Are you a regular on Instagram? Do you have lots of followers who like and comment on your photos? Then you could work with major brands and companies making money as an Instagram influencer.

Since its inception in 2010, Instagram has grown rapidly to encompass over 400 million users, with over 80 million photos uploaded on a daily basis. Celebrities including Kevin Spacey, Salma Hayek, and Leonardo DiCaprio have also made Instagram their home. Instagram’s easy photo posting (often using the social platform’s mobile app) combined with its short, Twitter-like commentary has made this medium a favorite for many subscribers.

As a result, many companies have looked to Instagram for their influencer marketing needs. Influencers work with such companies by posting sponsored photos and posts, creating events, and engaging in brand promotions. Influencers are compensated for their efforts with money, products and even trips to faraway locations.

So, how do you cash in on the opportunity to make money (and more) as an Instagram influencer?

1. Grow (the quality of) your Instagram following.

Companies have gotten pickier about the caliber of Instagram influencers they’re willing to work with. It’s not unheard of for current brand requirements to include a minimum of 100K followers and/or 1K likes per post.

Before you get discouraged, consider that many brands are also looking for a certain type of audience, regardless of its actual number. For example, if you have only 1,000 followers, but they are top-level hospital health professionals, then a company like Johnson & Johnson might be very interested in talking with you.

In light of this information, you should consider cultivating your audience to reflect a specific interest, such as beauty, travel, health, etc. Post photos that cater to just one or two subject areas and follow influencers who do likewise. If you repost, like or comment on their photos, those influencers are likely going to do the same for you.

Don’t just focus on growing your followers, however. Take some altruistic measures and repost photos for charities and causes that other influencers are passionate about. There’s no guarantee, but those influencers might just turn around and repay the favor.

2. Create example campaigns.

Just as you would do an unpaid internship at a company you were hoping to get hired for, you could create example campaigns on Instagram to showcase your social media talents.

Consider generating a series of photos around a something that interests you, such as healthy eating. Then, follow businesses that are also focused on this topic. You can learn which businesses are into healthy eating by doing a hashtag (and username) search using Instagram’s search bar. Instagram will then provide you with content that uses that hashtag.

As you post your photos, use the hashtags that your targeted businesses and audiences are using.

3. Complete your profile.

Businesses and companies can’t contact you if they don’t know who you are. Be sure to complete your Instagram profile and add your name, a phone number, a web address, Facebook page URL, etc. You may wish to add some information about your geographic location too, especially if you are generating content about travel.

Use your Instagram profile as a mini-resume and list your experience in the topic of your interest. Maybe you’ve been in the food business for a few years and that’s why you started a healthy eating area on Instagram. Or maybe you’ve been running marathons and are trying to incorporate better eating habits into your active lifestyle.

4. Reach out to marketing agencies.

To increase your chances of being selected as an influencer, you should sign up with as many social media marketing agencies as you can find. A good selection of these agencies focus on Instagram; two examples include Instabrand and Hashmeta.



Why should you partner up with marketing agencies? Because some companies, especially big companies, will not bother to manually research, contact and negotiate with individual influencers. They either don’t have the time or would rather expedite the process using third party mediators who can choose appropriate influencers.

Having said that…

5. Reach out to individual companies and businesses.

Smaller companies and businesses do not have the budget to work with agencies. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have the budget to work with individuals, however. Consider reaching out to smaller operations with a proposal package that includes a set number of Instagram promoted posts, blog posts, and comments on fellow influencer sites. You might easily score a work contract for several hundred dollars compared with triple that amount for a standard agency’s deal- as noted by this business owner’s comment on Ecommerce University:

Ecommerce University ‎

6. Keep track of your followers.

As you grow your audience and followers, keep tabs on who these followers represent. Companies will first follow you to learn about how popular you are and how relevant your content is to their goals. Only after learning these facts will those businesses reach out to you. So, if you know ahead of time who they are, you can channel your energies on specific products trends, etc. that they are also focused on.

The Bottom Line

There’s no guarantee that you’ll score an influencer contract with a company or business simply by being on Instagram. However, you can improve your odds by creating a focused approach on a topic that you are already passionate about, contacting companies and businesses, and joining Instagram-focused marketing agencies.

You can expect to make a few hundred to possibly a few thousand bucks for your efforts, which will also depend on the size/caliber of your audience and the size/reach of your client business.

If all else fails, you’ll end up having an engaged audience of Instagram followers that can one day even help you with your own campaigns and product launches.

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