Find out everything you need to know on making Instagram your go-to profit builder
It’s a question many have asked– “how can I make money on Instagram?” After all, we’re always using it, why not turn it into something profitable instead of just spending our time, and even sometimes, our money?
These days, with the evolution of Instagram, features for advertising and business, our IG feeds have turned into somewhat of a catalogue of products and services that might be of interest to us. Top-quality content has continued to permeate the platform, and now we’re looking at something that incorporates our own interests, the lives of our friends and family, and new content that we might like to purchase.
With the number of active Instagram users on a monthly basis reaching 1 billion, with daily usage hitting 500 million, there’s no denying that Instagram has beastly potential for profiting and brand expansion. With features like in-app checkout, the possibilities have truly become attractive for making money.
Here’s a Guide on How You Can Make Money On Instagram Too
There are three main ways to make money on Instagram, with strategies that transcend all of them. If you want to make money on IG, consider one of these three routes:
- Become an e-commerce entrepreneur by selling your own products or services
- Become an influencer through brand ambassador work, sponsored content, and partnerships
- Become an affiliate marketer and sell other people’s products.
In all of these arenas, there are a variety of strategies across all three that will help you to turn your Instagram work into profit. Let’s take a look at the different strategies that can give us some insight on how to make money on Instagram.
Strategy 1: Build Your Own e-Commerce Business
Regardless of whether or not you already have your own business, you can use Instagram to help fortify your sales and sell your own products or services. Perhaps you are a freelance photographer. Maybe you have your own fashion line, or you offer consulting services. Maybe you’re an event planner, or you have your own construction or moving business. Maybe you want to break into the market through selling handmade jewelry.
No matter your sector, having an Instagram presence is vital in boosting sales and building a loyal client base. There are many e-commerce platforms available like Shopify or Etsy that you can use to create your online shop and connect directly to your Instagram. There are also direct print options like Printful that can help you to create your products, which you can then launch through Instagram.
With many options for getting started, let’s examine some of the strategies that can help you ensure success.
Create a clear vision for your product
No matter your product or market, make sure that you have a clear vision and set a plan in motion. If you already have a business or service offering, this will be taken care of. If you’re just starting and looking to break into the market, make sure that you start with a clear and attainable idea.
For example, if you’re an artist, maybe you use your artwork for marketing and content, and you sell a variety of products that feature your art, like cell phone cases, stickers, bags, t-shirts, and so on. Nathan W Pyle — Strange Planet is an excellent example of this; with 5.8 million followers, his witty and artful comics have captivated many and he now offers a wide variety of products that feature these comics and characters.
Create your product
If you decide to offer your own products, you need to produce them and have them available for purchase. For example, maybe you’re a fitness guru and offer your own personal training as well as fitness-based products like workout clothes, bands, and hand chalk like Heart and Soul Strong. Make sure you find a distributor and create your products for the order.
Make your account shoppable
You can add your products directly to Instagram shopping functions. The first step in doing so is making sure that you have activated your profile to a business account. This can be done in the settings of your account.
The second thing you want to do is to create a product catalog. This will allow you to take advantage of Instagram shopping features such as product tags, in-app shopping through posted content and stories, explore tab, as well as Instagram checkout.
These integrated features are a great addition to offering your followers access to your e-shop.
Setting your products up on e-commerce sites
Make sure that you don’t rely on Instagram alone to sell your products. Your followers and clients want to see that you have a solid infrastructure; consider using a website or one of the sites mentioned above to set up an online shopping base. You want the process for your shoppers to be as seamless as possible, so offering them a variety of options that facilitate the ease of purchase is important.
Another thing you can do is run some ads to draw attention to your site and your products. These ads can link directly to the site or to the in-app shopping page for Instagram.
Post your products in your content
Use your stories and your posted photos to showcase your products. It’s important to include Instagram stories in the mix because many users are active on Instagram stories and may virtually ignore their feed altogether. For best reach potential, take advantage of all Instagram features.
Fulfill your orders and build your trustworthiness
When your orders start coming in, it’s important to handle the fulfillment process seamlessly. Keep your buyers informed and ensure they receive their products in a timely manner. Don’t offer or sell products that are unrealistic for the fulfillment step of the process. The after-purchase process is just as important for your reputation as the purchasing process.
There are a variety of ways to handle fulfillment, and your selection will most likely depend on your sales volume. You can handle inventory yourself, work with a third party company to deal with logistics, or you can have the items sent directly from the manufacturer that you chose to produce your products. This choice will vary based on what makes the most sense for your business.
Have a protocol in place for everything from shipping, delivery, returns, and any other issues that may arise. Keep communication as accessible and transparent as possible. Always encourage your buyers to review you after receiving their purchase; maybe they can post a photo of their purchase and mention you, you can offer a customer review page on your website, or you can ask them to fill out a form. Some shopping platforms offer a review feature.
Strategy 2: Become an Influencer and Brand Ambassador
The second strategy for how to make money on Instagram, and probably the most well-considered, is to become an influencer. What does this actually entail?
Instagram influencers are basically users of Instagram with a high follower count and an active engagement rate in likes and comments. These users then partner with brands or services to promote them through featured content. This might just be the option for you if you are good at reaching lots of people and can build trustworthiness with many people via the internet.
The true benefit of this option is that you don’t actually have to worry about product production and fulfillment. You get to be yourself and simply post about the products or services that you love and that have a useful place in your life.
The main disadvantage of being an influencer is that not all brands will benefit your persona, and you have to make sure that you choose brand partnerships that enhance your personal image and values and add to your credibility. This is going to be a balance between your revenue and your personal brand. Your followers want to see who you are in an authentic way, not simply see you promoting a million different products from all types of business sectors.
Also, make sure that the brands you partner with are reliable and credible as well; if your followers start to interact with a brand that you promote and they have a negative experience, this will ultimately affect your image and credibility as well.
So, you think becoming an influencer is definitely for you. Let’s take a look at how you can do it.
Step 1: Choose a niche
Your personal brand is of utmost importance as an influencer. Choose something you love and that isn’t a far stretch from the life you truly live.
Alongside this, you must consider what your target audience will be. Brands who are looking for influencer partners are looking for a specific audience, and they are also interested in whether or not you have a high level of engagement. More engagement means more potential for sales.
Step 2: Build your audience and credibility
The follower count for influencers can vary; anywhere from around 10,000 followers to 100,000 followers and beyond could provide the opportunity to be an influencer depending on your niche and engagement levels. Even if you’re not there yet, there are ways that you can build up to this number. Be sure to post consistently, invest your time in producing quality content, use hashtags that attract your target audience, and take advantage of Instagram stories. Engage with your followers through comments, and give them a call-to-action by asking them to respond to a question, answer a poll, or posting for a giveaway that you’re holding.
While building followers rapidly is ultimately attractive, avoid shortcuts like purchasing followers. This can actually end up hurting you in the long run and fill your account with ghost followers or bots that will never engage with your profile. Brands looking for partnerships are all too aware of these types of followers, and if they see that you’re using these methods to build your follower count, they will not be likely to partner with you now or in the future.
Step 3: Find Your Brand Partners
In perfect world brands that want to partner with you will seek you out and you’ll find an invite for collaboration in your inbox. But as we also have to be proactive in building our partnerships, there are two main ways to find brand partners yourself.
- Direct pitch: you can directly pitch to brands yourself by contacting brands that you admire and connect with. Your brand pitch should include details about how your partnership would be beneficial, such as your audience and approach. Be compelling and knowledgeable about your both brand and your metrics.
- Sign up for an influencer marketing program: these sites are similar to agents for actors. There are a variety of sites out there that will help to make connections between you and brands that are looking for partnerships. Upfluence and AspireIQ are good starting places.
Almost all companies looking to sell products and services on Instagram understand the benefit of influencer partnerships, so there is a lot of opportunity in this area, but there are also a lot of aspiring influencers. Have a clear brand image for yourself with authenticity and consistency to set yourself apart.
Strategy 3: Become an Affiliate Marketer
You may be thinking, how is affiliate marketing different from becoming an influencer? There are a few key differences and we’ll explore the possibilities in the next section.
Influencers work with brands to promote content, which will hopefully make sales. When you are an affiliate marketer, your primary goal is to make sales; your cut depends on how many sales you bring in, like a commission. This is the main difference between influencers and affiliate marketers.
On the downside, you don’t want to annoy your followers and become a broken record, and oftentimes affiliate marketing can have a bad reputation for shady and desperate sales practices. However, when done correctly, affiliate marketing can be a great way to make money on Instagram.
You can promote your favorite products, offer a discount code or a link to buy, and then you’ll make part of the sales profit. Further, now with Instagram checkout, you have even more opportunity for your followers to buy directly on the platform and not be limited to outside links or “link in bio.”
Step 1: Choose a Niche
Sounds familiar, right? Yes, influencers must also have a niche. Affiliate marketers have a different niche than influencers in the sense that they typically begin as product reviewers. This doesn’t mean that you just review any random collection of products that you like. You should still keep in mind your audience– what kind of products does your audience need? Maybe you choose to focus on car owners that are looking for the best customizations for their auto. You have a lot of freedom in choosing your niche, especially if you are just starting out, but be sure to keep it specific enough that you will be able to close sales.
Step 2: Affiliate With Merchants
You should be looking to directly affiliate yourself with merchants as well as using an affiliate network. These sites can help link you to products and merchants much like influencer networking sites. Amazon Associates is a great place to start.
Step 3: Post About the Products
While it may seem attractive to try and hide the fact that you’re actually promoting products and creating advertisements, don’t avoid disclosing this. You must provide transparency when posting ads on Instagram per FTC guidelines. Plus, users appreciate your transparency and it can build your credibility. Use the hashtag #ad when posting ads. Don’t shy away from it!
Final Tips for Making Money On Instagram
At this point, hopefully, you’ve identified which one of the Instagram opportunities can work for you. Across all three tracks, here are some final tips to help you be successful:
- Monitor your competition: Keep your eye on what your competitors are doing and compare.
- Know your worth: if you are making negotiations, know the going rate for what you are offering (IG story posts, content features, etc).
- Don’t buy fake followers: We’ve discussed some of the downsides of this, but in the long run, buying fake followers will only hurt your authenticity through low engagement levels.
- Respond quickly: social media users expect quick responses when inquiring about a product.
- Use tools: from post schedulers to photo editors to analytics, there are a plethora of tools on the web to help you be successful. Take advantage of ones that help you and your workload.
- Cross-channel: Use a variety of social media platforms for even better engagement and reach. Don’t limit yourself to only Instagram. You can reach a wider audience and also expand your opportunities by using other platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and Pinterest.