brand viewpoint.
2. Use filters and apps. Remember that visual content is and always will be the main instrument of your brand promotion on Instagram.
3. Add relatable “behind the scenes” content. Water down your image-building content with something more relatable. Work process, team photos, photos of informal events with your staff members.
4. Offer interactive content. Keep your audience engaged; this will create two-way communication with your followers right from the start. Ask them questions, ask them for ideas, think of nice little quizzes and contests.
5. Pay attention to new subscribers and interact with your followers personally. There can be a lot of useful contacts and influencers among them. Watch the comment sections under each of your posts. Always answer negative comments; reputation management is important.
6. Analyze the results. Learn more about the analytics instruments and determine which metrics are the most important for you. A thorough analysis will help you make conclusions and make corrections if necessary.
How to make money from Instagram
How to make money as an influencer
Instagram is probably the most popular social platform for those who want to monetize their online presence. The reason for this becomes obvious as soon as you learn more about it. IG offers a multitude of ways to influencers to make money. Here are the most common ones.
1. Sponsored content
Over recent years, brands have become increasingly interested in partnering with influencers to market their products and services. Interestingly enough, blatant, obvious advertising is out of favor. Authentic, organic, native recommendations are what audiences like most of all and what brands are looking for.
A typical sponsored post looks like a photo with a product, a mention of it in the description, or a story that includes a brand’s hashtag. If you plan to make money as an influencer you must understand what your audience likes and wants to see. So it would make a lot of sense to choose sponsors who will cater to their interests in the best way possible.
It’s worth noting that while there is a perception that this method is only good for macro-influencers with large followings, that’s not so. It’s true that famous brands often involve celebrities with multimillion followings in their global marketing campaigns. However, micro- and nano-influencers become increasingly more appealing to brands thanks to their active and highly engaged audiences.
So how do you find sponsors that will be interested in partnering with you? If you are a happy owner of a popular account, chances are they will find you. That, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t take initiative and contact brands directly. Besides, there are online marketplaces that help marketers find influencers and vice versa. ClickBank, ShareASale, and AWIN are just a few of them.
The main thing here is not to go overboard with sponsored content in your profile. When there’s too much advertising, you start losing your followers’ trust.
2. Affiliate programs
You can also sell products and/or services and earn a commission for that. There are many brands out there who would offer an appealing cut for influencers participating in their affiliate programs.
While this method might seem somewhat similar to the previous one, there is a significant difference. In this case, you don’t offer a recommendation to raise brand awareness. You deal with sales and you include a link or a promo code in your posts that help to track purchases.
That being said, blatant advertising still doesn’t work. The trick is to create original, creative, engaging content that would motivate users to buy a product or a service.
This method is perfect for influencers with larger followings. If you don’t have your own products to sell, why not earn by promoting a product produced by someone else?
Finding the right affiliate program isn’t a problem. You can find lots of them online. The easiest way would be to just do a Google search. You’ll find hundreds of affiliate offers from brands to choose from.
Another way is to use one of the marketplaces I mentioned earlier.
The important thing to remember is that you have to be mindful of the products you are selling. Choose the ones you genuinely like and only those of the highest quality.
3. Sell your visual content
Visual content is what this platform is all about. If you are good at photography, film-making, animation, drawing, or creating any other kind of visual product, you can monetize it.
The competition is severe; there is no lack of original visual content on the platform. However, there is always an opportunity to make something special. There are several ways of using IG to convert your creativity into money:
Use your profile as a portfolio showcasing your best works;
Open an Instagram Business Account, create an online shop, and sell your visual products right off the platform.
This method would be ideal for beginners, nano- and micro-influencers.
4. Sell your own experience
Are you an expert in one area or another? You can actually monetize your experience. And the more extensive it is, the more money you’ll get selling it.
For example, a beginner seamstress will hardly tell a lot to her audience that they don’t already know. But if you have years of experience behind your shoulders and think that you have lots of secrets and tricks to share, you can sell them.
The main trick here is to build a following and sell more of advice, recommendations, and information than actual services. That is to say, you are basically selling your own classes or becoming a coach for your followers. And it so happens that IG audiences love that.
This method is great for influencers with medium to larger followings.
5. Become a brand ambassador
If you have a relatively large following (100, 000 and more), you can consider becoming a brand ambassador. Brand ambassadors cooperate with companies to promote their products online. It might sound similar to a couple of other methods here. However, being a brand ambassador is more than just occasionally offering your recommendations on this product or another. By becoming a brand ambassador, you become the face and the voice of the brand you are promoting.
It’s worth noting that becoming a brand ambassador isn’t the easiest task. But it’s definitely far from being impossible. A popular Instagram account with a large following and active community has a great deal of potential in this regard.
It’s quite likely that brands will notice you if your account is popular enough. But if you didn’t quite get there yet, you can try and offer your services as a brand ambassador yourself. Here’s how you can start:
Make a list of products and services you enjoy using in your everyday life. You already know all advantages and flaws of these brands so you’ll be able to tell others about them;
Find out if any brands on your list have ambassador programs. If they do, apply for participation;
If there are no programs you could find, create your own commercial offer, and contact brand representatives directly (via social networks or email).
How to make money as a brand
If you already own your own business but haven’t used Instagram yet, you should rectify this omission as soon as possible. After all, this platform is much more than just an app for sharing photos. It can become quite an effective business instrument as well. A well-managed business account can send lots of potential customers your way. You can either trust SMM professionals to promote your account for you or do it yourself using both paid and free promotion methods.
1. Direct product/services sales
It’s no secret that a large share of commercial accounts on the platform are outlets, both online stores and offline stores profiles. The reason is simple: there is no better way to sell your product than with the help of visual content.
So what can you sell on Instagram?
All kinds of products, from food to home decor. You’ll find lots and lots of stores selling shoes and clothes, makeup and skincare products and all kinds of handmade things;
Services. While it’s true that you can find many online marketplaces that do just that – promote various services – Instagram becomes an increasingly useful tool for promoting your brand and keeping in touch with your customers.
In other words, you can sell pretty much anything that’s not illegal on the platform. The trick is to stay relatable and produce high-quality content. Share useful information with your followers, tell them about interesting cases and events. Offer them professional advice. IG offers a unique opportunity of communicating with your customers personally, so use it to your advantage.
It would always make sense to analyze responses and figure out what kind of content generates the highest level of engagement. And of course, you must have a clear understanding of what your target audience is.
By studying important metrics like demographic data you’ll make your content more effective and your sales go up.
2. Influencer marketing
Today, influencers are one of the most effective channels of communication between brands and their target audiences. Some of them are experts in their narrow niche and some seem to know a lot about everything. Some have huge numbers of followers and others have small but dedicated communities of subscribers. All of them can raise your brand awareness and increase your customers’ trust. The trick is to choose an influencer who is right for your marketing campaign and goals.
Here’s how you can choose the right influencer:
- Learn what their profile is all about. View at least ten latest posts, the more the better. Learn what they write about, what their audience response is like. You need to find a profile where your product’s recommendations will look organic;
- Check influencer profiles for any signs of fake subscribers or likes. The numbers don’t say much: everyone knows they can be bought. You need to see the true value an influencer profile has for your marketing campaign. Pay special attention to comments: they must look like they are written by real people and not bots;
- Always offer clear instructions. Write a detailed brief and make sure you let them know about all your expectations and preferences.
Methods of using influencer marketing for products/services promotion:
- Sponsored posts.
- Barter collaborations. You offer an influencer your product(s) for free and they try it and tell their audience about it. It’s like advertising but better because in this case, Instagrammers will offer their genuine opinion based on their real-life experience.
- Giveaways and contests. This is a great way to raise your potential customers’ interest.
How to make money without followers
While there are lots of effective methods of earning money from Instagram, there seems to be a small problem. All of these methods will require an active profile with at least 1,000 followers. And even though this number doesn’t seem all that huge it might take quite a while to build such a following organically.
But what if you want to start earning money now?
Paid subscriptions, likes, comments and other kinds of engagement
Thankfully, social media and the possibility of monetizing your presence on them gave birth to a whole new industry. There are hundreds of online services that help Instagrammers to promote their profiles. And even though inauthentic subscribers, likes, and comments are being frowned upon, IG account owners still buy these types of services. Especially when they are interested in the rapid growth of their accounts.
All you have to do is find one such service (or a few of them), like YoViral or SocialCaptain, for example. Account owners usually have to pay a commission for the use of the service but at the end of the day it turns out to be much better than hiring people by themselves.
All this being said, you should keep in mind that this is quite a low-paid opportunity.
How much can you make on Instagram
Anyone who seeks to monetize their presence on Instagram asks themselves a question of how much they can actually earn. Fortunately or not, there is no precise and simple answer to that question. There are just too many variables that can affect your income. Niche, method of monetization, content quality, number of subscribers, and engagement rate are just a few of them.
It’s believed that micro-influencers with 1, 000 to 10, 000 followers can earn from $50 to $100 per post. At the same time, Instagrammers with over 100, 000 followers can earn $500 per post and more. However, it’s important to understand that these numbers are very relative. A popular micro-influencer with a highly engaged audience can earn a great deal more. And a blogger with 100, 000 followers the majority of whom are inactive will hardly be offered much.
Within a short time, Instagram has become one of the most popular social networks with millions of active users all over the world. But it’s not just a fun platform for sharing photos and videos. It’s a great way to make money, whether you are a regular user of a business owner. Bloggers invest time and hard work to promote their accounts and monetize them by partnering with brands. Brands, on the other hand, invest money to increase sales with the help of bloggers and influencers.
There is something important to remember. There are no miracles and you won’t be able to earn anything unless you are prepared to work hard. Yes, it might take a while too – maybe a year or even more – to get your IG profile to the point where it becomes a money-maker. And still, the platform will always have a lot of potential for those who are ready to walk the walk.