As one of the fastest-growing social media platforms, Instagram has quickly gained over one billion active users.
Over the past few years, it's evolved from a simple photo-sharing app to a powerful marketing tool that influencers and businesses of all sizes are using to reach their target audiences.
According to Instagram Business, 60% of people use this platform to discover new products, 80% of them follow at least one brand, 200 million accounts check out a business profile each day, and 66% of profile visits are from non-followers.
Much like Google and Facebook, Instagram is a place where potential customers are every single day.
If you want to learn how to make money on Instagram, you need the right business model.
Where do you start?
In this article, we'll cover the top 11 strategies to start making money on Instagram this year.
Let's get started.
How to Make Money on Instagram.
In 2019, people can make big bucks on Instagram: The recent Hopper HQ report claims that Kylie Jenner is paid around $1.2 million for a single post on Instagram. Pretty amazing, huh? Obviously, if you're not one of the world's most well-known celebrities, your estimated earnings may vary depending on the following count, engagement, reputation, etc.
However, every person can still find an individual approach to Instagram monetization even though the competition is high. Here are the top nine ways to make money on Instagram:
1. Publish Sponsored Posts.
Influencer marketing is on its rise, according to Social Toaster: 92% of individuals trust word-of-mouth recommendations, 76% of people say that they're more likely to trust content shared by common people than brands, and 82% of customers want to get referrals from friends before making a purchasing decision.
Simply put, people seek out peers' recommendations, so it's no wonder more and more brands reach out to influencers to get shoutouts for their brands.
Since users crave transparency on Instagram, all influencers need to disclose sponsored posts, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for online advertising. And here's how a sponsored post may look like on Instagram:
Daphne Nur Oz is a popular TV host with over 387k followers, so it's no wonder that big brands like J.Crew reach out to her for a chance to enter an already-established community of engaged Instagrammers.
Want to know the best part? There's no need to have a solid following to start making money with sponsored posts. When choosing the right influencer, most brands pay close attention to the engagement rate, so even big brands like Dunkin' want to work with nano- and micro-influencers.
Since these influencers have in-person interactions with the majority of their subscribers, they deliver better results, which means you can get an offer even if you have less than 1,000 followers count on Instagram.
2. Become a Brand Ambassador.
Sponsored posts work well on Instagram, but most companies want to establish long-term relationships with influencers, so they seek out brand ambassadors who can promote a company in a positive light on a regular basis.
Since Instagram is the most preferred channel for influencer marketing, it's a perfect place for users to find brand ambassador programs and collaborate with companies to promote their products. Large brands also frequently send free products to influencers so they can review and promote them.
For example, Jay Alvarrez is a lifestyle blogger who posts photos and videos on his Instagram and YouTube channels. With a highly-engaged community of over 6 million loyal followers, brands are eager to build a long-term partnership with him.
Not only do brands invite Jay to become a brand ambassador, but they also offer him to create capsule collections and co-branded products. In 2018, he designed a travel and luggage bag line for the Norwegian company Douchebags.
Most brand ambassadors sign contracts with brands to promote their products. And to get better results, brands need to find an influencer who has a following that represents the target audience. For ambassadors, this means a great opportunity to make money as the standard salary for a brand ambassador is somewhere in the $40-50,000 range.
Micro-influencers in a specific niche are often more valuable to brands than major celebrities as they have a more engaged audience.
3. Promote Affiliate Links.
To make money with affiliate marketing, you need to join affiliate programs so that you can add affiliate links to your Instagram and make a commission on the sales you generate.
When done right, affiliate links can bring big money.
As you can see from this site's Blog Income Reports, I bring in over $70k/month, mostly from affiliate programs.
To do this, look at joining affiliate networks like Shareasale, Clickbank, Awin, and Impact. You can also join individual affiliate programs right from a company's website or by searching: “COMPANY + affiliate program.”
Since Instagram has a solid user base of engaged people, it's a perfect place to promote affiliate links.
No matter how many followers you have, you can insert a clickable link in your Instagram bio. For instance, a fashion blogger Sophie Shohet uses this feature to promote affiliate links:
Since Sophie has more than 10k followers, she can also create clickable Instagram Stories. And here's how she promotes affiliate links within her posts and on her profile:
Instagram followers pay close attention to Instagram posts, so using captions to tell about affiliate marketing links is a great way to grab the attention. However, all links in Instagram posts are non-clickable, so adding a URL isn't the best idea as readers have to copy the link manually from your text.
Thus, it's better to write a call to action, inviting your readers to click on the link in your bio. Anyway, it's important to disclose affiliate links as you get a commission on each sale, and using hashtags is a great way to do it.
4. Sell Physical and Digital Products.
Over the last few years, Instagram has turned into a powerful sales machine. Since people use this network to discover and buy products, Instagram rolls out business account features like in-app checkout, the shop button, product tags, and shoppable stickers to make the shopping process easier.
While big brands like Zara and Michael Kors use Instagram to increase ecommerce sales with platforms like Shopify, this platform is also a perfect place for common people who want to sell something and don't have their own ecommerce store.
You could also start a dropshipping business so you don't have to ship your own products or handle returns.
Another option is to learn how to sell on Amazon and promote your products on Instagram that way.
Either way, you need to add links to your content in your Instagram account. And one good place to add links is in your Instagram bio.
Just write a call to action and include a website link so that interested followers can learn more about your offer.
And if you have switched to an Instagram creator account, you can create shoppable posts to sell physical products in-app. Check out how Katie Sturino did it:
From cheap cosmetics and second-hand clothes to luxurious apartments and expensive cars, people buy all kinds of products on Instagram.
No matter what you sell, your potential customer is probably there. However, it's important to find your niche and look at the competition by searching for hashtags and keywords you want to target.
5. Create Visual Content for Sale.
It's no secret that Instagram is a visual platform: People upload 100 million+ of photos & videos daily. However, it's not enough for brands to upload overly polished professional photos of their product to stand out from the crowd.
Modern customers crave authenticity, so they pay close attention to user-generated content.
In fact, most consumers believe that UGC is 35% more memorable than other media, so businesses of all sizes want to publish content created by their customers. Simply put, it's your opportunity to sell photos and videos you create.
When it comes to the travel industry, companies of all sizes invite real travelers to take photos showcasing their experiences while staying at brand properties in exchange for free accommodation and payment.
Here's an example:
And here's how the company uses the same photo on their Instagram profile:
Publishing user-generated content in the travel industry gives great results.
For example, a small town in New Zealand, Wanaka, achieved a 14% increase in tourism after working with Instagram influencers who shared the images of the city on their profiles.
However, I don't recommend this approach unless you have a huge following. There's nothing more annoying to hotel owners than a fake influencer asking for a free stay.
6. Provide Social Media Marketing Services.
It's no secret that Instagram has strong sales potential, so more and more brands want to use this platform to promote products, reach out to the target audience, and increase sales. According to Business Instagram, over 25 million businesses and 2 million advertisers are on the platform.
The competition is growing, so brands need professional assistance if they want to cut through the noise. In other words, social media marketing services are in great demand.
Case in point:
Jenn Herman is an Instagram expert who has proved her niche expertise - she writes for Social Media Examiner and she has worked with big brands. Today, Jenn Herman offers a great variety of services, including social media strategies, consultations, and training. Guess what? Jenn uses Instagram to promote her social media marketing services:
In 2019, brands crave various social media marketing services - from training and guidance to monthly support. This means social media experts have many opportunities to find freelance gigs and make the most out of their knowledge on Instagram.
7. Write Captions for Businesses.
The days when only big brands could afford Instagram marketing are far behind us. Today, brands of all sizes want to use this platform to promote their products and services, and 92% of small businesses plan to invest more time and effort in social media marketing.
While big brands have a great in-house content creation staff, small business owners often seek out freelance talent to reduce social media marketing costs. Thus, they often want to find creative specialists who write captions for their businesses at a low cost.
Take a look at the most popular online workplaces like Freelancer and Upwork, and you'll find hundreds of offers like the one below:
To get a full-time job offer, you need to prove that your application stands out from the crowd, and the best way to do it is to show your social media marketing writing portfolio. Plus, you need to run your Instagram page creatively so that interested employers can see examples of captions you write. The more creative and engaging your captions are, the more potential clients you can hook.
8. Make Instagram Stories Masks and Filters.
Back in 2016, when Instagram copied Snapchat's short-lived content and launched Instagram Stories, no one could have predicted the booming popularity of this content format.
Today, over 500 million people watch or create Instagram Stories daily. Since this type of content is available for a limited period of time, people are highly engaged, and it gives brands more opportunities to hook their target audience.
What is more, companies create Instagram Stories masks and filters to prove their niche expertise and promote their products. While some companies have in-house designers who create filters for their brand, other brands want to collaborate with talents who specialize in Instagram masks and filters.
And if you're interested in creativity, you can build an income stream on Instagram as the Spark AR Studio allows all users to create AR filters for Instagram Stories. For example, Brend Cardenas uses her Instagram to promote Instagram filters she creates:
With the growing popularity of Instagram Stories, there's no doubt that ephemeral content is the future of social media. Thus, making Instagram masks and filters is a great way to showcase your creativity and earn money on the platform.
9. Find Freelance Clients.
Instagram is not just about posting cute photos of your puppy. Since we've hit the 1 billion active Instagram users milestone, it has become a wonderful platform for networking, especially for people in the creative fields. Today, more and more professionals use this platform as an online portfolio.
No matter what you do for a living, whether you're a filmmaker, ghostwriter, or public speaker, you can utilize Instagram to find clients.
Case in point:
Jing Wei is an illustrator who has worked with Etsy, Panda Express, New York Times, etc. With over 20k followers, Jing uses her Instagram profile to share her latest works. In collaboration with Shake Shack, Jing Wei created the mural and she posted the result of her work on her profile:
When people dedicate their Instagram accounts to work stuff as Jing Wei does, it's easy to understand that they can be interested in finding new clients. Moreover, you can always use your Instagram bio to tell your visitors that you're open to finding gig jobs. Here's a good example:
Furthermore, you can stay proactive and offer your services - just find an Instagram account that must be interested in working with you and slide in their DMs.
For example, Al Falk is a web designer who uses this technique to find freelance clients, and it gives results.
All in all, the key to success is to stay credible in your niche, so it's important to showcase your work on Instagram and tell your visitors that you're open to new freelance opportunities.
How Much Money Can You Make on Instagram?
Celebrities can earn a lot of money by posting on Instagram. In fact, the highest paid social media influencers get anywhere from $8,400 to $1.2 million per post. Obviously, your income depends on your reputation, your number of followings, and your ability to grow your Instagram over time.
To calculate your estimated earnings from your online presence and social accounts, it's important to calculate your engagement rate. Why? Engagement shows that your audience is active, so it's no wonder that influencer prices and costs depend heavily on this metric.
Views and clicks don't mean anything unless users take action.
The formula is pretty simple: Combine the number of likes and comments per one post and divide it by the number of followers, then multiply by 100:
No matter what your engagement rate is, there is always room for improvement. The main idea is to find your niche and promote your services so that your income can also grow.
How to Make Money on Instagram FAQ
Can I sell products on Instagram?
Yes, you can sell products on Instagram with Shoppable Posts. However, it's best to use an ecommerce platform in unison with Instagram to increase your sales channels. Here are the steps to get started:
1. Create an Instagram account and convert it to a business profile.
2. Make sure that you have a Facebook Page with an active product catalog.
3. Ensure that you are selling physical products, as services aren't allowed.
4. Once eligible, you can add product tags to your individual posts. To do this, select a photo you want to tag, tap on the product in the photo, enter your product name from your catalog, and click done.
Can I make money with 1,000 Instagram followers?
You probably won't make a lot of money with 1,000 followers, but it's still possible. Brands typically pay anywhere from $10 per 1,000 followers to $500 for every 1,000 followers depending on your niche and engagement.
If you have around 1,000 followers and want to make money, you should look into coupling your Instagram with other marketing channels.
For example, you could learn how to start a blog and link to your digital products or affiliate marketing articles from Instagram. Additionally, you could sell products on your own website with an ecommerce platform. While you won't make much money with 1,000 followers, omnichannel marketing strategies can boost your income from other channels.
How many followers do you need to make money on Instagram?
The amount of followers you need to make money on Instagram varies depending on your industry. While you can make money with 1,000 followers or 1 million followers, make sure to focus on engagement.
Micro-influencers with a highly-engaged audience can be more valuable to brands than huge celebrities with millions of followers. Remember, brands don't just want impressions and views, they want users to take actions - leads, email sign-ups, and sales.
How do I get Instagram followers fast?
In order to quickly grow your Instagram and build up your follower count, there are many different strategies. Here are some of the top ones to try:
1. Plan an Instagram strategy based on your target audience.
2. Create a well-planned bio and profile.
3. Have consistent branding and color schemes.
4. Start sharing high-quality content and promote via other social channels.
5. Use a hashtag tool to find relevant hashtags and add up to 30 to each post.
6. Schedule and post on a consistent basis.
7. Run contests, giveaways, sweepstakes, and provide promo codes to entice users to follow you.
8. Use influencer marketing tools to connect with other influencers in your niche and work to get featured on their accounts.
9. Use Instagram advertising to pay for more followers.
10. Join Instagram communities in your niche and be an active member of the community.
How many Instagram followers is considered average?
While the number of followers vary widely by account, the average number of followers is considered to be around 150. There are many profiles with 100 followers or less all the way up to millions of followers.
If you are an individual with a personal account or a small business, you may have a lower follower count. The key is to maintain an engaged and active audience rather than focusing on vanity metrics.
How do you get sponsored on Instagram?
Getting sponsored on Instagram requires a lot of work and a consistent approach to growing your follower count. Most of the time, you'll have to pitch for paid sponsorships rather than brands coming to you. Here are some tips to get sponsored:
1. Define your brand and deeply know your audience.
2. Post consistently with hashtags and geotags.
3. Tag brands in your posts that are in your niche.
4. Include contact information and links in your bio.
5. Start reaching out and pitching paid sponsorships.
The Bottom Line.
Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms with the highest engagement, so it's easy to make money on the platform if you use it the right way. From sponsored posts to social media marketing services, there are many creative ways for anyone to make money on Instagram.
Ultimately, putting time and effort into Instagram is a great investment that builds over time. And it's never too late to jump on the bandwagon and start to monetize your Instagram account.
Check out my reviews of the best social media management software to accelerate your growth this year.
Guest Post: By Hugh Beaulac, Content Manager behind MC2 blog.