Isn’t it mind-blowing to learn you can how to make money on Instagram?
When Instagram launched in 2010, it was only a photo and video-sharing social networking mobile app. You go there to escape the fluff on Facebook and just enjoy visual content.
By 2019, Instagram sees over a billion users on their platform each month.
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And when the demand is there, marketers, brands and companies willing to ride the wave will be there too.
So how do people as young as 13-year-olds make money on Instagram?
Let me explain the tried-and-tested income-generating methods for you, and give you real-life success stories for each one.
How to Make Money on Instagram: 7 Ideas to Try
Don’t believe anyone who says you can make money on Instagram WITHOUT any followers.
You’d need customers to buy what you’re selling – even if this means you’re selling an idea, information or an actual product.
The first three methods below can be used by Instagram users just starting out, while the last four money-making methods are best for influencer-level users.
1. Affiliate Marketing
In the traditional affiliate marketing, you’d need to set-up a website and promote products on multiple platforms in hopes of getting a commission if one or more people click on the link you posted and buy at the third-party website.
Probably one of the most popular affiliate marketing tools for Instagram comes from rewardStyle, a members-only affiliate network with only a 10% acceptance rate.
What makes rewardStyle amazing is the invention of its LIKEtoKNOW.it tool.
With the LIKEtoKNOW.it, followers of your Instagram account can just “like” your post and they’ll be e-mailed details of your outfit, products included in the shot your posted, and so on.
This is how LIKEtoKNOW.it works:
- You posted a photo on Instagram
- This photo featured a close-up shot of your makeup-perfect face with a pair of gorgeous earrings
- A follower likes your post
- If he/she also has LIKEtoKNOW.it installed on their phones when they liked your post, they’ll receive an e-mail with links directing them to where they can buy the earrings, or all makeup products used (as well as where to buy them).
- If this follower buys as a result, you get paid a commission from the sale.
Imagine how much money you can earn from Instagram if you have thousands of people stalking the things you wear via LIKEtoKNOW.it.
Dropshipping is similar to affiliate marketing.
You don’t necessarily have to manufacture your own products, but you can earn a nice change from each item you sell.
This is what happens with dropshipping:
- You make deals with a drop-ship supplier like AliExpress
- You promote a product on Instagram and direct it to your store (Note that if you use Instagram Business, you can integrate it with Shopify seamlessly)
- When an Instagram follower buys that product on your store, the drop-ship supplier will handle processing, shipping, post-sale customer service on your behalf.
- You earn either a pre-discussed flat fee, or percentage of the sale as commission.
A great example of this comes from Harajuku-style fashion Instagrammer Justin Wong of SoAestheticShop. His products come from various sellers, but Wong only orders them when an Instagram follower buys the item from his shop.
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Because of his successful dropshipping business model combined with candy-colored, eye-catchy product placement on Instagram, Wong makes $12,000 each month on Instagram.
3. Sell Photos
Instagram is full of fantastic photos from both beginner and professional photographers.
If you have the eye for photography or exceptional graphic design skill, you can sell your photos on Instagram.
It’s up to you if you want to sell rights, print them as posters, or just sell digital copies of your drawings, paintings, animations and so on.
Forbes featured photographer Daniel Arnold’s story in 2014.
At that time, Arnold had about 22k followers and decided to put all his Instagram photos for sale on the eve of his 34th birthday. He priced a 4×6 print of any of his Instagram images for $150, even if he hasn’t really sold any of his images professionally.
24 hours after announcing the sale, he has sold $15k worth of prints and extended the sale.
Learn all about hashtags. Mastering hashtags is the secret to reaching the right audience for your products.
Or you can also visit Instaprints to buy or sell images.
4. Teach Others Instagram Marketing
Many people make money on Instagram not by selling products, but by providing useful information.
Experience as an influencer is a must.
Your Instagram feed will be your resume as proof of marketing prowess and communication skills.
As a travel blogger like Veera Papinoja, a huge chunk of her Instagram income comes from consulting for companies and other organizations. She makes around 500 to 2,000 Euros each month if she is hired maintaining Instagram of other companies.
Veera also does training and lectures about successful Instagram marketing on the side. She takes home somewhere between 500 and 10,000 Euros a month from these side gigs.
5. Sponsorship: Earn Money Promoting other Brand’s Products
This is the most common way to get paid for Instagram posts.
Companies “sponsor” 1 or 2 posts on your Instagram feed to market their product to your followers. In most cases, companies give the Instagram influencer control over how the sponsored post looks, feels and sounds like.
The important thing is you disclose to your followers that a post is sponsored and follow FTC guidelines.
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Shelcy Joseph began her personal fashion/lifestyle blogging with her sister on Instagram and YouTube around August 2014. By 2017, she is earning between $75 and $100 per sponsored post.
6. Become a Brand Ambassador
Ambassadorship is a bit more long-term than sponsorship.
Depending on the company you talk to, this deal can go as long as several months to over a year.
The following three websites are all looking for influencers/ambassadors to help shape their future products:
- Toluna Influencers - Work directly with companies like Nike, Samsung, Amazon, and Disney to improve their product lines.
- Vindale Research - Answer questions about products, shape the future, get paid. Sign up and get a free cash bonus.
- SurveyJunkie - Get paid CASH to share your thoughts on some of the world's biggest brands.
I highly recommend signing up will all three to increase your chances of actually making money as an influencer.
As a brand ambassador, the company sees you as someone who is in line with their values, products, and future.
Coca-Cola’s #ThisOnesFor Instagram Campaign is a great example of this. The cola giant enlisted the help of 14 Instagram influencers to create over 20 posts in a span of several months.
Earnings as a brand ambassador can be per-post or per-campaign. It can be a mix of photos, videos and other types of media too.
Read my full-guide on how to become a brand ambassador for step-by-step instructions on how to get started.
7. Sell Your Own Products
You can mix the brick-and-mortar retail business with the modern magic of Instagram by selling your own products and promoting them online.
If you have thousands upon thousands of followers who just can’t get enough of what you’re selling, then you can get paid for Instagram posts through product sales.
There are a ton of “slime famous” Instagrammers out there, but you can’t look away from the creations of Theresa Nguyen (rad slime). Her 1 million followers definitely can’t.
Her mesmerizing slime videos lead to about $500 sales from slime each week. Time reports that the rad slime store earns Nguyen $3,000/month.
Nguyen started this only in 2017 (she was 13 then), and her online store continues to sold out every time she uploads new slime.
How to Become an Instagram Influencer
Out of all the social media platforms today, Instagram has the highest engagement rate.
It’s the reason why Influencer Marketing is now a 1-billion-dollar industry and is expected to rise into a ten-billion dollar industry by 2020.
Companies know this and have included Instagram into their marketing efforts.
And why shouldn’t they?
In a 2016 Linqia survey, 94% of brands found influencer marketing to be highly effective.
If you have at least 2,000 to 15,000 followers, fall under a trusted niche, create eye-catchy content, and have a loyal audience who trust your judgment, here are the steps to take to become a full-time Instagram influencer:
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 typically 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, and this is one of the best chances you have at seeing how to make money on Instagram.
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:
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.
How do you earn money on Instagram?
Have you been paid to gram yet? What ways are you making money?
Anyone can join, become an influencer, and make money on Instagram.
You don’t even have to follow the footsteps of the Kardashians when it comes to number of followers or look like a Victoria Secret model to get paid for Instagram posts.
In fact, in a 2016 survey from marketing company Collective Bias, brands and marketers prefer micro influencers (less than 10k followers; regular folk) instead of macro influencers (celebrities/famous people with over 10k followers).
The survey, which was answered by 14,000 respondents, discovered that people trusted promotions and recommendations of micro-influencers.
Even regular people like me and you can take Instagram for a spin and try your luck earning life-changing cash with the platform.
In the mean-time, make sure you check out my guide on brand ambassadorship.