How to make money on Instagram 

Have you heard the news? Instagram is more than just a fun way to pass the time — it’s also a totally viable way to make a living! 🥳 If you’re interested in starting (or advancing) your career as a social media influencer, read my favorite tried-and-true Top 5 Ways to Make Money on Instagram.

Keep in mind that making money on Instagram is no different than any other business. It’s not easy, it takes a lot of focus, hard work, financial investment, and energy. As you begin thinking about how you want to earn money from Instagram, you’ll want to focus on several factors. 

The takeaway here is that yes, you can earn money on instagram, so long as you treat it like a business and know that there are many ways it can happen. From digital products to an ecommerce store to being a brand ambassador or selling physical products, people are making money on instagram.

But before we get started exploring the various ways you can earn an income on Instagram, let’s go through your pre-flight checklist.

How to make money on Instagram checklist.

  1. You’ll need more than just an active Instagram account.

Yes, having an Instagram profile with a (preferably catchy) handle is *part* of the equation, but at the end of the day, it’s a very small piece. In addition to merely existing in the wide world of social media, you’ll also need to do some more work before you’ll be able to earn.

2. Niche down. 

As Michelle Phan says, “The beauty of the Internet is there’s a niche market for everything, and if you can focus on it, you can build a sustainable and viable business of it.” You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be the pre-eminent authority on something.

For example, would you follow someone’s advice about the best training tips or snacks for a cat that doesn’t have a cat or isn’t a vet? No? Me neither! But if that person was a cat enthusiast with several adorable cats they post about regularly? All of a sudden, what they have to say about furry felines carries a lot more weight.

Find YOUR niche, whether it’s being an expert wrangler of fussy children, a dedicated keto diet follower, or a beauty bargain-hunting master. It doesn’t matter what the niche is, so long as you have expertise and street cred in the area.

In the examples listed above, the first influencer might target parents of kids aged 0-5 and elementary teachers, the second might try to get in front of CrossFitters, gym buffs, or people on a weight-loss journey, and the third might be hunting for Gen Z’ers, makeup artists, and babes on a budget.

Finding your target audience will be much easier when you know which problems you can help solve for various groups of Instagram users. Get to know your ideal customer, also known as your avatar.

Who is she? Where does she live? What stuff does she purchase? What’s her household like? As you create your content, imagine you’re speaking to that one person. You’ll find that as you create content that resonates with your instagram profile audience, you will see your follower count grow.

Oh, and before you go worrying about how you find the folks who fit your ideal customer, remember: the social media machine is collecting user information ALL. THE. TIME. Once you’ve created your “avatar,” you’ll be able to use demographic data to home in on your audience.

Once you know what the focus of your social media platforms will be…

3. Build up your followers — the more the merrier! 

Whether you like it or not, being “popular” on social channels directly translates to your earning potential. In order to sell, you need an audience, also known as your following. There’s no minimum amount of followers you should have but the more you have, the more eyeballs you can get on your profile to make your money, however you’re doing it.

Everyone starts out with 1 follower, so if that’s you, well then congrats on kicking off your instagram account. Eventually over time, your instagram profile will grow to 10 followers,  then 100 followers and more.

Your instagram followers will grow as a community as you share more and more helpful, inspirational, or educational content. Whether you have 5,000 followers or a million followers, ALL of them are potential customers. As such, treat all of them the same, with utmost respect and appreciation for showing up to your instagram profile page.

Pro tip. Whatever you do, DON’T purchase followers.  Having a bunch of accounts following you without any real engagement doesn’t do much for your stats. Make sure you’re growing your fan base organically by posting interesting, visually-appealing, and overall high-quality content.

4. Get your audience engaged. 

Even if you have a relatively small audience, high engagement rates can help transform your Instagram profile in the eyes of paying businesses. Do what you can to get your followers to like, comment, save, and share your posts as much as possible. 

5. Create a consistent content plan. 

We all know the Antoine St. Exupery quote, “ A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Make sure you have a well thought out strategy for your business, or you’ll drown in a sea of other more prepared voices.

You should consistently be creating beautiful visual content (i.e. Instagram stories or Instagram posts such as reels and carousel photos) and uploading them to your feed. This is both how you build your expertise & build your audience. This is also how you’ll promote whatever it is you want to make money from (more on that in a minute).

Great content means your audience will engage, follow along, share, comment, like, and buy — all the things we want them to do, right? The more your audience engages with your content, the more the algorithm rewards you. This means more people will see your content, whether you’re promoting free products or a promo code for affiliate link or sharing a funny meme.

Whether you’re a foodie, fashionista, or lifestyle influencer, you’re going to need an editorial calendar. (For example, you wouldn’t post about chunky knit sweaters or hearty stews in July, right?) Map out what your potential content will be for the next 3 months. Even if it changes in the moment because of an emerging trend or new idea, having the plan in place means you’ll always have content to post even if your creative well is running dry.

Furthermore, make sure you’ve broken down your overall business strategy into more manageable chunks (e.g. to get to 5k followers on IG, I’m going to post one static image, one reel, and one story 5x a week).

Okay, let’s pretend you have all the basics down and you’ve gone through the checklist above. Now what? How do you actually earn money from your Instagram presence? 

how to make money on instagram checklist
How to make money on instagram checklist

Top 5 ways to earn money on Instagram:

1. Collaborate with a brand and get paid for sponsored posts.

Landing a sponsored post deal is the primary way many influencers make their money. The idea is that the influencer posts images, reels, and/or stories about a particular brand or product in order to get the brand or product in front of new eyeballs. 

Sponsored post campaigns are more about educating your audience than closing a sale…

Depending on your niche and the product or brand, the sponsored posts may look different. Check out this Instagram reel by my client Jessica Serna in partnership with Visit Laredo. Here’s a youtube video by my client Laura Muller in partnership with Royal Prestige.

These brand collaborations can pay via trade (meaning you receive free product for posting) or earn thousands of dollars per post, and everything between.

2. Land an affiliate deal with a brand you like.

In an affiliate partnership, you’ll earn a commission on each of the sales you make on behalf of a brand. Here’s an example of an affiliate partnership with my client Lorraine C. Ladish of Viva Fifty. Here’s an example of affiliate marketing within a blog post by my client Yvette Marquez of Muy Bueno Cooking.

3. Sell your own services or products by launching an Instagram shop.

Instagram shopping isn’t reserved for big brands. In fact, you can convert anyone in your audience to an actual bona fide sale — of any product or service that you sell. Here’s how it works – you go into the settings of your Instagram profile, turn on the feature to add e-commerce and make your Instagram shoppable. You can then add products to your in-feed posts which your audience can click and by directly from the post.

4. Drive traffic to your site.

No matter what kind of influencer you end up being, I always suggest that everyone create a website. Not only does this help to hedge against inevitable changes to algorithms (your follower count can tank or your social profiles can get hacked, but you always “own” your email list), but it’s also another space where you can earn.

Whether you sell services (e.g. ghostwriting, coaching, etc), physical products (e.g. bedazzled phone cases, homemade hot sauce, cookbooks, or bespoke knitted beanies), or digital downloads (printable infographics, subversive cross-stitch patterns, or meal plans and grocery lists), you’re not limited to hawking them on external sites like Etsy. 

In fact, having a shop set up on your own website will likely give you better margins (you won’t have to pay a cut to IG, Amazon, or Etsy), plus you can offer discounts and bonuses for folks who sign up for a subscription.

Even if you don’t sell any products or services, you can STILL make good money by having a website. I have several clients who make a stellar living by earning from ads placed on their sites. (Seriously. Majority of my clients make a cool (multiple) 6-figures just from ad revenue.) Think of it this way: if you don’t have a website, you can’t sell ad space!

5. Develop a premium subscription model using Patreon or Substack.

If you have a dedicated audience of engaged participants, chances are you also have at least a few superfans among them. Consider diversifying your earning portfolio by capitalizing on that fan-girl mentality via a subscription on Patreon or Substack!

The idea here is that your most fervent audience members sign up to support your awesomeness. Sometimes they’ll pay you a one-time donation or tip, but what I’d suggest you shoot for is an ongoing subscription of $1, $5, or $10+ per month.

In exchange for their ongoing support, they get exclusive access to extra content — podcasts, blog posts, digital downloads, more in-depth newsletters, members-only webinars, private Facebook groups, etc.

Granted, this model doesn’t specifically earn you money ON Instagram, but you can still use it and other social media platforms to both grow your base and convert your regular followers into your financial backers.

how to make money on instagram
How to make money on instagram

How to make money on Instagram FAQs

Can you get paid from Instagram?

Yes, you can get paid directly from Instagram. I believe at the time of writing this post, Instagram pays content creators via their Instagram Reels bonus program.

Does Instagram pay for likes?

No, instagram does not pay for likes. That said, it does reward audience engagement, so try to rack up all the likes, comments, and shares you can to help get your posts in front of more new eyeballs!

How many views do you need to make money from Instagram?

There’s no minimum amount of views you need to make money from Instagram. Depending on how you’ve decided to make money from Instagram, you don’t necessarily need a huge amount of  people following you.

If your audience is super targeted and specific and most everyone following you is exactly your ideal customer and in the market for whatever you’re about (it could be curly hair, horse training, makeup application, travel tips, how to make mexican food, or anything under the sun), then you’re in a great position.

Your instagram bio is valuable real estate that tells people exactly what you do, plus how and who you serve. Telling people this upfront helps attract them to your instagram feed because they will know if your content is relevant to their lives. Put another way, your instagram bio gives you an opportunity to sell your instagram page to the people you want to connect with.

You can also take advantage of the clickable link to point people to either an article you want them to read or a collection of all your shoppable posts. There are many different ways to take advantage of the instagram bio but make sure you do when you create your profile. Take a look at other content creators both in your niche and outside of it to see how they present themselves.

The foundation that you need to build in order to make money off of instagram all comes back to having really interesting visual content, a solid instagram following, and engagement. 

Whether you build your instagram business account (or any social media accounts) to be used for your personal brand, or to partner with brands and companies to promote their products, is up to you. You can be an Instagram influencer in many different ways.

Some instagram accounts with a small number of followers (considered micro-influencers), may earn less money on a brand deal with a big brand than someone with a million followers. But the flip side is they may sign more brand deals because they have a high engagement rate (the % of your following that engages in your content) than someone with a larger following. 

How much money can you make on Instagram with 10K followers?

I know you hate this answer, but it depends. It’s all what you make of it. I know personal brands on social media that make zero dollars because they don’t want to monetize their profile by doing sponsored content. 

I also know an instagram influencer who makes close to six figures with a following of 10,000 people. 

Honestly the sky is the limit. Ideally you set up multiple revenue streams that stem from your one Instagram business account. 

How much does Instagram pay per 1,000 views?

If you’re referring to the Reels bonus program with Instagram, it changes every so often. I suggest asking Instagram directly what their pay structure is.

How many views do you need to earn money on Instagram?

If you’re wondering about the Instagram Reels bonus program, it’s best to email them directly. 

If you’re wondering about how to make money on Instagram by creating appealing visual content, setting up an Instagram shop, promoting affiliate links in your instagram stories or showcasing different physical products that people can purchase, let’s talk about it. 

Think of your instagram page like a the window display of a brick and mortar shop. What you display in each post can serve a couple different purposes, but think of your instagram page as one branch of your marketing plan.

For example, let’s say you’re in a specific niche like skin care for ethnic skin. Your content calendar might start with a post educating someone on the power of using a vitamin C serum as part of their nightly skincare routine. Then you unveil a new nightly serum in your post a week later. Perhaps the post after that includes a testimonial about this amazing new vitamin C serum. (See how one post queues up the next?)  

Maybe as part of your instagram profile, you have shoppable posts when people can click on the post and purchase physical products — like that amazing serum you’ve been talking about — directly from your social media account. 

Perhaps in your instagram stories you include affiliate links of products you endorse and why you love them. Maybe you share about a recent service you’ve created at your hair salon to do balayage on brunettes. What about sharing exclusive content just for people who sign up on your newsletter and the only way to do that is via your instagram account?

Be creative when thinking about how to make money on instagram. The sky is truly the limit! That’s what is so fun I think about influencer marketing — so often we’re defining it as we go along. It’s built for disruptors.

Do you need 10K followers to get paid on Instagram?

No, you don’t. You need engaging, visual content that people want to come back to in order to see what else you’re creating. You need an audience who engages with your instagram page by liking, sharing and saving your content. You need something to sell and be an expert in, or, in other words, a reason for people to keep coming back. 

How much money does 5000 Instagram followers make?

Honestly, it depends. If you have 5000 followers on instagram, you may not receive a lot of paid offers from big brands. 

Instead you may get some gifted opportunities like free offers for products or services (like a manicure or event entrance). Don’t be shy about saying yes to these trades — they can help you grow your business and following which in turn can lead to more paid opportunities down the road. 

Leverage all your opportunities to align with your content strategy. Springboard and practice your photography skills to create photographs that perhaps the brand will want to buy from you and use on their social media platforms in the future. (BTW, that’s considered user-generated content, or UGC for short.)

Find a way for this free offer to help you build your target audience. The most successful influencers are the ones who know that becoming a successful instagram influencer is to remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.

What happens if you get 10K followers on Instagram?

Wahoo! Congrats! You celebrate, maybe do a fun giveaway for your followers, and then keep on keeping on. Success is a moving goal post, so keep setting your sights on the next opportunity to level up.

guide to making money on instagram
Guide to making money on instagram