You’ve probably heard stories of Instagrammers who are cashing in on the pictures they snap and share every day on Instagram.
You might’ve even looked at your own sizeable following and thought, “Maybe I can do this Instagram of a thing too”.
Just like bloggers, YouTubers, and anyone who’s amassed an audience around the content they produce, Instagrammers have reach and influence figured out—two things many companies struggle with.
Together, these two things offer the opportunity for Instagram creators to explore multiple streams of potential revenue,
whether they want to build an empire or just earn some extra cash and free stuff.
Depending on your unique brand of Instagram content, your audience,
and your level of commitment, you can make money on Instagram in the following ways:
1: Doing sponsored posts for brands that want to get in front of your audience.
2: Becoming an affiliate and making a commission selling other brands’ products.
3:Creating and selling a physical or digital product, or offering a paid service.
4: Selling licenses for your photography or videos.
The beauty here is that chasing one revenue stream doesn’t necessarily rule out another.
So let’s start with the most common approach to Instagram monetization: partnering with brands as an influencer.
Work with Brands on Sponsored posts
The term “influencer” gets thrown around a lot these days.
An influencer is basically anyone who’s built themselves an online reputation by doing and sharing awesome things online, especially on Instagram.
To their audiences, influencers are tastemakers, trendsetters and trusted experts whose opinions about certain subjects are respected.
Many brands just can’t compete with that and so they partner with influencers instead for sponsored posts that help get the word out about their products.
But it’s not just the size and reach of your Instagram account that brands want.
It’s your audience’s trust and engagement with your content.
It can be hard to balance your revenue as an influencer and your integrity as a creator, but if you’re not relying on your Instagram income to stay afloat,
you always have the freedom to be selective about the brands you work with, just as brands will be selective about the Instagrammers they work with.
Brands of all kinds are using influencer marketing to get their products out there (via Fohr Card).
- Become an Affiliate on Instagram
Unlike an influencer, an affiliate is more invested in making sales for the partner brand—not just generating awareness—in exchange for a commission.
This is typically done with a trackable link or unique promo code to ensure clicks actually translate into sales.
Since Instagram doesn’t yet allow links anywhere outside of your bio,
you can only focus on one product at a time if you choose to rely on affiliate links,
making promo codes a better option for Instagram since you can actually incorporate them into your posts.
Note: Instagram has plans to roll out links for Instagram Stories,
which will open up new opportunities for you as an influencer.
Consider reaching out to one of the many online merchants that offer affiliate programs that you can participate in. Or you can also explore popular marketplaces like:
An affiliate platform with a tier-based commission that’s open to everyone.
RewardStyle: An invitation-only fashion and lifestyle influencer network that offers 20% commissions.
- Amazon’s Affiliate Program
A popular option that pays out a 10% commission.
Though it sounds like a numbers game, affiliate marketing is also an art,
and you’ll have a better chance at success if you have a plan going into it and expand your online presence to include a website and other marketing channels.
Tip: Affiliate links can be long and ugly, so I recommend a URL shortener like bit.ly, especially if they’re going in your
- Open Your Own Online Store on Instagram
By now it might sound like the only way for an Instagrammer to make money is to sell out and work with other brands.
But creators of all kinds are also in a good position to “sell out” with their own products:
physical goods, services, or digital items that can be an extension of their brand, building a business with an audience at its center.
- Sell Your Photos Online on Instagram
Someone might get famous on Twitter by telling 140-character jokes, but Instagram is a photo-sharing app at its core.
And photos are assets that can be licensed, printed, and sold in a variety of ways.
If photography is what got you into the Instagram game in the first place,
you can list your photos in marketplaces like 500px or Twenty20 where brands and publishers might license them.
However, you can also sell your photos as prints and on other physical products using similar methods described in the last section.
Services like Printful and Teelaunch can let you put your photos on posters, phone cases, pillows, and more,
taking care of fulfilling orders and customer service so all you really need to worry about is making sales.
Take the story of Daniel Arnold who went from “eating toast 3 meals a day”, according to an interview on Forbes, to making $15K in a single day by offering to sell prints of his popular-but-controversial photos.
If you’ve already got the demand, all you need to do is take the initiative and offer your audience the opportunity to buy your photography from you.
- Do it for the ‘Gram (and Get Paid)
What started as a hobby—making people laugh, doing silly photoshoots with your dog or sharing pictures of food—can snowball into the chance to turn Instagram into a source of income fuelled by your engaged following.
There’s a world of possibilities out there as a creator with a large online audience made up of people who can’t help but stop when they scroll past your post in their feed.
It’s this special appeal that you have that opens the door. You just have to walk through it.
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