It is no news that Instagram is one of the biggest social platforms, currently boasting over 700m users. Instagram has also made countless people and brands famous from sharing videos and pictures in what is now being termed “Instagram famous.”
Top “Instagrammers” can make as much as six to seven figures from posting an ad on their page. And that list covers only the crème de la crème. Many others can also leverage the social platform to make some cash on the side or work hard to live a comfortable life. With Instagram’s massive active and growing user base there has never a better time than now to start a new career, business or earn something extra by the side via the social media platform.
Currently, the most common way to make money off of Instagram is to have lots of followers and then post paid adverts for brands. While that is a sure way to make money via Instagram, there are also a host of other ways which we will discuss in detail below.
Different Ways to Monetize Instagram
The underlying reason big accounts can make money is because they can reach wide audiences and generate lots of traffic from their posts. To put it simply, the more the followers (and engagement) you have, the more people will see your adverts and that in turn would translate to more money in the bank for you – basic advertising.
If you have a decent number of followers on Instagram and you are looking to turn the numbers into cash; there are a number of ways to monetize your Instagram, some of them include;
- Sell shoutouts and adverts
- Affiliate links
- Ecommerce - Selling your own product or service
- Ecommerce - Drop shipping
- Start a YouTube Channel
Each of these monetization strategies has their own pros and cons so let’s get into it…
1. Sell Shoutouts and Ads
This is the most popular method of making cash using Instagram. You can have a brand or individual pay you for an ad or for a shoutout.
Instagram has got popular enough that if you're a big page people will DM you asking to buy ads. If you're not in the position where businesses are reaching out to you, you can still get to work and find clients on your own. This might be a good option if you have 10k followers or think you are big enough to sell ads. The picture below is the script I used to DM potential clients:
The chances are that if I send this script to 50 people, I stand to make around 2-5 sales every time. Depending on your page and selling skills, your conversion rate may differ. However, the more people you reach out to, the higher your chances of making more sales.
One other useful tip is to find accounts by searching for recent hashtag photos. Search for hashtags relating to your niche like #Entrepreneur and when you find small accounts, send them your script. The odds are that the account is online because they just recently posted a photo so you will most likely get a quick reply.
You would need to draft a convincing message that you can send to clients. Also, you should have a list of prices handy in case they are interested in your offer; I save a copy of both in a notes app. If you are a big brand, you will most likely get more DM’s from people looking to advertise and not the other way round.
Below is an example of my copy and pasted prices, you can also draft up something similar;
To create your own price list, contact similar accounts and inquire about their price rates and then adjust yours to fit the engagement for your page.
Again, while posting ads is a sure way to monetize your account, you should be careful to balance out the number of ads you post to the actual content on your page. Remember that your followers do not just want to see random ads unless they are somehow related to your page. Thus, be careful to not ruin your engagement by desperately trying to monetize by all means, if you do so, you risk damaging your page.
2. Affiliate Links
To make money as an affiliate seller, you would need to post product and services that your followers will likely be interested in.
Basically, you sign up with a brand, and they give you a custom link, each time a sale happens through your link, you earn a commission. Below are examples of popular places for affiliates that I’ve used:
- Amazon Associates (2%-10% commission)
- Shopify Partners (Earn 2 months of a customer’s paid subscription)
- Rakuten Marketing
For instance, on @FutureSuccessors, I promote audible subscriptions and users who register via my affiliate link get 2 free audiobooks when they sign up. This offer is set up through my Amazon Associates account, and I earn $5 for every person that signs up. It is actually a great offer for my audience who don’t need to spend money, and I benefit from it as well, win-win.
Affiliates can be quite difficult to grasp, but it is vital that you sell only products you believe in and products that your audience would value and benefit from. Commission rates will differ from product to product, but if you can make great ads and sell good products, you can make a good amount of money using this method.
3. Sell Your Own Product or Service
Unlike the previous affiliate method where you stand to make only a small commission, if you sell your own product, you get to keep all of the cash. However, it becomes harder when you have to create your own product that will appeal to people, but once you do you will surely make money off it.
You can either create a physical product; which often requires a lot more effort or you can alternatively choose to sell a digital product which is much easier and infinitely scalable. Popular examples of digital products include paid eBooks, training courses, social media management or dropshipping (more on dropshipping soon).
If you sell a digital product, you can make money off of it for years to come and you only need to create it once. Once it's built you can then concentrate on just marketing and selling it.
Dropshipping has become an increasingly popular method of making money. It's similar to affiliate marketing where you have no inventory, but with dropshipping, you can source for products from sites like Aliexpress and sell them at your own set prices. Basically, in Dropshipping you sell and ship an item to a customer without having to see the item yourself. Again, the customer always has to pay before you send any item. Thus you need very little capital to get started.
We have an entire guide that explains dropshipping in detail, you can read our intro guide here, but below are a few basic platforms you can consider starting with:
- Shopify with Oberlo - Oberlo lets you quickly add items to your Shopify store from AliExpress. Shopify is very user-friendly, and anyone can set up a store within 1 day.
- Clickfunnels - More expensive than Shopify but gives you much more options for experimenting, using analytics, growing email lists and more. Can be used to sell AliExpress products and more.
- Printful, Spreadshirt, or Teespring - Design your own clothing, pillows, posters, cases and more. I believe all of these ships from the U.S opposed to AliExpress where those products ship from China. This option is best if you have a strong brand and want to make your own merch designs.
Dropshipping is currently highly competitive (especially with AliExpress) but if you’re good at marketing and persuasion, then this might be an excellent opportunity for your page, and it’s definitely a lot of fun.
5. Start a YouTube Channel
I decided to cap off my list by adding starting a YouTube channel since Instagram does not have a traditional method of making passive income.
Although it would take dedication and hard work to create great videos and engaging content for your YouTube channel, you can still make passive income from Google Adsense by sending traffic to your YouTube channel from your Instagram audience. If you create unique content on Instagram that can be complemented by long-form video a YouTube channel is a potential way to build an entirely passive income stream.
It's relatively much easier to send traffic to your YouTube channel by asking your followers to watch a free video than to actually convince people to spend money on your products. Once you create a video and post it, you only need to worry about driving traffic to your YouTube page that you can potentially earn from for a long time.
To monetize your YouTube channel with ads, you must have at least 1000 subscribers and an aggregate amount of 4000 total hours of watch time over the last 12 months. If you decide to give it a shot, remember that you can apply the other monetization methods in your videos until your YouTube reaches the monetization threshold.
Instagram isn’t disappearing anytime soon; the chances are that it will only get bigger. Regardless of how many followers you have, if you can generate traffic and clicks, there will always be ways to monetize that.
Let us know what you think about these methods. Did we leave anything out? Or do you know of any better ways of making money through Instagram? Comment below to start a discussion!