Instagram is a force to be reckoned with.
According to the latest Instagram statistics, the platform has 1.704 billion users worldwide. While it got its start as a photo sharing app, it’s transformed into a business platform. Millions of entrepreneurs are taking advantage of its selling power, from service providers to nonprofits to dropshipping ecommerce business owners, to make money on Instagram.
You may be asking yourself: How do people make money on Instagram? Can I pull it off myself? How is selling on Instagram different from other types of ecommerce business?
In this article, we’ll look at a few tactics you can start using today, so you can join the ranks of successful entrepreneurs who earn money from Instagram.
Ready to start selling on Instagram but need cool products to sell? Try Handshake, your wholesale marketplace built by Shopify.
Can You Make Money on Instagram?
Absolutely. As long as you have some beautiful and creative images to use, you can spark the attention of Instagram’s millions of users.
Now you might be thinking: Right, I get that it’s possible, but how the heck do I start?
To start, here are a few ways you can make money on Instagram:
- Focus on sponsored posts for brands that want to reach your audience, making you the perfect medium to do that.
- Become an affiliate and earn money by selling products that belong to other brands.
- Offer to be a virtual assistant for an Instagram influencer. A lot of them are seeking help to get things off their plate.
- Write captions for businesses without in-house content staff.
- Sell on Instagram. You can sell either a physical or digital product, or even a service.
- Sell your photography
The enthusiasts of this platform are always looking out for new ways to earn money from Instagram.
Don’t worry, we’ll unravel the mysteries of this whole process in detail, along with some success stories from Instagram.
How to Make Money on Instagram?
Instagram is ideal for selling products that photograph well.
If you have some photography skills, you’ll have a huge advantage for the platform. Bonus points if you’re photogenic yourself and want to bring some extra life to your product photography. Don’t have a camera? Learn how to take stunning photos with your phone with our product photography course. Nothing is going to stop you from earning money from the photo and video sharing app.
Here are 7 business models to make money on Instagram:
1. Become an influencer and make money from sponsored posts.
If you can reach coveted influencer status, you can use your Instagram profile to promote all kinds of products from all kinds of brands..
If you’re not familiar, an influencer is someone who has built a reputation and loyal following by sharing regularly on their social accounts. They have a good following and they’re able to convince their audiences to jump onto trends and buy certain products.
They have this power because they’ve spent a lot of time building trust and relationships with their audience.
Brands tend to partner with influencers to do sponsored posts that help spread the word about their products. To get to this point, you need to grow your Instagram following as well as regularly come up with posts that generate strong engagement from your followers.
Top influencers make thousands of dollars per sponsored post. Keep in mind that it takes a long time and a lot of hard work and talent to get to this point. It’s attainable for sure, but make sure you manage your expectations if you choose this route.
As an influencer, it’s extremely important for you to know your audience. You need to understand who those people are – their interests, values, needs, and wants.
This way, you know which brands would best fit them. If you’ve switched to an Instagram business account, you can research your audience stats a bit more through the Instagram Insights feature.
If you’ve created a noteworthy online presence, chances are big brands will reach out to you. But as you’re building, you also find brands yourself that you think match your personality and values the best.
Reach out to them directly (through Instagram or through their websites) to try to negotiate a deal. You can also list yourself on an influencer marketplace to increase your chances of being found by a big brand.
As an extra tip, be careful not to lose the trust of your existing audience in the process of making money from sponsored posts. It’s always a good idea to use an Instagram hashtag that tells people it’s a sponsored post (something simple like #sponsored or #ad).
2. Become an affiliate and make money selling other people’s products.
You can sell other people’s products and get a cut. There are loads of people who make money from Instagram through affiliate programs.
The difference between an influencer and an affiliate is that an affiliate is working towards making sales for the partnering brand in exchange for a commission. On the other hand, the influencer is mainly aiming to create awareness. (If you’re only interested in getting exposure for your brand, you might want to go through these brand awareness tips to gain traction).
Affiliates make money through a trackable link or a promo code to make sure that you know exactly which sales came directly from your posts.
Create engaging posts so you can promote the products without being pushy. Since you can only have one link on your Instagram bio, you might want to connect a landing page to your affiliate link, which you can quickly create using a “link in bio” tool like Linkpop. In each post, make sure to tell people they can buy the product via the link in your bio. And create a fun Instagram caption to make it sound less salesly.
At first it may sound like a tough game, but affiliate marketing has a lot of potential if you plan on growing. You can expand your presence by including a website and/or other marketing or social media channels.
Check out our list of eye-catching Instagram post ideas from successful brands for you to take inspiration from.
3. Become a Virtual Assistant to an Influencer
If you’d rather work behind-the-scenes, consider becoming an assistant to an Instagram influencer.
Many influencers out there need help – with filtering sponsorship requests, running ads, identifying fake followers, and more. You can offer to be their VA and charge by the hour for your services.
As an Instagram influencer VA, you’ll be accountable for lots of things, such as managing DMs, scheduling posts, and replying to comments. Also, the influencer may ask you to share content ideas for growing their personal brand.
So if you always wanted to practice your Instagram marketing skills without being the center of attention, this is a great place to start.
4. Sell Instagram caption services.
Many small business owners use Instagram to promote their goods and services, but only a few of them have the resources or expertise to write good Instagram captions. If you’re good at coming up with creative Instagram captions, you can sell your services to these companies. Just remember, they’ll judge you by your ability to write engaging short-form copy.
To get the attention of business owners, write and put up some captions on your own account. Then include the ones that generate the most engagement in your portfolio. Chances are, if a business is going to hire you for crafting their Instagram copy, they are going to want to see your work. So make sure you have some examples they could look at right off the bat.
How much to charge for Instagram captions? Whatever pricing you feel you are worth. It could be $600 for 10 captions, or $1,000 for 20 captions. The important thing is to charge for your expertise rather than your time or your content.
5. Sell poster photos and other virtual products.
Instagram is all about the visuals. That’s why beautiful products and photos will get more sales.
You can sell poster photos, paintings, drawings, animations, videos, and other image or video-based virtual products. On each post, include an interesting caption and refer readers to visit the link in your bio. This is another popular way that people make money from Instagram.
If you think you take high-quality pictures, there’s a chance that you can get paid for it. Once you snap some great shots, use the best photo editing apps for phones to get the most out of the photos that you take. Try to be original, creative, and fun when you’re taking pictures. Those will get way more attention than boring ones.
You can use Instagram to promote your photography portfolio using relevant Instagram hashtags.
6. Sell your own physical products.
You can sell any physical product that you make yourself or buy from suppliers. This conventional ecommerce retailing usually requires stocking some inventory, meaning you’d need to spend some startup capital to buy your products.
You’ll also need a place where you can keep the products, like a spare room at home or a rented storage space. This is especially true if you plan on saving money by buying products in bulk. You’ll need a place to keep everything before they’re ordered by and delivered to customers.
As of July 2020, you can sell products directly on Instagram by setting up an Instagram Shop (more on that later). Just tag products in your Instagram images and you can lead your Instagram followers to your product pages, where they can buy your stuff in one fell swoop.
7. Sell dropshipped products.
Dropshipping is a business model you can use to run your store without ever holding any inventory.
Once you’ve made a sale, your supplier will ship your products from their warehouse, straight to your customer’s doorstep. You’ll never need to worry about storing, packaging, or shipping your products. Phew.
This works in a similar way to our previous idea of selling products on Instagram to earn money. The only difference is that you won’t need to store any inventory. With dropshipping, you can experiment to find the niche products that would sell well, without wasting startup capital.
You can easily set up a dropshipping store with Shopify’s ecommerce platform (which is free for 14 days) and apps like DSers.
Should I Make Money on Instagram?
The numbers behind Instagram are staggering, and the platform is catching up with Facebook’s growth.
While Facebook has 2.80 billion monthly active users, Instagram’s growth has reached 1 billion users over 9 years in 2019 since its launch in 2010.
With Instagram constantly growing in popularity, it’s no surprise that Instagrammers are becoming an unstoppable force. They’ve figured out ways to make money on Instagram, and cash in on the pictures that they take.
If you want to make money with Instagram, check out these mind-blowing stats:
1) 1 billion users are active every month. That’s almost three times the US population.
2) 500 million users post a story every day. Almost double the US population.
3) 71% of US businesses (both large and small) use Instagram for branding and marketing.
4) 50 percent of Instagram users (500 million people) follow at least one business account.
5) There are 2 million Instagram advertisers every month.
6) Time spent on Instagram increases by 80 percent every year.
7) Brands get 4x more engagement on Instagram than they do on Facebook.
8) 80% of Instagram users make a purchase decision about a product while browsing the app.
9) 71% of Instagram users are under the age of 35, making it an ideal platform for brands targeting young adults.
Instagram Success Stories
You can learn from others’ experiences through case studies and success stories like those below.
Foster a specific niche lifestyle and start selling products that you’re passionate about. It can be any passion, hobby, or anything that you want to share with others. Just do what you do best.
With apps that connect social media platforms with your ecommerce site, the seamlessness is even better. Shopify comes with Instagram Business Account integration, which makes the whole process of using Instagram for business even simpler.
Let’s look at some brands that integrate Instagram marketing with their ecommerce store.
BeardBrand was first featured in a New York Times article. Their store was started with only $30 and a committed vendor. How they earn money from Instagram is unique and super cool.
BeardBrand.com has a strong Instagram presence with more than 183,000 followers, which helps big time in selling their beard-related products.
With over one 800,000 followers, rad.slime’s stock usually sells out in 24 hours. The videos are crisp and clear. Viewers can hear the colorful popping slime being molded. The bright, photogenic videos have amazing marketing power.
This Minty Rainbow Chip slime generated more than 426K views. With that massive number of views, it’s understandable why the product sold out within 24 hours.
RadSlimeShop.com uses Shopify’s flexible and adaptable ecommerce platform. Making money from Instagram can be relatively easy once you’ve nailed the art and science of impressive product videos.
Justin Wong, the founder of Aesthentials, is passionate about cute Harajuku-style fashion. His massive Instagram account is his main marketing channel.
Note that each Instagram post is meticulously edited to fit a specific mood and vibe. Wong makes $12K per month on Instagram selling various products with the dropshipping business model.
While there are several vendors, the products aren’t purchased by the store owner until they’re purchased by customers.
What Are the Requirements for Making Money on Instagram?
Using apps, following a do’s and don’ts list, using awesome filters, and applying promotional tactics are key to business success. But you still need to be aware of new trends and rules, which are necessary to make money on Instagram.
Let’s look at a few.
1) Master Instagram for Business
There are 2 types of Instagram accounts: personal and business. The business account was launched in July 2016. You can study using this step-by-step instructional video to set one up. Shopify also provides an in-depth tutorial for selling on Instagram.
2) Launch an Instagram Shop
An Instagram Shop lets you integrate your product catalog with your Instagram profile. This lets you promote your products directly to Instagram users through posts, Stories, in the Explore tab, and in a special Shop tab on your profile.
Our team made the ultimate guide to setting up an Instagram Shop. Check it out if you’d like some pointers to understand how you can make money from an Instagram Shop.
3) Master Instagram Ecommerce Shopping Apps Integration
Instagram comes with limited shoppability, which requires some ingenuity to make it work for business. However, the ecommerce shopping feature can be seamlessly integrated with apps specifically designed for a Shopify store.
Try out some apps, so you’ll be able to see for yourself which ones let you publish products, along with their pricing and specifications on separate pages.
This way, shoppers feel like they’re still on your Instagram pages while they’re actually already on the ecommerce-ready shopping app pages.
I recommend using Shopify because it has loads of apps that can be integrated with Instagram. You can try many of the apps for free, so there’s no risk if they don’t work out for you.
4) Master Instagram Do’s and Don’ts
Instagram has detailed rules on how you should post, the types of images or videos to post, and how many times per day you can post.
It also limits the number of hashtags to include, so you can’t just spam your Instagram account with more than 30 hashtags that aren’t related to the content of the post. No cheating!
Following these rules will improve your chances of earning money from Instagram. According to CoSchedule, it’s recommended to post 1 to 2 times a day so your followers wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. This will also give you time to make unique and eye-catching posts. The best time to post would be before launch at 11 a.m on Wednesdays and Fridays.
According to Sprout Social, the ideal length of Instagram captions is between 138 to 150 characters. For ad captions, stick with 125 characters. The optimal number of hashtags is between 5 to 10, even though 20+ is possible but not recommended.
Instagram may “shadow ban” your posts if they contain more than 20 hashtags. “Shadow banning” means your posts stop showing up in searches for specific hashtags.
You can probably figure out that anything with the word “ban” is a bad thing, so try to avoid this as much as possible. It’ll hurt your ability to make money.
5) Master Instagram Filters and Photography
Canva did a study on America’s favorite Instagram filters. Based on rank, they’re: Clarendon, Gingham, Juno, and Lark. And the world’s favorite filters are: Clarendon, Juno, Valencia, Gingham, and Lark.
Most popular filters for nature:
Most popular filters for fashion:
Most popular filters for food:
Most popular filters for selfies:
Use tools like Picodash to see which photos work. You want to do the kinds of things that successful accounts do, but still create your own unique content and personality. Motivate yourself to learn more each day so you can earn money from Instagram.
6) Create Posts Inspired by Viral Stories
Include them in between your product photos and videos on your Instagram account. You can do this with ease using tools like Stencil, PromoRepublic, and Be Funky
How to Build a Strong Following on Instagram
Should you build an Instagram following before or after you start selling?
The answer is simple: before and after.
Ideally, you already have at least a couple hundred followers before you start selling. This way, you won’t be posting product photos to an empty account. Of course, you’ll have to start from scratch at some point – just try building a base before you go for the sales.
Now, how can you build a strong following on Instagram? Use these 13 tips today, so you can start growing your followers. A strong following is key to making money from Instagram.
1) Optimize your Instagram profile.
Make sure to choose a username that’s less than 30 characters. Ideally, the name is searchable through a keyword. It should also be consistent with the username you use on other social media platforms.
Your bio should include up to 150 characters. It’s a great idea to include a clickable link to your website. This is the only place where you can include a clickable link in your Instagram account, so it’s an important way to optimize your account.
2) Create and promote a dedicated hashtag.
If your account name is Jennie’s Candies, consider creating the #jenniescandies hashtag. Whenever you want to check conversations about your brand, you can just check the hashtag.
You can also promote this hashtag everywhere you go and on other platforms, both online and offline.
3) Get creative with hashtags related to your niche.
While Instagram allows 30 hashtags per post, it might backfire. It’s recommended to use 5 to 10 popular hashtags for your niche and related to your products.
4) Participate in conversations related to your niche.
Check out other accounts using the same hashtags. Follow them and get involved in the conversations. You’ll earn new followers this way.
5) Use compelling Instagram captions.
An Instagram caption is what you type underneath your Instagram posts to give your followers a little more juice and appeal. The best Instagram captions help your followers feel invited to join the conversation and like your posts.
6) Run and promote contests.
Run a contest with a photo that invites contestants and shows the prizes. Be sure to make a special hashtag for the contest too. Decide how the winners will be chosen and post the rules clearly.
For example, you can take special photos for the contest. And whenever someone posts a photo using the hashtag, they’re entered into the competition. Make sure that you comply with Instagram’s contest rules.
Be creative with the contest so contestants have an opportunity to earn some money from Instagram too, if possible. You can invite them to join an affiliate program that comes with a prize.
7) Create and promote Instagram Stories and Instagram Live Videos.
Instagram Stories have become a huge part of Instagram, and they continue to grow. You can use Instagram Stories like a pro to build your audience.
There are plenty of ways you can play around with the content, like adding geotags, selfie stickers, moving texts, add color overlays, texts, and face filters (just like Snapchat) to your Instagram Stories.
Be creative when delivering your message. Make it fun.
8) Post regularly.
The key is being consistent and making sure your posts all maintain your own special style.. This way, your followers can recognize your posts and know they’re coming from your brand. You can also use third-party social media software applications like Hootsuite, SocialFlow, and Sprout Social to schedule your Instagram posts.
9) Collaborate with influencers and like-minded accounts.
Reach out to influencers and like-minded accounts for exchanges and paid posts. For example, if you have a huge following, you can do posting exchanges.
If you collaborate with Instagram influencers, you can choose to create an affiliate program that pays commission or pays per post depending on the size of the following.
10) Use the location feature.
Post videos and stories to your account, then use appropriate hashtags and geotags so that your posts can be easily found by people who are in and interested in the area.
11) Ask others to engage with your content.
If you ask, people might help you out. There’s nothing wrong with asking – just make sure that your content is actually valuable and engaging. This is the ultimate path to making money on Instagram, after all.
12) Use Instagram Ads to reach more people.
Running Instagram ads can help you to reach more people who otherwise wouldn’t have been looking for your posts. Instagram ads are a huge asset to any brands who want to make money on the platform, so check it out if you want to take your brand to the next level.
Regardless of your business model, you’ll need to promote it. Self-promoting requires more than just having thick skin. Above all, you’d need to be strategic and use proven tactics to actually earn money.
When you’re selling on Instagram, the purchases are mostly impulse-based. The key is creating a “wow” factor with the photos, videos, captions, and a seamless experience when customers are shopping for your products.
- Use compelling photos and videos produced professionally and using favorite filters and tools.
- Integrate your Instagram account with your ecommerce store to ensure a positive and consistent experience.
- Collaborate with as many influencers as possible. Select influencers whose philosophy and followers align with yours.
- Strategize well. Stay afloat and post content on a daily basis.
- Design all your social media accounts, web pages, and blogs to reflect a uniform and consistent theme.
Learnings: Make Money on Instagram
Instagram is a goldmine for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make money. By being creative with your account, you can earn money from Instagram like all the hot shots.
In summary, here are all the ways you can make money from Instagram:
- Create sponsored posts for brands as an influencer
- Become an affiliate and endorse different products
- Be a virtual assistant to an influencer
- Write captions for businesses
- Sell poster photos and other virtual items
- Sell your own physical goods
- Sell dropshipped products
You can sell physical products by posting photos, live stories, and videos. You can also sell services, like influencer marketing. If you sell tangible products, consider using the dropshipping model – it’s convenient and cost-efficient.
How much money can people make on Instagram?
It depends on what you sell, and what business strategies and marketing tactics you use. If you’ve just started, you’ll probably only make a little. But as your Instagram following grows and you get better at marketing, you’re likely to see your numbers grow
How can I make the most money from Instagram?
Learn from successful Instagrammers. Combine what you’ve learned from them with your own strengths in marketing, photography, storytelling, and photo styling. Grow your following as much as possible, create contests, and be active by posting new photos once or twice per day. And of course, have a strong product and make sure all your customers are happy ones.
It may take a few weeks or months to start earning a sexyprofit from Instagram, so do some planning before you quit your 9-to-5 job. But if you’re ready to make the leap, there’s so much opportunity waiting for you. Get going now and keep an open mind so that you can always learn, grow, and smash your financial goals.