Over the years, Instagram has shifted from a personal image-sharing platform into a platform that you can earn money on.
Whether that’s by becoming an influencer, an affiliate marketer, by opening your own shop, or just by selling your photos (yes, you can even do that.) Making money online has never been as easy as it is now.
This article is a step-by-step guide into discovering which Instagram monetization strategy appeals most to you and what you hope to accomplish by following through the tips and facts mentioned throughout.
When you go through the phases it takes to start monetizing off of Instagram, you’ll see a significant increase in your monetization potential and revenue.
- You’re going to learn the three essential factors that go into learning how to make money on Instagram.
- You’ll know ways that you can grow and maintain your engaged Instagram audience, and how to do so within a small time-frame.
- You’ll learn exactly what the highest earning monetization strategy is.
- You’ll learn how to earn money on Instagram by understanding your niche, your target audience and your engaged follower count.
How Many Instagram Followers Do You Need to Make Money?
Contrary to belief, you don’t have to have half-a-millions-followers to make money off of Instagram. You can start making money from only 1,000 followers (Of course, the more engaged Instagram followers, the higher your earning potential).
The main factors that go into making revenue off of Instagram are:
- Your niche (your target audience and the interests that are particular to them)
- Your engaged follower count (a following of people from your niche is more vital than just having a big following)
- Monetization model (are you using sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, online courses, or ecommerce products to earn income and produce profits)
There are several types of Instagram influencers and they fall into different categories based on the number of followers.
- Mega-influencers (More than 1M followers)
- Macro-influencers (100k-1M)
- Mid-tier influencers (50k-100k)
- Micro Influencer (1k-100k)
- Nano-influencers (Less than 1K)
Although Mega-influencers make more money, brands are less likely to approach them because the lower tiers are even more effective as influencers than the higher tiers.
Lower tiers, which include Nano-influencers and Micro-influencers have higher engagement rates, greater authenticity (their followers are more likely to trust them and believe in what they’re selling which leads to actual sales for the business).
Some niches are more profitable than others, which means a large aspect of how many followers you would need to start getting paid for your page depends on the niche that you’ve chosen to target.
Some of the most profitable Instagram niches include travel, lifestyle, food, beauty, fashion, and fitness.
Other smaller-scale niches would usually need more followers in order to start monetizing from brands, as the particularity or lesser-popularity of that niche wouldn’t get as much attention from sponsors as larger, more popular niches do.
Within two years, brands targeting influencers with higher follower counts completely shifted their business strategy and started working with lower-tier influencers. This shift occurred as the Gen-Z generation started preferring authenticity.
The number of Micro-influencers being employed and included in an Instagram campaign are now three times more likely than they were three years ago.
The final answer to how many Instagram followers you need to start making money is THIS:
By the model of engaged audience x niche x revenue model = the amount of money, which you can achieve with less than a thousand followers.
Your engagement rate is correlated with the amount of followers you have. Your engagement rate decreases the larger your follower count gets, which is another advantage to not having a large follower count when you’re first starting out.
Instagrammer Madeline Macartney / @MadelineMacartney
Madeline has 1,522 followers on Instagram, now although the follower count appears low, her engagement rate is a whopping 10% so brands are more likely to work with her. Her engagement rate is high as Instagram users like and comment on her photos repeatedly.
This is one of the pros of being a micro-influencer in that you’re then easily reachable, and people can communicate with you as opposed to uncommunicative macro-influencers.
Madeline is an example of someone who’s profiting as a micro-influencer, and building a relationship with her followers by sharing a sponsored post.
This is another example of a sponsored post.
Sabrina has only 23,100 Instagram followers. But her followers are 50% more engaged compared to other Instagrammers which enable her to charge more for sponsored posts.
Best Ways How to Make Money on Instagram
Publish Sponsored Posts From Leading Brands
As an influencer, brands pay you money to promote their products or their services, either within a post or a story.
In order to market things that appeal to your followers, you need to know who your target audience is, you can do this by switching your Instagram profile to a business account and analyzing your business analytics.
You can view your business analytics by pressing on the ‘Insight’ button on your profile.
There are four things to take into account after you look at your audience.
- Followers (which shows what at times your followers are most active)
- Age range
- Growth (this shows a graph that shows you the growth of your profile based off of how many new followers you’ve gained and how many you’ve lost)
You don’t have to wait for brands to reach out to you for sponsored posts. A lot of influencers also reach out to brands they want to work with.
If you have a brand in mind, that matches your niche, or a brand you’ve had for a longtime fan of, then you can Direct Message (DM) them and exchange a post or story with either a payment or their products.
The problem with sponsored posts is that a lot of people tend to find them disingenuous of you and the brand you’ve created.
An easy way around that is that more influencers have been discussing sponsored posts either within their captions or video stories, which humanizes the person and makes them more relatable to their followers.
Sustainability influencers like Mikaela Loach and Aja Barber go on their stories to speak directly to their followers and acknowledge that while they accept sponsored posts, they also reject many offers that don’t align with their principles.
Not only does this make your followers build a level of trust with you, but it also makes them more understanding of accepting multiple sponsorships.
While it’s not really possible to do this while you’re starting out, being more straightforward and more selective about the brands and businesses you choose to work with will bode well with your followers and your community in the long run.
- Reach out to brands directly, ones that fit your niche and discuss working on a sponsored post together.
- Ensure the sponsored post aligns with your target audience by checking your Instagram analytics.
- It blends well with your feed and looks organic to it (doesn’t stand out to your other unsponsored posts)
Open Your Own Online Store and Make Money By Sharing Shoppable Feed Posts and Stories
Online stores, especially Instagram shops, completely revolutionized modern shopping.
Instagram shops broke through the conventional business models and investments that go into building a brand, and instead offered an alternative that guaranteed higher financial returns and fewer losses for creators.
The Shoppable feature allows you to sell a product just by adding a purchase tag on the product within the image, which allows potential customers to press on the image and purchase directly without having to go to your website.
The easiest way to monetize off of Instagram is by selling products online. All kinds of online stores are open on Instagram, with people from different age groups making thousands of dollars selling products like slime and second-hand clothes.
An account that takes advantage of Instagram’s Shoppable option is @dr.albert.frankenstein who buys used jeans and other clothes, draws on them, and sells them. These pieces go for really high prices, usually $250 and more.
Alternatively if you’ve already developed a website, you can link that to your Instagram profile and use Instagram as foundation to your online store.
Shopify allows you to build your online business by creating an e-commerce website.
They provide you with a 14-day free trial, in case you try it out and decide to go in a different direction. If you already have a website, you can switch to Shopify (no matter which e-commerce platform you’re already using).
They set you up with a Shopify freelancer or agency from the Shopify Experts Marketplace to execute your vision for the website, and to help you out throughout the way.
- You can use one platform with Shopify to sell all of your products.
- You can market your business with them, as they have built-in-tools that help you create and execute your marketing campaigns.
- Shopify’s dashboard allows you to manage shipping, orders and payment.
- Gain insights into how your business is doing and what you need to do to grow.
The best thing about opening an online shop on Instagram is that the products can be entirely unique to what you want to create or sell.
What you choose to sell doesn’t have to adhere to what popular brands or commercial stores are doing.
Do you want to sell clothes you have? You can use Instagram to start an account dedicated to your second-hand clothes. You can also think of ways to upgrade what you own, the way @dr.albert.frankenstein draws and paints on clothes.
Do you have a huge book collection, or rare books that you can profit off of? These are all opportunities to start monetizing off of Instagram by sharing what you can sell to potential customers.
You can use the Shopify feature on your stories as well as your posts, by choosing the Shoppable sticker. (Instagram also offers tutorials for how to use the new Shopify feature if you ever feel stuck).
If you’ve already created a post without a Shoppable sticker, you can go back and edit the post to add it. You can also use up to five tags, and twenty if your post has multiple pictures.
Make sure you activate the Shop tab on your Instagram profile since it’s not automatically available. The Shoppable icon is the icon of the bag.
The icon is useful for when you’ve built a loyal customer-base, as it offers followers the chance to check out your shop without having to scroll through your feed trying to find something that they wanted to buy earlier but forgot. Add all your Shoppable posts to it so that customers can go back to finding things easily.
Successful posts should also be analyzed in order to inspire future posts, see what you did right and recreate that strategy. Experimenting with your posts in terms of images, or the amount of shopping tags could be helpful in the beginning just so you find out what works out best for you and your sales.
Make sure you’re utilizing the business analytics to see how well your Shoppable posts are doing, and whether or not they’re successful. This tells you if your products are resonating with buyers, or if they’re just clicking and viewing without purchasing (because if that’s the case, then you know you should be trying out a different approach.)
Make sure the Shoppify pictures you post feel organic to your feed. Don’t make them stand out too much from other posts that aren’t shoppable so that it doesn’t feel too much like an ad or like a sales pitch.
I’ve included a list of ways you can make more money on Instagram: by promoting physical products
- Flash Sale: Use a flash sale marketing ploy to sell your products. Flash sales create a sense of urgency on your products. Consider doing a post and uploading stories announcing the sale, as well as sponsoring them so that it reaches more people. Try to think of offers that would make people interested in clicking through your Shopify. An idea could be offering a reduced price if they buy a second item from your store, or offering a discounted price on the total order if their total order is worth more than a set price ($100 dollars as an example).
- Gift Card: If one of your followers wants to gift a friend your products, a Gift Card is the ideal option, or an online Gift Code which they can use at check-out. This encourages the view that your products are presents and also gives the person being gifted the option of choosing their own items.
- Collaboration: Collaborate with influencers or friends you’ve made on Instagram, within the niche you’re targeting, to promote your products. For example, if you’re selling sustainable ceramic mugs, reach out to collaborate with someone who’s also selling something different within the sustainable field. Then you will be targeting the audience you’re trying to grow for your own brand. When friends or followers of yours start sharing the products you’re selling, over 83% of those followers are more influenced to check the brand out.
Promote Your Online Courses
You can create brand awareness and attract followers who could be potential customers for your courses by promoting on Instagram.
Before you start promoting your course, you need to set out goals for what you hope to achieve through Instagram.
Instagram is a marketing channel, and you should develop a marketing strategy that fits your brand and niche.
This could look like any of the following:
- Considering who you want your target audience to be. Are you targeting the millennial generation, Gen-Z? Think carefully about your audience especially when you start promoting your course through ads.
- Using Instagram ads to your advantage, as well as reaching out to influencers or collaborators who would be given a free class in exchange for a review on their channel.
- Informative-driven posts that are a call-to-action to your followers (a call for enrollment). Also provide specific information about your course and what sets it apart from your competitors.
- Teasers for upcoming events in your course, (i.e a course teaser, 15-second tutorials, a promo offer etc..)
Using Instagram to promote your course is essential, especially if the course you’re offering is visual.
For example, if your course is going to be about cooking then you should develop exciting content, that’s visually appealing to show your potential customers what they would end up cooking by the end of your online course.
Show them the end-result of their new-found cooking skills and dishes by taking advantage of Instagram’s visuals, with short videos or teasers of the process to get them excited.
Motivational visuals can also be paired with motivational captions or quotes that can encourage your followers to sign up, and allow them to envision the experience you’re offering with your course. Just check this image of how you could present the end result “being a happy and highly effective cook at home“.
Also, when you start building a following for your courses, a lot of your feed can then consist of contributions from your followers after they’ve completed your course.
Encourage the people that participate in your course to share pictures, so that you receive content for your feed from your users.
You can also create a hashtag that’s curated for your course to encourage your followers to use it when they share a picture or story of your course and their progress.
For example, Package Free Shop, a sustainable shop that’s combatting waste and single-use plastics, has curated the hashtag #giveashit, a call-of-arms that encourages people to start caring about the climate change movement.
You should also post content consistently, because if you’re not consistent with your posts you’re not going to see the growth levels you’re expecting when you start following up with your Instagram analytics.
It’s normal to feel like you want to bombard your followers with several posts a day, but it’s best if you space out your posts. You can do that by using a website like Loomly and Later which allow you to schedule your Instagram posts ahead of time.
Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your Online Course
- Attract New Followers Within Your Niche: Attracting new followers is going to be your main concern at the beginning as an influx of followers leads to interested users in your courses. You can do this by networking (following and interacting with people within your niche), sponsoring posts, and optimizing your Instagram profile.
- Utilize Hashtags: Research hashtags that are popular within your community and use them so you can start appearing within the Explore page and the users you are trying to target’ feed. Also, experiment with the hashtags you’ve already started using on your posts to see which ones garner the most attention.
- Network: You shouldn’t just rely on users seeing your posts on their feed/Explore page, you should use Instagram to network with people in your community, and you can do this by following influencers and commenting worthwhile ideas underneath their posts so that others can see what you have to say, and check out your profile.
It’s a way to attract more users for yourself and to embed yourself as a voice within this community, alongside the quality content you’ll be posting. This all leads to driving more traffic to your online course.
Although you can’t link your course underneath your post or stories, the traffic you get from your consistent posting, your interactions, and sponsors will lead people to your profile and to your bio description with the link (make sure the link isn’t clunky and direct) to your course.
What Platform Should I Use For My Course?
One of your most important considerations is what online course platform you use to launch your course because after you succeed in garnering Instagram users’ attention and creating more traffic to your profile, you want to ensure you’re leading them to a high-quality website, so they can follow through with doing your course instead of checking out the link and then bailing. Two platforms I would highly recommend are Thinkific and Teachable.
I’ve culminated the statistics and advantages of working with either of these online course platforms to create and sell your online course.
- Thinkific have over 51,000-course creators, and more than 340 million dollars were made through their platform.
- The website gives you total control on creating your website. You can easily customize hundreds of features (even if you’re not tech-savvy). You can organize your content, use your own domain name, and access the HTML and CSS, so that with the help of a website developer create a course that’s unique to you and your particular vision.
- The biggest advantage is that they offer marketing support, as there are several business tools at your disposal. You can package your courses in any way you’d like (offering coupons or subscriptions). You can also offer free trials and payment plans in order to get a wider audience.
- Data tracking that works like Instagram analytics, that offers comprehensive support for marketing campaigns and ads.
- They also have a great/helpful support team that you can reach out to if anything’s confusing, although one of the perks of working with them is the experience is pretty straight-forward.
- Ensure security with 24/7 monitoring.
- It costs $39 dollars a month to sign up for your first course with them. (Per month Thinkfic is more expensive than Teachable, although the cost of the Thinkific Pro program is cheaper.)
- Teachable has sold over 500 million dollars in courses and coaching and has more than 100,000 creators (a larger repertoire than Thinkific).
- The software is easy to use, and you can link an existing website under your own customized domain as well as edit using the tools they have.
- They offer analytics for you to view and see how well your course is doing by tracking your sales through their dashboard, and creating sales pages using their customizable page editor.
- Their features boast about security, as they have 24/7 monitoring (which helps with any attempts at fraud) and they don’t have any access, or own your data.
- The signup at Teachable is free, but to create your first online course, the pricing starts from $29 dollars a month (cheaper than Thinkific).
Although both websites have upgraded features than signing up to one course. I would recommend starting from their first course option and deciding to level up from there if you feel like you want more advantageous features.
Market Your High-End Consulting or Freelancing Offering
If you want to market your consulting or your freelancing work on Instagram, then you should first launch a blog that showcases your work (your writing portfolio).
Your writing doesn’t have to have been previously published (although that’s a plus), you can just have a few pieces written and uploaded to your blog so that when people check out the work you’re marketing, there’s a wide range of work to read.
If you’re starting out, the first thing you’ll have to consider is what platform you’re going to use for your blog. A lot of people end up not taking the platform they use seriously, and use clunky websites or blogs that don’t stand out and are basic.
This could end up being a potential threat to your work because your service-providing skills, whether that’s in consulting or freelancing might be great, but a potential client won’t work with you just because their first impression of your blog is that it’s not professional.
There are several service providers on Instagram that market their work, and you have to make sure you stand out.
- You can stand out by working on your blog and your portfolio to show that you’re experienced in your field. Don’t start marketing your work on Instagram if you don’t have a foundation set with your blog. That’s the writer’s portfolio, the way an influencer’s feed and photos are their portfolios.
- Release content consistently (on your blog as well as your Instagram feed). The blogs don’t have to be long-form or the traditional standard of a blog, they could be short posts but you should embed it in your Instagram bio so that you can send followers back to your website as it’s the simplest way to contact you.
- When you’ve just started, try to reach out to other Instagrammers or writers for opportunities to get featured, this is a way of pitching yourself. Also, if you manage to feature yourself in other work (whether that’s someone’s podcast or guest writing on another popular blog). You need to collaborate with other Instagrammers and put yourself out there within this field as much as you can.
Start your WordPress Blog with Bluehost
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Launching a blog offers you the chance to get scouted by people who would pay for your writing or services.
Sarah R. Radin / @sararadin
Offers her services teaching budding writers how to pitch to magazines, she receives these meetings through her Instagram Direct Messages. She charges up to $100 even though she doesn’t have any qualifications for writing. However, because she’s shared her writing and her writing experience, including links and images of her articles published in big-name magazines, she was then able to monetize off of her work.
Sara has used Instagram as a modern-day portfolio to get scouted by magazines. If we take Sara as an example, here are four things she’s done that you can implement to optimize your Instagram:
- She’s mentioned her job role right underneath her name, so that people who visit her profile immediately know that she’s a journalist.
- She’s tagged all the publications she’s written for.
- She’s included her most recent jobs.
- She’s also included a link to her most recent article.
Another example of someone who has used Instagram to promote their work is the famous Instagram therapist Sara Kubric, also known on Instagram as @millennial.therapist.
She has amassed more than half a million followers, from sharing psychological content and mental health tips that put her as an expert within her field.
Sara Kubric / @millenial.therapist
This is how Sara used Instagram to market her psychotherapist skills…
- She’s put her credentials within her name and her research interests in her bio, so that from first glance we can see she’s done her CCC and MA, as well as being a PhD researcher.
- Linked her website in her Instagram bio to show the different things she’s marketing which includes her psychotherapy work as well as a Newsletter she writes on mental health.
- From her fully-developed website, she’s able to provide her services not only face-to-face but online to her thousands of followers at high-rates.
- She’s created and maintained an online presence by posting daily.
- Maintaining the aesthetic of her page/brand by keeping the neutral tone of her pictures and matching them to her highlights.
- Appealed to the visual aspect of Instagram by making the background colorful rather than just text-focused.
In addition to utilizing her profile, Sara used hashtags underneath every post, received multiple re-shares of her posts, and accumulated a massive following.
Meaning that’s she’s gotten all the necessary factors to allow her to profit off of Instagram. A high engagement rate, a high following within a niche, and a specific revenue channel.
Create Traffic For Your Blog and The Do’s and Don’ts of Promoting on Instagram
In order to create traffic for your blog on Instagram, the first thing you’re going to want to do is link your blog to your Instagram profile and all other social media accounts, so that your blog/brand is accessible and being promoted across all the different channels.
Include your Instagram profile URL on your blog as well, and use your Instagram handle to sign off on your emails, so that it’s an included aspect of your blog.
- Make It Mobile Friendly: Several people now read blogs through their phone, especially if they click on your link from your Instagram account. Ensure that it’s mobile friendly.
- Sponsor and Share Your Posts: Screenshot a picture of your article on your story (and if you have more than ten thousand followers than use the ‘Swipe Up’ feature) because sometimes users miss posts because of their feeds, but are more likely to see your stories. If you don’t have the Swipe Up feature yet, then use a graphic sticker to direct people to you the link in your bio, or write something short like ‘Post is up!’.
- Cross-Promote Your Posts: Don’t share the same image across all your social media platforms. The image you choose to promote from your blog needs to be tailored to the social media platform you’re using. In this case Instagram’s most important feature is the caption space, the hashtags, and if the visual picture is appealing. The first thing that will make a person stop scrolling will be the picture you post. You want to post something a picture that’s relevant to your blog post, but also something that’s attention-grabbing.
- Post Non-Blog Related Posts: If you don’t have new blog content to post, make sure you’re still active on your Instagram so that your engagement and follower count don’t plummet. A lot of magazines will sometimes post memes and then use the caption space to encourage people to tag friends in the comment space below. This tactic works when your blog/website posts aren’t active, or there isn’t new content, you can break it up with posts such as memes so that you can ensure that your Instagram page still has a continuous engagement rate.
- Accessible Languages: If you’re in a country where the first language isn’t English, then what a lot of Instagram posts do is have one picture with the text underneath (title of the piece) written in that country’s language and then the next picture would have the post written in English. You should also include ‘Swipe right for English’ either within the first post or in the caption so that your Instagram user has the option of reading either.
- Caption Space: On Instagram only the first three lines are displayed on a person’s feed before they have to press the ‘More’ button to read the rest. You have to ensure that the user is hooked through your caption. Don’t make it too long, so as not to lose the attention of the person reading. Keep it brief, and treat the first lines in what you choose to caption your post as your hook. When you write for your blog you need a hook to ensure your reader keeps reading (as the average reading time for a blog is 7 minutes). Instagram is the same in that you want a good hook of a caption to make the reader go to your bio and click the link to your blog.
- Don’t Click Bait: There have even been several instances where people comment that the read wasn’t worth it, or it didn’t align with the title because it was just ‘click-bait’. Click-bait is a popular maneuver by magazines and blog-writers to get people to click on their website/blog link, by using a gripping article title that doesn’t follow through with the written content. Now although click-bait will get you clicks, if the click-bait doesn’t follow through with the actual content of the article, then you’re more likely going to receive annoyed feedback/comments and unfollows from your Instagram. It won’t garner the loyal following you want for your blog.
Become an Affiliate Marketing Rockstar and Promote Affiliate Links
Affiliate marketers use a promo code, usually with the influencer’s name and the percentage that’s cut from the product’s price (ex. LILY15), and link it in their bio or blog for followers to use and take a discount off of a brand’s product.
It’s different from marketing a product in that there’s a direct purchase, and you receive a commission every time someone uses your affiliate link.
The brands see how many people use your link, and based on that can offer you more affiliate links in the future!
Similar to the advice on sponsored products, you want any post that shares an affiliate link to be friendly/approachable, you can do that by using an engaging post. A bright, clear picture with a lengthy caption discussing why you trust this product and encourage your followers to use it goes a long way.
If you haven’t been approached my brands directly, here are some platforms where you can market yourself to potential brands:
- Amazon Associates: You can earn up to 10% in commissions with Amazon (from qualifying purchases and programs)
- ClickBank: Commissions from ClickBank are tier-based, and you slowly earn more as you progress through working with them.
The more trusted you are by your followers, the more successful you can be as an affiliate marketer. You don’t have to wait to be approached by a brand either, you can take the initiative and sign up to several affiliate programs.
Show your followers that you trust in the brand and the quality of their products through your caption by describing why you’re promoting the brand or why you believe people should buy it.
Use this as an opportunity to also expand your marketing efforts beyond the affiliate link and consider ways you can expand your online presence even more.
Affiliate marketing links don’t only have to be mentioned in posts. They can be mentioned in stories, and are less annoying for your followers if you’ve been posting about several marketing links.
Also, if you have more than ten thousand followers you can take advantage of the ‘Swipe Up’ feature to make it easier for your followers to use the link.
Affiliate marketers usually get paid on two bases, when their code is actually used for direct purchases or on a pay-per-click basis. A pay-per-click-basis is anytime anyone clicks on the affiliate link to look at the product (they don’t have to necessarily purchase it.)
Sell Your Photos Online or on White-Label Products
The stock photos that used to be used before Instagram, started becoming memes. Companies no longer want to use these stock photos but would rather use authentic photos in real settings, rather than something that’s artificially constructed.
There are also now websites where you can sell your photogenic, well-taken pictures to websites that want to buy them.
If you like taking pictures, then there’s an app several Instagram users use called Foap. You don’t need to be a professional photographer either. The app allows you to upload photos and videos which agencies will then look at.
You can also link your Foap to your Instagram account. However, it is very competitive because there are professionals being taken and sold, because of how accessible it is. You can add several photos on Foap and build a portfolio.
If you like taking photos, you can always transform your pictures into prints. For example,
- If while you were travelling you managed to snap a great picture of the landscape, then post the picture and inform your followers that a print of the picture is up for sale.
- Set up a website, a blog, or a VSCO to share other photographs you’ve taken that you can make into prints.
- Use an easy online cash transaction company like Paypal or Venmo, as a way of payment.
A new IOS app called 8×10 manages the sales, the printing and the shipping of your print. All you have to do is upload your artwork, and determine the options for your offering:
- The number of prints you want to sell.
- The price per print, which also shows you the profit per print after production and shipping costs.
- The number of days you want to offer your print up for sale.
How to Grow Your Engaged Instagram Followers Fast?
Define your Target Audience
Who do you want to see your posts? Are you a travel blog? A fashionista? An advocate for sustainability?
Knowing who you want to target defines your entire Instagram page. Narrow down the groups of people who would be interested in your profile or the products you’re trying to sell to what is called a Target Market.
Look at the current people who are interested in you. Look at what’s available to you by looking at your Instagram analytics.
Why would someone be more interested in your profile or your business rather than someone else’s? Write down for yourself their age, gender, location, and their jobs.
The more specific you are, the easier it will be for you to narrow down what you want your target audience to be.
When you first start out it has to be specific, so you can see what resonates with the people that follow you in order to keep growing your platform.
Try to think about their interests, their preferences, and what these things imply about the audience you’re imagining, and see how that works within the niche you’re trying to create.
Optimize Your Instagram Profile
Make the best out of your Instagram profile, and make sure you take advantage of every feature that a potential follower would look at.
What features could you hone if you haven’t already?
Instagram Name and Bio
If we look at Oenone’s profile, something that immediately grabs our attention is the high-quality, bright picture she has that clearly shows her face. She follows this with her name (it’s pronunciation and her preferred gender pronouns).
She briefly mentions all her job roles/interests in two words or less with an emoji next to each job description which makes her bio more colorful and more interesting rather than just a jumble of sentences. She ends her bio with her website, so that people can view all her different projects as well as reach her in a professional capacity.
Put your credentials (if you have done a graduate degree or if you have any certifications, including them in your bio will be beneficial.)
Take advantage of your highlights. It gives the opportunity to your new followers to get to know you and see what you’ve been up to. Instagram influencers have several highlights dedicated to different parts of their life (e.g. travel, recipes, book recommendations).
Influencers also highlight their press/previous work so that when brands check out their profiles they can click on that specific highlight and that you’ve worked before (an Instagram portfolio almost).
Especially if you’re offering your services in some capacity, you should have a ‘Press’ highlight as it’s more professional and customers or potential clients would then feel more inclined to work with you or buy your products.
I would also recommend a ‘Reviews’ highlight so that you include reviews from customers (the more specific the reviews the better).
If you have an alternative to a website, or if your links are always changing. It would be much easier to use Linktree or Bitly. They offer a shortened link where you can direct your followers to several different things, whether that’s a project, or blog posts, or your affiliate link.
If you’re an influencer, and you don’t have any work to link or a website. Make sure to include your email in your bio as it looks more professional and so that it’s accessible for brands to reach out instead of going to your Direct Messages (DMS) .
Instagram Page Aesthetic
Your Instagram pictures should also look appealing, or follow some sort of theme rather than look incoherent or look as they don’t blend with each other.
An aesthetically pleasing profile at first glance by prospective followers is more likely to earn you a follow, usually influencers religiously maintain their Instagram aesthetic through their pictures.
If we look at Oenene’s/ @oenone profile we’ll see that she maintains neutral tones throughout her pictures. Oenone has worked on her brand and because of that she’s managed to attract those who like neutral tones and a minimalist aesthetic.
She’s also attracted people who follow lifestyle niches as from first glance we can see she’s into shopping, books, food and writing. The colors as well as the lifestyle brand has to be maintained as time goes on if you want to maintain your follower base and attract new followers.
Hashtags are a great way of reaching the audience of your niche, as some people even follow their favorite hashtags.
There are also several tools that you could use, if you’re feeling uninspired or stuck about which hashtag to use, platforms like Display Purpose and Focalmark allow you to type in a word or two about what your image is, and then give you up to thirty hashtags you can use in addition to the hashtags you’ve already come up with!
You can also input your Instagram profile instead of keywords, and Focalmark will output thirty hashtags that apply and work with your brand aesthetic.
The easiest hack to knowing which hashtags you want to use for your niche is looking at your favorite Instagram account’s hashtags.
If you’re starting a fashion blog, for example, you can go on your favorite influencers’ posts and look at the hashtags they use themselves. If you’re a brand, then you should consider coming up with a hashtag that is particular to you and your products.
For example, @packagefreeshop curated a strong hashtag, #giveashit, that’s a call to arms for their message, which aims to promote a zero-waste, trash-free lifestyle and wants people to start caring more about the environment.
Also, keep the hashtag short and direct, something that is also powerful and could resonate with your followers.
Join Conversations in Your Niche
When you’re a part of the conversation, you involve yourself in the community you want to be in.
Start commenting on posts and discover new people that share your same interests so that you start building an Instagram community within the niche you want to start creating in yourself!
Conversations don’t only have to be through comments, you can also share work that relates to yours or DM people you’re interested in speaking to.
From this, you not only include yourself in the conversation, but you also start being more than just an Instagram profile and a person people want to connect to and share their work.
Find other like-minded influencers from within your community and reach out to them through their DM’s. Tell them that you see their work and you appreciate it and do something similar if they wanted to check it out.
Online friendships go a long way, especially when you start supporting each other’s work by resharing posts and engaging in the comments. Additionally, you can also do Instagram take-overs with each other’s pages.
A lot of influencers have recently taken over their like-minded friends and influencers’ Instagram pages to speak about their own work, as a way to introduce yourself to more people and keep your Instagram page engaged while receiving more followers.
Here’s an example of a takeover by Isabella from @confessionsofasuperager
It’s important to join in on the conversation in your niche so that you’re also up to date with the latest news.
For example, if you’re interested in beauty then watch out for the latest trends, which you can do by looking at what people are talking about whether it’s a new foundation or a reviewing a new popular lipstick from Kylie Cosmetics, this is a way to include and participate in that conversation.
Use compelling captions
It’s hard to engage with someone just from the images they post, and usually, influencers utilize their captions to connect with their followers.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a lengthy caption for every post, but you can take advantage of it at first to let people know who you are, if not in direct words, it lets people better understand you and your personality.
- You can post an emoji or a series of them relevant to your post.
- A brief sentence about you or your journey underneath an engaging picture.
A tip: You can leave a question in your caption if you feel like no one’s interacting with your posts. It’s a great opportunity to ask them a question related to your niche and engage with them in the comments so that you start engaging with your followers more.
Run and Promote Contests
Contests and giveaways are a great opportunity to get your Instagram page out there and gain new followers who are interested in your niche.
In exchange for prizes, you can encourage people to follow through with a set of terms and guidelines.
Several influencers who run contests set guidelines that are curated to ensure a higher follower count for them, and several comments and likes to engage the post (and higher probability for it to appear on others’ Explore pages)
At the chance of winning your products (whether it’s a beauty haul/food haul/book haul etc..) users add to their caption the terms which usually look something like this.
- Requiring that the post be re-shared to their stories.
- Requiring that they like the post and follow you (if they don’t already).
- Commenting on the post (usually influencers will require you to tag friends, so if you ask them to tag three friends in the comments that also gets your engagement levels up. Especially if you interact with the post by liking and replying back with some encouraging words or emojis. to and it’s an opportunity for others to discover. You can collaborate with other influencers so that the stakes are higher, as are the prizes, and people will feel more encouraged to share and now you have another account.
- Make sure to specify when the contest ends, so that people know when they should stop posting their entries.
Once you’ve launched your competition the next step is measuring and monitoring how well the competition is doing by evaluating its success based on metrics.
Here are some examples of metrics to measure how well your competition is doing:
- Amount of submissions
- Likes per post
- Amount of re-shares
- Amount of follows since the competition went live
- Total reach of the competition
I’ve also included an example of another successful contest. This contest was done by six brands that decided to collaborate on Instagram.
All these brands share the same niche, which has to do with wellness and sustainability.
The terms of this competition are that all the business accounts had to be followed, and two friends were to be tagged on the giveaway post.
This is a great marketing tactic, especially as it forges connections with-like minded individuals and businesses within your niche.
Create and Promote Instagram Stories and Live Videos
Your followers are more likely to invest in what you’re selling through a video, it humanizes you to your audience and it’s more convincing.
Instagram stories are especially important if you want to grow your audience (which is really since a bigger audience = more opportunities to get paid.)
If you’re an influencer then you have to be uploading stories daily (not necessarily bombarding your followers, but posting stories for reasons to support why they chose to follow you.
If you’re a lifestyle influencer then you have to be posting pictures and videos from your days so people can follow on what you’re doing.
If you’re trying to build a brand/business, you should also utilize your Instagram stories space to speak about new promotions or mention new things you’re working on, or pictures of your products.
Post Valuable Content Regularly
In order to amass an engaged audience, you need to start posting more regularly. Posts that are directed for your target audience and ones that are relevant to your niche.
Instagram pages that aren’t consistent with their postings, don’t gain a strong following, and lose followers. The number of followers is more likely to be stagnant, and you won’t amass or see a massive change in your followers over time.
There are different ‘best times to post’ for everyone. For that, you would have to press on the ‘Insights’ button on your profile (you’d also have to be a business account first).
After that you would press on the ‘Audience’ button and scroll down to the bottom where it shows you at what times your followers are most active and then start posting or scheduling your posts based off of that information.
These widgets and tools are there to help you better understand your followers and your most engaging posts (so you could create more of them).
If you’ve taken a picture that includes brands, make sure to tag them!
Especially if you’re just starting out, if the photo is well-taken and aesthetically pleasing, it’s very likely that the brand will interact with the post by commenting or re-sharing it, which in turn gives buzz to your account.
Since Instagram is a visual app, a lot of brands hire graphic designers and illustrators for content. Especially when they run out of ideas, or their feed is starting to look repetitive as it consists of only pictures of your products.
A lot of businesses also share reviews of their products either in the captions or in the lower area of the photograph that was reviewed.
Want some tips on succeeding with the content you’re posting on Instagram?
- Take advantage of the caption space, as a business, it’s a strong call to action (letting them know some new products dropped, or even just a quirky one-liner humanizes the entire brand). If you’re an influencer it’s also an opportunity to connect with your followers.
- Hashtags are extremely important to the work that you do. Think of them as free promotion to your posts and stories.
- Add the location tag. When people click on the location tag they’ll be able to see your stories and posts and offers good exposure to your page and content (especially if you’re also utilizing your hashtags). If you’re a business this especially makes sense so that you can encourage your followers to go buy and offer an alternative to online shopping.
- You want your posts to start appearing on users’ Explore page. The Explore page is the magnifying glass icon next to the house icon (which is your feed). What does the explore page do? It’s where you can find photos and videos of accounts you don’t follow, according to Instagram.
It’s made up of Stories, Posts, and IGTV Videos that are tailored to users’ preferences (i.e. posts they’d like, brands they’d purchase from, and accounts they would want to follow).
You don’t get a say in whether you appear on the Explore page or not, and it’s up to the Instagram algorithm.
The Instagram algorithm takes into account: posts that have a high engagement rate, posts that have been liked by people you follow and accounts like the ones you follow.
Collaborate with Other Instagram Influencers
Influencers are the modern-day taste-makers. A lot of what is considered fashionable is what influencers are wearing, and the products that are in-demand are the ones that they’re using.
Not only does collaborating allow you to meet more people, but it also entails a higher engagement rate for your page.
Step 1: Find People You Want To Work With
The first step to collaborating is you have to find someone you want to work with. Finding someone with a similar aesthetic to yours, that doesn’t compete with your account but complements it.
They should also be within the range of your own follower count, so that the collaboration is equal and you both benefit.
Step 2: Evaluate If They’re A Good Fit
You should also ask yourself if this is someone you’d like to be with.
Is their target audience the same as yours? Do their posts get any engagement? Does their brand and aesthetic compliment mine or are they in direct competition with me?
These are all useful questions to ask in order to vet the options you have of collaborating with other Instagrammers.
Step 3: Reach Out and Setup the Co-Op
I would recommend reaching out through their email rather than through their DM’s as it’s more professional and they’re more likely to take it seriously.
Introduce yourself in the email and let them know what you’re interested in accomplishing with them and see if you have similar goals for both of your pages.
Step 4: Set Metrics to Measure The Success of Your Collaboration
If you’ve collaborated with someone. Identify metrics that you want to measure the success of the collaboration with. This could be:
- Follower count (has there been an increase?)
- Engagement rate
- Post reach
If the collaboration has proven to be beneficial for both of you, then stay in contact and make plans for collaborations in the future.
Use Instagram Ads to Reach More People
Using Instagram Ads are invaluable to your posts.
Even after you’ve done all you can with hashtags, and collabs, Ads are a great way to get the reach your account needs.
Instagram Ad Revenue reached 7 billion dollars in 2020 as Instagram users and influencers are seeing the positive impact of it.
Instagram Ad Revenue Graph
In order to sponsor your Instagram posts, you’ll need to publish your Facebook page first. You set up your payment on Facebook and from there the interactions are easy.
After you go to Facebook’s Create an Ad page, press on the ‘Engagement’ button. The next step will be choosing your target audience, this is where looking at your business analytics comes in handy.
Choose the age range you’re trying to target, the location and the gender. Then you’ll place your budget for the project, by choosing how far you want the reach to be.
Instagram helps you reach your target audience by creating sponsored posts. You can spend as little as half a dollar to a post and you get to curate them based on your target audience.
How to Make Money on Instagram FAQ
There are many factors that go into this and usually consist of how many followers a person has in addition to their engagement rate percentage (since a lot of influencers end up buying followers). You can use the Instagram Money calculator to find out how much your favorite influencers are getting per Instagram post.
It mainly depends on what type of influencer you’re categorized as, because there are a standard amount of followers and engagement rates for each tier.
You should aim to target individuals if:
– You’re going to collaborate with them.
– You’re conversing within your niche (thereby improving your own page and engagement rate in the process.)
– Your engagement rate is increasing.
You should also aim to target businesses in order to get sponsored posts and be a part of affiliate programs.
Yes. Even if being an influencer isn’t really your thing, you can still sell products (if you have a specific passion or something you’re good at that can in-turn be profitable!) and advertise them on your stories and posts. Take advantage of the Shopify feature so that potential customers can shop in a simple and direct way.
Yes! There is a range of things that can be done with 1,000 followers. It all depends on your engagement rate. I’ve written more on this above, but businesses now use nano and micro-influencers more than they ever have within the last two years.
This is due to the several advantages that come with a low-follower count (authenticity with your followers, lower pay for posts, etc..). If you’re not interested in being an influencer, you can still sell products and photos on different platforms (refer to Sell Your Photos Online).
You can also offer your services and take advantage of Instagram as a way to show off your portfolio. You can market your photography, writing, art skills, and either get paid on a freelancing basis or manage to snag jobs through your DMs thereby adding to your portfolio for even more opportunities in the future.
Follower count doesn’t determine how successfully you’ll be able to monetize your profile. It depends on what your profile has to offer (whether that’s a physical sale or your ability to influence) and if you’re able to successfully optimize your profile to the best of your capabilities.
The highest-paid Instagrammer is socialite and businesswoman: Kylie Jenner. Kylie Jenner has a whopping 186 million followers. Kylie’s Instagram brand and aesthetic, her famous family name, have amassed her millions of followers on Instagram which Kylie has used to monetize as she later founded the company Kylie Cosmetics.
Kylie doesn’t need to promote her make-up brand as she usually promotes anything directly from her personal Instagram account. People usually tag and share themselves wearing the lipstick as a chance to get re-posted on Kylie’s Instagram stories and posts, which is free marketing for the brand that is now worth 900 million dollars. The revenue which reached $200 million dollars was only possible through her large social media following.
Ready to Grow Your Instagram Account and Start Earning Money Online?
- Define your exact target audience and the value you want to bring to it.
- Set up a great looking, professional Instagram account that communicates how you’re going to help this target group.
- Post helpful and Instagram optimized content (and try to tap into collaborations).
- Start monetizing your engaged Instagram audience with non-intrusive sponsored posts or Shoppable pins.
These four steps help you get started making money with Instagram, because they unleash your Instagram audience growth and full-earning potential.
Ultimately, making money on Instagram is an opportunity for you to take control of your future and your financial freedom.
And the best thing?
You can start it as a side-business, next to your main job and watch it grow from there into your main source of income.