How to Make Real Money on Instagram

I earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

It may not be the traditional American dream, but earning money from posting on Instagram is undoubtedly an enviable way to make money.

And that’s exactly what many influencers are doing, getting paid hundreds and even thousands of dollars per post and often scoring all kinds of freebies along the way.

Making money on Instagram isn’t easy, though, especially nowadays. While influencer marketing used to be far less popular, that has changed in recent years, and there’s more competition than ever.

It will take work, but if you’re willing to do that, then this guide can help you make money on Instagram.

Building Your Following

Most of the work that goes into making money on Instagram involves building a strong following.

Although there’s no set minimum number of followers you need to be an influencer, most brands will want you to have at least 5,000, and some will only work with you if you have even more than that.

It’s not just about the number of followers, either. Your followers need to be real people who interact with your content.

That means you can’t just buy 25,000 fake followers and let the cash roll in. Brands are wise to that, and they look at the engagement rates your posts get.

Here’s how you can build a following that engages with your posts:

Set Up Your Account

You need to know what your account will be about first and write a profile reflecting that.

Think about what you want to post and what brands you want to work with.

Remember that specialization is good when it comes to how you brand your Instagram account.

It’s better to be one of the few influencers targeting a specific niche than one of many targeting a popular niche.

Post High-Quality Images Frequently

Instagram is all about the images you post, which means you’ll need to be good with the camera on your smartphone.

Take pictures related to your brand all the time. The more pics you take, the more likely it is that you’ll get some great ones to use.

Make sure you’re also looking at what the top accounts for your niche are doing.

Check how often they post and the types of pics they post. This can give you inspiration and a model for success to follow yourself.

Use the Right Hashtags

Hashtags are one of the ways people are going to find your posts and hopefully start following you.

You can find hashtags by looking at other posts in the same niche as your own, and you can also search for specific hashtags on Instagram to see how popular they are.

Just avoid tacking on irrelevant hashtags solely because they’re popular. This makes you look spammy and can turn off other users.

You can find hashtag suggestions on the Best Hashtags website.

Update: Instagram now allows you to add hashtags to your bio.

Look for Shout-Out Opportunities

Another effective way to boost your follower count is to get a shout-out from a popular account.

Try looking for accounts in your niche that curate photos from other Instagram accounts.

Then, you can ask them for a shout-out and potentially gain an influx of new followers from it.

Engage with Your Followers

If you follow the steps above consistently, you’ll see your follower count start to grow steadily.

The final thing you need to do is to engage with your followers. Like or comment on their posts when you can, and respond when someone comments on a post of your own. By doing this, you’re building a real connection to them.

Ways to Make Money on Instagram

Once you’ve built a good following, you’re ready to start making money on Instagram. The two best options for doing this, along with how you can do each, are explained below.

Sponsored Posts

When people think of making money on Instagram, this is usually what they’re thinking of.

Sponsored posts are when brands pay you for a post advertising their product or service.

It’s good to have an idea of how much you’re going to charge per post, and this depends on your number of followers and how strong your engagement is.

If you visit Influence Estimator, they have a free tool that will give you an estimate on what to charge.

The tool that’s available to anyone only works for Twitter, but when you register as an influencer on the site, you can use the tool with Instagram, too.

In some cases, you may have brands approach you directly about marketing for them.

Not everyone is so fortunate, though, especially those who don’t have thousands of followers.

You can also do brand outreach yourself, and there are two good ways to do this.

The first is to simply message brands you like with a proposal about marketing for them.

Make sure you break down the engagement your posts get and why this brand would benefit from working with you.

The second method is to join an influencer network. These networks are designed to connect influencers with brands.

When you join, you can contact brands through the network, and they can contact you. Popular influencer networks include Buzzweb, and TRIBE.

Selling Your Own Product or Service

One way to make money on Instagram that people often overlook is to use Instagram as a means of promoting your own product or service.

To do this, you can include a link to purchase said product or service in your bio and do plenty of different promotional posts to draw attention to what you’re selling.

This method obviously requires you to either have a product already or to get one.

The advantage here is that you may not need nearly as many followers as you would for sponsored posts, as you could still make good money from sales with a low number of followers and decent engagement.

Final Thoughts

The key to being successful on Instagram is treating it like a business because that’s essentially what it is if you want to monetize it for yourself.

You can’t just post random images unrelated to your niche or go weeks without posting.

You’ll need to put in a lot of time and effort on your account, but this will pay off once you reach the point where you get paid big bucks for every post.