How to Make Money on Instagram
With over one billion active users each month, making money on Instagram has never been easier. Every single day, 500 million users– that’s double the US population–are active on Instagram, and every single year, those same active users increase the amount of time they spend on Instagram by 80%.
Those are some big numbers.
But if big numbers alone aren’t enough to convince you that Instagram offers a huge and growing opportunity to get paid, consider that 59% of Instagram users are under the age of 30. That means that as those users age, they will continue to use Instagram for many years to come.
The potential to earn on social media is there. Before you can start earning on Instagram, though, there are a few best practices that apply to all of the most common strategies for profiting on the platform.
Getting Started: Instagram Basics
Regardless of the strategy, you plan to use to make money on Instagram, mastering Instagram for Business is essential. Instagram for Business will allow you to gather insight into post content, audience demographics, and reach. All of those things can help shape the timing, frequency, and content of your posts.
In other words, Instagram for Business can help shape your content strategy on the platform.
Once you’ve found your way around the backend of your Instagram for Business account, it’s essential to follow a few best practices when posting.
Hashtag strategy is an essential aspect of discoverability on Instagram, but it’s important not to overdo it. SproutSocial recommends limiting hashtags to 5-10 per post.
Limit your hashtags, you not only ensure that your content is showing up in only the most relevant and targeted searches.
Also, make sure that the Instagram algorithm doesn’t see your account as a spammer and cut back on how frequently it serves your followers your posts.
Caption length also matters. According to SproutSocial, the ideal post caption length is between 138 to 150 characters, and your ad captions should be even shorter, clocking in at no more than 125 characters.
1. How to Grow Your Instagram Audience
To grow your Instagram audience, you’ll need to post once or twice a day to both spike and maintain interest from your followers. Make sure you post consistently and leverage all the tools available to you like geotags, hashtags, Instagram Stories, and videos to keep your followers engaged.
It can also be super useful to follow hashtags related to your account.
Set notification alert from an ‘authority account’ in your niche, when such an account publishes a post, make sure your comment is one of the first.
This not only allows you to be more active and engaged in your social space, but it also exposes your account to Instagram users who might also be interested in your content and helps you gain followers.
It’s also worthwhile to reach out to influencers and similar accounts in your space to do collaborations and sponsored posts. Any chance you get to expose your account to a broader audience, and hopefully, a more general audience within your target demographic, jump on it!
Run photo contests and promotions
Establish the contest rules and guidelines, and publish a contest-specific hashtag for your followers to use. Offer a prize, and your followers will be posting and tagging your account in a heartbeat! Just be sure to follow Instagram’s contest guidelines.
Finally, make sure that your posts, both their captions and their photos, have a consistent voice and style. Doing this will help both users and the Instagram algorithm to identify what your account is all about. And once the Instagram algorithm understands what your content is, the algorithm identifies new users who might be interested in your account and suggests that they follow you. What’s not to love about that?
Stay within your nitch; consistent posts might involve focusing on similar content.
For example, an account that posts regular pictures of healthy food will be more successful than an Instagram account that posts about food, dogs, marriage, and blockbuster movies.
Posting consistency might also involve using the same filters on your photos. For example, some of the most popular filters for fashion related posts are Valencia, Brooklyn, and Nashville. Conversely, some of the most popular filters for food-related jobs are Helena, Normal, and Skyline. Staying consistent will help guide your content, but more importantly, it will help users to discover and engage with your content.
Instagram Earning Strategies
Whether or not you can make money on Instagram is not the question–with that kind of reach and audience, there is money to be made. Instead, the question is how.
The answers to that question are limitless. The only real limit to your earning potential on Instagram is your creativity, but there’s no sense in re-inventing the wheel. In general, there are five strategies people use to make money on Instagram.
One potential way you could earn on Instagram is by becoming an influencer and getting paid for sponsored posts. Top influencer marketing experts earn thousands of dollars per sponsored post.
Brands are willing to pay that much for an influencer to post about their products because influencer marketing has become a critical way that brands build awareness of their products. Influencer post content needs to be able to strike a balance that both encourages trust and engagement from their followers while also meeting the brand’s objectives.
Keep your audience’s trust; it’s essential that anybody attempting to make money as a social media influencer understands their audience through and through. And while understanding your audience is linked to staying active and engaged with them around the clock, Instagram business accounts come with analytics that makes analyzing your audience demographics easier than ever.
For example, an influencer who has built up a following around hair and beauty tutorials would not be serving her audience if she attempted to sell them something followers had no authentic interest in–hockey gear, for example. For a hair and beauty influencer, accepting sponsorship for a hockey post, while it might play well in the short term, would ultimately cost her in followers and not be worth it.
However, if that same beauty influencer accepted a post for an innovative toning product that her followers had never heard of, everybody wins. The brand wins because they’re connecting with their target demographic. The influencer’s followers win, because they’ve been served content they have an authentic interest in, and the influencer wins because her followers are engaged and happy and the brand that paid her to post is happy, too.
Another hot tip: To avoid losing audience trust over sponsored posts, include the hashtag #sponsored to let your audience in on the fact that you’re being paid for the post–your transparency will be appreciated, and your authority as an influencer will increase!
That’s all fine, and well, you may be thinking, but how do I find brands who are willing to pay me for sponsored posts? The answer is that once you’ve built a following, brands will come to you.
However, if you’re eager to get started and don’t have any brands banging down your door just yet, you can always find brands you think are well matched to your social media account and reach out to propose a partnership through Instagram or the brand’s website. You can also increase your visibility as an influencer by listing yourself on one of the many influencer marketplaces available online.
2. Make Money With Affiliate Marketing on Instagram
Affiliate marketing is essentially a digital referral program, wherein you, the referrer, get paid by brands for posting a trackable link and driving traffic to their websites. Anybody who has watched a Youtube channel has probably come across affiliate marketing. The part in the video where you are directed to the link below? Nine times out of ten, that link is an affiliate link, and whoever made that video is going to get paid a small percentage of every sale the link drives.
In other words, while Instagram influencers are oriented towards building brand awareness and are compensated by a pre-arranged fee, affiliate marketers are oriented towards driving sales and they earn a small cut of each sale that results from the link they posted.
If you decide that selling other people’s products via affiliate marketing is the route for you, you’ll probably want to set up a series of landing pages for your affiliate links, and in each Instagram post, tell your followers that the link can be reached via your Instagram account’s bio.
That way, you can comply with the platform’s one link rule.
Many of the most profitable affiliate marketing opportunities can be found by reaching out to brands and offering to be an affiliate for them. However, sites like iProfitSocial.com post many opportunities and can be an excellent starting point if you’re interested in becoming an affiliate marketer.
3. Sell Photos and Other Digital Products
Another popular method for making money on Instagram is via the sale of poster-sized photos, paintings, drawings, and other virtual products like animations and videos. To sell digital products on Instagram, you’ll need to use the same workaround that you’d use for affiliate marketing–drive followers to your bio, where they can access a clickable link that will take them to a landing page that sells your product.
Since Instagram is, at its core, a photo-sharing site, if you have excellent photography skills, selling your high-quality photos on Instagram could be an excellent place to start earning on social media.
Make sure to leverage the most technology can offer, and use the best photo editing apps available!
And, since this Instagram, after all, don’t forget to sell your photos and other digital products with the most relevant #hashtags!
4. Sell Physical Products
If you can make money on Instagram selling other people’s products via affiliate marketing, it makes sense that the potential to sell your own physical products on the social media platform also exists. There are, however, a few challenges that exist in the world of physical product eCommerce that simply don’t exist in the other monetization strategies we’ve discussed so far.
One such challenge is the demand for startup capital. It doesn’t cost anything to sell a digital product like a video, ebook, or poster-sized photograph on Instagram. However, if you want to sell, say, watches that have been manufactured in China, you’ll need both some startup capital to purchase your watches with and a place to store those watches while you’re waiting for your posts to drive sales.
The good news is that Instagram allows users to sell products directly on the platform. Simply by tagging the product you wish to sell in your high-quality Instagram posts and Instagram stories, you can drive followers to product pages that enable quick and easy purchasing.
If you haven’t heard of dropshipping, it is just an internet-savvy way of saying that you function as a kind of digital middleman, selling products to customers and then fulfilling their order without ever touching the product or keeping an inventory on hand.
Dropshipping is like a super stripped down, simplified way to make money selling physical products. You don’t need much startup capital, and you don’t need a place to store products.
Other than that, though, the process of selling as a drop shipper on Instagram is pretty much the same as the process of selling physical products. You can tag products you want to sell in your posts and stories, and Instagram allows you to drive customers to product pages so you can make quick and easy sales.
Dropshipping is made super easy by resources like Oberlo’s Forever Free Plan Dropshipping App and by Shopify’s e-commerce platform, which is free for the first 14 days. Those first 14 free days should allow you plenty of time to experiment and figure out which niche product you’re the best at selling without wasting a dime of startup capital.
With it’s growing and active user base, Instagram will continue to offer tons of opportunities for creative people to earn money.
No matter what strategy you decide to use, get started today. Tons of people worldwide are earning tens of thousands of dollars every month, and your own inactivity is the only thing stopping you from joining their ranks!