Now that you’ve built a following on Instagram, it’s time to start making money. Most people who make money on Instagram use some form of white hat monetization. This includes various methods, and most of the popular ones I’ll discuss below.
These methods include selling shout-outs (selling your posts to other people or businesses), getting sponsorships, getting creative, and selling your own product. Dropshipping is another popular monetization method used by Instagram marketers, but I don’t feel comfortable discussing it in depth because I haven’t used it extensively. When you monetize your followers, you need to know that there is a limit. You can’t try to sell them something every time you post – that will turn followers away. While this varies from niche to niche, it’s very common for people to practice a 5:1 ratio when it comes to advertising on Instagram – meaning you provide five pieces of quality content and one piece of advertising. It’s smart to make the ad look as natural as possible. Your audience should have a hard time deciphering whether each post is an advertisement or not.
Shout-outs are probably the easiest and fastest way to make money on Instagram. When you sell shout-outs, you are essentially selling posts on your accounts. In a shout-out, other people get to advertise to your followers in exchange for cash.
This seems to be the most popular method, but it comes at a price. Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to sell shout-outs.
Selling shout-outs will devalue your account. Most people don’t want to see ads from someone they voluntarily follow. This can easily turn people away from your account. In most cases, you will lose followers if you decide to sell a shoutout. That’s why it’s important to only accept shout-outs that fit the general theme of your account. For example, if you have a fashion account, it would make sense to accept a shout-out from a fashion retailer because your followers might be interested in that, but don’t accept a shout-out from a gaming company – it will make your followers wonder why they are following you.
When you sell shout-outs, you are essentially allowing other people to monetize your account. Whoever buys the shout-out must be able to pay your fee and still make a profit off of your followers. It is quick money, but you can make more money if you know how to sell to your followers.
You can also contact businesses directly to see if they are interested in a shoutout partnership. If you have an extremely specific niche, this is sometimes the best option instead of finding a buyer on a marketplace. If you run a fishing Instagram account that has a decent number of followers, it might be a good idea to reach out to a lure/bait company to see if they are willing to buy a post. However, keep in mind and ask yourself, “Can I make more money selling something myself?“
Some of the most successful shoutout sellers can make over $30,000 a month selling shoutouts. These people sell shout-outs for upwards of $1,000 to $5,000 per post and have millions of followers. Smaller accounts with around 50,000 followers can make around $10 to $30 per post.
Selling shout-outs is best for people who are unable to sell products themselves. So if you lack monetization skills, this is the perfect option for you. It gives you a lot of time to work on building your audience. The bigger the audience, the bigger the paycheck.
NOTE: Don’t be tempted to buy followers to sell at a higher price. Businesses will see a return on their investment with every post, and you will be less likely to get repeat business if you are deceptive with your followers. The same goes for likes and comments; don’t fake your engagement rate.
Sponsorships are hard to get, but easy (and fun) to maintain. This is perhaps one of the most passive ways to make money on Instagram. Many Instagram celebrities have used their fame to get sponsorships from various companies. Being “sponsored” can mean a lot of things. Whether you’re the face of the company or you’re simply being paid to promote their product on a regular basis, sponsorships can be a fantastic, lucrative, and stress-free way to earn steady Instagram income.
Representatives from companies will usually reach out to you about a sponsorship opportunity. The size of the company and the payment terms are usually based on the size of your Instagram following. If you have 100,000 followers, you have a better chance of attracting a larger, more established company.
Some sponsorships are based on sales, while others are simply based on promotion. In some ways, a sponsorship can be very similar to selling shout-outs and affiliate sales; however, sponsorships will seem much more natural and native to your audience because the content is usually created by you.
It’s important that you never sell out. Don’t partner with companies that want to change the way you do things. For example, if you have a niche account related to food, specifically pastries, teaming up with a Bar-B-Que company will alienate your followers. Only partner with companies that will help your Instagram account move forward.
The fitness, fashion and modeling industries are the best examples of effective sponsorship. Almost every personal account with more than 50,000 followers is sponsored by a brand. Sometimes you will see these accounts promoting their brand with discount codes, or you will see some form of advertising in their profile bio.
If you have a personal account, you are much more likely to receive sponsorships if you are active on other social media platforms. Brands like to see this because it gives them more advertising opportunities. You are also more likely to get sponsorships with fewer followers as a personal account than you are as a niche account. With a personal account, companies can put a face behind their brand, which is more appealing than a specific niche account.
There are no requirements for sponsorship. Smaller companies tend to sponsor smaller accounts. I’ve seen accounts with 500 followers get sponsorships; however, these types of sponsorships are more likely to be based on commission rather than salary.
Just because you can get a sponsorship doesn’t mean you should. Keep in mind that sponsorships often look like “selling out” and can alienate your audience. Followers will also often be turned off by being associated with unfamiliar companies. I would recommend holding off until you connect with a company that will help accelerate growth within your account – not all sponsorships will do that.
If you think you’re big enough to get sponsored and haven’t yet – emailing companies and direct messaging sponsored accounts can help point you in the right direction.
Companies want to see value in your account. Most companies won’t associate themselves with accounts that show poor judgment or post content that is in poor taste. It’s important to maintain a professional image at all times. Also, companies will only sponsor accounts if they believe they can make more money from them. So if a t-shirt company pays you $5,000 to promote their products, they must believe they will make more than $5,000 in t-shirt profits from your account. Some accounts will see a problem with this and go into the business of making their own products to grab all the extra profits.
The money you make from sponsorships varies from niche to niche and company to company. If I had to estimate the average annual payment from sponsorships, I would estimate it to be around 10% of your follower base. So if you have 100,000 followers, you can expect to make about $10,000 a year, and if you have 1,000,000 followers, you can expect to make about $100,000 a year; but as I said, it varies.
Sponsorships are a fantastic way to make money on Instagram because they often don’t require much work, and they can further accelerate your account if you choose the right companies to partner with. Don’t partner with companies that don’t align with your core values. Try not to look like you’re “selling out” by aligning yourself with companies that represent who you are.
Your Own Product (or Service)
Compared to the other monetization methods listed above, creating your own product (or service) will give you access to the greatest amount of profits and the greatest amount of brand enhancement. Creating your own product eliminates other disruptive third-party profits, and often promotes your Instagram account in a way that doesn’t bother your followers.
While this method is excellent in so many ways, it is also the most difficult. If you provide a poor product or service, your followers will be turned off and abandon you.
So it really boils down to this: If you can create a product that your followers will enjoy, create it. If you can’t create a product your followers will enjoy, sell something else. It’s as simple as that. There are many different types of products that can be created and sold to Instagram followers. Here are some of the most successful products I’ve seen.
Many Instagrammers have taken advantage of their followers by creating unique apps either through the Apple iOS store or the Google Play store. Kim Kardashian has leveraged her massive social media following to sell various apps to her fans. Kimoji, an app that shares the celebrity’s emoji, reportedly made $1,000,000 in one minute. The app cost $1.99 per download, and at its peak, 9,000 people downloaded the app every second. That’s the power of tens of millions of followers! Other Instagrammers have used their influence to create tools, games, and other helpful apps!
Many Instagrammers create clothing. They use clothing to easily sell an idea or message to their followers. Also, if you have good content and legitimate fans, most fans will want to support you in this way. T-shirts are probably the most popular apparel choice, but hats, sweatshirts, wristbands, and pants are also common. Christian Guzman, a popular fitness Instagrammer, created Alphalete – which is now an incredibly popular clothing company. Christian used his Instagram followers to launch a legitimate business.
If you want to sell clothing to your audience, there are many online custom clothing distributors that can help you. Places like TeeSpring make it easy to upload a design and quickly sell merchandise to your followers without having to keep a warehouse full of product!
Programs & eBooks
Popular Instagram users also heavily create various types of programs or subscription services. It is incredibly common for someone in the fitness industry to create workout plans for their followers. Cheap programs can be sold for around $10 per month, while personalized programs can cost close to $500 per month. Nutritionists also provide this type of service, but they create weight loss/diet programs instead.
It’s also common to see courses for sale on Instagram. Many experts will sell Udemy courses or special certifications to their followers. eBooks are also popular. Many experts will use their Instagram followers to promote their eBook – whether it’s through a complex mailing list or a simple buy-now button on their website.
Niche Inspired Products
Sometimes certain niches call for certain products. For example, FuckJerry, an incredibly popular comedy account, used his celebrity to create a card game called “Whatdoyoumeme”. This card game, based on his overuse of memes, sells for $30 a piece. The game is promoted frequently on his account, which has about 10 million followers.
Another example of a niche-inspired product is Kylie Cosmetics. Kylie Jenner is often referred to as the “makeup queen,” so she parlayed her fame into Kylie Cosmetics, a makeup company. She actively uses her tens of millions of Instagram followers to promote her own company’s Instagram account.
Creating your own product gives you the most potential out of your account. You eliminate third party commissions and fees and keep all the profits. While this is the best way for some people, it’s not ideal for those who can’t offer a good product to their followers.
Instagram marketing is an ever-evolving game, and while there are a large number of accounts promoting ecommerce stores, there are a number of increasingly effective tactics that few people seem to have caught on to.
There are many ways to create wealth on Instagram that will never be listed on any website, message board, or book. In some scenarios – if not most – the best way to make money on any platform is to do something no one else is doing. This allows you to take control of any market from the start and monopolize any niche through creativity. When you do something that no one else has done before, you have access to incredible profits – if the idea can catch fire.
If you think about it, just about every method of monetization has been “creative” at some point. Discovering a new way to monetize your followers is obviously something I cannot spoon feed you, you have to discover it on your own. However, I can give you tips that I have used in the past to help me break down creative barriers.
Find a product or service that will appeal to your followers. Then find a creative way to distribute it to your audience. While this may seem like an obvious way to go, many promotions, giveaways, and new monetization methods start this way. For example, Kylie Jenner has done this with a unique mobile application that streams premium content to her followers. Many of her fans are incredibly interested in her personal life, so she shares her “free” content on social media and her premium content through the official Kylie Jenner app. In fact, most of Kylie’s sisters do the same. She is delivering a product while delighting her fans in a unique way.
NOTE: You do not have to create a specific product to creatively monetize. There are many interesting and unique ways to monetize your fans using the first three methods listed above!
Find ways to get other people to sell your products. When you find a product or service that would work well for your followers, explore the possibility of finding others to sell it for you! By finding affiliates to sell to your followers, you take a lot of the headache out of monetizing just your audience – you also open up the possibility of selling to your follower’s audience as well!
Typically, affiliation works best when you have created the product or service yourself. This is currently being done by many Instagrammers in the form of online nutrition supplement sales, for example. Many supplement companies sponsor affiliates, typically Instagram fitness celebrities, to sell their products through the use of promo codes and discount codes. These codes allow companies to track the sales of individual affiliates. This allows companies to focus more on product development instead of their social media presence. Not only are supplement companies doing this, but so are clothing companies, beauty/makeup companies, sports companies, and more.
Use Instagram as a tool to promote other revenue streams. If you have an already established brand, then creating content via Instagram usually only funnels to your main brand; however, if you don’t have a pre-existing brand before Instagram, then you have many opportunities for additional monetary growth outside of Instagram. If you can build an audience on Instagram, then you can funnel that audience to other outlets that you create.
For example, if you have a large Instagram account that consists mostly of videos, then many of your followers may be interested in a YouTube channel of your content. You can create a YouTube channel, fill it with content, and then use YouTube’s ad network to make money from each ad view.
This works great with websites too! For example, if you have a large Instagram account in the fashion niche, you can create a fashion blog related to your Instagram content and earn money from the ads on your website. Not to mention, this also gives you a great opportunity to sell other things to your followers through your blog! The possibilities are endless!
Regardless of how you choose to monetize, being creative will allow you to stand out from the competition in a unique, memorable way that your followers will appreciate. If you want to stand out from the competition, you can’t do the same thing they’re doing!
Being creative isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is creative, but those who are will have a unique advantage over those who aren’t. Finding a way to creatively monetize your Instagram account can be the difference between making $100 a day and $1,000 a day.
• There are many different ways to monetize your Instagram account. Don’t get stuck on what’s most popular in your niche. Go ahead and explore all the different options; there might be a better way out there!
• Be persistent! Remember that the results you hope for may not happen right away. Keep building your brand and focus on what you can improve. There is always room for improvement!
• If you gained your following through gray-hat growth methods, you need to be extremely careful about how you monetize. Instagram may have secretly flagged your account.
• Do not monetize too early. You do not want to turn off your followers. Fewer people will follow you if they see that you are already monetizing.