How to make money on Instagram? 5 ways to monetize your following

Instagram is one of the most active and largest social media channels. With over 1 billion users, there is a market for almost anything. Therefore you could also make a lot of money on Instagram.

You probably have read how brands are currently throwing money on Instagram influencers. Instagram is huge, and the potential is even more significant. Although influencers get a lot of attention in the news, they are not the only ones who profit on Instagram. In fact, there are even better ways to make money.

How many Instagram followers do you need to monetise?

It’s a question that gets asked a lot. Everyone would love to make some extra money or even a regular income on Instagram. And the thing is, you can! Even with a small following, it’s possible to start earning right now.

In this article, I go through the monetization options that you could use and I’ll also list the pros and cons of each method. No matter what your Instagram page is about, there is probably a market for you and ways to monetize your account.

1. Brand deals: paid and sponsored posts

How does an Instagram influencer make money?

Usually from sponsorships with brands. Practically this means paid and sponsored posts. Brands pay content creators to feature their products in their photos and videos. There’s a lot of money and opportunities up for grabs. And brand deals are a option even for smaller accounts; you don’t necessarily need to have

The more followers and better engagement you have, the better chance you have of securing sponsorships. Bigger brands spend more money on campaigns, but then again you usually need a lot of followers (at least 100k) even to be considered for large campaigns.

So how do you get sponsored on Instagram?

There are many ways. You can contact brands directly and propose collaboration with them. Or the other way around as brands could contact you directly too.

There are also many influencer marketing platforms ( Upfluence, AspireIQ, Tribe, etc.) that connect content creators with brands. These are a great way to get started with sponsored deals, but in the long run, I suggest you build relationships with brands directly.

Pros of brand deals

  • Money: if you have a lot of followers, brands will pay you. A lot! And even with a smaller following, you can start making some extra income.
  • Available opportunities: the world is full of brands and many of them are active on Instagram too.
  • Exposure from brands: when you collaborate with brands, they may promote your page too by reposting your content. The exposure could turn out to be very profitable, especially if the brand has a huge audience.

Cons of brand deals

  • Requires active work: Connecting with brands is not as straightforward as it may sound. It requires work, constant attention, and communication with brands so nothing comes automatically.
  • Risk of losing the trust of your followers: if you constantly promote brands through sponsored posts, you may start to annoy your followers. Sponsored deals should always be related to your niche because your followers expect certain types of content from you.

2. Affiliate marketing – Promote and earn a commission.

One of the most popular ways to make money online is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is about promoting someone’s products and earning a commission based on sales. So if someone buys the product after clicking your link to the product, you will earn a percentage of the price.

Affiliate marketing requires trackable links so that a purchase can be connected to your promotion. Compared to other platforms (e.g., your own website or other social media channels) the use of links is quite limited on Instagram. You can place links only in three places on Instagram:

  1. Your bio
  2. Your stories (only available if you have over 10k followers or your account is verified)
  3. Direct messages.

So you can’t use links in your posts. That’s unfortunate because your posts are what gets you the most attention.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t make it work, but leading people outside of Instagram is difficult. People prefer to stay on Instagram and not visit external links.

You can earn commission also from brand deals. Usually, these require the use of personalized coupon codes. If someone uses your code when they purchase something from the brand, you’ll earn a small commission.

Earning big bucks with affiliate links on Instagram requires a considerable following. You can nonetheless earn some extra cash even with smaller following so it definitely can be worth a try.

The good thing about affiliate marketing is that you can achieve passive income. Instead of working actively with brands directly, you can make money promoting other’s content.

Pros:

  • Passive income: once you get your affiliate marketing strategy rolling, you can make recurring money through your links. Whenever someone buys something, you’ll get a commission. Some affiliate links have a very long cookie window (=duration) so you can earn commissions even months after someone clicked your link.
  • No need to create your own content: although you could create your own content, you don’t have to! Links with some product photos (or screenshots) are enough to promote something.
  • Not dependent on brands: with affiliate links, you can promote whatever you want. So even if you can’t secure a brand deal with a brand that you love, you can still recommend their products to your followers and make some money

Cons:

  • Limited options on Instagram: links can’t be placed on posts so promoting affiliate links requires alternative ways.
  • Small commissions: depending on the products you promote, the commissions could be rather small. Unless you can sell expensive products or generate a huge number of sales, your income could be very limited.
  • No guaranteed payment: if no one buys anything through your affiliate links, you won’t earn anything.

3. Ads

Probably the quickest way to make money on Instagram is to sell ad space. Just like a magazine has ads, you can have them too.

If you have a following, brands and companies can reach your followers through your posts.

Ads are very similar to sponsorship deals with one big difference. Instead of creating the content, advertisers provide you with the material that you post.

Although it’s a quick way to make some money, it could hurt your credibility a lot. The thing, unfortunately, is that most people don’t like ads. So if you ever decide to post ads, make sure they are valuable and relevant to your audience.

It might sound great to earn quick bucks for a while, but in the end, you are better off building your own brand instead of promoting other’s brands.

Pros:

  • Quick: advertisers (brands) provide you the material that you post either to your feed or stories.
  • Don’t need to create content: you don’t need to spend time creating your own content

Cons

  • Credibility issues: as sponsored content
  • Nothing original: when you post someone else’s content, you are not posting anything original. People always prefer to see something new and unique so posting ads could backfire you.

4. Selling your own products and services.

What’s the best way to make money on Instagram?

Just like anywhere, selling your own products and services is the most profitable method to make money on Instagram. Sooner or later, I think your best option is to sell something own.

You are building your own brand on Instagram. Well, at least that’s what you should be doing. But if your income is entirely dependent on brand deals, you are actually mostly building others’ brands. Nothing wrong with that either but if you want to profit even after and outside of Instagram, offering something own will pay off.

So what could you sell on Instagram?

Pretty much anything. The possibilities are endless. Instagram is an excellent platform to promote your products and services.

  • Digital products
  • Memberships
  • E-books
  • Physical products
  • Print on demand
  • Services

Pros:

  • Continuity: when you are selling something own, you are not dependent on Instagram alone. If you build your brand and business, you’ll use Instagram as a platform to promote your business outside of Instagram.
  • Independency: your monetization is not dependent on brands
  • Income: you know exactly what your profit is and will be.
  • Monetize anything: you can sell anything on Instagram

Cons:

  • Work: selling your own products and services means you are running a business. That’s not for everyone as it always requires a lot of work and patience
  • Risk: running a business always includes risks and doing it on instagram is no different. If you focus on your business full-time, you need to make sales in order to pay your bills. You are quickly out of business if you can’t sell your products/services.

5. Shoutouts

If you have enough followers, you can make money by promoting other accounts in the same niche. You can earn a few bucks by promoting someone else’s page, but you could also build some valuable connections in the process.

Obviously, if you are posting only your own original content, shoutouts are not necessarily something you want to do. In the end, it’s not worth messing up your curated feed for a small fee.

Pros

  • Quick & easy: posting a shoutout doesn’t require much.

Cons

  • Small fee: the money you can make from shoutouts are quite small. Firstly, the paid shoutout opportunities are quite limited and secondly, the fees are usually small. You could obviously do a shoutout for a shoutout that could be beneficial for both
  • Messing your feed: if you post shoutouts in your feed, you risk messing your feed’s aesthetics and theme.
  • How your followers react: if the shoutout is directly connected to your own content, your followers could be pleased. But there’s also a chance that they see it plainly as paid ads.

Conclusion

There are many ways to make money on Instagram. Which method is best for your account, depends largely on what your account is about and what your goals are.

If you are building a brand and a business, you definitely should start promoting whatever you offer. Collaborations with brands are crucial if you are an influencer or want to become one. Posting ads and shoutouts are something you could consider if you want to earn a quick buck, but in the long run, the other methods are better. Affiliate marketing is something I suggest everyone tries because you can easily do it alongside other activities.

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