Started in 2010, Instagram has climbed the social ladder to become one of the most used social media apps. Today, it is a multi-billion company that has become more than a simple photo-sharing app.
As of 2021, there are around 1 billion monthly users who actively log in to their accounts. Around 27. 90% of these users follow at least one business account. Instagram Business states that 60% of the people using their platform use Instagram to find new products.
For SMBs, Instagram is a great and affordable way to reach out to a global audience. With every update, Instagram makes its app more and more business-friendly. It’s a hotbed for influencers and promoted content.
Features like polls, reels and stories have made it easier for businesses to interact directly with customers, collect user opinions and track engagement. Switching to a business account automatically comes with certain insights like most active user times, total reach and so on.
Many entrepreneurs have leveraged Instagram to their benefit to promote their products. Whether you’re an influencer, a business or a digital creator, if you have the skills and time to put in, Instagram can be a great place for earning big bucks.
Let’s take a look at the top 9 ways by which one can leverage Instagram for earning money! We’re looking at ways that might help both brands and individuals to garner some amount.
1. Sell Your Own Products
Instagram, while being a social media app, has started doubling as a window-shopping experience as well. While businesses have been posting their products on Instagram for a long with business accounts, users would typically have to navigate away from it to the business’s actual website to make a purchase.
But all that changed with the introduction of In-app Checkout! Businesses can now post their products as posts while linking them using the Live Shopping feature. This takes users to the product display page where they can browse through all available items. Live shopping links also work within stories and IGVT Ads. These features are only available with the Instagram Business or Creator account.
However, it does not stop there. Instagram went a step ahead to add the Checkout feature which allows people to purchase items from Instagram itself, without ever leaving the app! One must note that the checkout feature is, as of now, only available within the US and only for a limited number of brands including Zara, Nyx Cosmetics, Michael Kors, Kylie Cosmetics and more.
For those outside the US, Instagram can still be a great place to promote your product posts using targeted paid ads. Moreover, if you are starting a new business and are sceptical of handling all aspects of it, we have two things to tell you.
Consider working with a dropshipping business, and try experimenting with tools that can create a website by using your Instagram product posts as references.
2. Earn Via Affiliate Links
Most brands and businesses will be familiar with the concept of Affiliate marketing. In affiliate marketing, a brand hires a person as an affiliate to include links to their items in their content. The affiliate is generally someone who has reach within the demography the brand is aiming for.
They may be eminent personalities or content creators within the field. The affiliate draws in visitors using their engagement power and guides them towards the product via an affiliate link. When such a visitor makes a purchase using the affiliate link, the brand gets a sale, and the content creator gets a fixed percentage from it.
Instagram supports affiliate links in many places such as in IGTV ads, in the bio, stories, etc. IGTV Ads is a recent introduction aimed to increase affiliate marketing. Limited to 15 seconds, IGTV Ads support a Live Shopping feature that allows the user to tag the products and link them, leading a potential customer directly to the product site.
If you’re planning on earning money via affiliate links, then the first step would be to find a viable program with a brand. There are various existing sites like Shareasale, CJ Affiliate, AWIN, Rakuten Advertising, Avangate Affiliate Network and more. The affiliate networks/marketplaces essentially connect brands with potential influencers. The commission offered ranges in and around 5% of the product cost.
Of course, to be selected one might need to satisfy individual criteria set by the company. These include a set number of followers, reaches and views. They might also look for the type of content you promote. For example, a fashion blogger will likely be contacted by clothing and accessory brands.
3. Get Paid To Post Ads
The word Influencer as a career opportunity is a relatively new idea and yet, here we are! More and more brands today are engaging in influencer marketing. This essentially includes hiring an influencer or followed an Instagram account with the chosen demographic and asking them to post some ads.
Influencers charge different rates based on the number of followers and reach they have. On the whole, they have complete control over who and what they want to align with. However, they are required to clearly state when a post is a sponsored ad.
An interesting positive thing about influencer marketing is that more and more brands are caring about reaching the right demographic than reaching a large number. So even if you have fewer followers, if you have a decent reach ratio and engage with the community they are looking for, you have a high chance of receiving such proposals.
Many businesses focus on smaller or nano-influencers, rather than the big bells. Nano-influencers are often more interactive with their followers, and word of mouth has always been a powerful marketing tool.
There are certain apps like TaskBucks that connect brands with such people. For example, a brand may float a campaign, looking to sign up 2,000 people who will promote their latest online course. Such tasks are added to the app, and people meeting the requirements can sign up. Since here, the company is prioritizing quantity, the follower prerequisite may be as low as 500 to 1000.
4. Offer Social Media Marketing Services
Social Media is a powerful marketing tool and even small brands are rising to their benefit. If you are someone who has spent hours understanding the nooks and crannies and algorithms of Instagram, then it could be time to put your talents to use!
A social media marketer is someone who helps brands grow their online following.
Big brands of course have the capital to invest with established agencies. However, many SMBs look for smaller creators who can guide them on a campaign-to-campaign basis or offer consultations. Being a full-fledged social media marketing involves a range of tasks like creating campaigns, guiding employees, offering necessary training, and more.
From picking the right captions to finding the appropriate post to promote, a social media marketer handles them all. After establishing a suitable profile advertising this, you can work on a freelance basis with different agencies.
In fact, another interesting avenue that is coming up is the business of writing captions. There are various marketers on Instagram who sell a bundle of captions for a fixed amount of money. Similarly, there are experts who solely focus on creating engaging stories and IGTV Ads for businesses.
5. Create and Sell Filters
After Snapchat, Instagram adopted the filter system. Filters are essentially a set of edits that are applied to an image. Today, filers are more than a simple readjustment of the photo properties. They might include AR and VR elements, contain interactive features and can be seen simultaneously on the camera.
While filters were originally simply a fun thing for people to play around with, today, many brands engage in releasing filters as a part of their marketing campaign.
For example, Kylie Cosmetics released a new filter containing their lipstick shades which one could see applied onto their lips with the filter. Similarly, fashion brands like Prada, Versace and Dior have released filters coinciding with their seasonal collections. Filters that assign users certain personalities such as “Which celebrity do you look closest to?” or the “Which luxury label are you?” filter released by Diet Prada encourages users to share their results.
Filters can be created both by in-house teams or by freelancers. Smaller firms rely on freelancers for such gigs. If you have a flair for coding, and the creative, creating masks and filters could be a great way to employ your skills!
You will need a reasonable knowledge of Photoshop to create 2D filters, and a tool like Spark AR Studio to create 3D filters. Instagram has its own filter section which can be a great way for showcasing your skills to potential clients.
6. Earn Via Live Badges
Live Badges are a new feature introduced by Instagram that is still in its beta testing version. Influencers and brands generally hold live chat sessions from time to time as a way to remain in touch with their followers or even launch/ introduce new products and campaigns.
If you have attended a live session on Instagram, either as the person holding it or a fan, you might’ve noticed the barrage of comments and likes that makes it difficult for both parties to communicate.
Thus, Instagram introduced Live Badges. Live Badges come in three tiers, where the person on the viewing end can get special privileges for each. The special privileges will allow the viewer to stand out in the comment section. It is simply a way for fans to show thanks to a brand or creator. As of now, Instagram aims to offer all the money generated via Live Badges to the party holding it.
To sign up for this service, check out this section. The service is not yet globally available, it is a part of Instagram’s larger initiative to make the app eCommerce-friendly.
7. Becoming A Brand Ambassador
A Brand Ambassador is different from someone who posts a sponsored post. The latter works on a post-to-post or bundle of posts basis, whereas a Brand Ambassador has a long-term collaboration with a business. Of course, businesses look for stability and longevity, so Brand Ambassadors are a preferred unit.
Brand Ambassadors essentially promote their products over a period of time, over multiple posts. They essentially provide positive feedback about the product among their followed base. The downside to this approach is that to be a Brand Ambassador, one needs to have a decent following, along with high engagement numbers.
The best way to go about this is to create an online personality that stands out. For higher engagement, remember to respond to comments and build up threads. You must also try to be consistent in the type of demographic you are trying to attract.
Once you have a solid base, you can look up brands that target your customer base. Larger brands may look into your engagement and user analytics. Some brands may also look for Micro-ambassadors, for which the follower pre-requisite is not as high.
8. Sell Instagram Accounts
By now, you might’ve seen how having a high number of followers on Instagram can be beneficial for one’s pocket. This brings us to a special niche of users – those who engage in selling Instagram accounts!
Such transactions are done with the help of platforms like Viral Accounts and FameSwap. As of now, FameSwap has 5,038 accounts listed on it.
Here, one creates an Instagram account, builds it up so that it reaches an optimum number of followers, engages with them to build good engagement numbers and then simply sells it after deleting the earlier content. The person buying it on the other end might be an aspiring influencer or a brand looking for that demographic.
While many open accounts with the intention of growing and selling it, there are many times when well-known creators might simply want to quit the platform. If that is the case, do consider selling your account before you leave!
However, do remember that selling accounts is a violation of Instagram’s policies and as such, they can shut down such an account irrevocably. Despite this, the practice is widespread and carried out over multiple channels.
9. Open A Dropshipping Account
Quickly rising in popularity, Instagram is becoming a hotbed of drop shipping accounts. Dropshipping essentially means a retailer who does not have a physical store that stocks the products advertised. They simply have contacts with various suppliers.
When orders come in, they notify the supplier and have the product directly delivered to the customer. The customer pays the amount to you, who keeps a cut and transfers the rest to the supplier.
Shopify remains one of the top dropshipping sites, however, there are many users who solely rely on Instagram for their dropshipping business and have been doing well to date! Since dropshipping businesses do not have a physical store, they mainly rely on proper promotion via social media. Dropshipping is a low-risk business model as one does not need to invest in storing the items or arranging for their delivery.
Thus, the initial investment is almost nil.
The best way to begin with a dropshipping account is to perform a competitor analysis to see the best-selling items. You can also add your business by offering product reviews on Youtube or via influencers. Another way would be to re-post images from happy customers. Being a low-risk model, dropshipping comes with a high learning curve. One may need up to 4 months to actually build a reputable profile.
On the whole, the amount one can earn from Instagram varies greatly. Celebrities earn around 8,400 to 1.2 million USD for each endorsed post. Smaller influencers can get 200 to 500 USD. A brand ambassador may get a whole deal for 40,000 to 50,000 USD. For trading, accounts with as low as 5,000 followers sell for around 100 USD.
Creators can also use Instagram to ask for donations from fans by linking their Patreon account. Similarly, digital creators and artists can treat it as a portfolio to showcase and sell their artwork. Think of it as a replacement for Behance or Adobe Portfolio!
However, most methods rely on establishing yourself to some degree. Building engagement is a slow process that involves interaction with followers, consistent posting, use of relevant hashtags and a horde of other planned maneuvers. But once done, the pay-offs are quite good!