According to Instagram Business, 60% of people on the platform use it to discover new products, 80% of them follow at least one brand, and 66% of profile visits are from non-followers.
Clearly, these figures bode quite well for Instagram’s business potential, which is further evidenced by the countless Instagrammers already cashing in on their content. This includes not only creators and influencers, by the way, but also service providers, nonprofits, and dropshippers, to name a few.
Generating money on Instagram ultimately comes down to reach, influence, and social media savvy – all things in short supply at many companies to this day.
Whether you’re looking to make Instagram your primary source of income or just a side gig, there are many ways to do it. Which one(s) is/are the best for you will primarily depend on where you stand with regards to the three components above.
Before we get into the meat of this article, however, let’s make sure that Instagramming-for-pay is worth your while.
Is it really possible to make money on Instagram?
Given this article’s title, it would be pretty awkward if the answer was “no”. In fact, it is a resounding “yes”. More than that – in 2021, making money on Instagram has never been easier.
It’s no secret that business-oriented creators are always vigilant about which way the wind blows, and Instagram knows it. As competition heats up with TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube, the company has recently made it a top priority to help creators make a living on the platform.
More specifically, during Instagram’s first-ever Creator Week this June, the company unveiled tons of new ways to make money, in addition to posting sponsored content and doing affiliate marketing, which have up until now been the primary sources of Instagram revenue.
Among other things, the company is introducing the following:
- Live Badges that allow followers to support creators by purchasing hearts at prices between $0.99 and $ 4.99
- In-app native affiliate tool designed to enable creators to share new products discovered at checkout with their followers and earn commissions from the purchases they drive
- Bonuses for hitting milestones with Live Badges and Stars Challenges, such as going live with another account, broadcasting a certain number of hours, etc.
- Exclusive Stories – essentially Instagram’s take on Twitter’s paid Super Follows subscription model
Besides these, Instagram also teased gated content, merch initiatives, NFTs, revenue share from IGTV ads, bonuses for posting Reels, and even creator funds (though it’s unlikely they’ll be doling out cash to creators as freely as YouTube does).
In addition, since Instagram has the highest engagement rates, brands are constantly on the lookout for potential partners.
OK, but what kind of money are we talking here?
The creator economy is as deep as it is wide, so how much you earn will depend on your audience size, work ethic, engagement strategy, and many other factors.
Assuming you’re not Kylie Jenner or Selena Gomez, though, raking in millions per post is out of the question, which is fine because most people are not in the habit of tying their expectations to a rocket and shooting it towards the Moon.
So what can you reasonably make on Instagram?
Less than 2,000 followers: $50 per post
2,000 to 10,000 followers: $75 to $100 per post
10,000 to 100,000 followers: $50 to $250 per post
100,000 to 1 million followers: $500 to 1,000 per post
Over 1 million followers: $1,000+ per post
Looking at some real-world examples, however, these figures actually seem a bit conservative, which is to say – it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect to make a little bit more.
Erring slightly more on the liberal end of things, let’s assume that you have 3,000 followers and make $150 per post on average. If you were to post every day, this would total $54,750 a year. Considering that doing this won’t cost you a dime and won’t take up very much of your day, that’s pretty awesome!
Also, let’s not forget – it’s always possible to keep growing your audience over time 😉
How to make money on Instagram
Strategy 1: Become an influencer and make money from sponsored posts
If you have enough talent and willingness to put in the hard work, becoming an influencer can bring thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars your way every month.
This strategy is obviously not for everyone, so make sure to manage your expectations if you decide to take this path.
To become an influencer, you’ll need to slowly cultivate a following by making regular posts and establish a close rapport with your audience to drive engagement.
No effort should be spared trying to learn about the values, interests, needs, and desires of the people who comprise your audience (Instagram Insights will go a long way in this process). This will help you decide which brands they’re likely to be interested in.
If you do well, a brand will drop by with an offer, sooner or later. Alternatively, you can try doing outreach yourself, once you’ve identified which brands match your values and personality the closest.
Strategy 2: Promote affiliate links
Affiliate programs are extremely popular on Instagram, and with good reason – they’re easy to manage and very effective if you plan to keep expanding your audience.
What differentiates an influencer from an affiliate is that influencers help raise brand awareness, while affiliates work to make sales for a brand in exchange for a commission. This means that as your following grows, so will your income.
The way affiliate programs work is very simple – you put a trackable link or promo code in your bio (this will let you know which sales come directly from your posts) and make engaging content for your audience. What exactly is the product you’re promoting? Why do you like it? How is it relevant to your followers?
To become an affiliate, you can join affiliate networks like ClickBank, Impact, Sharesale, RewardStyle, Amazon Associates, or similar. Some companies even have individual affiliate programs on their websites, which you can search for by googling a company’s name followed by “affiliate program”.
You may also want to consider connecting your affiliate link to a landing page since Instagram allows you to have only one link in your bio.
Strategy 3: Become a brand ambassador
Instead of running one-off campaigns with different influencers, some brands prefer more durable partnerships whereby someone agrees to promote their products/services on a regular basis.
If you don’t want to sit around waiting for someone to contact you with an offer, try to identify which brands you use all the time and would like to promote. Maybe you regularly bring certain snacks with you when hiking in the woods, or maybe you always use headphones made by a specific brand.
At first, most clients will want to do some regular campaigns to make sure that partnering with you is worth the investment. If things go well, you’ll be offered to sign a contract (or do the asking yourself), giving you a stable income.
For ambassadors, brands often prefer smaller accounts because, unlike mega-celebrities, they usually have more engaged audiences. Since you probably don’t have millions of followers (at least yet), this is great news!
As for the salary, you can expect to make anywhere between $40,000 and $50,000 per month if you make the cut.
Strategy 4: Sell Instagram captions services
Writing short, punchy captions doesn’t come naturally to everyone. For this reason, companies often hire other people to do that for them. If you’re good at writing, this could be a great opportunity to make your skills work for you.
First, however, make sure that you’ve got a decent amount of writing on your account that you’re genuinely proud of. To show off what you can do, try to write using a variety of tones and styles; mix it up with different caption lengths; bring some humor and levity; and above all, come up with different ways of “selling” an idea.
Once you have enough examples, collect them all in a portfolio so you have something to show to potential clients.
When it comes to naming your price, try to find out what other people charge to get an idea of the overall price range. More importantly, though, always charge for your expertise, not the time it takes you to complete a job.
Strategy 5: Make Instagram Stories masks and filters
Companies often use Instagram Stories to drive engagement – content that disappears within 24 hours encourages people to watch or otherwise consume it as soon as possible – and show off their expertise.
Some companies have in-house staff that creates Instagram masks and filters for them, but most rely on freelancers. If you have some artistic skills, this is a great opportunity to flex your creative muscles and make some money while doing it!
To get started, download Facebook’s Spark AR Studio app, install it on your smartphone or desktop computer, and you’re good to go.
Strategy 6: Sell your own products
This is a traditional e-commerce strategy that can work wonders if you have a good product and know your way around advertising.
Whether it’s something you’re making yourself or buying from a supplier, you’ll need space to store it. A spare room, garage, basement or any other place with four walls and a roof should do the trick in most cases.
Okay, so you have all your products in place, now what? The best way to start selling on Instagram is to get an Instagram Shop. If you have any trouble with the setup, check out this official guide.
Once the shop is up and running, all you have to do is make a post as you normally would and tag whichever product you want in the photo. This will take users directly to your product pages.
Strategy 7: Become a dropshipper
Dropshipping is a type of business where you sell products sourced from a manufacturer or wholesale supplier through your own store, without holding any inventory yourself. When a customer makes an order, the manufacturer or supplier takes care of the shipping while you provide the customer service and marketing.
Everything we’ve discussed under the previous strategy applies here as well. The only real difference is that you don’t have to stockpile a bunch of stuff in your living room or storage locker.
For more information on how to start a dropshipping business, this article is a great way to start.
Strategy 8: Provide social media marketing services
According to Instagram, the platform currently has more than 200 million business accounts that people visit every day, with 70% of shoppers looking to Instagram for their next purchase.
Needless to say, in 2021 competition is quite fierce, pushing more and more businesses to seek guidance from marketing experts on how to stand out from the crowd.
Some companies want advice on basic social media strategy; others prefer to keep someone on retainer or have monthly support sessions; while others still are looking for someone to provide training for their staff.
Whatever the needs may be in any particular case, your experience with retail/advertising/marketing on Instagram can start paying dividends – if you want it to!
Case in point, the Jacob Tyler branding and web design agency is using Instagram to promote its services on Instagram:
Strategy 9: Sell your photos on Instagram
These days everyone needs quality pictures – from regular businesses to real estate agents, to law firms. If you have a good eye when it comes to photography, this could be another avenue for generating money on Instagram.
To attract potential buyers, make sure to add captions, product tags, hashtags, customized watermarks, and technical details. Also, if your photo editing skills aren’t up to snuff – now would be the time to study up.
For starters, you can read through Instagram’s own basic instructions and apply them creatively to your images. At the very least, this will help you to get comfortable with the ins and outs of editing photos using the platform’s suite of tools.
Once you’re ready to take the next step, teach yourself how to use photo editing apps like VSCO, Adobe Lightroom, or Snapseed. With a little time and practice, you can learn to transform even fairly middling pictures into highly marketable assets!
A good way to start selling would be to explore your options on marketplaces like Twenty20, Foap Community, or 500px.
Strategy 10: Obtain freelance clients
No matter your profession or skillset, Instagram can help you find new clients. As you’ve probably noticed, the platform has to a large extent grown out of its “here’s why I ate for breakfast today” phase and became a vehicle for business and creative expression alike.
More and more professionals are using Instagram as their online portfolio. Bring as many examples of your work as you can to increase your chances of finding someone who’d be interested in hiring you for a project or even on a long-term basis.
The key to getting started is optimizing your profile – let it be known that you’re a professional [enter profession] looking for gigs or steady employment.
You can also take a more pro-active approach and look for businesses that you’d like to work with and that are likely to need the type of services you provide. Once you’ve got the target locked in, “slide” into their DMs and make a proposal.
Tips – Increase your earning potential
In no particular order, here are some bonus tips to increase your earnings on Instagram.
- Find your niche. People often come to Instagram to pursue their specific interests. Make others know how you see the world, whether guided by professional or business interests, hobbies, ethics, or what have you.
- Build trust. Always follow Instagram’s advertising guidelines and disclose sponsored content – transparency is the best policy when it comes to building trust.
- Provide good customer service. On Instagram, this is expected by default, so don’t let your followers down. Respond to comments and DMs (to the extent possible and reasonable), give shoutouts during live sessions, etc.
- Be authentic. If you’re only in it for the money, it’ll come out one way or another. So choose wisely before diving into a business venture.
Is it possible to earn money on Instagram?
Absolutely. Instagram is still growing rapidly and many influencers consider it the best platform for engagement. There are also millions of business accounts on Instagram that people visit every day, and Instagram users often rely on the platform to find new products.
In addition, Instagram is introducing a variety of new features made specifically to help creators make a living from their content. So, if anything, making money on Instagram today is easier than ever!
How much money can I make on Instagram?
That depends on how you want to do it. For instance, celebrity accounts earn upwards of $1 million per post, while micro-influencers (say, someone with 3,000 followers) can expect to make anywhere between $40-50,000+ per year.
What are the best ways of using Instagram to generate revenue?
Provide marketing services, look for freelance clients, sell your own (or someone else’s) products, advertise your dropshipping store, promote affiliate links, become a brand ambassador – there are countless ways of making money on Instagram. Which one is the best for you depends on what you can do and what you want to do.
And also your creativity, of course 😉