You may already know, but some of the top influencers you follow are making heaps of money off Instagram.
More and more, businesses are realizing that paid posts are a more effective way of advertising than traditional methods, which you could be cashing in on. In this article I’ll tell you what separates a good influencer from an unsuccessful one and how you can cash in on the craze that is social media.
There are actually a couple of ways you can be earning through Instagram, or any social media for that matter. The most popular include
- Selling sponsored content
- Selling your own products
- Affiliate marketing
Lets dive in to what each one is and how you can succeed in it.
Selling Sponsored Content
We’ve all seen the posts where an influencer is very clearly telling us how much they love a certain product and how it’s changed their life. Is that the truth? Probably not. In fact a lot of the time they probably don’t have very much to do with that product at all. But does it matter? Not at all.
What matters is whether it grabs their audiences interest. Companies are more than happy to pay you big bucks if it means they can get sales. Right now, there is no better way for them to drive sales than by relaying the information they want to their customers through people they trust. Even though the customer has likely never met the influencer, they will see their every post, gain an insight into their life and often feel like they know them personally through their posts.
The hard part is though, you need a following. Lets explore how you can grow your gram to be a money making machine.
Selling Your Own Products
This would have to be the most difficult of the three options, but certainly the most lucrative and personally rewarding. Selling your own products usually requires an already high following, coupled with some money to get the ball rolling.
This is often the most difficult strategy, as it requires not only time and effort to develop and maintain your social following, but also to create your business. Depending on the product you wish to sell, you will likely need to partner with one or multiple production and shipping companies to turn your followers into paying customers. Although it is high effort, the rewards are literally endless, no more waiting on businesses to find you, or being told what you can and can’t say about a product. Be careful though, it’s very easy to lose money without the right game plan.
While you may not have ever heard the term affiliate marketing, you almost definitely would’ve seen it. Some banners, links or codes featured in blogs or social media posts are specially designed to tell the site where the user came from. In other words, if you click on a link in an Instagram post to a website selling candles, the influencer will get paid as a percentage of your purchase, to reward them for advertising for the company.
This is an increasingly popular method, companies love it because they only have to pay when results show and they can never lose money this way. Influencers love it because there is no set limit they can make, so multiple posts or stories can drive up sales.
Pick a Niche
Unfortunately, not all of us are gifted with stunning looks that would make people follow regardless. So, you’re going to need to build your brand. But what is your brand? The beauty of Instagram is that people are willing to follow many different accounts in the same niche, so picking something you like to base your account around shouldn’t be too difficult.
For example, there’s a ridiculously high volume of people around the world who like slime. Personally, I don’t get it, but there’s literally millions of people out there who are willing to watch slime videos. There’s even more people out there who want to see travel photos and here stories about your trips. And then there’s one of the kings of IG, fitness bloggers.
The point is, it doesn’t matter what you pick, as long as you have an interest in it and are willing to spend time on it. In fact, companies are 55% more willing to pay you if you have a refined brand, meaning if your page is about everything you do in life, you may not attract their attention, but if it’s all about you lifting at the gym, they’ll be pretty keen to pay you.
According to socialupgrade.co/ the 8 best niches for making money are:
- Health and Fitness
Once you’ve picked your niche, lets get to making that account.
Create Your Account
This may sound extremely simple, because it is. What you’re going to need to do is open up a business account, not just a normal personal account. This will help you get more reach, be more viewable to potential business clients and help IG better understand what you’re doing. The better Instagram understands your niche, the more likely you are to come up in peoples explore tab if they follow similar styled pages.
You’ll also want to pick a name that is easily recognizable, meaning if someone were to search for your page, they would know exactly what to expect. Try to come up with something catchy, you want something that will attract the users attention over the other 10 or so search results that will pop up.
You’re then going to need a bio, add your full name and something that will get everyone’s attention here. It doesn’t need to be witty, smart or even funny, just something that will make the person remember it. It’s a good idea to leave your location in there too, or at least your country, for the sake of local businesses picking you up as an ambassador for their brand.
Grow Your Following
This is undoubtedly the most difficult step. There’s no one method that will work to get you heaps of followers, but certain tricks may get you there.
But how many followers to make money on Instagram? Well, most influencers start getting contacted before even reaching 10,000 followers, so don’t think that your goal is unachievable. Here’s my best tricks to boosting your follower count:
- Post regularly – This is one of the simplest tricks to use. Keeping a fairly regular schedule to posting will boost your reach to people who aren’t yet following you. I would aim for somewhere between once every 2 days, to once a week. However, Do not post if you don’t have anything to post. Spammy content is a surefire way to lose followers, we don’t want that.
- Hashtags – This is another quick and easy trick to reach people who would otherwise never find your page. Before posting, try and find hashtags relevant to the post with a decently high volume of posts. If people are searching this hashtag and come across your post that grabs their attention, there’s a good chance they’ll follow you.
- Reaching out to other pages – This one is a little more time consuming, but it will certainly pay off. Inbox pages of businesses, other users, or pages that post photos from your niche and ask them to post your photos. To try and make sure them actually feature a post of yours, suggest something that is relevant to your page. You should also try and inbox as many as you can, then naturally, as they tag you and more people see it, more people will follow you.
- Tagging business pages – Basically the same as the last method, tagging business pages in your posts could get you featured on their page to a wider audience. Don’t waste their time by tagging them when it’s not relevant though. Giving them good content to promote their product could also lead to them approaching you with a partnership opportunity.
- Having a theme for your page – One excellent way to capture the attention of anyone viewing your page is to have a running theme. This is predominantly done by choosing a colour and sticking with it. In order to pick the right colour, think of a few things you want users to think of your page. For example, a floral page might want viewers to think natural and beautiful, so posting all their pictures (or at least most of them), with an off-white background will subtly give off that impression and also look very aesthetically pleasing.
- Engaging with your followers- This is another method that will take some time, but is guaranteed to work. If people comment on your posts, reply to them. Simple. Don’t just reply to a few of them though, in the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, “Reply to as many as you can, at least 100 a post”. It may be a very long time until you have 100 a post, but you get the idea, the more the better. This will give users a personal feel to your page, which will make them more likely to follow.
- Contests – This is a very popular method used by business pages all over Instagram. Run a contest on your page giving away something of decent value, maybe a $200 gift voucher or a product, then set the entry conditions in the post to be something along the lines of ‘to enter, all you need to do is tag 5 friends and make follow our page’. Not only do you gain that 1 follower, but likely the people tagged will re-tag the same group of people and will follow the page themselves in the process. This is an extremely effective way of boosting your follower count, however it will take some initial cash.
- Liking posts – Simply liking other peoples posts in your niche will attract their attention. Any time an unfamiliar name pops up they’ll be sure to check it out and if they like your page, then we’ve got 1 free follow. Do this through the explore section and even through searching hashtags. Try not to like old posts though or more than 1 from 1 profile as that would make you seem like a spam bot.
- Following back – Getting followers is one thing, keeping them can sometimes be equally as hard. Sure, most of your followers will keep following you for the right purposes, but some people will only keep following you if you follow them back. So do that. While you’re page is gaining traction, follow back people with personal pages to get them to stick around a bit more.
- Geotags – Similar to hashtags, people will sometimes search for a particular place in the world and look through everyones photos. I saw an excellent example of this recently, I searched for Mt. Batur Volcano in Bali and up comes a picture of lady (who took a very good sunrise photo), using the opportunity to promote her own t-shirts. It’s pretty easy to do and can get your page exposed.
A word of warning, it’s extremely tempting to just buy your follows, I know, but do not do it. Instagram algorithms can tell when your followers are a bit suspect and so can businesses. If you have a follow count of 25,000 but only get a handful of likes and comments on each post, you’re not only going to have a reach penalty put on you by IG (not coming up in explore as often), but also you’re pretty much disqualifying yourself from business partnership opportunities. It’s not a good look, trust me.
Keep in mind (this is a trap that I’m guilty of), an influencer doesn’t need to have 100,000+ followers. When I think influencers, my mind goes straight to the top of the big names like Kardashians and Hadid’s, but in reality 81% of influencers who are contacted by businesses for partnership opportunities have between 15,000 and 100,000 followers. That won’t stop small businesses partnering with you before that though.
Cash In On Your Following
Now that you’ve built your profile to be influential to a wide range of people, it’s time to make money off it. This is where your method of making money will come in to play. Keep in mind, you can do all 3 at once, don’t be limited to just 1. However, try not to deviate from the original theme you built the foundations of your profile off. Remember that people followed you for that type of content, so don’t sell out your profile by featuring a sponsored post for a gaming keyboard when you’re all about fitness. We’re here to make a long term business succeed remember.
I’ll detail how to make money off the three different options in a moment, but despite which one you choose, you need to make sure your page is set up properly to invite both customers and businesses. Make sure you display your full name and an email address in your bio.
Nowadays, it is extremely easy to operate several emails from the one app or site simultaneously, so creating a second email with your pages name in it is a good idea.
You should also be prompt with answering any opportunities. Companies will be hungry to partner with the right person, but you don’t know if they’ve only reached out to you, or if there’s 10 other options they have, so impressing them with prompt and professional replies is a must.
Once you’ve got that all in check, it’s time to start exploring how to monetize your account.
A lot of the time, this will be the first piece of paid content you will feature. Businesses will happily partner with you if they think that your page is relevant to their product and will be worth their while advertising through your page. To kick start this, you could target a particular business by posting with one of their products and tagging them, then reaching out to them to let them know you’re interested in partnering.
In the pitch to them, tell them a little about yourself, what you’re offering and what they could gain out of it. If you have any past sponsored posts, show them that as an example of what you’ve done. Your success rate might not be terribly high, so I would start by inboxing at least 10 different pages, you don’t need to have a post with each of their products, just show them an example of you showing off any product relevant to their business.
If and when someone does accept, or they reach out to you first, you’re going to want to make the post as attractive to them as possible. By attractive I don’t mean seductive, you want to make the post as natural as you possibly can while also slotting in what their product is about. It’s likely they will give you some form of guidance as to what they want in the post, so try and incorporate their material without forcing it in.
It’s also a good idea to run it past them before posting. The last thing you want is an unhappy customer who doesn’t want to pay, equally as bad is having to edit the post and having followers realize that the whole thing hasn’t got anything to do with you. Even though it’s pretty easy to spot what’s sponsored content and what’s not, the game we’re trying to play here is fooling followers into not realizing you’re being paid to do this.
Finally, the big question, how much should you get paid. Well that depends on your following, but it’s not uncommon for micro-influencers (10,000-50,000 followers) to receive a few thousand USD per post. The potential is limitless though, with some influencers with over 1 million followers getting more than $100,000 per post. A good way to work out the minimum you should be charging, is: your followers x $0.05 (USD) = minimum amount.
However, don’t be scared to go lower than that to start off with. Your first posts might only be for a few hundred, or even just for free products. Having a portfolio for businesses to see that you can promote products well will lead to those higher paying roles more frequently.
Whilst you’re not going to lose anything from posting something for less than your minimum, it’s very important to remember your brand. It becomes so easy for influencers to sell out once they start getting offered big bucks, but if there’s one thing to always keep in mind, it’s that your page is a long-term investment.
Agencies Can Help
Most influencers will eventually start using an agency to manage their accounts and deal with businesses. This is a good idea to get into as early as possible; these people are professionals who have dealt with other clients before and know the tricks. An agent will make sure you’re posting the right stuff for the most money possible, so once you start to get a bit more traction, you should definitely contact one.
Affiliate marketing works in a bit of a different way to sponsored posts. Instead of getting paid a set amount for your post(s), you’ll instead get a cut of the sales generated by your followers. This is done by attaching either a promo code or a link, which is unique to you and trackable by the company. The truth is, affiliate marketing is already all around you, you’ve more than likely put money into someones pocket without realizing it in the past. So how can you make money on Instagram and be on the other side of the fence here.
This part of the process is exactly the same to if you were featuring a sponsored post. Get the attention of the brands you want to affiliate with to start off with, then eventually when you gain a bigger following, they’ll start coming to you.
So now that you’ve got your link or promo code, what do you do with it? How you feature it will make a huge difference on the potential amount you could make, so making the most of it is crucial. What you’ll want to do is (again) make the post as natural as it possibly can be. Post a pic that is relevant to your brand without forcing the product in too hard. Doing that is a massive turn off for your followers, so positioning is key. Keep in mind though, you’ll probably have fewer guidelines from the client as to what your post needs to feature than in a sponsored post, so how well you display the product is your choice.
Next we want a caption that’s not too sell-out. The best way to do this is to just post a normal caption, then in a new sentence and new line, put in your code or link. You don’t need to force it into their faces, if they’re curious about the product, they’ll be happy to find it.
An even better way than slotting it into your caption, is using the shop now button feature. This is a far less invasive way of being really in the face of the viewer. Simply go through your settings and find the business tab to turn on the feature.
Selling Your Own Products
This option is certainly the most difficult and time intensive but also by far the most rewarding if done right. Once you’ve built up a decent following that readily engage with your content, you’ll first need to imagine your product. Whether that means writing down notes in your phone or keeping sketches is up to you, but you’re going to want a good idea of what you want to be offering a customer.
Now that you’ve decided on a product, you’re going to need quotes. This can easily be done simply through Google searches of what you want to make. For example, if I wanted to sell rugs, you could search custom made rugs bulk buy, or something similar. An excellent trick to use here is to follow your phrase by China or Bangladesh; without a doubt the cheapest quotes you will find for almost anything will be from there, so as long as that’s ethically fine with you (and you can deal with a slight language barrier) you can turn far more profit. Remember, we don’t just want a single quote, try and get as many as possible so you don’t get ripped off.
Make sure you don’t forget about postage (a common mistake). Most companies will give you a quote with postage included, but you also have to remember postage to your customers. There’s a whole bunch of different postage companies out there who make this a fairly easy step, with easy online calculators.
Finally, once everything is in place, it’s time for PROMOTION!!! Without a doubt the most exciting stage of the long process is when it finally starts to all come together. It’s also the most straight forward stage, you really don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary here.
You’ll want to start by making a big post on how excited you are to introduce your product to the world, making sure you show your audience the product and what it does. Putting it on your story is another easy win here, making sure on both that you include a link to purchase the product.
Continue to promote your product periodically in the future through both stories and posts by including it more subtly; you shouldn’t be making every single post about the product, that’s an excellent way to lose all your followers, instead make sure it’s included in photos you take to show everyone that you yourself enjoy using it. The odd post here and there that is blatantly all about the product shouldn’t do you too much harm, but try and limit it to less than 1 in every 5 posts.
Making money on Instagram is a seriously long grind that not many people see through to success. The potential payout though is huge, not only can you get free things from companies, but you can definitely make lots of money on Instagram (not to mention you’ll be Insta-famous).
Good luck out there! Let us know how you go.