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How to Make Money on Instagram (10 Proven Ways in 2021)

With over one billion active users, Instagram is a great platform to make money. Here are some ideas on how to make money on Instagram.

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Instagram has come a long way from its origins as a simple photo-sharing app. It is now an extremely powerful platform for businesses, influencers, and everyday users to make money from their Instagram presence. With more than one billion people using Instagram every month, spending an average of 30 minutes on the app every day, it’s no wonder it’s become a popular social media platform to monetize. 

The good news is that you don’t need to have the coveted 10K+ follower numbers to make money on Instagram. With the launch of Stories, IGTV, and Reels, the average user has more and more tools to leverage the monetization potential of Instagram. More than 50% of people have visited a website to purchase a product or service after seeing it on Instagram, so we know the platform converts to sales as well.

10 Ways to Make Money on Instagram

There are quite a few options to explore for making money on Instagram that don’t rely solely on your audience size and follower numbers. No matter your current skills and interests, you’re sure to find a way in this article that you can use to start making money from your current Instagram account. Here are 10 proven ways to start making money on Instagram.

1. Influencer Marketing 

Once you reach influencer status on Instagram, you can use your Instagram account to promote a variety of products or services from all kinds of brands. So the question becomes, what determines that you’ve achieved the title of “influencer”? 

Simply put, an influencer is someone who can affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her knowledge, position, authority, or relationship with an audience. Additionally, an influencer has a following within a specific niche and is actively engaged with those followers. 

Notice that this explanation of an influencer did not include any specific follower numbers or stats. It’s all about the influencer’s relationship with their following and their ability to impact purchasing decisions. Of course, with a larger following you can reach more people, and thereby become more attractive to larger brands. However, highly engaged and strongly niched smaller accounts can also be very lucrative, as they typically have a closer relationship with their audience

If you have an engaged Instagram account of any size, it’s worth reaching out to brands that you believe your audience would enjoy. Often brands will give you a discount code to offer your followers, which then helps to attribute your audience’s purchases to your marketing efforts. 

If you don’t feel like you’ve quite reached influencer status yet, give our next idea of affiliate marketing a try in the meantime, as a way to make money as you build up your Instagram account. 

Instagram Influencer
Source: Instagram @kelawalker

See Also: 9 Ways to Make Money on Snapchat

2. Affiliate Marketing 

With affiliate marketing on Instagram, you have two options. You can start a blog on which you promote affiliate offers and then simply use your Instagram account to lead people to your value-packed blog posts. 

You can also use your Instagram account to directly promote affiliate products to your audience. In this case, you’d typically include your affiliate link in your Instagram bio, and then direct people to that link through your Instagram Stories, or other posts that you make on your account. 

By using affiliate marketing on Instagram, you can get a great feel for what types of offers your audience likes and how to market them in a way that gets results. This can be beneficial if you’d eventually like to pursue influencer brand deals with larger companies. 

Instagram Affiliate Marketing
Source: Instagram @mymidlifefashion

See Also: 10 Ways to Make Money on Pinterest

3. Create Content for Other People 

Instagram is a powerful platform that is an important marketing tool for many brands and influencers. It can also take a good amount of time to create all of the marketing assets needed to have a presence on Instagram, including writing captions, taking photographs, making custom stickers, designing Stories, and other content creation tasks. 

If you don’t want to grow an Instagram account from scratch, you can make money with Instagram by creating content for others. If you have decent graphic design skills and understand how to write engaging captions, then this could be a great fit for you. 

You can reach out individually to Instagramers and offer your services as a great way to start your business. Create a document that lists your content creation packages, your pricing, and some examples of your work to show your potential clients that you’re a professional in what you do.

Create Instagram Content for Others
Source: Fiverr

See Also: 11 Ways to Make Money on TikTok

4. Become a VA to an Influencer 

Once an Instagram account reaches a substantial number of followers it can be hard for the creator of the account to keep up with all of the tasks related to its maintenance. The Instagramer wants to focus on engaging with their audience, rather than worrying about spam comments or filtering through their DMs. 

By becoming a virtual assistant to an Instagram influencer, you’ll be helping them with those daily tasks that they don’t have the time to deal with anymore. These tasks could include identifying and removing fake followers, removing spam comments, filtering through sponsorship requests, monitoring Instagram ads, and engaging with other Instagram accounts.

Decide on your hourly VA rate, or create a few packages of a set number of work hours per month, and then start reaching out to larger influencers to offer your assistance. 

Instagram Influencer VA
Source: Upwork

See Also: 35 Proofreading Jobs to Make Money Online: $50+ Per Hour

5. Sell Products That You Make

You can sell products that you make, like hats, t-shirts, or other merchandise in a few different ways with Instagram. Instagram offers you the option to create an Instagram Shop and integrate your product catalog directly with your Instagram profile. This lets you promote your products to Instagram users through posts, Stories, the Explore tab, and a special Shop tab on your profile.

You could also consider opening a store on a separate website using Shopify or Square Online, and then connect the shopping experience to Instagram using free apps. This lets your Instagram shoppers feel like they’re still on your Instagram account even though they are shopping on your shop’s app page.

Square Online Homepage
Source: Square Online

6. Sell Digital Products

Depending on your niche on Instagram, there are quite a few complimentary digital products that you can offer your audience. These could include items like photos, photo editing presets, printables, worksheets, videos, guides, ebooks, or pretty much any other valuable piece of information that can be delivered over the internet. 

You’ll want to set up your digital products for sale using an automated system like Sellfy, Podia, or Gumroad so that people can buy and receive their purchase immediately. Insert your sale page link in your bio, and then start talking about your offer in your Stories, directing people to your bio link to purchase.

Sell Digital Downloads on Instagram
Source: Podia

7. Sell a Course to Your Audience 

If you’re getting questions from your followers about how and what you do or people are offering to pay for your knowledge, then creating an online course is a great next step. Once you put all of your knowledge into a step-by-step online course, you have a place to direct everyone that requests additional help. 

An online course can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. It could use video, text, audio, or a combination of all three to teach your method to your students. The best part is that once you’ve done the work to create the course, it can be sold over and over again with no additional effort on your part. Add your course’s sales page link to your bio and start talking about it in your Stories, posts, and Reels and you’re sure to have your first sale soon. 

Sell Courses on Instagram
Source: Instagram @thestevenmellor

8. Offer Consulting Services 

Have you already built a successful Instagram account, and figured out the “secrets to success” of the Instagram algorithm? If so, then you’re in a great position to consult with brands or aspiring influencers that desire to grow their own accounts. 

By offering consulting services, you cut out the upfront work that is involved with creating an online course and can start making money right away. Talk about your consulting offer on Instagram, and invite people to DM you if interested. You can offer one-hour Zoom strategy sessions as a simple way to get started and then consider expanding to ongoing consulting and support. 

Sell Coaching Services  on Instagram
Source: Instagram @lissettecalv

9. Sell Dropshipping Products

Want to sell a product but don’t want to worry about carrying inventory? Then dropshipping may be for you. When someone purchases a product from your site that is offered through dropshipping, the company that supplies the product will take care of fulfilling the order and shipping it to the customer. 

Dropshipping allows you to focus on the marketing of the product, rather than worrying about fulfillment, shipping, and inventory. You can promote your dropshipping products by including a link in your Instagram bio to your shop page and then talking about that link in your Stories and Instagram posts. 

Dropshipping on Instagram
Source: Instagram @notebook_therapy

10. Become a Brand Ambassador 

It’s a win-win for both the Instagram influencer and the brands that they work with when a long-term business relationship is developed. When an influencer becomes a brand ambassador, their audience gets to know about the brand on a regular basis and see the brand’s products talked about in a positive light by someone they trust. 

Brands also desire this type of partnership so they are not constantly needing to seek out new influencers for one-off sponsored posts. This can become a very lucrative relationship, as influencers with 500K+ followers can often make $50K+ per year through brand ambassadorship. 

Become a Brand Ambassador on Instagram
Source: Instagram @alkaline88

Best Tips to Make Money on Instagram 

There are several best practices to follow when you’re working to grow your account and make money on Instagram. Let’s look at some of the best tips here.

Sign up for a Business or Influencer Account

If you want to make money on Instagram, you must be signed up for either a business or an influencer account. These account types will give you access to the Instagram statistics and insights that you’ll need to do business on the app with other brands. If you currently have a different type of Instagram account, you can convert it over to a business or influencer account.

Plan an Instagram Strategy

Most importantly for Instagram growth, you’ll want to decide on your strategy and stick with it consistently. Think about your audience and who you’re looking to attract. What are the demographics of your ideal avatar (i.e. ideal customer)? Who are they and what type of content would attract their interest? 

Also, consider your location. Does your account need to attract followers in a certain location to be successful? You’ll want to plan out your use of geographical tags for your posts, along with using location-specific hashtags. 

Finally, think about your specific niche. There’s a reason for the phrase “the riches are in the niches.” The more specific you can become about your niche, the easier it will be for you to post content that is uniquely relatable to followers. This can help you to grow a loyal following quickly. 

Create a Powerful Bio and Profile

An Instagram bio can only contain up to 150 characters, so you’ve got to make them count. You’ll want to clearly describe who your account is for and how it will benefit them. Answering the question “Why should they follow you?”, including searchable keywords in your bio and username is also a smart practice. If your brand is location-specific, include that information in your bio as well. 

You only get one clickable link in your bio, so make this go to your primary website. Or you can use an app to create a profile link through which multiple links for your audience to choose from can be listed.

Have Consistent Branding for Your Account

While the days of perfectly polished flat lay photos on Instagram are over, it’s still important to have consistent branding for your account. Picking a couple of colors that you’ll include in most of your photos and using the same filter on all posts is a great place to start. You’ll create a well-branded account aesthetic that still allows you to post “real-life” photos. 

Share Engaging and Quality Content

Instagram is becoming more and more about creating quality content that other users want to save or share with others, rather than posting only personal photos and stories. When thinking about the content that you share, ask yourself: would someone have a reason to save this post to reference later? 

Use Proper Hashtags

Hashtags are the way that new people find your account on Instagram. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post. When considering which hashtags to pick, you’ll want to pick hashtags that are large enough that people are regularly using them, but not so big that your posts get overlooked. 

Stay Consistent with Your Posting Schedule 

Consistency is important when it comes to posting on Instagram. One post a day is a commonly recommended posting schedule, however, you’ve got to decide what you can commit to. It would be better to post three times a week consistently, rather than increasing your frequency, but taking large breaks in your schedule. 

Run Contests & Giveaways to Grow Your Account

Running contests and giveaways on Instagram can be a great way to quickly grow your account. Ideally, you’ll want to pick a prize that is unique to your niche and that will attract the type of followers to your account that will appreciate your content. Avoid prizes that would appeal to everyone.

When setting the rules for your contest or giveaway, you’ll want to pick a hashtag for everyone to use when participating. Be sure that all participants are required to like and comment on the post and follow your account. You may want to consider having participants tag their friends for extra entries, or repost the contest photo on their Instagram account. 

Connect with Others in Your Niche

Developing a relationship with other Instagrammers in your niche is always a good idea. This can be as simple as interacting with the commenters on another Instagrammer’s account. 

You can also try creating Stories that recommend other larger accounts in your niche and tag them in your Stories. This often results in your Stories being shared by the larger account, gaining exposure to their audience. 

Another strategy is to respond to the Stories of other influencers in your niche as a natural way to get into their DMs to start a conversation. 

Engage with Your Audience

Engagement is one of the most important metrics when it comes to the success of your Instagram account. This isn’t a social media platform where you can post and disappear or hand over all of the work over to a VA. No matter how big your account gets, the basics of responding to comments and answering DMs are two of the most important tasks you can do. 

You can also encourage engagement with your audience by asking questions in your post captions and using engaging features in your Stories with poll and question stickers.

Like most social media platforms, Instagram loves it when its users quickly adopt the use of the new features that it rolls out. Instagram seems to reward those accounts that are early adopters of their new features with more reach and engagement for those accounts. Right now, Instagram Stories, IGTV, and Reels are some of the hottest new Instagram features. 

Use Instagram Ads to Amplify Your Reach & Grow Faster

If you’re willing to invest a little money into your Instagram growth, then using Instagram ads can be a great way to amplify your reach and grow your account faster. Story ads are quite popular right now and work well if you are trying to reach influencer status. Even if someone isn’t ready to opt-in to your offer or purchase your product, they will likely check out your profile and follow you if they like what they see. 

FAQs About How to Make Money on Instagram

Can you make money on Instagram? Let’s break it down. Here are the most frequently asked questions on the web.

Can You Make Money on Instagram?

Hands down, YES! You can make money on Instagram. Take a look at the ideas in this article and you’re sure to find a money-making Instagram strategy that works for you. If you’ve got a large and engaged account then you can start leveraging affiliate and influencer marketing, along with brand ambassador agreements. Or if you’d prefer to assist others that have large Instagram accounts and make money in the process, you can offer content creation and virtual assistant services.

How Much Do Instagram Influencers Make? 

While there are no hard and fast rules about how much you can charge as an influencer, there are some standard guidelines to follow. When paying per sponsored post, typically brands will consider what category of influencer they consider you to fall within.

Micro-influencers have less than 10K followers and average $88 per post. Middle-tier influencers have between 10-100K followers and make around $200 per post. Top-tier influencers have between 100K to 1 million followers and make an average profit of $670 per post, although this can vary greatly. Top Instagrammers can easily make thousands of dollars per post. 

Of course, there are quite a few ways to make money from Instagram other than sponsored content. As you grow your account, you can use a variety of the strategies that we looked at in this article to diversify your income. 

How Many Instagram Followers Do You Need to Make Money? 

While follower numbers can be important to brands, what’s more important is the engagement and loyalty of your following. An account with 100K followers that is full of fake accounts is going to be much less valuable than an account of 10K high-engaged fans. While top Instagrammers make thousands of dollars per post, even those with small-but-engaged followings of 1,000+ have the potential to start making money

How Can I Grow an Instagram Audience? 

Start growing your Instagram account by deciding on your niche and creating a consistent brand aesthetic through your colors and photo filters. Post content that is valuable and that resonates with people interested in your niche so that they will want to like, save, and share your post. 

Be sure to use a variety of Instagram features such as Stories, IGTV, and Reels to share your content. Start making connections with other Instagrammers in your niche and engage with your followers through comments and answering DMs. Soon, you’ll amass an engaged and profitable following! 

How Much Money Can You Make on Instagram?

There is no limit on how much you can make with Instagram! As you continue to grow your account and utilize multiple money-making strategies, you have the potential for your income to grow exponentially with Instagram. 

Brands typically pay anywhere from $10 to $500 per 1,000 followers depending on your niche and engagement. If you have a smaller following and want to increase your earnings, then the best idea is to diversify your income streams by adding other social media platforms to your marketing strategy. Or you can try out multiple strategies to make money on Instagram including selling digital or physical products and offering consulting to others. 

Can I Sell Products on Instagram?

Yes, you can sell products on Instagram! If you have products to sell, you can create an Instagram Shop or connect your eCommerce website to your Instagram account. Alternatively, you can sell others’ products through dropshipping or affiliate marketing. 

How Do You Get Sponsorship Deals on Instagram?

If you want to pursue sponsorship on Instagram, first make sure you’re following the best practices we talked about in this article regarding posting frequency, hashtag use, and staying on-brand. Also, check that your contact information is easily found in your Instagram bio.  

Then, you can start actively targeting brands that you want to work with by tagging the brand in your posts when appropriate. Or you can be even more proactive in your sponsorship search by emailing or DMing the brands you want to work with. Consider starting with smaller brands and building up your portfolio. 

Final Thoughts

What started as a fun photo app for documenting your life has quickly become a content creator’s ideal platform for attracting an audience and making money. As one of the fastest-growing social media platforms with some of the highest engagement around, you’re smart to be thinking about how to monetize your Instagram account. 

No matter if you’re growing your Instagram to become a paid influencer or you prefer to support others in their Instagram growth while making money for your efforts, Instagram offers an opportunity for you. 

Think of your Instagram account as a long-term money-making asset. The work that you put in now to grow your following will continue to benefit you in the future. Figure out your strategy, stay consistent, and remember, it’s never too late to start growing your Instagram account. Your future bank account will thank you!

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