How To Make Money On Instagram
How do I make money on Instagram? This is one of the most frequently asked questions that I receive when I ask my readers about their Instagram struggles. It can seem, sometimes, that Instagram is a black hole, that hours of time get sucked into without giving anything back.
So, what can you do to start earning money from Instagram?
- Optimize your account so when you get visitors to it they stay, they follow and they click the link through to your website, sales page, affiliate link etc
- Work out how to monetize your Instagram
Part two is what this post is all about, we’ll talk through some of the ways you can use Instagram to make money using your own products, other people’s products and working with brands.
Fabulous, let’s look at some ways you can start earning money using Instagram….
Make Money On Instagram With: Paid Posts
Let’s start with a straight forward one: one of the most common ways people make money on Instagram is by advertising. Brands want to advertise on Instagram. Advertisers want to get in front of an audience who are in a buying mindset.
There are two main ways to make money on Instagram via paid posts.
One is to encourage or reach out to individual brands by yourself. You can indicate that you are open to collaborations by including your email within your profile and encouraging brands to contact you. This is a more passive way of bringing in collaborations. Therefore it might not yield as many viable collaborations as you would like.
If you are looking for a more passive way to make money on Instagram, you might consider this route.
Alternatively, you can reach out to brands that your audience would like. I recommend reaching out both through Direct Message on Instagram, as it is the native messenger service, as well as email. Smaller brands might be more likely to respond through a DM, however the bigger brands tend to only respond to emails. They will often indicate this to be the case in their bio.
If you are looking to make money on Instagram via brands, you will want to build up some kind of relationship first. Especially with smaller brands.
If they have a blog attached to their Instagram account you might consider following their blog and commenting to get your name out there. Of course, you should try to interact with them on the Instagram. However, if the account has a huge following then your comments will be buried under thousands of other users, so you might skip ahead to the next step.
How to Reach Out
Firstly, I cannot emphasize this enough, keep it short. I get a lot of emails from bloggers looking to collaborate or guest post and without a doubt, the ones that keep it short and relevant are always the ones that I feel are professional and that I might want to work with.
Offer a Benefit
So, make sure to include why you think that your brand would be a good fit with theirs. For example, you loved their recent post on styling gallery walls, and you think that your audience of home decor enthusiasts would be a great audience to pitch their artwork to etc.
Include any benefits that you can offer the brand. For example, you also have 500 hundred email subscribers that you would be happy to mention them to. Or that you have an engagement rate that is twice the average of any Instagram account.
What Do You Want?
Tell them what you want. Basically, you want to make this transaction as easy and quick as possible for whoever you are reaching out to. If they have to email you back to ask you what your rates are, that’s already an extra step and more effort on their part, which might turn them off all together.
For example, a little while ago, I had a brand reach out to me with a new app they had invented which they thought my audience might be interested in. They wondered if I might set aside and hour or so in which to chat to them about it.
The app itself looked good. However, I don’t really have time in the day to just have an ‘hour’ chat, the purpose of which is totally unknown. For example, if he had wanted me to write a blog post for free but with the promise of ‘exposure’, that would have been a no. But if he had wanted to talk about some sort of defined affiliate scheme, I might have be interested and heard him out.
So, make sure to clearly define what it is you want in return. The three most usual requests are:
- A free product – usually, but not necessarily, to send you a free product for you to photograph/review and keep afterward as payment. This might also take the form of a gift card for the brand in question, for you to choose your own product to receive.
- Rates – We go more in-depth into the world of influencers and pricing in our eBook, however you will need to decide what rate you will charge for a single post. If you are willing to negotiate on this then feel free to let the brand know in your email, but it’s best to give them a ballpark figure to work with.
- A swap – This is generally a more casual arrangement that you establish with a brand you might already have a relationship with. Whereby you essentially promote each other on your respective platforms. These arrangements can really be as casual or as formal as you want them to be. For example, more formally you might agree ahead of time when and what you will each be posting. Or more casually you might agree to swap a product which each other, as part of a friendly exchange.
Via a 3rd Party
The second way to go about making money on Instagram with paid posts is to join a influencer network or ‘matchmaker’. This is a company which will help put together marketers and influencers for specific campaigns.
Marketers will indicate what kind of demographics and audience they want to target and the company will match them with an appropriate influencer. If you’ve got a big audience, over 50, 000, then you might considered Mobile Media Lab or Digital Media Management.
However, if you’ve got a smaller account but a high rate of engagement, you might want to try a company like Snapfluence.
If you are looking to have this more as a sideline than a dedicated source of income then another option might be Popular Pays. Unfortunately this is an iOS only app, however the company will generally offer you products as payments in return for your services. Brands can make your an offer (which you can refuse) through the app. All that is required is an audience of 500 + followers.
Make Money On Instagram With: Affiliate Programs
You might already be involved in an affiliate program from your website, so why not bring it over to Instagram as well? From big hitters like Amazon affiliates to smaller affiliate options that might be offered by your favourite blogger for their new course; the sky’s the limit. To make money on Instagram via affiliates is a great option, especially if you are already involved in affiliate programs on your own site.
Of course, it goes without saying that whatever it is you are promoting, it should be relevant to your niche. For example, a fashion blogger who starts promoting stereo equipment might find themselves quickly loosing followers. But a fashion blogger posting affiliate links to their OOTD? Seamless.
Check Existing Programs
If you are looking for affiliate programs in order to make money on Instagram, you might try looking at specific blogger’s websites. Most bloggers/brands will have a section of their website which will give you instruction on how to apply. Once you’ve got your dedicated link, which will track how many referrals you send their way, you can begin ‘selling’ on your Instagram.
This is made super easy if you sign up with a service like LiketoKnow.it because you can sell straight from the Instagram photos. Without it, you will need to set aside a dedicate page on your website so you can link to the pages where your affiliate products can be purchased.
The best place to start is to simply think about what programs you use. If you’ve got a WordPress site, for example, you might find that many of the plugins you use will have affiliate schemes.
Pro Tip: Remember to include a call to action in your bio, encouraging people to actually click through!
The only downside to this is that it is a bit harder to do as a ‘sideline’ project, if you are also selling your own products or services through Instagram and are just looking for a passive revenue stream. As you only have one link in your bio, you might find yourself having to change it back and forth from your affiliate link, to your own website link, depending on what you are posting that day.
Whilst this is, of course, not impossible, this might not be the route you want to go down if you are more focused on selling your own products.
Speaking of which….
Make Money On Instagram With: Drop Shipping
This is a great option for people wanting to sell their own products, without having to commit to the logistics and sunk costs of buying inventory. I’d recommend this method if:
- You are looking to start a physical product business, but want to test the waters without incurring any up front cost OR
- You are looking for a side income in which you have creative control but without needing to dedicate a large amount of time and resources to the business.
What Is Drop Shipping?
If you have your own design, logo or phrase you can upload your design to a variety of products. When a customer orders said product the company will print the order and ship it off to the customer for you.
If you choose a large drop shipping company like Printful you can have your shop on the Printful website, or you can choose to integrate it with your own website through Shopify or WooCommerce.
I’m a big fan of Printful so the above link is an affiliate link, however, there are some other considerations you might want to think about before signing up for drop shipping at Printful or else where.
A word of caution…
Whilst I think this option has a lot of merits, I should just note two main caveats when using drop shopping to make money on Instagram.
First, the amount of branding will be limited. Most drop shipping sites will offer to include a packing slip with your branding. However, if you are looking to create a real customer experience by putting a lot of thought into the design of your packaging and the contents of your shipping then you might want to think about packaging your products yourself.
Printful does offer the option of ‘pack-ins’ which is something extra you can add to your orders, like a flyer, sticker, business card, or button. However this does incur a small extra cost of $0.75 per order, and $0.85 per day to store.
Custom packaging , of course, is not a critical issue by any means. Especially if you are looking to keep costs low. However, if you are looking to make physical products your main source of business, you might want to consider how you are building your brand awareness for the future.
Second, your shipping company will be taking a fairly large cut. Which is fair enough, given that they are doing a quite considerable amount of work for you. However, you might want to consider that after they have charged the customer their price for printing, your percentage on top as well as the actual shipping cost – you are left with a much smaller profit margin.
As I said, if this is just a side business, to be sold fairly passively through your Instagram, then it’s a great source of side income for you. Also, I would recommend it for testing the popularity of products before your go ahead and start ordering your own stock. However, if you are looking to build your own product business, you might see this as a short term solution only, in order to gauge how well your designs are received.
Make Money On Instagram With: Building Your Email List
Of course if you have your own products, then you can use Instagram to sell them straight from your feed. If writing your Instagram captions to encourage people to sign up to your email list sounds impossible, fear not. We’ve written a whole lesson in our free course on how to sell without being sales-y, because no one wants to turn off their audience by hounding them to buy all the time. But you’ve still got to make a living right?
Know, Like and Trust
However, if your products are more costly, a high priced online course or luxury item for example, you might find that you need to build up your know, like and trust factor a little more before you can sell to your audience. In this case, you might decide that the best solution is to use Instagram as the first step in your sales funnel.
In which case you will want to change the link in your bio into a re-direct to a landing page, where you can capture your visitor’s email. Your landing page should be devoid of any other distractions and should focus entirely on encouraging your visitor to sign up to your email list.
This might be offering them a discount on your product, or a lead magnet (such as a checklist or free eBook). Whatever it might be, once you have your visitor’s email, you have a direct line to chat to them, so you won’t have to rely on them checking back in with you on Instagram to get your latest updates.
And in the world of the new Instagram algorithm that’s probably a very good business decision.
So, there you have it, four ways you can create an income from your Instagram account. Of course, in order to create an Instagram that will entice people to buy, you will want to pay close attention to your content, your story and crafting your bio to encourage action.