Make it rain: 4 ways to make money on Instagram

Ever find yourself scrolling through your social media feeds, daydreaming about quitting your day job and making Instagram posts for a living? If so, you’re not alone.

Instagram influencers have it good, right? They’re getting paid to represent the brands they love, and many are crushing it financially. But it’s not as easy as it looks. These big-timers have worked hard to get where they are, having garnered an audience that’s hooked on their content. Now they have the opportunity to access advertising income from sponsored posts and affiliate marketing (plus score some free products along the way). 

Whether you’re a nano-influencer with 1,000 followers or a micro-influencer who just breached 10,000, here’s everything you need to know to start monetizing your Instagram feed.

Before you start

You’ve probably already gathered that having an audience is the first step in ‘how to make money on Instagram. Next, it’s time to take that audience and get them to invest in your products (or those of the brands you represent). Here’s how to do that: 

  • Engage your followers: To engage your audience, you’ll need to showcase your products appropriately. With so many companies turning to social media platforms as part of their marketing efforts, producing and posting high-quality content is crucial. Don’t forget to have an effective hashtag strategy to boost your reach. If you don’t know where to begin, try using a hashtag generator to simplify the process. 
  • Optimize your bio and drive traffic to other sites: Posting on Instagram is only half the battle when convincing followers to buy the products you’re endorsing (even if they’re your own products). You’ll likely need to drive traffic to other sites and blogs to generate sales.

Because of Instagram’s limits on clickable content, optimizing your Instagram bio is important. To make the most of your bio, include a link to your website in it. If you have multiple links to post simultaneously, use a Linktree URL to branch out to multiple pages at once. You only get one Instagram bio link, so make it work for you.

How much can you make?

Remember how we said your audience was essential to your success? Your number of followers even determines how much you stand to make as an Instagram influencer. Check out the following table to see how much Instagram users in each audience-size tier make on average.

Type of influencer  Instagram follower count Earnings per post
Nano-influencer  1,000-10,000  $10-$100 
Micro-influencer 10,000-50,000  $100-$500 
Mid-tier influencer 50,000-500,000  $500-$5,000
Macro-influencer  500,000-1 million  $5,000-$10,000 
Mega-influencer 1 million+  $10,000-$1 million



4 ways to make money on Instagram

Now that you’ve seen that there’s some real money to be made on Instagram, let’s look at four of the most common ways you can use Instagram in your social media monetization strategy.

1. Partner with brands

Your following is someone’s target audience, so team up with brands who want to reach your viewers. Brands may contact you once you have a big enough following, but you can also politely approach companies you vibe with. Show them the type of content you make and tell them why your audience is right for their products. When you partner with brands to do influencer marketing, they generally pay you upfront to create content around their products. 

If you are a brand, sign up for an Instagram business account and try the app’s sponsored content program, which will place your ads in viewers’ feeds. You can also contact influencers with the right target audience about making advertisements for you. Both of these tactics will drive traffic to your ecommerce site and help you make sales. 

2. Become an affiliate

Instagram not only allows this type of marketing, but it also makes it easy through its internal affiliate program that supports creators who want to represent brands. In affiliate marketing programs, posters get a link or code to share, and they receive a cut of commissions on clicks or sales. Affiliate marketing income may be slow for influencers at first, but as your audience grows, so does your potential to earn money. 

3. Enable Live Badges

If you have more than 10,000 followers, you can make tips during the excellent live video content you make. When you enable the Live Badges feature on your account, your viewers can buy you a Badge (or a packet of Badges) in denominations of $0.99, $1.99, and $4.99. This is a great way to monetize the work you’re already doing to create stellar content. Plus, it feels nice to be recognized.

4. Sell products directly on the app

Are none of the above options right for you? Consider selling your products directly on Instagram.

Instagram makes it easy to sell products with its shoppable posts and Stories features. You can also use the platform’s live shopping program and tag products in your live streams. These business-friendly features allow viewers to easily discover your products, shop and check out via your “Instagram shop.

To sell on Instagram as a business, create a Facebook Catalog with Facebook Business Manager, then create a shop on Facebook with Shopify or BigCommerce. You then have to connect your online shop to your Instagram business account and upload Instagram marketing photos with tags on the products for sale. 

Go the extra mile with sponsored posts

Simply posting is no longer enough to get the word out about your products and services. It’s time to go the extra mile with your sponsored posts. Here’s why. 

Instagram has a pay-to-play algorithm. This means, in order to stay relevant and compete against other brands, you’ll have to run Instagram ads. There are many different types of Instagram advertisements, but for brevity’s sake, we’ll highlight the most common ones: photo, story and carousel ads. 

Photo ads look like traditional posts, carousel ads contain more than one photo, and story ads are featured in Instagram Stories.

There are also two different ad outlets: Facebook Ads Manager or directly on the Instagram app. If you’re on both platforms, the best approach is to activate campaigns on both networks. Here are some perks of both:

  • Facebook: Facebook has a large user base and can increase your brand’s visibility. To use Facebook Ads Manager, you first have to set up a business manager account. Then, you can set up ad campaigns and ad sets. This platform allows you to target specific audiences and monitor performance metrics. 
  • Instagram: Instagram has a stronger organic reach, making it great for brand promotion. If you have a brand, convert your profile to a business account, and you can easily create campaigns by entering your profile, tapping Promotions, and then, Create Promotion. You can expect to pay between 20 cents and $2 per click on an Instagram campaign. The more money you pay, the longer your advertisement will run and the more individuals it will reach.

Wrapping up

Whether you’re an influencer, an entrepreneur, or a company looking to use Instagram as part of your social media marketing strategy, remember this: If you grow your audience and optimize your Instagram bio, you’ll be well on your way to bringing in cash through your Instagram account. 

If you’re an individual, focus your efforts on connecting with and representing brands to bring in sponsored content and affiliate-marketing income. If you’re a brand, spend your time making attractive ads with clickable, shoppable features, from which you can generate easy leads. 

It’s time to take the phrase “do it for the ’gram” seriously – and get paid.


7 mins

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