You’ve probably heard stories of Instagrammers cashing in on the pictures they snap and share every day. You might’ve even looked at your own sizable following and thought, “Maybe I can do that full time too.”
Just like bloggers, YouTubers, and anyone who’s amassed an audience around the content they produce, Instagrammers have reach and influence figured out—two things many companies struggle with.
Together, reach and influence offer the opportunity for Instagram creators to explore multiple streams of potential revenue, whether they want to build an empire or just earn some extra cash and free stuff.
Learn to make money on IG 💰
How many Instagram followers do you need to make money?
If by now you’re wondering how many followers you need to start bringing in real revenue, the short answer is “not as many as you think.”
The long answer depends on factors that range from:
- What niche you’re in and how easily you can directly tie it to a product category (fashion, food, beauty, and fitness are popular niches, based on top Instagram hashtags)
- How engaged your followers are (100K fake followers won’t amount to much)
- Which revenue channels you explore
Naturally, the more engaged followers you have, the better. Check out our tips on how to get more followers on Instagram.
While top Instagrammers make thousands of dollars per post, even those with small but engaged followings of 1,000 have the potential to start making money.
How to make money on Instagram
Depending on your unique brand of Instagram content, your target audience, and your level of commitment, you can use Instagram to make money in the following ways:
- Work with brands on sponsored posts
- Become an affiliate
- Open your own ecommerce store
- Create an Instagram shop
- Sell your photos online or on things
- Make money off your content
The beauty here is that chasing one revenue stream doesn’t necessarily rule out another.
So let’s start with the most common approach to Instagram monetization: partnering with brands as an influencer.
Work with brands on sponsored content
The term “Instagram influencer” gets thrown around a lot these days.
An influencer is basically anyone who’s built themselves an online reputation by doing and sharing awesome things online. To their audiences, influencers are tastemakers, trendsetters, and trusted experts whose opinions about certain subjects are respected.
Many brands just can’t compete with that, so they partner with influencers on sponsored content like posts and Stories that help get the word out about their products.
But it’s not just the follower count and reach of your Instagram account that brands want—it’s your audience’s trust and engagement with high-quality content.
It can be hard to balance your revenue as an influencer and your integrity as a creator, but if you’re not relying on your Instagram marketing income to stay afloat, you always have the freedom to be selective about the brands you work with, just as brands will be selective about the Instagrammers they work with.
How to decide what to charge as an influencer
Typically these influencer deals involve the creation of content—Instagram ads, a post, a video, or a Story—and will sometimes include permission for the brand to use this content on their own site or in an ad.
Most of these deals are negotiable and can involve a single post or an entire campaign in exchange for a fee, a free product, a service, a gift, the promise of exposure, or some combination of these.
Keep in mind when negotiating that you’re not just offering content but access to your audience—a potentially large reach on one of the most popular social media platforms around—and usage rights.
The average influencer who has upward of 100,000 followers charges up to $500 per post, on average. Just to give you an idea of what some brands are willing to pay and how to negotiate based on the cards you’re holding.
Finally, it’s important as an influencer to also know your own audience.
What is the makeup of your audience, and what is your engagement rate (total engagement divided by your number of followers)? You can dig up numbers to back this up in your Instagram Analytics report, if you’ve switched to a business account. This will help you be prepared when it comes time to negotiate.
Want to learn how to grow and monetize your Instagram account? Instagram marketing expert Gretta van Riel shows you how in Grow Your Business with Instagram, a free course at Shopify Academy.
How to find brands to work with
If you’re big enough, chances are brands will find you. But you can also look for brands to work with that are on a similar level in terms of personality and values, so your audience won’t feel like you’re “selling out.”
You can reach out to them directly to try to work out a deal, but you can also list yourself on one of the many influencer marketplaces out there to increase your chances of being discovered, including:
- Fohr. Connect your Instagram, blog, YouTube channel, and other social platforms to create an influencer “card” that shows your different profiles and total reach to brands shopping for a partnership. You can also access a list of brands and their wants, so you can take the initiative to reach out too.
- Grapevine Village. If you have 5,000 or more followers, you can list yourself in the Grapevine Village marketplace for the opportunity to work with like-minded brands.
- Crowdtap. Do small content creation tasks to earn rewards. This is great if you’ve got a smaller audience. Available in the US only.
- indaHash. Brands post campaigns you can participate in. Post a picture with the specified hashtags on Instagram and get paid. You need at least 700 engaged followers to be eligible.
The rules vary when it comes to sponsored content, but to be on the safe side and respect your audience’s trust, consider adding a #sponsored hashtag to indicate sponsored posts.
You can find examples of sponsored posts and how Instagrammers integrate brands into their story or caption by searching #sponsored on Instagram, like this one from How He Asked, an account that shares wedding proposal stories and partners with a jewelry business:
Instagram also has a “Paid Partnership with” tag that prominently identifies sponsored posts, which some brands might require you to use to disclose your relationship with them.
Become an affiliate
Unlike an influencer, an affiliate is more invested in making sales for the partner brand—not just generating awareness—in exchange for a commission.
This is typically done with a trackable link or unique promo code to ensure clicks actually translate into sales. Use a mix of clickable links in your Instagram profile bio and Instagram Stories using the Swipe Up feature or through stickers. Since you can’t put links in Instagram posts, you can create promo codes so you can make money from different angles.
Consider reaching out to one of the many online merchants offering affiliate programs. Or you can explore popular marketplaces like:
- ClickBank. An affiliate platform with a tier-based commission that’s open to everyone.
- RewardStyle. An invitation-only fashion and lifestyle influencer network that offers 20% commissions.
- Amazon Associates. A popular option that pays out a 10% commission.
Though it sounds like a numbers game, affiliate marketing is also an art, and you’ll have a better chance at success if you have a plan going into it and expand your online presence to include a website and other marketing channels.
Tip: Affiliate links can be long and ugly, so I recommend a URL shortener like Bitly, especially if the links are going in your Instagram bio.
Open your own ecommerce store
By now it might sound like the only way for an Instagrammer to make money is to sell out and work with other brands.
But creators of all kinds are in a good position to “sell out” with their own products: physical goods, services, or digital items that can be an extension of their brand, building a business with an audience at its center.
The ability for [content creators] to sell products is just so natural because their abundance of content allows them to have those moments of plugging their products.
You need to invest some time upfront, but in today’s world, it’s almost natural for creators to make the leap to entrepreneurship. That’s becoming easier with the growing list of Instagram tools available to build an audience.
Just look at Loki the Wolfdog, one of the biggest Instagram dog-preneurs of his time.
By selling your own stuff, you don’t need to worry about integrating messages from other brands into your posting strategy. Better yet, you can get your own brand out there on the products you sell.
Fans can show their love and support your work by buying from you—a purchase they can feel good about.
There are a few ways to sell your own merch:
- You can use a print-on-demand service to print and ship your own t-shirts, pillows, coffee mugs, wall art, and more.
- You can sell services such as photography or consulting using your bio to direct interested people to a contact email or a link to your professional website.
- You can sell digital products such as courses, ebooks, or design templates.
- You can use your Instagram account to launch a business selling your own original products or even a book.
If you plan on selling several items in your own Shopify store, you can also make purchases through Instagram possible on your website using one of the available Instagram gallery apps.
Want to create your first business? Start your free 14-day trial of Shopify—no credit card required.
Set up Instagram Shopping
The past few years have been huge for ecommerce brands and creators who want to sell on social media. Instagram has released a ton of features under the Instagram Shopping umbrella, which allows people to easily shop your business’ videos and images on the platform.
It all starts with an Instagram shop, a.k.a. your storefront. There, you can share your story and sell products. Instagram provides a sleek experience for shoppers to browse and buy your collections. All you need to set up Instagram Shopping is a Business our Creator account.
You can customize your shop by creating Collections, or curated products presented in themes. Common themes include new arrivals, gifts, or seasonal trends.
Just like your online store, you can also create product description pages in your shop. Here you can include all relevant product information, like pricing and descriptions. You can send people to your website to complete a purchase or let them buy through the app using Instagram checkout.
It doesn’t stop there. People can also buy your products throughout Instagram via features like:
- Shoppable posts and Stories. You can use product tags to showcase items from your catalog in videos and images. People simply need to tap to learn more about an item.
- Shoppable ads. You can also add product tags to ads and extend the reach of your shoppable posts. Setup is simple inside Ads Manager, or you can boost existing Instagram posts in your feed.
- Instagram Shop tab. Instagram’s shopping tab is a destination for people looking to discover new brands that are relevant to them. This helps you more easily reach new customers on the app.
- Live shopping. Do you love live streaming content? Then you’ll find Instagram live shopping helpful for making money on Instagram. Just go live and tag products from your catalog (or Facebook shop) to feature in your broadcast. The product will show up at the bottom of the screen, where people can tap to purchase instantly.
The best part? Setting up an Instagram shop is free. You’ll only pay a commission if someone purchases through Instagram checkout.
Sell your photos online or on things
Someone might get famous on Twitter by telling 140-character jokes, but Instagram is a photo-sharing app at its core. And photos are assets that can be licensed, printed, and sold in a variety of ways.
If photography is what got you into the Instagram game in the first place, you can list your photos in marketplaces like 500px or Twenty20, where brands and publishers might license them.
However, you can also sell your photos as prints and on other physical products using a similar method described in the last section. Services like Printful and Teelaunch let you put your photos on posters, phone cases, pillows, and more, taking care of fulfilling orders and customer service, so all you really need to worry about is making sales.
Take the story of Daniel Arnold, who, according to an interview in Forbes, went from “eating toast three meals a day” to making $15,000 in 24 hours by offering to sell prints of his popular-but-controversial photos. If you’ve already got the demand, all you need to do is take the initiative and offer your audience the opportunity to buy your photography from you.
Make money off your content
IGTV ads are one way to monetize your social media content.
In March 2021, Instagram released IGTV ads for creators in the US, the UK, and Australia. These ads appear when people go to watch IGTV from a creator’s feed. The video is mobile-friendly and lasts up to 15 seconds long.
In an interview with The Verge, Instagram’s COO, Justin Osofsky, says that creators receive a 55% share of all advertising on IGTV, which is the same rate as YouTube. This makes Instagram a compelling way for creators to earn passive income from their content and make a living.
According to makeup influencer Avani: “IGTV has given me a place to show my fans more of my creativity and personality, which has helped grow my personal brand. Being able to earn money from the content I’m already creating gives me even more motivation to share more of myself with my followers on IGTV.”
Live badges are a newer feature, helping creators and influencers make money on Instagram. A popular concept taken from Twitch and TikTok, think of Instagram Live badges as tips you can receive during a live broadcast.
With this feature, viewers can purchase a badge during the livestream that shows in the comments and unlocks features, including a place on the creators’ badge list and access to a special heart.
People can buy:
- One heart for $.99
- Two hearts for $1.99
- Three hearts for $4.99
Getting paid on Instagram and beyond
What started as a hobby—making people laugh, doing silly photoshoots with your dog, or sharing pictures of food—can snowball into the chance to turn your Instagram page into a source of income fuelled by your engaged following. But why stop there?
There’s a world of possibilities for creators to make money on the web. If you want to open up more revenue streams online, be sure to check out our tips on how to make money on YouTube. Your Instagram followers are bound to join you on other channels. You just have to open the doors for them to walk through.
Ready to create your business? Start your free 14-day trial of Shopify—no credit card required.
Make money on Instagram FAQ
Do Instagram users get paid?
Yes. You can get paid on Instagram in the following ways:
- Creating sponsored posts for brands that want to get in front of your audience
- Becoming an affiliate and making a commission selling other brands’ products
- Creating and selling a physical or digital product or offering a paid service
- Setting up an Instagram Shop
- Selling licenses for your photography or videos
- Monetizing your content