Calling all insta-queens and kings. Likes and follows are cheap. You came here because you want to learn how to turn all those hearts and “yassss queen”s into cash money.
It’s actually easier than you think to profit off a good, active following on Instagram. Big influencers make well into six figures off the app alone, but it’s not just the IG celebs that make money now. Businesses are starting to realize the benefit of using leveraging of “micro-influencers” (at least 3-5k followers) to spread the word of their product, and they’re paying decent money.
In fact, studies are starting to show that brands that use smaller influencers build more trust with their customers since everyone knows the big dogs are getting paid. Engagement with accounts that have under 1 million followers is at 8%, while engagement with 1m+ accounts is only 4%. (1)
You can get started at a few thousand followers making side money, but once you get up to 100k+, you can actually make a full-time living. Here are some of the best ways to squeeze a profit out of your VSCO filters and witty emoji captions.
39. Social net worth
The first step to making money on Instagram is knowing how much your social media accounts are worth to brands. You might think $20 for a quick post sounds like good money when you could actually be charging $200.
The great thing about making money with social media marketing is that it’s not about how many hours you spend, it’s about how much influence you have.
Social Bluebook is a tool that helps you calculate how much to charge based on your reach and engagement. (2)
38. Instagram business account
If you’re trying to turn your Instagram into an online business, it’s only natural you should turn your Instagram account into a business account.
Instagram business accounts let you run ads, add contact buttons to your profile, add Instagram story links (the “swipe up” feature) when you reach 10,000 followers, and view analytics for your Instagram account (among other features), each important to growing your following and raking in Insta-profits. (3)
37. Post consistently
Post the same amount of times every day, and post on the same days each week. When your followers know when to expect your next post, they’ll constantly be looking forward to it popping up on your feed.
36. Engage with your followers
This one should be obvious, but so many influencers are missing out on building their fan base because they don’t engage their audience well.
Create content that gets your followers engaging with you, whether it’s through your own hashtag, Instagram live videos, or you responding to their comments on your posts. Fans go wild when their favorite influencer responds to them.
35. Travel blogging
The market’s a little saturated, but the rewards are endless. Think luxury vacations, resort stays in Bali, free tours.
If you can snap stunning landscapes while you travel (bonus points if you pose a girl in a sundress and a sunhat in front of them), you can rake in all kinds of press trips from tourism boards that will treat you like royalty.
34. Health and fitness
Personal trainers and aspiring fitness influencers ought to be using Instagram to show off that bod because, after all, that’s kinda their product.
Take videos/montages of you doing workouts with long captions describing the movements you’re performing. Post pictures of your meal prepping routine. Sprinkle in a dash of motivational content. Nab some sponsorships from fitness equipment brands, gyms, supplement companies, etc.
When you build a following, you can create workout programs and nutrition plans for your audience to buy. Maybe even launch your own supplement line. If you’re a personal trainer, you can also land clients this way.
33. Mobile app
Instagram is primarily used on smartphones, and since it’s very visual-focused, it’s the perfect social media app on which to advertise your own mobile app.
In fact, when you use mobile app ads on Instagram, you get a call to action button in the ad that takes users right to their respective app stores. Make a visually appealing photo or video ad to entice your audience to click that call to action and download your app.
If you’re that person who’s always posting #ootd pics and strutting into casual events in a leopard print fur coat, take it to the ‘gram. User @nycxclothes makes $1,600 in side money per month posting her outfits on Instagram, and she’s barely over 5k followers. (4) (5)
Stylinity gives you discount codes for clothes and shoes – you feature the clothes, give your followers the discount code, and every time one of them uses it, you get a commission. (6)
Selena Gomez reportedly makes over half a mil per post to advertise various brands and their products. You might not have her musical fame, but there’s money to be made on Instagram if you’re a musician. (7)
Your content could include live sneak peeks of new tracks, sharing some gig/tour photos, free giveaways of your band merch, you get the picture. Link your new tracks/links to your music streaming platform of choice in your bio.
Get big enough, and you’ll be able to land influencer deals for both music and non-music products and companies. You might even land a record deal.
30. Freelance business
If you’re a #freelancer, you can add Instagram to your repertoire of lead generation sources. Clean out any old party pics to make your account look professional, then start uploading relevant content, such as sneak peeks of projects you’re working on or “behind-the-scenes” pictures. Use hashtags like #freelancer and #solopreneur in your posts to boost your visibility, and network with other freelancers and small businesses with niche-specific hashtags. (8)
You could also use Instagram Live. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, you could teach some SEO tips or content marketing tactics to your Live viewers. (9)
29. Network marketing
It’s far from my first choice, but it is true that you can make good money through MLM if you manage to push your way to the top 10 (and lose your shame along the way). Instagram is used heavily in most network marketing circles, but usually just as a means of annoying friends until they block you.
My advice? Start a niche Instagram accounts, such as a fitness account, and grow it. Once you have 50k+ followers (and good engagement), THEN join a fitness MLM and start hawking the product. Not the other way around.
28. Used clothes
If you’ve got style, the #ShopMyCloset trend is becoming a side money stream for fashionistas everywhere. Basically start your own virtual high-end thrift store out of your closet.
Get a good camera, some models, and some photoshop skills. Snap photos of clothes you don’t want anymore and post them with a price and the right hashtags. BloomDesignerFinds, Instagram thrift store gone high-end consignment shop, makes 30-40 sales per day on Instagram. (10)
27. Foodie photos
If the only thing you can make for dinner is reservations but you still love to eat, consider starting a foodie account. Instead of going through the work of making all your own food and writing up recipe books, you basically just get to be one of the basics in the corner of that SoHo cafe snapping photos of her mochaccino until it gets cold.
Except, if your photos are good and your following is big, restaurants and cafes will pay $$$ for you to make an appearance. The 20-something girls from @New_Fork_City make a full-time living instagramming their avocado toast. Nothing basic about that. (11)
Double down with an Instagram account that funnels people to your YouTube channel. You don’t have to be a famous vlogger with all kinds of video equipment. If you’re into fashion, post “haul” or videos where you show people your recent purchases. Post “satisfying” videos where you do crap like frost cakes and play with homemade slime.
Once you get enough viewers, you can join YouTube’s Partner Program and start raking in profits off their ads and other Partner money-making methods. (12)
25. Beauty blogger
The beauty industry is now worth $445 billion, and it #cantstopwontstop. Forbes called it a “gold mine for self-made women.” (13)
If you’re good at makeup, start an Instagram showcasing your skills (pair it with a YouTube channel for added influence). At first, you’ll just get free product from brands, but once you grow a following, they’ll start paying you big money to use their stuff in your videos.
Sell your photos! It’s the most obvious route, but if you’re good, start selling prints of your Instagram photos and taking bookings for photo shoots.
Believe it or not, print photography is not dead… if you have a following. Controversial Brooklyn photographer @arnold_daniel decided to put his Instagram photos up for sale and made $15k in one night. (14) (15)
In addition, you could slap your photos on products like mugs, shirts, and other items and sell them for profit. See the next tip.
Worldwide e-commerce sales hit $1.9 trillion last year. (16) Get in on that. Start an e-Commerce store, post captivating photos of your product, and profit. If you have the budget, run some Instagram ads while you’re at it.
A teenager got rich on Instagram selling homemade slime, just because her photos were so good. She’s got 1 million followers now and makes $3,000/month while in high school. Baller. (17)
22. Online courses
If your account is doing well (and I don’t even mean a six-figure following, anything over 10k is good), consider starting up some courses or webinars on how to grow your Instagram. This will automate some of your income so you can passively rake it in every time someone buys one of your courses.
Get started by offering a free webinar on Instagram live (promote it heavily beforehand so people show up). Save the video and post it up for people to see. At the end of the video, offer access to more tips and tricks through a paid e-course that people can purchase through the link in your bio.
21. License photos
If you’ve got some photography skills and you want to go 100% remote (recommended) instead of dragging your equipment to photoshoots of your friends’ babies, you can make some passive income licensing your photos. The best part, you can license out photos you’ve already posted on the gram, so you don’t even have to do any more work.
Websites and apps like twenty20 and Foap are a great place to start. (18) (19) Brands post “Missions” on Foap that you can snag if you’ve got relevant photos, and pay starts at $100. Also, check out Shutterstock and Getty Images. (20) (21)
How many Food Network and Travel Channel hosts nowadays started out on social media? Just make sure you take food photos with good lighting and baller set-up. No one’s gonna follow a food account with gross looking photos.
Instagram hit @joythebaker started posting photos of donuts and pies she baked, and now she’s selling out book signings for her most recent cookbook and opening her own bake shop/cooking school in New Orleans. (22)
19. Post memes
This has got to be as easy as it gets. Literally just post funny memes and get famous. They don’t even have to be your original memes, either.
Thefatjewish is one of the most popular accounts on Instagram, and he rarely posts original work, just reposts other people’s funny crap. He’s got over 10 million followers and a movie deal. (23)
FuckJerry, another huge meme account, reportedly makes a whopping $30,000 per sponsored post, just for tagging a brand in a meme they make. (24)
18. Capture leads
Lots of Instagrammers make a commission off affiliate links (the “see link in bio”), but with Peerfly, you don’t even have to get people to buy stuff. They pay on your click-through rate, so as long as people click the link you give them, you get paid. (25)
Pick a niche (make it something you like), learn about analytics and hashtags, and build up a following.
17. Sell your account
If you’re good at getting likes and follows, you don’t even have to come up with a monetization strategy. Just build up a following and then sell your account on websites like Fameswap and ViralAccounts. (26) (27)
You can actually make good money doing this, especially if you know how to grow fast. Accounts with 500k to 1 million followers can sell for 6 figures. (28)
In a similar vein, you could also flip Instagram accounts and profit if you know how to spot promising accounts.
16. Start a blog
This is one of the most popular ways to monetize your Instagram account. It is a lot of work, but you can build anything from a blog with good traffic.
Start your account based on a specific, unsaturated niche and build a blog to go with it. Focus on capturing subscriptions to your blog, because having a mailing list is where the real money is at.
15. Content tasks
If you don’t have the time to build full-on sponsors or build out affiliate links, Crowdtap offers all kinds of “content missions” that you can pick up and complete for some side money. (29)
You don’t have to have a massive following, either. Often times, 10k, or even 5k, is enough.
14. Join a hashtag campaign
Another solid way to make quick side money is with Indahash. (30) This app gives you payouts for posting content with certain hashtags and brand tags in the caption.
Say you’re eating out at McDonald’s and McD’s is doing a hashtag campaign at that moment. Snap a pic of you with a McNugget stuffed smile, include the proper tags, and collect your reward.
13. Sell shoutouts
Leverage your Instagram popularity and help smaller influencers out by selling shoutouts. Shoutcart is a marketplace where you can buy and sell simple shoutouts. (31)
Make a profile and name your price for shouting out another account in one of your posts. The going rates usually aren’t huge ($10-$50), but they provide the photo and the caption, so it’s basically passive income.
12. Sponsored posts
If you’re looking for the big bucks, sponsored posts are it. A survey of over 5,000 major influencers said that 42% of them charge between $200-$400 per post. Yep, $400 just to post a photo on Instagram. Accounts with followers in the millions make several grand per post. (32)
Of course, you’ve got to build a big and loyal following before brands will come to you offering that kind of money. In the meantime, sites like TapInfluence and Influez are great for finding sponsors, even if you’re a “micro-influencer.” (33) (34)
11. Run Instagram ads for others
If you’ve got the ads skills and you know how to identify good influencers in a specific niche, you could start an Instagram ads business and make help make other businesses money with Instagram ads and sponsored posts.
Companies will pay you handsomely, provided you bring them results.
10. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is another big money-making on Instagram. ShareASale and ClickBank are good places to start. They give you links to products, and if someone clicks and buys, you make a commission. (35) (36)
If you’re trying to make a living off this though, Instagram has notoriously poor clickthrough rates as the only spot you can permanently place a link is in your bio. While you the feature allowing users to swipe up on stories to get to a link has improved this, you’ll really want to start up a blog or affiliate e-commerce site and perhaps funnel Instagram followers there to make the most of this stream of income.
9. Sell fan merch
Instead of selling generic products, try coming up with your own unique products that revolve around your Instagram account. You can use a dropshipper so you still don’t have to worry about holding inventory.
Doug the Pug, this one guy’s pug, went viral on Instagram. So the owner started a Doug the Pug store that sells Doug the Pug coffee mugs, tee shirts, and all kinds of other things that are probably printed for pennies on the dollar off in China. (37) (38)
8. Share discounts
People love saving money more than they loved Jennifer Hudson in 2009.
Start an account that shares links to coupons and discount codes via Rakuten/eBates. Every time someone clicks your Rakuten/eBates link, you’ll get a profit. (39)
7. Lifestyle ‘grammer
They’re a dime a dozen nowadays, but if you can manage to make it in the lifestyle niche, it’s the best way to get that royal lifestyle. The niche is broad and can cover everything from designer clothing and furniture to luxury trips to Dubai. Lifestyle is exclusive – RewardStyle is a good influencer network for up and comings, but it’s invitation only. (40)
All you need to do is make your life look perfect. Being attractive helps a lot, too. This is definitely a shallow niche.
6. Amazon affiliate
If you don’t want to go through the work of combing through potential affiliate partners to find the ones who offer good rates, Amazon’s affiliate program is still one of the most solid out there. They offer up to 10% commission, which is not bad. And you get that commission on their entire Amazon purchase, not just the item you linked to. (41)
Dropshipping is an e-commerce method where you sell a product on your site but never actually have to deal with inventory. Instead, you place the same order with a third party who manufactures and ships the product for you.
It’s popular because it’s so hands-off, but it’s also very saturated. However, if you can come up with some great products that are easily marketed on Instagram, maybe you could make it. Hint: posting nothing but cheesy stock product photos will get you nowhere.
In fact, a good way to make sales is to order a few samples of your dropshipping products and pay influencers in your niche to take pictures with them.
Calling all grandmas at heart – if you’re good at crafting and don’t want to invest in your own e-commerce site, sell stuff on Etsy. Bump your Instagram following up and use it as a funnel to your Etsy store.
Usually, this is just side money, but Etsy shop owner Three Birds Nest nets a million in sales every year, and she doesn’t even make her own stuff. (42)
3. Self-publish a book
Self-publishing on Amazon has great profit margins, but you have to know how to market your book to make any sales.
Create an Instagram account that’s relevant to your genre, or a book account (accounts like @bookwrms net hundreds for sponsored posts), and market your self-published book to this built-in audience. If you price it at $2.99 you get to keep 70% of the profits.
Good consultants make 6-figures a year, easily. (43)
If you can grow an Instagram account and a brand for yourself, based in any niche, to 100k+ followers, it’s proof to companies that you know your way around social media marketing. They’ll shell out thousands for you to share your secrets.
1. SEO for local businesses
Honestly, having an Instagram hustle sounds like the life, but building up actual followers who are loyal to you (not just bots) takes a lot of time (think years), a lot of work, knowledge of things like analytics and marketing, and a lot of luck. Going viral isn’t something you can plan. Being hot and independently wealthy also helps too.
In the end, there’s a much easier and more consistent way to make good money online, and it’s by focusing on capturing leads. You don’t have to make sales, you just have to get people to enter their info. And you don’t have to have to cross your fingers and hope for a viral post, because there’s a proven formula to SEO.
Leads are the lifeblood of small businesses. They’re worth good money…and businesses will pay good money if you can hand them over. Think 4-figure checks.
Plus, you’re honing in on a specific niche in a specific town. So instead of competing with 800 million Instagram users, you’re competing with a couple people in Columbus, Ohio who are selling garage door services. Easy.
I’ll Paypal you $500 if you show me a better business to start than our method.