Social Media & Social Ads

How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

By Jessica Bubenheim, on 26 May 2021

With beautiful photos, live videos, fun stories, and now Reels, it’s safe to say Instagram is one of the most diverse and popular social media apps on the market. But beyond just being entertaining, it’s actually possible make money on Instagram. 

Instagram was created as a photo sharing platform, but has since become a part of millions of peoples' daily lives. It gives you a platform to share your unique perspective, making it possible to grow your following and monetize your Instagram account. 

Monetizing your account can be challenging and it likely won't happen overnight, but it is possible! In this guide, we’ll review how to grow and monetize your Instagram account. We’ll cover both organic and paid Instagram advertising options, so stick around! 

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How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

 

Influencers on Instagram

We don’t have to tell you that Instagram is incredibly popular. Just look at the number of active users per month and the position it holds in the world's most popular social networks, according to Statista as of January 2021. Over a billion people open the app every day to watch or share images and videos.

How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

It's safe to say that Instagram is not a passing fad, but a well established network. Many people use it to search for restaurants, hotels, and product information. They also stay up to date with their favorite influencers and brands, check on what their friends are up to, and learn more about topics they’re interested in. There are multiple accounts catering to every type of interest.

Other encouraging facts about the app include:

    • Over a billion active users every month.
    • Therefore, ads on Instagram have the potential to reach over a billion users.
    • 90% of users follow at least one company on Instagram.
    • Over 500 million accounts use Stories daily.
    • There are over 25 million company profiles worldwide
    • 61% of users research new products or services on Instagram.
    • More than 200 million users visit a company profile every day
    • 50% of users are more interested in a brand after seeing it advertised on Instagram 
    • About 4 million businesses use Stories ads monthly
    • Over a third of B2B decision makers use Instagram

Instagram has become its own medium and becoming an influencer within this network can be very lucrative, but challenging. However, with a little patience, perseverance, and creativity anyone can become an influencer and make their presence on this network profitable.

It's important to recognize that today there is more competition than ever. So it is key to use every tip and trick in the book to help your account stand out from the rest. This includes everything from hashtags, to the time you post, to the quality of the videos and images you publish. 

Without further ado, let’s dive into our 7 tips to grow and monetize your Instagram account!

 

How To Make Money on Instagram

1. Create a Niche

Today it's hard to have an account that is very broad and that doesn't really center around a specific theme and get a lot of followers. Instagram has grown so much that standing out has become more difficult. In order to get attention and make your account profitable, you must specialize in a niche market.

People who successfully make money on Instagram don't see their account as a personal profile, but as a business.

Consider creating an account where you share your expertise or opinions, teach or show people how to do something, or post about your brand (news, projects, etc.).

If you're still not sure where to start, these are some visually-friendly categories that are often popular.

  • Animals/pets
  • Ecommerce accounts where you publicize products or services
  • Brands (with a branding objective rather than selling)
  • Food and recipes
  • Sports, wellness, fitness, and diet
  • Automotive
  • Architecture, design, illustration, and art
  • Travel, leisure, and hospitality
  • Fashion
  • Beauty
  • Jewelry

Reviews are also popular. One example of this is @things.i.bought.and.liked (TIBAL) which highlights and reviews various product, mostly skincare, hair products, and household items. Her posts often include the following:

  • A monthly round up of her favorite products
  • Daily Stories highlighting her current favorites
  • Demonstrations or tutorials of how she uses the different products she is reviewing 
  • “Empties” where she reviews a product after she finishes using it and explains whether or not she would recommend it
  • Links to the products she uses

How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

In her posts, she shares professional and edited images, friendly text focused on sharing her opinions and personality with her audience (not only on selling) and a few relevant hashtags.

Pro Tip: If you are serious about monetizing your account, you can turn it into a company profile. This is done by linking your Instagram with Facebook. This way you can put a call to action button like "Send Message," get data with Analytics, and advertise on Instagram.

2. Influencer Marketing Platforms

Influencer marketing is by far the most profitable way to make money on Instagram. Depending on the amount of followers you have, you can charge brands anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars for just one single sponsored post or story. But, this doesn’t happen overnight. 

Finding brands to partner with on sponsored posts can be tricky, especially if you were just starting out. Bigger influencers (100,000+ followers) have it a bit easier, but the smaller accounts (5,000+ followers) have to put in the work themselves first.

Create a dossier that includes information on who you are, your profile, what type of audience you have, your niche, data on your followers, and on your Analytics. Find companies or brands that you would like to work with and present how you can spread the word about their products or services. Once your account gets big enough, you can even find influencer agents to work with who will find brands on your behalf.

If your account is still small, there are some platforms you can use that allow brands and influencers to connect easily. Here are a few.

1. Influenz. If you are an influencer and want to earn money with your Instagram account, register with Ifluenz. It doesn't cost anything and they offer you a table of earnings, depending on the number of followers you have. For example, if you have 5,000 followers, you can earn $10 for a validated post. And if you have 500,000 followers, you can earn $1,000 per validated post. The average is $2 per 1,000 followers.

How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

2. CoobisCoobis is a marketing platform that not only fulfills the basic conditions for a good operation and performance when it comes to campaigns but also presents itself as one of the most complete platforms available. In fact, it responds to the needs of two different target audiences, advertisers and publishers.


3. SocialPubli. This is another platform for influencer marketing that puts companies in contact with influencers. And among them are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, and Snapchat. The strength of this platform is that it not only works with influencers, but also with microinfluencers. If you are an influencer, all you have to do is register and create your profile. The platform itself will tell you what your audience is interested in, so brands will know what kind of community you have created.

How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

When you’re first starting out, these platforms are a good option to begin to earn some money. But as you grow, I recommend reaching out to brands you are interested in and trying to form partnerships yourself. In the long run, the deals will be more lucrative this way and you’ll have greater control over who you feature on your page.

3. Instagram Stories, Live Events, Instagram TV, and Reels

If you are serious about monetizing your Instagram account then you cannot miss out on Stories, Instagram Lives, Reels and IGTV.

Remember, to make money on Instagram you have to see your account as a business. This means you have to constantly be producing content that entertains and holds people's attention.

Instagram Stories was created to compete with Snapchat. It consists of images that only last 24 hours and then disappear. Although they do remain in your account memory and you can highlight the ones you like at the top of your profile.

Some Instagram Stories ideas include publishing discounts, reviewing products, sharing personal news, highlighting daily activities, or sharing events you’re attending. This content is just as important as what you post in your regular feed, and can be casual.

You can also broadcast live videos on Instagram. When the broadcast is live it appears in the same spot as Stories, but afterwards it can be found on IGTV.

Because many people were at home for much of 2020, IGTV grew exponentially. It's designed to allow users to post longer, high quality videos that people can watch whenever they want. For quality control, it's better to pre-produce and upload them in good quality, rather than broadcast live. It also works as a standalone app that you can install separately. Videos from this application can complement and reinforcement your Instagram account monetization strategy. It is recommended to upload videos of 15-60 minutes.

Finally, we have Instagram Reels. This is the newest feature from the social network and it serves as a direct competition to TikTok. If you have a TikTok account, this is a great way to repurpose your content.  Or you can make completely unique content solely for this platform. TikTok proves that this style of content is popular, especially among Gen Z, so don’t ignore it!

 

4. Sell Presets Or Default Filters You Have Created

Presets are a common and easy to sell item that many big accounts use to make some extra money. What exactly is a preset? Presets can be created in Lightroom, and they help enhance the effects of Instagram images. They're special filters, often designed by Instagramers or photography professionals, that the owners put up for sale. Here are two examples.

Jack Morris @doyoutravel has over 2.5 million followers and has made his account a real business. He not only makes money through brand partnerships, but through the presets that he sells.

How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

@flyingthenest is another Instagram account that sells presets when they’re not posting about brand partnerships.

Selling presets likely won’t yield enough money to live off of by itself, but they’re an easy and effective way to make extra cash. They are especially useful if you have a unique photography aesthetic that your followers love, as it allows them to emulate you in their own pages and then share it with their followers.

How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

5. Advertising on Instagram

Competition on Instagram is tough and it can be difficult to differentiate yourself, whether as an influencer or corporate account so sometimes, to make money, you have to invest money. 

An advertising campaign on Instagram can help exponentially multiply your engagement by attracting potential customers or followers to your account.

Aspiring influencers should not shy away from the idea of advertising, since there is no minimum budget requirement. You can start with $5 a day or $3,000 a month. It all depends on your goals, and budget.

Instagram campaigns can be stopped and modified at any time. The platform gives opportunities to both small and big accounts. Remember, digital advertising is not just for big brands!

6. Listen to What Your Audience Wants

When you start to make money, your checks will likely be coming from the businesses you’re working with, but the real drivers behind your success will be your audience.

It’s essential that you always keep your audience’s interests and wants at the forefront. They are the reason for your success as they are the ones who tell their friends about you and the main way you grow your account and business.

The great thing about influencer marketing is that audiences feel like they’re friends with the influencers they follow. Make sure you are checking in regularly with your audience and gauging how they perceive your content and what they want to see from you next. 

If your audience prefers highly staged photos and beautiful images, be sure to work hard at creating that content. Or, maybe your audience prefers Instagram Stories where you share humorous parts of your day and funny thoughts. The important thing is that you understand and utilize this.

This is a great way to ensure your engagement numbers are high, and thus bring in more followers and interest brands. 

If you deviate too far from what your audience is interested in, you could lose followers, engagement, and potential brand deals. Remember, while the brands are the ones who will pay you, your followers are the reason the brands are willing to pay you. 

7. Sell Your Photos in Image Banks

If you want to make money with Instagram in a direct way, you can upload some of the images that you have prepared for this network to an image bank and put a price on them.

You could use the Shutterstock.com, which works under the concept of micro-stock. Be mindful that this means your photos are available for anyone to use (for a price). 

How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

With the ever increasing use of the internet, the need for digital images has grown exponentially and for this reason, micro-stock portals were created.

They are a kind of low-cost image bank where you take the pictures and they sell them. The fees are distributed in proportion. For example, for every 100 images you can get 400 dollars a year, but if you are regularly uploading new ones, for about 1600 photos you could get 6400 dollars every year. 

There is no secret here, just consistency in taking quality photos and uploading them to the platforms. Normally, there is no exclusivity, so you can upload the same one to several different portals.

One tip is to upload images from your Instagram that you know may be needed by companies or agencies.

In Conclusion

Remember, today it takes more effort and money to grow your followers and monetize your account than it did a few years ago. But, your initial investment doesn't have to be very high and the results will begin to build upon themselves the more your grow.

Learn, try different things, and always listen to your audience and what they want. Don't look for shortcuts, and avoid buying followers or fake likes. By adapting to your audience's tastes and working hard, you can become a real influencer and make money on Instagram!

 

IGTV and Instagram Live for Brands

Jessica Bubenheim

International Business at Warwick Business School. Inspired by Social Entrepreneurs.