Instagram is a disruptive ecommerce force, unlike some other social media networks. As of June 2018, Instagram reached the 1 billion monthly active users mark. While it was first intended for photo sharing, it’s now a business platform, which can be used by anyone, including dropshipping ecommerce business owners.
You may be thinking to yourself: can you make money on Instagram? How do people make money on Instagram? How does selling on Instagram differ from other types of ecommerce business?
In this article, we’ll discuss in-depth tactics that you can implement immediately, so you too can earn money from Instagram in 2020.
- Can You Make Money on Instagram?
- How to Make Money on Instagram?
- Should I Make Money on Instagram?
- Instagram Success Stories
- What Are the Requirements for Making Money on Instagram?
- How to Build a Strong Following on Instagram
- Promoting Your Business on Instagram
- Learnings: Make Money on Instagram
- Want to Learn More?
Can You Make Money on Instagram?
Yes, you can definitely make money on Instagram. As long as the business can be expressed visually and creatively for marketing purposes, you can tap into Instagram’s millions of users. Now you might be thinking: right, I get that it’s possible, but how exactly can I be making money on Instagram?
To start off, here are a few ways that you can make money on Instagram:
- You could be focusing on sponsored posts for brands that want to reach to your audience, making you the perfect medium to do that.
- You could become an affiliate, and earn money by selling products that belong to other brands.
- You could also be selling your own products, which could be physical or digital products, or even a service. Basically, you can sell services and products, just like in any ecommerce business environment.
- You can sell your photography.
The enthusiasts of this social media platform are always looking out for new ways on how to earn money from Instagram.
Don’t worry, we’ll unravel the mysteries of how people make money on Instagram in detail in this post, along with some success stories from Instagram.
How to Make Money on Instagram?
Instagram is ideal for selling products that photograph well. In other words, if your products are photogenic, most likely you can sell them with Instagram. Also, if you’re photogenic yourself or can take awesome photos, most likely you can have a huge following that can be capitalized to sell.
In general, there are at least 5 business models to make money on Instagram:
1. Become an influencer and make money from sponsored posts.
With your influencer status, you can propose to brands to help to promote them in your posts. An influencer is someone who has built a reputation by doing and sharing things online. They have a good following and they are able to convince their audiences about trends because of the level of trust they have built with their online presence.
Brands tend to partner with influencers to do sponsored posts that help spread the word about their products. Influencers have to manage many things at once such as the size and reach of their Instagram accounts as well as the trust and engagement that they build based on their content.
Top influencers make thousands of dollars per sponsored post. Imagine doing one sponsored post per day, you can make tens of thousands of dollars per month easily.
A typical influencer post includes the creation of content such as an Instagram post or an Instagram story, that will include the promotion of the brand or their products. As an influencer, that’s why it’s extremely important for you to know your audience. You need to understand who your audience mainly consists of, so you know which brands would best fit your audience. If you’ve switched to an Instagram business account, you can research your numbers a bit more through your Instagram Analytics report.
Now, you might be thinking, how do I find brands to work with that will be willing to pay me all this money for a sponsored post? Well, if you’ve created a noteworthy online presence, chances are big brands will reach out to you. But, you can also find brands yourself that you think match your personality and values the best. You can reach out to brands yourself directly (through Instagram or through their websites) to try to negotiate a deal, but you can also list yourself on an influencer marketplace to increase your chances of being found by a big brand.
As an extra tip, be careful not to lose the trust of your existing audience in the process of making money from sponsored posts. That’s why it’s always a good idea to indicate with an Instagram hashtag that it’s a sponsored post (for instance, by adding #sponsored).
2. Become an affiliate and make money selling other people’s products.
You can sell other people’s products and receive a cut. Many brands sell their products through affiliate programs. There are many people that make money from Instagram this way.
The difference between an influencer and an affiliate is that an affiliate is working towards making sales for the partnering brand in exchange for a commission. On the other hand, the influencer is mainly aiming to create awareness.
Affiliates make money on Instagram through a trackable link or a promo code to make sure that any clicks are converted to sales.
Create engaging posts, so you can promote the products without being pushy. The thing is, since you can only have one link on your Instagram bio, you might want to include a landing page to your affiliate link. In each post, include a caption that the product can be purchased via the link on the Instagram bio.
At first it may sound like a challenging game, but affiliate marketing has a variety of expansion possibilities if you plan on growing. You can expand your presence by including a website and/or other marketing or social media channels.
Our team has compiled a list of eye-catching Instagram post ideas from successful brands for you to take inspiration from.
3. Sell poster photos and other virtual products.
Instagram is all about visual content. Photogenic products would sell well on Instagram. You can sell poster photos, paintings, drawings, animations, videos, and other image or video-based virtual products. On each post, refer readers to visit the link in your bio. This is another popular way that people make money from Instagram.
If you think you take high-quality pictures, there’s a chance that you can get paid for it. But don’t limit yourself with just your photography skills, explore other possibilities that enhance your pictures such as editing and composition. Use the best photo editing apps for phones to get the most out of the photos that you take. Try to be original when you’re taking pictures.
You can use Instagram to promote your photography portfolio using relevant Instagram hashtags.
4. Sell your own physical products.
You can sell any physical product that you produce yourself or purchase from suppliers. This conventional ecommerce retailing usually requires stocking some inventory, meaning you’d need to spend some startup capital to stock some products.
And it requires a place where you can keep the products, such a spare room at home or a rented storage place. For instance, if you purchase some inventory from a China-based supplier, you’d need a space to keep them before they’re ordered by and delivered to customers.
As of February 2018, you can sell products directly on Instagram through Instagram Posts and Stories. By simply tagging products in your Instagram images, you can lead your Instagram followers to your product pages where they can purchase products quickly. Here’s a complete guide to Instagram Shopping and how you can sell on Instagram.
Or, if you’re looking for tips that will help you to sell on Instagram, check out these Instagram tips that will actually work.
5. Sell dropshipped products.
Dropshipping is a business model which you can use to run your store without ever holding any inventory. Once you’ve made a sale your supplier will ship your products from their warehouse, straight to your customer’s doorstep. You’ll never need to worry about storing, packaging, or shipping your products.
This works in a similar way to the previous point of selling products on Instagram to earn money. Just that you won’t need to store any inventory. You can easily set up a dropshipping store with Shopify’s ecommerce platform, which is free for 14 days, and Oberlo’s forever free plan dropshipping app. With dropshipping, you can experiment to find the niche products that would sell well, without wasting startup capital.
Should I Make Money on Instagram?
For those wondering why they should make money on Instagram, we’ve compiled the top Instagram stats for you. The numbers behind Instagram are staggering, and the platform is catching up with Facebook’s growth. While Facebook has 2.07 billion monthly active users, Instagram’s growth has reached 1 billion users over 9 years in 2019 since its launch in 2010. With Instagram gaining nonstop popularity, it’s no surprise that Instagrammers are becoming an unstoppable force. They’ve figured out ways to make money on Instagram, and cash in on the pictures that they take.
For business purposes, the following figures are worthy of consideration for people who want to make money with Instagram:
1) 1 billion users are active every month. That’s almost three times the US population.
2) 500 million users are active every day. That’s almost double the US population.
4) 80 percent of Instagram users follow at least one business account. This translates to 640 million users following at least one business account.
5) There are 2 million Instagram advertisers every month.
6) Time spent on Instagram increases by 80 percent every year.
7) In 2016, 48 percent of US brands used Instagram to promote their businesses. In 2017, that number reached 71 percent. In 2018, it’s expected to reach 82 percent.
8) 300 million Instagram accounts use Instagram Stories every day.
- 18 to 29 years old: 59 percent
- 30 to 49 years old: 33 percent
- 50 to 64 years old: 18 percent
- 64+ years old: 8 percent
- Female: 38 percent
- Male: 26 percent
- Other: 36 percent
Instagram Success Stories
You can learn from others’ experiences in how to earn from Instagram from case studies and success stories like those below.
Foster a specific niche lifestyle and start selling products that you’re passionate about. It can be any passion, hobby, or anything that you want to share with others. Just focus on what you do best.
With apps that connect social media platforms with your ecommerce site, the seamlessness is even better. Shopify comes with Instagram Business Account integration, which makes the whole process of using Instagram for business even simpler.
The following entrepreneurs integrate Instagram marketing seamlessly with their ecommerce store. Let’s learn from their experiences of how to get paid on Instagram so that you can emulate their success.
BeardBrand was first featured in a New York Times article. Their store was started with only $30 and a committed vendor. How they earn money from Instagram is unique and inspiring.
They sell products that bearded men would need to maintain their lifestyle. BeardBrand.com has a strong Instagram presence with more than 124,000 followers.
Instagram can be well integrated with the overall shopping experience, as followers can relate themselves to those depicted in the posts. With the right approach, those posts can capture the customers’ curiosity and trust.
With over one million followers, stock usually sells out in 24 hours. The videos are crisp and clear. Viewers can hear the colorful popping slime being molded. The photogenic videos undoubtedly have amazing marketing power.
This Minty Rainbow Chip slime, for instance, generated more than 179K views. With that massive number of views, it’s understandable why the product sold out within 24 hours and how they made money on Instagram.
Justin Wong, the founder of SoAestheticShop, is passionate about cute Harajuku-style fashion. His massive Instagram account is his main marketing channel. Note that each Instagram post is meticulously edited to create a very attractive image. Wong makes $12K per month on Instagram selling various products with the dropshipping business model.
SoAestheticShop.com doesn’t carry products because it uses the dropshipping business model. While there are several vendors, the products aren’t purchased by the store owner until they are purchased by customers. Dropshipping is considered one of the most lucrative business models today, and it can be easily integrated with Instagram marketing and ecommerce.
For instance, they partner up with social media influencers, which will be receiving free products in exchange of their posts wearing them and discount code for their followers. Another way to boost their sales is through an affiliate program, so anyone with a website and social media accounts can participate and receive a commission when someone orders through their link. This is another way to earn money on Instagram.
What Are the Requirements for Making Money on Instagram?
Using apps, following do’s and don’ts list, utilizing the most optimal filters, and applying promotional tactics are key to business success. But, you still need to be aware of new trends and rules, which are necessary to make money on Instagram.
1) Master Instagram for Business
There are 2 types of Instagram accounts: personal and business. The business account was launched in July 2016. You can study using this step-by-step instructional video. Shopify also provides an in-depth tutorial for selling on Instagram.
2) Launch an Instagram Shop
An Instagram Shop lets you integrate your product catalog with your Instagram profile. In turn, this allows you to promote your products directly to Instagram users through posts, Stories, in the Explore tab, and in a special Shop tab on your profile. Our team has prepared the ultimate guide to setting up an Instagram Shop, which will help you understand how you can make money from an Instagram Shop.
3) Master Instagram Ecommerce Shopping Apps Integration
Instagram comes with limited shoppability, which requires some ingenuity to make it work for business. However, the ecommerce shopping feature can be seamlessly integrated with apps specifically designed for a Shopify store.
Try out some apps, so you’ll be able to see for yourself which ones would allow you to publish products, along with their pricing and specifications on separate pages. This way, shoppers would feel they’re still on your Instagram pages while they’re actually already on the ecommerce-ready shopping app pages.
We’d recommend using Shopify because Shopify has numerous apps that can be integrated with Instagram. Many of those apps can be tried for free, so there is no risk involved if you don’t find success with them.
3) Master Instagram Do’s and Don’ts
Instagram has detailed rules on how you should post, the types of images or videos to post, and how many times per day you can post. Following these rules could improve your chance to earn money from Instagram It also limits the number of hashtags to include, so you can’t just spam your Instagram account with more than 30 hashtags that aren’t related to the content of the post.
According to CoSchedule, it’s recommended to post 1 to 2 times per day, so your followers wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. And you’ll also have sufficient time to create unique and out-of-this-world posts.
According to Sprout Social, the ideal length of Instagram captions is between 138 to 150 characters. For ad captions, stick with 125 characters. The optimal number of hashtags is between 5 to 10, even though 20+ is possible but not recommended. Instagram may “shadow ban” your posts if they contain more than 20 hashtags. “Shadow banning” means your posts stop showing up in searches for specific hashtags. That will consequently decrease your chances to make money from Instagram.
4) Master Instagram Filters and Photography
The difference between using the optimal and suboptimal filters can be anywhere from one to two digits of likes. Canva did a study on America’s favorite Instagram filters. They are (based on rank): Clarendon, Gingham, Juno, and Lark. And the world’s favorite filters are: Clarendon, Juno, Valencia, Gingham, and Lark.
Most popular filters for fashion:
Most popular filters for fashion:
Most popular filters for food:
Most popular filters for selfies:
Use tools like Picodash to explore which photos work well. You want to emulate successful accounts, but still create your own unique content. Motivate yourself to learn more each day so you can earn money from Instagram.
5) Create Posts Inspired by Viral Stories. Include them in between your product photos and videos on your Instagram account. You can easily design and publish inspirational images with tools like Stencil, PromoRepublic, and Be Funky.
How to Build a Strong Following on Instagram
Should you build an Instagram following before or after you start selling?
The answer is simple: before and after.
Ideally, you already have at least a couple hundred of followers before you start selling. This way, you wouldn’t be posting images of products to an empty account. With a couple of hundred followers, some interaction can be expected, which is a good start.
Now, how can you build a strong following on Instagram? Apply these 14 tips right away, so you can start seeing a strong following. A strong following is key to making money from Instagram.
1) Optimize your Instagram profile.
Make sure to choose a username that’s less than 30 characters. Ideally, the name is searchable through a keyword. It should also be consistent with the username you use on other social media platforms.
Your bio should include up to 150 characters. It’s a great idea to include a clickable link to your website in your bio. This is the only place where you can include a clickable link in your Instagram account, so it’s an important aspect of optimizing your account.
2) Create and promote a dedicated hashtag.
If your account name is Jennie’s Candies, consider creating the #jenscandies hashtag. Thus, whenever you want to check conversations related to your brand, you can simply check the hashtag. You can also promote this hashtag everywhere you go and on other platforms, both online and offline.
3) Get creative with hashhags related to your niche.
While Instagram allows 30 hashtags per post, it might backfire. It’s recommended to use 5 to 10 popular hashtags for your niche and related to your products.
4) Participate in conversations related to your niche.
Check out other accounts using the same hashtags. Follow them and get involved in the conversations. You’ll earn new followers this way.
5) Use compelling Instagram captions.
An Instagram caption is a written description or explanation about the Instagram photo to provide more context. The best Instagram captions will help your followers to feel invited to join the conversation and like your posts.
6) Run and promote contests.
Create a contest with a photo that invites contestants and shows the prizes. Also, include a special hashtag for this contest. Decide how the winners will be chosen and post the rules clearly.
For instance, you can create specific photos for the contest. And every photo using the special hashtag is included in the competition. Make sure that you comply with Instagram’s contest rules. Be creative with the contest, so contestants have an opportunity to earn some money from Instagram as well, if possible, like inviting them to join an affiliate program that comes with a prize.
7) Create and promote Instagram Stories and Live Videos.
Instagram Stories have become a huge part of Instagram, and they continue to grow. You can use Instagram Stories like a pro to build your audience. There are many ways how you can play around with the content by adding geotags, selfie stickers, moving texts, add color overlays, texts, and face filters (just like Snapchat) to your Instagram Stories. Be creative when delivering your message. Make it fun.
8) Post regularly.
The key is being consistent and to ensure that posts are styled in the same way, such as using the same filter or types of post, like photos or quotes. To make the most out of it, it would help to know the best time to post on Instagram. This way, the followers would recognize your posts and correlate them with your brand. You can also use third-party social media software applications like Hootsuite, SocialFlow, and Sprout Social to schedule your Instagram posts.
9) Collaborate with influencers and like-minded accounts.
Reach out to influencers and like-minded accounts for exchanged and paid posts. For instance, if you have a huge following, you can do posting exchanges. If you collaborate with an influencer, you can choose to create an affiliate program that pays commission or pay per post depending on the size of the following.
10) Use the location feature. Post videos and stories to your account. Use appropriate hashtags and geotags so that your posts can be easily found.
11) Develop a unique visual style.
Choose the same filter and style for your Instagram account. If you have several accounts, each account must have its unique personality. For instance, one account is about brand activities and the other one is for selling products.
12) Ask others to engage with your content.
If you ask, people might help you out. As long as the caption on the posts bring value to them and somehow evokes positive feelings, you can ask people politely to get engaged.
13) Use Instagram Ads to Reach More People.
Promoting Your Business on Instagram
Regardless of your business model, you’ll need to promote it. Self-promoting requires more than just having thick skin. Above all, you’d need to be strategic and use proven tactics in order to earn money from Instagram.
When you’re selling on Instagram, the purchases are mostly impulse-based. For this, the promotional avenues chosen must be based on this philosophy. The key is creating a “wow” factor with the photos, videos, captions, and a seamless experience when customers are shopping for your products.
- Use compelling photos and videos produced professionally and using favorite filters and tools.
- Integrate your Instagram account with your ecommerce store to ensure a positive and consistent experience.
- Collaborate with as many influencers as possible. Select influencers whose philosophy and followers are in alignment with yours.
- Strategize well. Stay afloat and post content on a daily basis.
- Design all your social media accounts, web pages, and blogs to reflect a uniform and consistent theme.
Learnings: Make Money on Instagram
By being creative with your account you too, can earn money from Instagram. You can sell physical products by posting photos, live stories, and videos. Also, you can sell services, like influencer marketing. If you sell tangible products, consider using the dropshipping model, which is convenient and cost-efficient.
How much money can people make on Instagram?
It depends on what you sell, business strategies, and marketing tactics you use. If you’ve just started, you might only make a little. However, as your Instagram following grows and you’re more familiar with marketing, the sky is the limit.
How can I make the most money from Instagram?
Learn from successful Instagrammers. Combine what you’ve learned from them with your own strengths in marketing, photography, storytelling, and photo styling. Grow your following as much as possible, create contests, and be active by posting new photos once or twice per day. At last, have a strong product and serve your customers well.
It may take a few weeks or months to start earning a handsome amount of profit from Instagram, before you quit your 9-to-5 job. Considering so many successful ecommerce retailers earning a 6 or 7-digit income annually, selling dropshipped products via Instagram is a business model too good to pass. You owe it to yourself to start it.