People are shocked to hear how teenagers are making thousands of dollars for one post on Instagram. If you ever wondered how to make money on Instagram, but thought becoming “Instafamous” was unrealistic, it may be easier than you may think to get paid for your content. Instagram is one of the fastest growing and highest engaged platforms online, and now that businesses can run ads through the Facebook Ad platform, it is becoming an increasing part of advertising budgets.

This isn’t theoretical: I have hired several Instagram influencers for @TripScoutApp, been hired by brands for my @goKonrad account, discussed the topic with my fellow travel blogging friends, and talked to online marketers with large influencer advertising budgets. Here is the summary of what I have learned for how to make money on Instagram (or hire an Instagram influencer).

The Basics of How to Make Money on Instagram

How do you actually make money on Instagram?

Getting paid for sponsored content on Instagram works for the same reason companies pay for billboards, commercials, celebrity endorsements, paid Facebook ads, and any other form of traditional marketing – you are paying for attention. The reason it works so well (at the right price) is that your message is coming from a trusted source (unlike other online paid ads), engagement and attention is higher (than anything that is obviously an ad), and there is often a clickable call-to-action through the bio link (unlike a commercial or billboard).

If you want to get started as an Instagram influencer, you need to develop a niche and at least 10K engaged followers (although there are many exceptions) before it is relevant to think about. If you have a smaller following, do not worry! You may not be able to make money on Instagram, but you can take this same approach to get free or discounted or products within your niche – often before the products are publicly available. Reach out to brands you like, test out their products and services, provide value to them, build the relationship, and they may become a client in the future.

How much can you make on Instagram?

Through my market research and firsthand experience, the online standard has settled at approximately $10 per CPM (cost per thousand impressions). It is typically assumed that only 10% of followers see any given post. That means that if you have 50K followers, you will have 5K impressions (50K x 10%) – or be paid $1 per 1K followers – and make a total of $50 per post. However, these rates are more for raw numbers of followers. Popular influencers with online communities that put their name and reputation behind something can charge a premium for it.

I have experienced a wide range, but the average influencer with a blog and/or any sort of loyal following makes 10x this amount per post. It’s the same ~$10 CPM, but without the 10% adjustment. Therefore, you can expect to make $500 for a post if you have 50K followers. This is the reason that accounts with 1 million followers can easily make $10,000 for posting one picture on Instagram. Influencers can earn even more if it is part of a brand building campaign and they are a valued endorsement.

If you are part of a larger campaign, or sponsored post network (see below), the rates are usually a little lower. You can expect to earn a $2 – $5 CPM (or $100 – $250 per post if you have approximately 50K followers).

Engagement is key for Instagram influencer marketing

You cannot simply buy followers and expect to make money on Instagram. Advertisers can see through an account with a large following, but no engagement. Through my analysis of Instagram influencers, I have seen that large influencer accounts in the travel space have an average like per post of 1.0% – 2.5% of total followers.

how to make money on instagram

How to Find Sponsored Posts on Instagram

Now that we covered the basics of how to make money on Instagram, how do you actually find someone to hire you for sponsored content? There are several ways.

Sponsored post networks for Instagram

There are lots of online marketplaces and apps where content creators can connect to brands to make money on Instagram.

Outreach to targeted brands on Instagram

Find brands you like that fit your demographic. Reach out to them with a thoughtful pitch of what you would like to do. Make it easy for them to review your proposal: include your vision for the post, follower stats, price, case studies, and any other relevant details. If you have a blog, combining your Instagram post with a blog post or other social media networks can increase the attractiveness of the pitch and can get an even higher price. Do research online to try to find the person who runs the marketing group, or specifically the social media marketing group if it is a larger organization. If you cannot find this, you can also send the company a direct message on Instagram. They may get too many messages to notice, but if they see it, you know it is someone who manages the social media team.

Have brands reach out to you for sponsored posts

You will likely start receiving a small number of inbound requests if you do all the right things on Instagram: post great content, build a following, have a consistent brand, engage with others (especially brands in this case), and make it extremely easy for people to contact you (e.g., put your email on your blog or in your Instagram bio). Do not expect this to happen often if you are not out there hustling to make it happen, but you can expect a small number of opportunities to come your way.

Sign up for affiliate marketing programs

Many companies have an affiliate program that you can sign up for and promote to your community. This is the easiest, as it is typically self-service. However, this usually is one of the least lucrative ways to make money on Instagram. I only recommend affiliate marketing on Instagram if you were going to recommend the product anyway, have a massive/engaged following with a good affiliate deal that you are willing to advertise in your bio, it is an expensive product that pays a really good commission. There are also many large affiliate marketing networks you can sign up for, such as Amazon or ShareSale.

ways to make money on instagram

Before You Start to Make Money On Instagram

Key details when discussing the Instagram campaign

There are a few details you should know when discussing the campaign with a brand or influencer. How long will the post stay live on your feed or will it be deleted after a period of time? Will you take and use original photography for your post? Will you include a temporary call-to-action link in your bio to increase conversions (since you are unable to link within posts) or will tagging the brand in the caption be the only source of direct leads? Will you have full autonomy on the post’s content or will there be a post review? Will you use #sponsoredpost or #ad in the caption? If you want to make money on Instagram, make sure all these details are clear for all parties in order to set expectations and make sure everyone is satisfied.

Like most advertising channels, the larger and more engaged the audience, the more effective it is. So do not sacrifice follower growth or reputation to make quick money on Instagram. Find brands you actually use and love, that adds value to your followers, and do not overdo it.

Final Thoughts

If you grow your account, post actively, and create enough brand relationships to have consistent deal flow, it is realistic that you can make a few thousand dollars per month simply by posting photos of things you would normally post about anyways. However, do not think this will happen without your active management, business development, and hustle. To make money on Instagram, you need to think of yourself as a small media company – not simply a person who gets paid to post a few photos on Instagram. It can certainly be a lucrative side-hustle that can help accelerate your new media brand, fund the lifestyle you enjoy posting photos about, or sit on a beach in Thailand – whichever your prefer.

I hope you take this playbook and go make money on Instagram for you or your company!

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How to make money on Instagram