How to Make Money on Instagram: 5 Proven Ways for 2023

It takes engagement to make money on Instagram, but you don't need celebrity status to have influence.
NerdWallet
By NerdWallet 
Edited by Courtney Neidel

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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.

5 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?

It ranges from a lot to a little, and everything in between. The top three Instagram influencers as of June 2022 have either north of or close to half a billion followers each. They include Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi and Kylie Jenner, according to Influencer Marketing Hub.

While the money these Instagram superstars can make is astronomical, there are opportunities for noncelebs to earn a little something, too.

How many Instagram followers do you need to make money?

Microinfluencers — those who have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers — earned $1,420 per month on average, according to a 2021 survey of 1,865 Instagram influencers by influencer marketing tech company HypeAuditor. Mega influencers with over 1 million followers pulled in an average of $15,356 per month

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Your success will vary, of course, but the data show there’s potential to earn, especially if you can find brands that are interested in working with you. This is where "influence" in the true sense of the word comes into play. 

How to monetize your Instagram with fewer followers

Neil Patel, a widely known digital marketing specialist, says the key to making money on Instagram with just 1,000 followers is engagement: followers who like, share and comment on your posts.

"Even if you only have 1,000 followers and they’re actively engaging with your posts, the potential to make money is there," he writes on his blog.

With an enthusiastic fan base, no matter how small, "brands want to invest in you because of the profitable actions you can 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, such as 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.

Be authentic

When searching for partners or deciding between different offers, aim for stuff you and those you influence would actually use. Followers of your pooch 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 they will really trust you to know which protective booties work best for the winter.

Note 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 use the social media service to promote and grow your side hustle. 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.)

Set up a business account to take advantage of free tools and insights.

You can link to your Etsy or website in your profile, or a specific product page in your bio section, to direct more people to it. Switch up the featured link in your bio as needed. If your account is approved for Instagram Shopping features, you can tag products to promote your stuff directly in photos and videos.

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 demographic information on those who’ve engaged.

The app’s resources also help you find and connect with new customers. You can 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.

While a flurry of profitable heart emojis sounds pretty great, you’ll need 10,000 followers to be eligible for badges.

5. Monetize Reels with bonuses

Reels (short-form, vertical videos) are all the rage these days, and if you can make good ones, you may be able to get in on Instagram’s Reels Play bonus payout program. It’s a relatively new, invite-only program that gives content creators the opportunity to earn money for making videos that go viral. Instagram says the earning potential is varied during the current testing stage.

With this way to make money on Instagram, you’ll have to wait for a pop-up notification and invite that’ll come through your professional dashboard. For that reason, we suggest you try the other methods first. 

In the meantime, trust your talents and focus on the things you can control.  

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