In the past year, Instagram has become a real force to be reckoned with in the marketing world.
Since January, it has gained 100 million monthly active users, with the total currently sitting at a hefty 400 million monthly and 75 million daily users.
That’s pretty astonishing. So it’s no surprise that brands are now dedicating a substantial percentage of their social media marketing budget to this image heavy channel.
So what does that mean for you?
Well, now is the perfect time to cash in on its growing popularity.
If you’re prepared to put in the time and commitment, you can easily find yourself in a position where you can start making serious money from your Instagram account.
Still not sure what to do?
No sweat! I’ll guide you through the main ways to cultivate an income through Instagram and make a name for yourself in all the right places.
Ready? Then let’s begin.
What You Need To Do First: Attract followers
First thing’s first: what’s your following like? You should know from the start that most brands will expect a strong and loyal following in order to build a working partnership. If you’re lacking in this department, there are a few simple ways you can increase your amount of followers whilst building a professional look for your account.
- Fill out your bio with all the right information: This includes your contact information, what you post about and where you’re from. Add in a few keywords and even a couple of hashtags to ensure you’re easily findable by the right kind of followers. Something like: Beauty Blogger from San Francisco with a penchant for travel. Business inquiry: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Post regularly: To grow numbers, you want to be posting several images every day… but be warned, don’t post all at once or this will actually work against you! If you can’t commit to that many posts, then just make sure you are publishing one quality photo every day.
- Take good photos: Which leads me to my next point! Make sure your images are of the best quality with attractive effects. There’s no point posting a weak image, so really take your time to make sure you are producing ones of the highest quality. (I'm currently using a Canon DSLR camera to take photos. You can buy one from Amazon (click here).
- Use relevant hashtags: It’s unlikely your images are going to travel very far without relevant hashtags. Familiarise yourself with the best ones to do with your field of interest and make sure you are including them in every single post. I am using the TagForLikes app for ideas and to save my custom ones.
- Engage with your followers: You cannot expect all interaction to come directly to you. Make time every single day to engage with your followers or anyone involved in your industry by commenting on and liking images. If you communicate with authentic content, people will be drawn to check out your account and, hopefully, join your loyal rank of followers.
Okay, so you’ve boosted your follower count – sweet! Now it’s time to start making money.
How-TO: Make Money on Instagram
1. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is basically when you promote a product and get paid per sale. You’ll often see bloggers doing this with sidebar banners promoting their partners (affiliates), or even through specific product inspired posts. Well, it’s not much different with Instagram.
With Instagram, you post attractive images highlighting their products and drive sales through your affiliate URL (this should be provided by your affiliate).
There are quite a few companies you can work with here. Here are some:
- Sharesale: Find companies you want to work with, sign up for their affiliate program, get approved then start promoting. In some programs, it's easier to get approved if you have a blog or website.
- Ebates: Refer people that love deals & discounts, then get commission.
- Stylinity: great for fashion bloggers. When people shop using your link, you'll get commission.
Here's an example, see how Kristyn from GlamourZine promote those over the knee boots?
You can put your affiliate URL on your captions or on your bio. You can either use bitly.com to shorten and customize your affiliate link OR you can hook up your blog and Instagram profile so that when people purchase through your link, you get a sale.
It really couldn’t be easier. This type of marketing is particularly popular with clothing on Instagram, as you can post your “OOTD” (outfit of the day) with the affiliate link sending followers to your full outfit details.
For those involved in the travel industry (or simply those that love to travel – ahem, all of us!), you could try to set up and use affiliate marketing when taking part in reviews for hotels and venues. Simply direct followers to book through your link!
It’s also great for beauty bloggers, as you can invite people to “shop the look.” These methods are subtler and, as such, more effective than a direct sales type pitch.
2. Create Sponsored Posts (Find Sponsors!)
Instagram users with engaged followings can earn extra money by creating original sponsored content for brands.
In a nutshell, a piece of sponsored content on Instagram is a photo or video that highlights a product or a brand.
These posts are accompanied by captions that may include branded hashtags, @mentions, or links.
Brands don’t typically require a formal brand ambassadorship for creators of sponsored content, but it’s common to for them to tap certain influencers for content time and time again.
However, it’s important that any brands or products you promote are a good fit for your own personal image on Instagram.
The idea is to show off brands that you can personally get behind, and to show your followers how that brand fits into your lifestyle.
- TapInfluence is a great tool for Instagram creators who are looking for opportunities for sponsored content, and it takes the guesswork out of the process of aligning with brands. You create a profile that describes you and the nature of your content, and brands who are interested in working with you will invite you to programs.
- Ifluenz is another easy tool as you can browse matching available campaigns created by a variety of brands and directly promote the ones you prefer.
3. Sell your photos
An obvious one, surely? Why not use Instagram for it sole purpose… to showcase your photography?
If you’re a professional (or amateur but keen!) photographer, Instagram is a great way to advertise and sell your shots to either individuals or agencies. Add a watermark to your snaps and use the captions to list all selling details in a concise manner.
As always, make sure that you have an active presence so that the right type of accounts are following you. Use appropriate hashtags to pull people towards your shots and get a conversation going with influential photography agencies.
There are also a few sites that you can use to actually put your Instagram photos for sale, including:
4. Promote your business, products or services
If you run your own business, then Instagram needs to hold an integral place in your marketing matrix.
If you sell products, use it to post beautiful shots that can’t be found on your website. Here are some creative ways to promote your products or services:
- Behind the scenes. “Behind the scenes” type images tend to be hugely popular – picture gorgeous handmade soaps being gift wrapped, jewellery being pieced together or delicious cakes straight out of the oven. It’s appealing and adds a certain realness to what you’re doing… and people love that.
- Your customers' photos: Linked to this is the use of User Generated Content on your account. Get customers to share their images of your products and re-gram (download "Repost for Instagram" app to repost your customers' photos). This is a proven successful method of selling and would make a great addition to your account. It also calls for you to start up your own unique hashtag which you can then promote to all your customers: it’s a seriously slick way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. For example, White Castle asks their customers to use #MyCrave to their photos. Now when they see them using that hashtag, they can repost (or regram) their photos to their Instagram account. Here's an example:
- Infographics + exclusive offers. You can also market your services through Instagram with snazzy infographics and exclusive offers. Using Instagram to feature special offers is also a great tool to up your follower count as it’s a bonus they won’t find anywhere else.
The brilliant thing about using Instagram to promote your business is you can get mega creative with it. Think outside of the box and really use it to your full advantage. You’re sure to see the sales flying in.
5. Sell your Instagram account
Had enough of Instagram? Ready to move on?
Well, you’ll be happy to know that all your hard work hasn’t gone to waste. You can actually sell your Instagram account if (for whatever reason) you can no longer manage it.
There’s a few site that support you with this, two of the best being:
Now’s the time to make it happen!
So now you know the five handy ways to make money through Instagram, you’re all set to start building your empire. Whatever avenue you decide to go down, be sure to always keep your personal brand in mind and treat what you do as a business. The more you understand what it is you can offer, the stronger your message will be to potential collaborators!
Another way to make money online? Start a blog! click here to learn how.