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Instagram is a platform for sharing your life, one beautiful photo at a time. With the rise of popularity in social media, many professionals or company owners have found it well worth their marketing dollars to establish content marketing strategies that involve social media. In 22018, the platform passed 1 billion active users. It ranks second with most log-ins for a social media site and 60% log in at least once a day, browsing for an average 53 minutes a day. This has opened up opportunities for influencers, bloggers, small shops and big brands to reach a captive audience. There are a number of ways that people have used their success on Instagram to make money.
Whether you have a large following or not, you can create a lucrative Instagram account. There are several ways to make money on the platform, but it is real work. Just like building a company, to make money on Instagram, you will need to understand the current trends and need gaps you can fill. Some make money on Instagram like a hobby, but others have made Instagram into their career.
Because word-of-mouth (WoM) marketing is so effective, brands have turned to the next-best thing: influencers. People follow influencers on Instagram purely to see what they are up to. These influencers often focus on style, fashion, motherhood, travel, food or another niche that appeals to their followers. Influencing is one of the most well-known ways to make money on Instagram. Some of the most famous influencers are the Kardashians, though few influencers have that kind of a following. Bigger influencers can have 10k followers or 100k followers. MicroInfluencers typically stay under 5k followers, but their engagement rates need to be high. Most brands pay attention to things that prove you are a real influencer with organic growth, real followers and real interaction.
You will need to follow FTC guidelines for always clearly stating within the first couple lines that the post is an ad. If it feels a bit spammy, that’s kind of the point. Any time you are paid to post, you have to clarify that the post was sponsored or an ad. Most brands will also want a link on your bio to their site. Since you only get on link, it can be hard to give up that real estate for a few days or weeks.
Many brands will also have a lengthy (and sometimes highly picky) process for approving your posts. Some influencers prefer to work with third-party sites, like Social Native, Ahaology, Activate, Social Fabric and others. These sites help procure brands looking for influencers and then facilitate the transaction to help ensure the brand gets what they need on time and the influencer gets paid.
The more eyes you can consistently get on your stories, the more brands are willing to pay. Stories are often much faster content to create, but it takes a lot of consistency before you can get the views needed to entice brands.
Story ads can be videos or images. Many brands pay for multiple story slides that tell a story to the audience. Some influencers will use stories to cover branded events. Others use their stories to reveal products and highlight brands for their audience. Sandwiched between other forms of content (polls, daily life, recipes, random facts, quotes) the story ads get seen as a user flips through.
When an influencer reaches 10k followers, he or she will get the feature of a swipe up. The swipe up on stories allows a link to be added to the individual story, making it easy to tie in brands to their ads. The ad featuring a brand or story can be swiped by the user to follow a direct link to the company page. This is ideal for brands that want the ads to bring in more direct traffic, but also great for the influencer who doesn’t loose that link space in the bio to a brand website. If at any time your following dips below 10k, you will lose this feature until your numbers are back up.
Another important possibility as an influencer, is the ability to exchange work for product. While a box of granola bars might not be worth a post, a new kitchen blender or mattress might. Influencers can work with brands to get the products they want to purchase for free.
You do have to claim these gifted items on your taxes as income, so look for items you really need to buy and don’t just collect anything you can get for free. You can even sell these items later after the job is done. You will need to follow FTC guidelines to clarify every time you feature a gifted item. These are considered sponsored posts and ads as well, so even the hashtag #gifted isn’t enough clarity in the eyes of the FTC.
Many brands offer incentives for actively selling their product. Amazon is one of the easiest ones to sign up for as an affiliate and you get a small percentage of every purchase made through your affiliate links. However, they do not count purchases from friends or family and they are very good at catching these before they are even counted. You will need a public audience that wants to buy what you are recommending.
Also, Amazon and the FTC strictly requires you clarify to others when you are using an affiliate link. The point is to be very clear that you are making money by recommending a product or item. While some feel this would influence your review, many aren’t off put by the idea of their favorite influencer making money through their purchases. Just make sure you are offering honest feedback. The nice thing about Amazon Affiliate marketing is that you can truly recommend any products you love and you aren’t limited to what the brand offers.
The struggle on Instagram is that you can only use one affiliate link in your bio and none in comments. You can use them in your stories if you are over 10k. Many affiliates will have a blog or great Facebook presence so they can keep posting links on a regular basis. RewardStyle, Ebates, Stylinity and Sharesale are more companies that offer affiliate opportunities.
Promote Your Store or Business
Instagram is a great way to grow a business or promote an online store. You can increase traffic by showing your audience your products and your branded content. Some stores are successful by strictly posting their products, but many are more successful when they mix their promotional content with other forms of content.
Become an IG Manager
If you get good at running a successful Instagram account, you can work as a manager. Many brands (especially small shops) want social media managers—or strictly Instagram managers if their businesses get sales that way.
If you get good at shooting images, you can make money as a product photographer or selling stock images. Brands will sometimes pay professionals to photograph their items. Stock image sites, like BigStock and 500px, provide a way to sell these images.
Boost Your Blog or YouTube
If you are writing a blog or building a YouTube channel, Instagram can help drive traffic. This is an indirect way to make money through Instagram and one of the reasons you don’t want your bio link tied up constantly with brand links.
If you do the right groundwork, you can make money on Instagram. Building your audience and branding your account takes a lot of time and consistency. But with the right approach, you can live solely on your Instagram efforts.