Instagram is hot.
Lots of folks are making tons of money off it.
I used to think the whole “Instagram influencer” thing was silly. How much money can you possibly make doing workouts and promoting protein shakes?
A lot. You can make a lot of money.
And it’s not just for models.
Even better, there are many ways to make money on Instagram. Whatever your business or goals, one of them is going to work for you.
1. Become an Influencer
Social media influencers are people who recommend products or services on their personal profiles in exchange for compensation. Because its format emphasizes images, Instagram is an ideal place to grow an influencer business around B2C products. Basically, any product that makes for a good image will do well on Instagram. The biggest categories tend to be:
Moreover, people are incredibly receptive to influencer marketing. If you have a sizable following and the ability to take compelling images, you can land valuable partnerships with brands.
As an Instagram influencer, you have two main options for featuring brands in your posts: affiliate marketing and sponsorships.
With affiliate marketing, you receive a commission for every purchase someone makes. In other words, you get a little piece of every sale that funnels through your Insta post or profile. This can work really well if a product matches your audience perfectly.
Sponsored posts are different. You typically receive a flat fee for mentioning a product in a post. For example, you might get $100 to create a post in which you bake using a sponsored ingredient. The most effective influencers know how to do this in a way that looks and feels organic rather than forced.
Do sponsored posts for the majority of your promotion, you’ll make more money on average than an affiliate deal. Only do affiliates on the few key products that your audience loves.
2. Become a Brand Ambassador
If you find success as an influencer, you might have a chance to become a brand ambassador. This happens when a company wants to have an ongoing partnership with you and to create a certain number of posts over a period of time and maybe even indefinitely.
If this sounds great, you might be wondering how on earth you can land this type of deal.
The reality is that you probably need a large following to become a brand ambassador. After all, companies want a lot of eyeballs on their products, and they won’t get that if they partner with someone who has a couple hundred followers.
You’re also likely to be more successful if you have a specific niche. Think of the influencer accounts you follow. Chances are, you follow people who share your interests. Maybe they’re world travelers or vegan chefs. You might follow a couple fashion bloggers or makeup artists.
These are all very different interests, but the one thing they have in common is visual storytelling. Whether you’re cooking food, traveling the world, or assembling trendy outfits, you can take beautiful photos of the finished product.
3. Open an eCommerce Store
Got something to sell? Instagram can be a great way to advertise your products. Even better, Instagram offers a number of tools to make direct sales possible.
Even better, you can do this for just about any type of product, from clothes to teacher supplies.
That’s right. There is a whole Instagram community of “teacher influencers” who use eCommerce to sell classroom organizational tools, printables, and other teaching-related products they’ve created. One teacher influencer makes around $50,000 per year on Instagram and made $200,000 during her highest grossing year as an influencer on the app.
To turn your Insta account into a storefront, you’ll need to complete several steps:
Step 1: Convert your personal profile to a business profile
To sell products or services on Instagram, you must have a business profile. It’s free to make the switch, and creating your business profile is a straightforward process.
Step 2: Create your product catalog
When you want to feature products in your posts, you’ll need to pull them from your store catalog. There’s a detailed review of all the best ecommerce platforms here, pick one of these to build your store. From there, you connect your product catalog to Facebook.
Step 3: Get your business profile approved
Instagram will review your business profile when you’re ready. Once Instagram approves your profile for shopping, you’re ready to start incorporating your products and services into your posts.
4. Showcase Your Freelance Services
Do you provide freelance services like writing, photography, housecleaning, or pet walking? If you can think of a freelance job, you can probably advertise it on Instagram.
The key is to attract potential clients by showcasing your work in the photos you share. If you’re a wedding photographer, share some of your most stunning work. If you run a dog walking business, turn your profile into a place where people can see adorable puppies and dogs.
Writers can also make Instagram work for them. Sites like Canva let you create shareable posts with embedded quotes from your creative writing. While Canva has a premium version, you can do a lot with a free account.
5. ‘Gram Your Portfolio
Instagram is practically made for crafters, designers, and people who make visual art. If you sell drawings, paintings, jewelry, or just about anything visual, you can transform your profile into a portfolio that captures sales.
To find new followers, use appropriate hashtags. Free sites like Keyword Tool give you a list of the most popular hashtags based on the product you’re trying to sell.
It also helps to create a unique brand for your work. You can also think of this as a theme. Your personal theme can revolve around just about anything, but it should be consistent throughout all your posts. For example, choose a color or season.
You can also opt for a specific time period or mood. Is your work whimsical? Farmhouse? Do you trend more toward mid-century modern? Or maybe your art is 1920s vintage. The possibilities are pretty much endless.
6. Sell Your Social Media Expertise
Most social media rookies think social media for business is easy. However, this attitude usually disappears once they give social media a try and realize how difficult it can be to gain traction.
If you have a knack for Instagram or you’ve spent years running your company’s social media channels, why not put those skills to work for you? It’s estimated that 75 percent of businesses will use Instagram in 2020. If you’re a pro at the ‘gram, you can tap into this growing market.
Of course, you’ve got to start somewhere. If you have the social media chops but you’re short on experience, there are several job platforms you can use to help build your portfolio.
- Upwork – This is a freelance job site that lets social media experts connect with individuals, businesses, and brands.
- Fiverr – Like other job platforms, you can create a profile, set your own prices, and let business owners find you.
- PeoplePerHour – A freelance site with nearly 1 million business users. As with similar sites, you can set your own prices. You might need to start small if you’re just starting out. As you gain more experience and get reviews, you can raise your prices.
Once you’ve accumulated a decent number of positive reviews, you can use any of these freelance sites to pitch directly to clients. Many companies will work with the same freelancer over and over again, and some even hire freelancers full time.
7. Run Contests and Giveaways
People love a deal, and they’ll flock to Instagram accounts that offer discounts and freebies. You can create posts that include special offers, free stuff, and valuable discounts.
If you decide to start running campaigns like this, you’ll probably see more engagement if you make the event last for a limited time. By creating a sense of urgency, you can make your contest or giveaway seem more exclusive.
Setting a time limit or number of entries also helps you more easily manage the campaign. If it’s open-ended, you could find yourself forever following up with contest winners.
8. Teach Others About Instagram Marketing
If you’re an established Instagram influencer with a good following, why not teach aspiring influencers how to achieve their Instagram marketing dreams?
Many successful influencers have launched side businesses that offer webinars and tutorials to people who want to grow their Instagram following or transform their profile into a business.
To make this work, you’ll obviously need to have a well-established Instagram profile with a sizable following. In this way, your Instagram acts as a portfolio and a sales pitch.
You can create pre-recorded webinars with YouTube or tools like EverWebinar. Some influencers also charge higher fees for live or personalized training sessions.