How To Make Money on Instagram

Let’s be clear right from the start. If you really want to earn money via Instagram (or any other social media platform for that matter), then there are no half measures. You need to love what you do and take the time to do it well.

Most popular Instagram users approach their account like a business, tracking interactions, gauging interest in new trends, and networking with relevant people and companies. If you’re just tired of the daily grind and dreaming of being your own boss, then you might need a reality check. If it were that easy, then almost everyone would be doing it.

Step One: Build Your Brand

A social media influencer is someone who has a good reputation online for doing and sharing interesting things. An influencer is someone whose opinion people trust. Typically, they live a certain lifestyle that others find desirable and seek to emulate.

No, this doesn’t mean you have to be rich before you can make money on social media. Desirable lifestyles are about more than fashion and jetsetting. Are you in love with the outdoors? Take lots of gorgeous hiking photos and share your favorite gear. Are you a passionate elementary school teacher? Share craft ideas online and wax poetic about your love of children.

A brand is more than just a logo. It is an aesthetic and a feeling that people associate with your company (i.e. you).

Step Two: Have Enough Followers

There is no money to be made on Instagram if no one is watching. Before you can hope to accomplish anything else, you need to build up your following.

  • Tell a story that appeals to people. Invite them to live vicariously through you.
  • Have a target audience in mind. You can’t please everyone, but you can make a handful of people LOVE you.
  • Make sure your bio is engaging and descriptive. No bio? No followers.
  • Use hashtags. This helps people with relevant interests find you.
  • Post regularly and use metrics to gauge the best times to post.
  • Engage with followers. Respond to their comments. Invite them to interact with you.

How many followers is enough? There isn’t really a magic number. Obviously a ton of followers helps, but you can get away with a smaller amount if they are active and engaged. If you can, then try to build a following of at least 1000, but never forget “quality over quantity.”

Step Three: Work With Companies

This can be done either through sponsored posts or via affiliate marketing.

Sponsored posts are when you allow a company to piggy back off of your following and place an ad on your account. Smaller companies like this because they find it hard to compete with social media personalities. Often, these companies will reach out to you, but you can always actively seek them out.

Find companies that match your brand. These are the companies that your followers will care about. Also, try to find companies that you actually believe in. Remember that you have the ear of your followers, but you can lose it if you spend too much time peddling sub par products and services.

Affiliate Marketing

Be careful here. Many affiliate marketing programs are a shade away from pyramid schemes and can end up losing you money in the long run. They also tend to be all consuming. You might find that their brand is starting to eclipse your own on your social media sites.

Affiliate marketing is when companies hire you to promote their products. You don’t get paid for the act of promoting. You get paid a commission for each conversion you get. In other words, every time someone purchases a product through you, you get a cut.

Affiliate markers sometimes have to purchase product packages and set up websites at their own expense and don’t always make enough to cover the overhead. They say you need to spend money to make money, but this is not always the best option. It’ll most likely turn you from a social media influencer into a sales person.

Step Four: Promote Your Own Products or Services

Obviously, you’re a social media guru. Maybe you could sell that service to someone else? If you’re a crafty person, consider connecting your Instagram account to an Etsy one and selling some of those creations. What about those Instagram photos that you’re always posting? Are they any good? Watermark them and make them available for purchase.

Remember how we said that you need to love what you do? Well, you need to live it too. If all you do is promote products, your followers will get antsy. Be genuine. Show them that you are a real professional / expert / creator. And make some extra cash to boot.

Step Five: Connect Your Accounts

People want to know you’re a real person. If they can only find you on Instagram, then you look like a made up personality. Dress up your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts with your brand and cross post with your Instagram account. Make a professional Facebook page that people can like and share. It wouldn’t hurt to start a blog too.

The more you put out there (and the more platforms you use), the more legitimate you’ll look. Plus, you’ll be able to gain followers faster as they find you across social media sites.

Step Six: Always Be Genuine

Whatever happens, remember your followers and what you promise them. You may be tempted to promote high paying companies that you don’t like or even sell your account outright for a lump sum. Remember that in both of these cases, you are selling who you are and betraying the trust of those who put you there.

Be real. Be open. And have lots of fun.

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