The Ultimate guide to making money on Instagram
We’re asked on a regular basis about how to make money from Instagram. Some questions are easy to answer while some are much harder. Some of the more common questions we’re asked are below:
- How many followers do I need before I can start making money on Instagram?
- How much will brands pay me?
- Can I make money from Instagram even though I’m not good looking?
- How much money can I make from a single Instagram post?
We work with clients around the world to help them make the most from Instagram. Some of our clients use Instagram as a platform to launch themselves as a brand, while others use Instagram to attract buyers to their products/services.
As we’ve touched on before, Instagram now has more than 400 million registered users. This represents a huge potential audience from which to make money. Although you, or your brand, may be late to the party, it’s never too late to start making money from Instagram.
While lots of online guides tell you you can make money from Instagram, none of them actually go into detail about how to do it:
Where do I start?
We expect that most people reading this will already have an Instagram profile. If you don’t, please check out Instagram’s official guide for setting up your profile. For everyone else, let’s first define some of the ways to make money from Instagram:
Sponsored marketing, also known as Affiliate/Referral/Brand-Ambassador marketing, is where you are paid to post sponsored content – this is content that promotes a product or service. These arrangement can either be one-offs or on-going relationships.
You’ve probably already seen bloggers, celebrities, or Instagram Influencers, making product/service related posts. Instagrammers that make use of this method work with Sponsors to define the strategy and rules around their sponsored posts. Posts are generally either custom posts or reposts.
We recommend creating your own custom content. Custom content is content made by you and incorporates yourself alongside the Sponsor’s product. We feel custom content is better because it generally commands higher engagement and it continues to build your own brand. An example of subtle, sponsored, custom content, can be seen below:
At first look the image above simply features a model in an outdoor setting. However, a sponsor is actually tagged in the photo (the creator of the bra the model is wearing) and the sponsor, @lili_claspe, is also mentioned in the caption on the right. You can be assured that @alexisren was paid to incorporate @lili_claspe‘s clothing in this post.
A slightly less subtle example of a sponsored custom content post:
Can you spot the difference? For those that can’t, the Sponsor’s product in the image above is the bag held by the model. Neither approach is wrong, it’s simply a matter of you, and your Sponsor, defining what direction you want to take.
Reposting is simply posting an image/video given to you by the sponsor. This does nothing to build your own brand and can sometimes turn your own followers away.
So, how do you connect with Sponsors?
It’s actually easier than you may think however, there can be some prerequisites to making the most from this approach:
- Sponsors usually look for people that fit their specific niche – if you’re a 250lb, male, bodybuilder you’re probably not going to be hired by a Sponsor that wants to market high heels.
- The larger your following the more attractive you’ll be to Sponsors. However, and this is important, your following needs to be engaged! Having a million followers and only receiving 300 likes per post is not what a Sponsor looks for. Users with a small following but highly engaged followers can still earn money through instagram. Most sponsors look for accounts with followings that generate between 3-10% like to follower ratio.
Engagement and followers are something that we can help with so please get in touch!
- Sponsors like to work with users that post attractive content. Whether you yourself are attractive or you take great photos doesn’t matter, it’s all about the ability to do so. Instagram is, after all, a visual app.
If you can tick off the three prerequisites above then Sponsored Marketing may be the approach for you.
A good way to get started in Sponsored Marketing is to target Sponsors yourself. You can get in touch with Sponsors through Instagram by commenting your interest on one of their posts, Direct Messaging them, or even by tagging their product in one of your posts. Some of our clients have also seen success by contacting Sponsors directly through their website or even their physical store.
The alternative is to work with specialist companies that manage the initial contact for you. We, at Harvey Insights, already do this for some clients although there are quite a few other companies you can work with. Here are some (please note the we are not affiliated with any of the companies below – this is not an example of sponsored marketing):
- The Mobile Media Lab: Partners Sponsors and Instagram influencers around the world.
- Sharesale: You can sign up for their affiliate program, get approved, then start promoting by finding companies you want to work with. Some of their programs require you to have a blog/website as well.
- Like to know: Is a great for fashion bloggers. When Instagram users shop using your link, you’ll get commission.
- Snapfluence: provide opportunities for users to connect with Sponsors around the world.
It’s important that any Sponsors you promote fit with your own personal image on Instagram. The idea is to work with Sponsors that resonate with you and then to show your followers how that brand fits into your lifestyle. A few things to keep in mind in relation to Sponsored Marketing:
- Sponsors may want you to exclusively sign with them. Exclusivity effectively stops you working for other competitive advertisers within a specific time frame. The time frame can range from a few days to a week or a month. The timeframe will depend on the agreement you come to with the Sponsor.
- Follow through and adhere to your Sponsors rules. If you can build a solid relationship with your Sponsor you should see continued value as it can turn into an ongoing relationship. Failure to follow through will make them not want to advertise through you again.
- Your relationships and your attractiveness to advertisers will change over time. Just because you have exclusivity with one advertiser, doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate in good faith with others to advertise for them in the future. You can use this as leverage in future negotiations with your existing advertisers. As your reputation and following grow, so should the offers you receive!
- Remember it’s a collaborative effort! Be willing to offer concessions if something doesn’t go exactly perfect.
- And, it should go without saying, don’t be a jerk.
On to the nitty-gritty: How much money can I make from sponsored marketing on Instagram?
It’s important to note that Sponsors may offer to pay you in things other than money: free product, experiences, travel, other merchandise, etc. Payment form will depend on the specific agreement you make with the Sponsor.
However, you still want to know how much money you can make, right? Well, there’s no simple way to define it! Sponsors set their own rates but we’ve seen the numbers below on a somewhat consistent basis:
Instagrammers with 1,000 to 10,000 followers can earn $50 or more per post.
Those with 10,000 to 100,000 followers can earn $200-$4000 per post.
Instagram Influencers and celebrities (Instafamous users) with more than 1,000,000 engaged followers can earn tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars per post!!
So, what are you waiting for?
Sell Your Photos
Instagram was created to showcase your photography. So, why not use Instagram as a platform to also sell your images? This method is generally pursued by professional photographers but it’s certainly not off limits to keen amateurs! Instagram can be a great platform for advertising and selling your shots to individuals or agencies.
Tips for users wanting to pursue this method:
- Be active on Instagram. Make sure you’re regularly posting as this will help to create a portfolio of your work for potential buyers to browse.
- Add a custom watermark to your posts. This is very important as your watermark can be used to ensure your images aren’t used without your permission.
- Always have high resolution, original, copies of your posts stored somewhere safe. You will need to provide high resolution versions of your images to any buyers.
Some of our clients sell their exact Instagram posts, referred to as Instagram prints, for between $40-150 a pop! They are generally contacted directly on Instagram via their post or through Direct Message.
There are also a quite few sites that you can use to sell your Instagram photos including:
- Twenty20: connects the massive community of mobile photographers – from amateurs to hobbyists – with major brands, like furniture retailer West Elm, that are seeking photos with creativity and authenticity, rather than the staged images from traditional agencies (digitaltrends).
- Mobileprints: online marketplace for buying and selling Instagram photos as framed prints, canvas prints, acrylic prints, greeting cards, and more.
- Snapwire: is a platform that connects a new generation of photographers with brands and businesses around the world.
Please ensure you do your own research before working with any third party!
Promote your own business, products or services
If you run your own business, you should already be on Instagram! Instagram can play an integral place in your marketing matrix and the best thing is; it’s free.
Use Instagram as a way to draw users to your website, physical store, or point of sale. We have already put together quite a comprehensive guide for Instagram for your business so please check it out!
Some things to concentrate on when using Instagram to promote your business:
Creating your own branded hashtag should be at the top of your list of things to do when using Instagram to promote your business. Refer to our guide on using hashtags for some great tips. Some examples of branded hashtags that have gone viral can be seen below:
Branded hashtags encourage your potential customers to get involved with your brand. It allows them to submit their own photos and represents an easy way to communicate with you.
Remember to always use hashtags that are relevant to your brand and relevant to your post. Your goal is to drag as many Instagram users as possible to your product.
Avoid popular hashtags!!
Often we read guides that recommend users to target popular hashtags with their business posts: this is wrong! Your post will be drowned out by newer posts making use of the ‘popular’ hashtags.
How do you achieve massive success by advertising your business on Instagram? It all comes down to trust. You can gain trust by establishing yourself as an expert, or a leader, in your field. You need to provide your followers, and potential followers, with unique and valuable content on a consistent basis.
An example of a new brand that is building quickly building trust:
@thebodycoach regularly posts shots of healthy foods, videos of quick-to-make meals, and exercises. Using Instagram he is able to interact with his followers/clients in a very personal way. He often takes his Instagram strategy a step further by offering discounts, running competitions inviting followers to take part, and by sharing testimonials from customers he’s worked with. Using this strategy he is able to build trust and encourage new fans to become customers.
Lots of businesses have discovered that partnering with an Influencer is a great way to reach new audiences. If you can’t be the Influencer yourself, then surely you can partner with one!
The Instagram community is huge, 400 million active users by some counts! Such a large community means there are likely hundreds of Influencers that may be perfect marketing conduits for your brand. For example, Instagram has a huge community of professional/amatuer makeup artists that, combined, command millions of fans. Many of the most well known brands actively partners with these artists to promote their products – you can do the same for your business in your niche.
You don’t necessarily have to pay money to Influencers to market your product either. You can use the Instagram community to your advantage by contacting influential members and sending them free samples in the hopes of a product review. In effect, you’re leveraging the vast network of these Influencers to promote your brand!
The key to drawing users to your brand is reaching out to a large number of influencers: the more your products appear in a user’s feed, the better!
Just like any other social network, the key to success on Instagram is frequent and consistent posting.
However, there is a sweet spot that sits between not posting enough and posting too often. We’ve found that posting once every 24-48 hours is perfect for most personal accounts. Business accounts can afford to post more often such as twice every 24 hours. Remember that Instagram’s feed functions much like Twitter’s real-time feed—it’s constantly refreshing.
Need some ideas for creative ways to promote your own product/service?
- Leveraging your followers tagged posts: You can ask your customers to share images of themselves with your products. This is a well known and proven successful method. Tie this to competitions for giveaways and you’ve got the start of a great marketing campaign!
- Behind the scenes shots. Behind the scenes (“BTS”) images are hugely popular on Instagram. Users love to see the reality of you creating your product!
- Exclusive offers and competitions. Tie your posts to exclusive offers that only your Followers can take advantage of. Suggest to your followers that if they tag a photo with your Instagram handle in it that they’ll get 15% off etc.
Instagram allows you to get creative with your marketing. Think outside the box and try different things until you find the methods that work for you.
How much money can you make?
It’s almost endless..
Sell Your Instagram Account
Are you tired of Instagram or simply don’t use it anymore?
While we certainly don’t recommend it it is a way to make money quickly..
How much money can you make selling your account?
Some accounts sell for less than $100 while large, engaged, accounts can sell for thousands!
Other ways to make money on Instagram
The methods we’ve gone over above are not the only ways to make money from Instagram! Be creative and think about what you can provide the Instagram community.