Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has evolved into one of the most recognizable social media platforms, exceeding one billion monthly active users. While many people simply use the platform to share images and videos of their daily lives, others take advantage of opportunities to make money on Instagram. According to GQ, the highest-paid Instagrammers in 2020 included the following individuals:
- Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson, who makes $1,015,000 per post
- Kylie Jenner, who makes $986,000 per post
- Cristiano Ronaldo, who makes $889,000 per post
- Kim Kardashian with $858,000 per post
- Ariana Grande with $853,000 per post
Noticeably, all of these individuals are celebrities, and they have hundreds of millions of online and offline fans. So it makes sense that they’re able to leverage their fame to cash in on their activities on social media platforms.
However, you don’t need to be a celebrity to pull in an income from Instagram. A large audience is always helpful, but a relatively small following is often enough to start making money. Here are several strategies and tools to rely on.
Influencer Marketing Brand Partnerships
Brands love to partner with social media influencers. This is because influencers have taken the time to build relationships with audiences. Audiences expect influencers to offer insightful and entertaining content and point them toward useful products and services. Businesses benefit from those types of public endorsements, so they’re often willing to compensate influencers for spreading the word.
On Instagram, influencer marketing strategies can take on various forms, including the following:
- Promotional images and videos: An influencer may simply create or share visual content that shows them using and enjoying a brand’s product or service. The caption of the content usually includes a link to the brand’s Instagram account or storefront.
- How-to content: An influencer can create a video or photo guide that demonstrates how to use a product. Imagine a content creator who uses a video to show how easy it is to set up and adjust a brand’s standing desk.
- Reviews: An influencer can create an “unboxing” video or share a review of a brand’s products. This approach is most effective if the influencer is actually a credible expert on products within the niche.
- Giveaways and contests: An influencer can partner with a brand to launch a giveaway or contest on Instagram. The influencer could simply promote the event or play a more active role, such as announcing the winner on Instagram Live.
- Interviews: If an influencer is an expert in a niche, they might take part in an Instagram Live interview with representatives of a brand. This can help boost the brand’s credibility with audiences.
- Product development: If a brand has a lot of trust in an influencer, the influencer may be allowed to have a hand in product design. The collaboration would then be promoted on Instagram.
How much can an Instagram influencer make through a partnership with a brand? According to IZEA research, in 2019, the average cost of a sponsored Instagram post was $1,643. Factors such as the size of an influencer’s following play into the actual cost. And note that this was the average cost of a sponsored photo. Video content requires more work from the content creator, and so influencers who make videos can ask for more money per post.
Sometimes brands approach influencers about partnerships, and other times influencers need to make the pitch. In either case, both parties have an incentive to work with people who share their niche and values. This ensures that audiences perceive the partnership as comfortable and authentic, rather than based solely on profit.
Searching for brands to partner with isn’t always easy. But there are plenty of tools that may help. In April 2021, Instagram announced that it would be creating a branded content marketplace, which would help influencers and sponsors pair up. Influencers can use existing influencer marketplaces, such as IZEA’s Shake, to offer brands their services.
Instagram also intends to launch an affiliate commerce program. Essentially, this program will allow influencers to earn commission as they help brands make sales on the app.
You can currently make money from affiliate programs by partnering with brands that offer the option. Based on the program’s rules, you’ll either earn money when consumers click through to the business’ site from your page or whenever the consumer makes a purchase. The latter approach, known as cost per acquisition, tends to yield higher commission and is more widely used on Instagram, according to Later.
Affiliate links offer plenty of versatility. You can include them in places such as your bio or Instagram Story. But to maximize your success with affiliate programs, you’ll need to use calls to action and other strategies to motivate consumers to make purchases.
In May of 2020, Instagram launched its Shops feature. This allows businesses to create virtual storefronts, where customers can explore inventory and make purchases within the app. For many brands, this has been a useful feature, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic slowed brick-and-mortar shopping.
Now the platform plans to extend that same convenient feature to content creators. Creator Shops will make it easier for content creators to sell their own products to consumers.
Until the feature is up and running, influencers can still direct followers to existing virtual storefronts. Just include a link in your bio that leads consumers to a page where they can buy your products or services. Remember to occasionally promote your goods in Stories as well.
If you don’t already, consider selling products that your fans can enjoy. This might include something as simple as T-shirts and hats with your logo or customized mugs. You could also take things a little further and capitalize on your talents. For example, an artist can sell books of their artwork. Use Instagram, as well as your other social media platforms, to promote your products and direct traffic to your storefront.
Instagram Live Badges
In 2020, Instagram added its Live Badges feature. As users watch live streams, they can choose to leave a tip for content creators by purchasing badges. The content creator will appreciate the donation. And the fan who purchased the badge will stand out in the video’s comments section. This allows the streamer to identify their most loyal fans.
Currently, this feature only seems to be available to a limited number of influencers. However, Instagram may continue to expand access. In the meantime, set a goal to grow your existing audience. That way, if the feature opens up to you in the future, you’ll have a larger and more loyal base of followers who may make donations.