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How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

By Jessica Bubenheim, on 18 September 2020

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. And beyond just being entertaining, it’s actually possible to make a living and make money on Instagram. 

Instagram was born as a simple platform to share photos and, since its birth in 2010, it has become a part of millions of users' daily lives. With loads of opportunities to share your unique perspective and story, it is possible to grow your following and monetize your Instagram account. 

Monetizing your account can be challenging and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it is possible! In this guide, we’ll review how to grow and monetize your Instagram account in 7 steps based on the advice of Anthony Carbone, an Instagrammer with over 14 million followers. We’ll cover both organic and paid Instagram advertising options, so stick around! 

* Are you effectively incorporating IGTV and Instagram Live into your social  strategy? Learn how to use these tools and best practices in our free IGTV and  Instagram Live ebook!

How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

Influencers on Instagram

We don’t have to remind you that Instagram is an incredibly popular app. Just look at the number of active users per month and the position it holds in the world's most famous social networks, according to Statista as of January 2020. There are now more than a billion people who open their cell phones every day to watch or share images and videos on this app.

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 restaurant, hotel, location or product information, follow their favorite influencers and brands, check on what their friends are up to, and learn more about topics they’re interested in. There is a mini-world for every type of interest, which means their is likely also an audience. 

Other encouraging facts about the app include:

    • 500 million active users every day.
    • 80% of accounts follow a minimum of one company on Instagram.
    • Over 500 million accounts use Stories daily.
    • 25 million company profiles worldwide
  • 60% of users claim to discover new products on Instagram.
  • More than 200 million users visit a company profile every day
  • There are 2 million advertisers per month in this network.
  • 1 out of 3 stories comes from a company.
  • 50% of companies using Instagram worldwide create stories at least once a month.
  • 96% of U.S. advertisers say they will continue to use the Stories in the next six months

It's the place where celebrities and everyday people can show their profile without depending directly on the media or having a blog. Instagram has become a medium on its own - which means becoming an influencer within this network is possible, but challenging.

But, with a little patience and perseverance, anyone can become an influencer and make their presence on this network profitable.

However, 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 you account stand apart from the rest. This includes everything from hashtags, to the time of your posts, and to publish videos and images of very high quality. 

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 a general account and expect to 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 professional and 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.

According to IAB Spain's 2019 Social Networking study, 62% of Instagram regular users are women and 38% are men. It is a social network where female use predominates, but is increasingly used by the opposite sex, as its growth is exponential. In the 16-30 age group 70% are girls and in the 31-45 age group it drops five points (65%).

Consider creating an account that has a specialized opinion, view, or niche in these visually-friendly categories:

  • Animals/Pets
  • Stores/ Ecommerces to publicize products/services
  • Brands (with a branding objective, rather than a final sale objective)
  • Kitchen/ Catering
  • Sports/ wellness/ fitness/ diet
  • Automotive
  • Architecture, design, illustration and art
  • Travel, leisure and hospitality
  • Fashion
  • Beauty
  • Jewelry

A good example is @things.i.bought.and.liked (refered to as TIBAL for short) which focuses on highlighting various product reviews, mostly for skin and hair care and household items. Her posts often include

  • 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” reviews in which she gives a review of 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 profile bio you can find out she does, the option to send her message, her handle and the link to her online shop.

In her posts she shares professional and edited images, friendly texts 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,I recommend turning 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: Where Advertisers And Influencers Can Meet

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 $100 to thousands of dollars for just one single sponsored post or story. But, this doesn’t happen overnight. 

Not too long ago you had to find your own way to find brands to partner with on sponsored posts, especially if you were just starting out. Big 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 your benefits to them. Once your account gets big enough, you can even find influencer agents to work with who will find brands on your behalf.

But, if your account is still small there are some platforms that allow brands and influencers to connect easier. Here are a few:

1. Influenz. If you are an influencer and want to earn money with your Instagram account, I recommend registering with Ifluenz. It doesn't cost anything and they offer you a table of earnings, depending on the number of followers you have. Ifluenz suggests that profits depend on the number of followers your account has (real). 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 of the most important influencers of the moment. Not only because it fulfills the basic conditions for a good operation and performance of the campaigns. But because it presents itself as one of the most complete software. In fact, it responds to the needs of two different target audiences, advertisers and publishers.

3. SocialPubli. This is another platform for influencing marketing that puts companies in contact with influencers to transmit the message of the brand through different spaces. And among them, besides blogs, social networks have an important role: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube or Snapchat. The strong point of the platform is that it not only works with influencers, but also with microinfluencers. In case you are an influencer, all you have to do is register and create your profile. The platform itself will tell you what your interests and those of your audience are, so the 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, and Instagram TV. And now with Instagram Reels, influencers have another avenue to create fun content on the IG.

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 grabs 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 the most at the top of your profile.

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

Thanks to everyone being home in 2020 Instagram TV (IGTV) has grown exponentially in popularity. It's designed to allow users to post longer, high quality videos that people can watch whenever they want. It's better to pre-produce and upload them in good quality, rather than broadcast live from this Instagram option. It also works as a standalone app that you can install separately. Videos from this application can be a complement and reinforcement to 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 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!

* Are you effectively incorporating IGTV and Instagram Live into your social  strategy? Learn how to use these tools and best practices in our free IGTV and  Instagram Live ebook!


4. Sell Your 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 are usually generated by Lightroom, and they help enhance the effects of Instagram images. They're special filters, often designed by Instagramers or photography professionals, that owners put up for sale.

Two examples:


Jack Morris has over 2.7 million followers and has made it a real business.He not only makes money through brand partnerships, but through his presets that he sells.

How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

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

Selling presets likely won’t yield enough money to live off of alone, 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 own followers.

How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

How to Make Money on Instagram and Get More Followers

5. Advertising on Instagram

Competition on Instagram is steep and it can be difficult to differentiate yourself, whether an influencer or corporate account.

Sometimes, to make money, you have to invest money. 

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

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 decision, 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, the person signing your checks will likely be 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 front of mind. They are the reason you find success, the ones who will tell their friends about you, and the main way you’ll 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 touching in regularly with your audience and gauging how they perceive your content and what they want to see next from you. 

If your audience prefers highly crafted 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 or fun thoughts. The important thing is that you understand it 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 the will pay you, your followers are the reason the brands are willing to pay. 


7. Sell Your Photos In Image Banks

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

You can use the portal, 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 rise of the Internet and digital companies, the need for images has grown exponentially and for this reason, at the beginning of 2000, micro-stock portals were created.

It is a kind of low-cost image bank, where everything is based on the ability to make professional photographs and have patience to upload them to platforms such as Shutterstock and order them according to the needs of the portal.

You take the picture and they sell it. The fees are distributed in proportion and whoever benefits most is the author.

An example is that for every 100 images you can get 400 euros a year, but if you are regularly uploading new ones, for about 1600 photos uploaded you could get 6400 euros every year. 

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

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


Remember, today it costs 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 and find your way.

Learn, practice, make mistakes, 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.