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If you’re looking for ways to make money on Instagram, consider sharing more than just your photos and videos. Share your audience.
Companies are attracted to dedicated communities on the social networking app, even ones that number in the low thousands. If your followers fit the profile of consumers that a brand is trying to reach, you may be able to make some money. Not interested in going the influencer route? Try selling your own products.
There are five main ways to make money on Instagram:
Here’s what to expect when it comes to getting paid on Instagram, plus tips for success.
How much do Instagram influencers make?
The top five Instagram influencers as of April 2021 have over 200 million followers each and include Cristiano Ronaldo, Ariana Grande, Dwayne Johnson, Kylie Jenner and Selena Gomez, according to Search Engine Journal. While the money these Instagram superstars can make is astronomical, the income people who aren’t celebrities can make is not necessarily chump change.
Influencers with a million followers can earn somewhere around $670 per post, the search marketing website says. A content creator on Instagram with 100,000 followers can earn about $200 per post, while someone with 10,000 followers can make about $88 per post.
So, the formula is: more followers + more posts = more money.
How many Instagram followers do you need to make money?
With just 1,000 or so followers, you can make money on Instagram. Neil Patel, a widely known digital marketing specialist, says the key is engagement — followers who like, share and comment on your posts.
"Even if you have 1,000 followers who are engaged, the potential to make money is there," he writes on his blog.
With an enthusiastic fan base, no matter how small, "brands are willing to invest in you because of the profitable actions you’ll drive through your account," Patel adds.
5 ways to make money on Instagram
1. Get sponsored
Creating sponsored posts or stories is the primary way Instagram users can cash in on their account. For example, if your feed is focused on images of your dog on hikes, an outdoor gear company may want to pay you to post a photo that includes its product in the picture.
How to get sponsored on Instagram
So how do you find a sponsor? In some cases, potential partners will reach out to you. But if you don’t want to wait to be approached, check out companies that can help you find and work with brands.
Seek out a service
Which business you use depends on your needs. There are agencies you work with directly, like The Mobile Media Lab, and marketplaces that connect you with partners, like Influicity. Other services can help you manage all your partner relationships, like Aspire.
When searching for partners or deciding between different offers, aim for stuff you and those you influence would actually use. Followers of your pet are more likely to trust your opinion about a trail backpack for dogs than gourmet cat food. Don’t bother with products you don’t like. If your dog would tear apart an “indestructible” toy in an instant or bites off every sweater you’ve put on her, there’s no reason to recommend these things to others.
Find brands that fit as specific a niche as possible. Fans of your outdoorsy dog may look for many opinions on dog stuff in general but will really trust you to know which protective booties work best for the winter.
» MORE: How to make money on YouTube
Keep in mind that sponsored posts and stories on Instagram are held to the same standard of truth in advertising as any other form of marketing. Make sure to include a disclosure in each paid post and story. You’ll do this by setting up branded content in your account settings then tagging your business partner.
2. Promote your business
There are other ways to use Instagram to make money. You can set up a business account to grow your business. For example, if you have an Etsy shop where you sell your crafts or a food blog that generates advertising revenue, a professional-looking Instagram account could provide a promotional boost. (This is also a common way to make money on TikTok.)
You can link to your Etsy or website in your profile or highlight one specific product in your bio section to direct more people to it. If your account is approved for Instagram Shopping features, you can tag products to promote your stuff directly.
Set yourself up for success
Take well-lit photos of products you’re trying to sell or projects you’re promoting and make them findable. Create your own hashtag and check out which ones competitors are using. Encourage your clients to post pictures with your stuff and tag you in them.
You can also use Instagram’s insights feature to learn about your audience. You can see how many eyes are on your post, as well as statistics about people's age range and gender.
The app’s resources also help you find and connect with new customers. Pay some money to promote posts that you want more people to see. You can also add a button to your profile that links to an email address or phone number so interested parties can contact you easily
3. Sell your castoffs
Maybe you don’t have a business to promote, but you often sell your old clothes and accessories on websites like Poshmark. Instagram can boost your pool of buyers.
Present and photograph your clothes and other things in an appealing way and include as much detail as possible in the caption. Brand, size, condition and age of each item are all good things to note. If you’re looking to sell one item in particular, link to it in your Instagram bio. If not, just link to your Poshmark or other seller profile. Many Instagram sellers use #shopmycloset to hawk their wares.
4. Earn badges through Live videos
You can earn money directly from your audience when you share real-time videos with Instagram’s Live feature. As you showcase your talents, products and so on, viewers can buy badges, which are essentially tips, to show support. Badges cost $0.99, $1.99 or $4.99. You’ll see heart symbols next to comments from people who’ve purchased them.
Promote your upcoming Live video sessions through posts or stories to get the word out beforehand. Then, try using the Q&A feature or give shoutouts to commenters while you’re broadcasting to boost engagement — and hopefully, badges.
5. Monetize your videos with ads
Another way to get paid: Allow brands to run ads during your videos. To set it up, head to your creator account settings and enable the monetization option for in-stream video ads. Then, post videos as usual.
The amount you earn depends on how many views your video gets in the feed. You’ll receive 55% of the revenue generated per view, according to the Instagram for Business website. Payments are issued monthly.
However, you won’t get paid if your videos don’t meet the requirements. For example, videos need to be at least 2 minutes long to earn money. Instagram recommends aiming for 2 to 4 minutes in length.