The Top 7 Ways to Make Money on Instagram

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A few years ago, if you had talent there was only a handful of traditional ways to communicate it the world. Back in the day, before e-books were a thing, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King received many rejection slips from editors.

Today, anyone can write and publish a book. There are so many platforms to carry these words to the world. One thing remains to be done though. These words need to be promoted, and what’s better than social media to reach billions of people?

Why Is Instagram Your Best Choice?

Instagram has been gaining in popularity since it started in 2010. A million people were using it after only two months of its launch.

The latest stats indicate that Instagram users press the like icon 4.2 billion times each day, two-thirds of the late teen and 20-year-olds are active Instagram users.  This platform also has more than 30% of social media influencers who make around $50,000 a year.

Compared to other platforms, Instagram users show the highest tendency to engage with brands. They ask about prices and models, and most of the big brands employ social media professionals to manage these energetic exchanges.

Here’s a figure that might surprise you a little: Images posted on Instagram get around 25% more attention than the same images posted on Facebook.

There’s actually a bit of sibling rivalry between Mark Zuckerberg, the actual owner of Instagram, and Kevin Systrom, the founder of Instagram. After Zuckerberg acquired Instagram in 2012 Systrom still ran the show.

Kevin Systrom told Forbes Magazine that he used facebook to go from a photo-sharing app, to “A media company that communicates through photos”.

Before You Start

Planning your steps carefully isn’t a waste of time. It’s actually the best thing you can do to make sure you have a good foundation. Later on, you’ll need that concrete base to expand and move to the next levels.

Create Your Brand

That’s the first thing you need to do. Social media lets you reach billions of people around the globe. At the same time, it lets millions of other talented people compete for the attention of the same viewers.

When everyone is talking at the same time, you need to say something different. Your brand is how you stand out and differentiate yourself from the big loud crowd.

Go about this step in a systematic way. Here’s a good method:

  • Write down 20 words that mean something to you
  • Ask yourself 20 times why exactly each word is on the list
  • Answer in one word if you can
  • The 20 answers are basically your brand
  • Make a shortlist of 5 words from these 20

This shortlist is an accurate description of you. This is everything you hold dear. It’s what you believe in. That’s also what you should write in your bio and by all means, create your content around it.

Start a Solid Network

Making money from your Instagram account starts with establishing a good network. It needs to be genuine, so no bot-generated popularity.

You might think that paying for an ad would get you a million followers overnight, but that’s kind of a long shot.

People who see the ad and feel curious about your profile will also look for content. They’ll feel alone if you’re account doesn’t have substance and a few folks engaged with it. It’s best to wait a little bit and schedule an ad once you’ve built an infrastructure.

You’ll get the followers, don’t worry. It might be a bit slow at first but it will soon gather momentum. Your best bet at this point is your real-world network. These people know you and are more than ready to cheer you on.

You should also show interest in other accounts. Start following about 500 accounts. They should be seriously interesting to you. You’ll need to engage with them, so choose people or brands that resonate with you.

When you show true interest in others, the best network starts forming. This is a purely digital exchange, but you notice each other’s posts and support your respective aspirations. This builds up consistent traffic to your profile.

You’re still not ready for an ad, read the next section first.

Experiment a Little with Content

Seasoned social media gurus have a punctual schedule of posts. They plan what to post, when to post it, and how frequently to make an appearance. This is based on viewers’ engagement stats.

This might be a bit much for you at this point, so let’s just play it by ear. Try different media at various times. See what clicks with your little audience. A couple of likes are good signs. They’ll increase soon enough.

Formulate a Content Strategy

After a couple of weeks, you’ll get a feel of the platform. Plan your content more thoroughly. You also need to be consistent and predictable with your timing. Be bold and surprising with your content though.

Once you’ve accumulated 20 posts and 100 followers, then you’re ready for a sponsored ad! Pick a high-quality image with good engagement and promote it. This should boost your profile quite nicely.

Your followers could easily jump to the thousands in a week. Make sure that you keep them interested and coming back for more. You can join an online course about content creation and digital marketing for a more focused approach

In the meantime, pick a business to monetize all the networking you’ve established. Here are a few ideas on how to make money on Instagram.

1- Make Money by Selling a Product

Instagram is the biggest Boutique on earth. It’s always tempting to rent space in there and sell something.

Selling an actual physical product is the oldest form of trade. It’s either something you make or several products that you buy and resell.

I’ve seen people making fortunes out of these digital shops. The financial transactions on Instagram currently have a ‘lingo’ that users know well.

I feel sometimes that this is an oriental bazaar where buyers touch the silk garments and talk for hours with the shop keepers!

This business venture is made for you if you like the act of showcasing a product, talking to potential clients, closing deals, and handling the logistics of shipping your product to the customers.

The best way to showcase your product is by posting eye-catching images. Do that every day, several times per day. You might want to be innovative with those images. There’s a certain saturation with the mainstream stuff on Instagram. Be different.

Some of your posts should steer just a bit from the product. Talk about yourself. Tell stories. Tell your followers why you picked this specific product.

Be human and approachable. They’ll buy more when they know you better. These exchanges inspire trust and familiarity, which are the best drivers of trade.

Some people like the idea, and appreciate the generous profits that come with it, but they can’t pick a product they could sell. If you’re one of these folks, consider the next option: sell a service.

2- Make Money by Selling a Service

Think about this: Uber, Facebook, and Airbnb are services. There’s a saying in business that every annoying situation is a business opportunity if you can come up with a solution.

Big manufacturers sell products with that exact same principle. Ask any industry tycoon, they’ll all tell you that they just fill a need.

When selling a product isn’t on the table, think about all the things you could do. What can you offer to someone else? And why would they pay you to do it?

A friend of mine is a stay at home mom, and when her kids were young and demanding she started a catering business. Each day she posted a new dish.

It wasn’t picture perfect, and she mostly used her cell phone, but she created interest. She experimented with food types and menu combinations. She also planned special offers around national holidays and special events.

The content she posted was a variety of delicious food and hilarious humor. She also posted family photographs and occasionally asked her followers to help her with a missing ingredient. Her business grew steadily and now she’s one of the best caterers in our circle.

The moral of the story is: Start anywhere but start now.

Monetizing a service might be someone else’s thing, and you’re still looking for ways to make money? Read on!

3- Make Money from Your Book

You might be a published writer with a good name. You could also be an aspiring writer who hasn’t finished a single manuscript. In both cases, you can monetize this talent on Instagram.

Experienced writers need constant exposure to more readers. Publishers mostly leave the marketing to writers, they count on their wide base of followers.

That’s where Instagram can boost book sales. Writers usually post an excerpt from their books, and they choose in a way that initiates interaction from their followers.

This buzz usually drives book sales, and it might as well grant them a new book deal. Publishers are always on the lookout for new talent that has many followers.

If you’re a new writer, build up your brand first. We talked about that explicitly in the first section. Make your profile stand out by focusing on a unique aspect. In the business world, we call that a ‘unique selling point’.

There’s a poet who’s now a huge celebrity on Instagram. He started with soulful posts that only a few people read. Poetry, after all, isn’t a widely popular genre. It’s more of a niche literary product.

He kept on writing those little poems and spilled his heart out in a few words. His captions were simple and refrained from the high brow stuff poets are famous for.

Eventually, he gained visibility, and one night, he posted a poem about being rejected. He captioned it with one word: “vent”. The comments reached thousands after 10 minutes, and he engaged with almost all of them.

You can build a name on Instagram, or you can give your published book a boost. In both cases, you can monetize your writing big time.

4- Make Money by Offering Your Expertise

You might be knowledgeable about film making, gardening, finance, or raising kids. If you’ve been out and about in a certain domain, you can certainly make money talking about it.

Consultants of the ancient ages took decades to establish themselves as authorities in their fields. Today, you can achieve the same result by consistent posting for 6 months only.

This takes us once more to the concept of branding. Being an expert in some field is great, but you need to sprinkle it with some glam and offer it in a visually attractive package.

Your branding will give you the distinction you need to be seen. It will facilitate your recognition as the go-to person. Engineers and interior designers land tons of new projects each day because their name is familiar.

I’m pretty sure that you know this, but let’s reiterate the facts. Being experienced isn’t the same as holding a certificate. True experience comes from real-life situations, experimentation, lots of failures, and a nice amount of success.

Still doesn’t feel like your thing? Keep reading, there’s more!

5- Make Money from Your Image as an Influencer

Mo Salah, a superstar football player in Liverpool, was photographed reading a book one day. He seemed so chill, and the intent of the photo was clearly to show him reading something.

It wasn’t concerned with promoting the book at all, considering the title wasn’t even showing. Fans everywhere were curious; what is Mo Salah reading? Some clever viewers recognized the book as Mark Manson’s “The subtle art of not giving a f*ck”.

The book was still obscure at that point, but the response to the football player’s photo was instantaneous and huge. The book sold millions of copies, and Mark Manson sent Mo Salah a thank you note for the boost.

Part of this far and wide intense reaction is that the promotion wasn’t intentional.  Followers are smart, and they don’t like being treated as ‘customers’.

Becoming an influencer has a lot to do with personal charisma, and how cleverly you establish your branding. Making money out of being an influencer is geared to being genuine in what you sponsor.

You can join many affiliate programs, and there are several platforms that pair up influencers with brands. The secret to your success is integrity. Sell what you believe in, and be nice and subtle as you go about it.

6- Make Money Promoting Someone Else’s Product

This is a lot like the previous money-making route, but here you’re focusing on a real producer that you know well.

You happened to know a thing or two about marketing, and you have a nice online presence. You’re not into the affiliate scene though. You can still act like a product ambassador and sell this single brand through your stories.

This also works if you’ve always been passionate about a certain product, say coffee, and people know you for that. If you’re always talking about it, and you know everything there is to know on that matter, then why not make money out of this?

You can approach the producer and offer your services. If you give your pitch together with your Instagram engagement and content, it’s probably a done deal.

There are a lot of money producers are allocating for digital marketing than ever before.  Last year it exceeded the budget set for traditional media marketing. That was a first, and an opportunity we should all explore.

7-  Make Money from Your Art or Photographs

This is one of the least explored money-making venues on Instagram, imagine that!

The wide world of Instagram has mainly professional photographers who come to show their work to a wider base. There’s another crowd of amateur photographers who seek validation and want to share with like-minded people.

Artists are even fewer. They feel more comfortable showcasing their work on specialized websites like Etsy.

This isn’t the whole situation of course. Some artists and photographers know how to monetize their work and reach potential clients. They also know how to do the personal branding thing, naturally.

Talking about making money from art, one comic artist comes to mind: Nick Seluk. He’s the creator of the ‘The Awkward Yeti’ comic strip, also known as ‘Heart and Brain’. He makes his money mostly from selling merchandise based on his comic strip.

This fine man rocketed to popularity in record time. His art reached a huge fan base in such a short time. Charles Schultz the creator of snoopy and Stan Lee the creator of Spider-Man took ten times as much time to gain the same recognition.

You could take your art, photography, or music to the next level on Instagram. Observe the modest beginnings of every fancy celebrity you know. This should inspire you to take that step.

Final Thoughts About Money Making On Instagram

Instagram still has untapped potential. The wave of digital media is still in its beginnings. You might think that all the hustle and bustle around it means it too crowded now, but you can look at it in another way.

There’s all this audience out there who could see your work. They would reward you for what you add to their lives, so go ahead and add that value.

Being part of the big game is an unparalleled feeling of satisfaction and success. Read again the previous sections. These are the top 7 ways to make money on Instagram. Pick one, and make it big!

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Brooke Ford
I’ve spent the past six years working as a marketing manager for various companies. And in that time, I've realized you’re either building someone else’s dreams or you’re building your own. Recently, Instagram has become my gateway to earning a good income online and saying BYEEE to my 9-5 job. Hopefully, this website will help you navigate the waters of growing your Instagram.
Brooke Ford

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