With over 300 million users sharing more than 70 million photos and videos each and every day as of January 2015, it’s not all that surprising to realize that several big Instagram users are raking in big bucks from the millions of people who follow them and engage with their posts.
What’s even more inspiring is that most of them are just normal people who stayed persistent with posting and interacting on their accounts to build up their followers over time.
If you love interacting on Instagram and have a sizeable number of engaged followers, or if you’re at least willing to put in the time and effort to start building it up, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to start making hundreds or even thousands of dollars from this one social platform alone.
There are lots of different routes you can take to start earning, and while they may seem “easy” on the surface, keep in mind that any kind of online income generation strategy takes time and work before you start seeing real results.
Here are five popular options you have to start making money on Instagram relatively quickly if you have great posts and/or a big following.
1. Sell your Instagram photos to brands that want to use them.
If you just love taking photos with your mobile device and consider them to be of pretty high quality before posting them to Instagram, then it’s very possible that you could start licensing your photos to companies that are willing to pay to use them for their own brand building purposes.
Foap is a popular online photography marketplace that let’s you do just that. You can sign up for free, create a new user profile, build your portfolio to start attracting buyers, and browse through the “Missions” section for high paying projects that companies are specifically looking for.
This is perhaps the easiest way to start making money from the existing Instagram photos you have, because you don’t necessarily need to have a huge following to do it. All photos cost $10, and the only major downside here is that Foap takes half of it.
Payments are delivered to you by PayPal, and since it’s a community-based marketplace, you can browse other users’ photos, follow the ones you like to see their photography in your home feed, and also give and receive feedback. You can check out this user profile for an example of what a typical profile might look like.
Foap Missions always start at $100 and go up from there, so if your submission is chosen and purchased by the company that launched the Mission, you could earn quite a bit. Just keep in mind you’ll be competing with several other users and their submissions as well.
2. Earn commissions for selling other companies’ products or capturing leads.
Suggested tool: Peerfly
Selling other companies’ products and services or capturing leads for them is another fast and easy way to start making money on Instagram. Peerfly is a popular affiliate network that allows you to sign up and get started for free.
Once approved, you’ll be able to browse their current promotional offers listed as “Social” under the “Traffic Methods” tab. You can then sort through the offers by pay, earnings per click (EPC), or click-through rate (CR) to choose something you’d like to promote.
All you need to do to start promoting an offer is copy the unique URL and paste it in your Instagram bio’s website section. When other users’ click on it to check it out, you could earn a commission if they decide to enter their personal information (like their email address) or buy something. An example account of someone who’s selling another company’s products is @bookwcrms – T-shirts, in this case.
What’s great about a network like Peerfly is that you can easily earn a few bucks just for capturing leads, which is much easier than making sales.
You may have to request approval from Peerfly first before you can start promoting, however, but getting approved is usually no problem. Make sure you stick to the offers listed under the social traffic methods only, since Instagram is a social platform.
3. Capture email subscribers and refer them to affiliate links (or your own products).
Suggested tool: MailChimp
If you do pretty well with capturing leads for an affiliate or CPA network like Peerfly, you might want to consider building your own email list of leads. MailChimp is popular email list-building service that lets you gather up to 2,000 email subscribers for free. You can also create and schedule emails to be sent out to your subscribers, which you can use to send them purchase links to affiliate products or even your own products that they may be interested in buying.
MailChimp is a fantastic tool to choose for this, because it lets you easily build your own landing page forms and email templates so you can make it look and say exactly what you want. Once you have your landing page set up, you can simply copy and paste the URL into your Instagram bio’s website link
Instead of sending leads to another company’s email form, you’ll be sending them to your own. A good example to check out is @home_business_profits, who’s currently sending people to his own email submit form in the website section of his profile.
You won’t make a couple bucks for every user that signs up, but you’ll have the ability to keep in touch with subscribers by email, build a relationship with them, and sell to them again and again as long as they decide to stay on your list.
MailChimp makes it easy for beginners to get started, but if you end up collecting 2,000 subscribers or maybe want more options to interact with your list, you may need to sign up for one of MailChimp’s premium packages.
4. Join a multi-level marketing company to build your own team of network marketers.
Suggested tool: Team Beachbody
Instagram is a very open and social place to show off visual content, making it a premiere platform for inspiring people and making lots of new friends.
There are countless network marketers who have built solid businesses through Instagram alone, selling the products of the MLM companies they’re promoting to users who love looking at their photos or videos. Many of them even end up bringing on new people they meet on Instagram to join their teams.
Since there’s such a massive fitness community that’s so incredibly active on Instagram, Team Beachbody is a good MLM company to consider working with.
You can easily start posting photos of your healthy meals, your workout routines, and anything that might offer inspiration or motivation to followers who want to get in shape. Don’t forget to provide the URL in your bio to your network marketing website or product link, and make sure to include some contact information in case users have questions.
There are tons of accounts out there to check out how it’s done, but a popular one in particular you can check out is @mindywender, specifically for Team Beachbody network marketing.
Network marketing on Instagram may not be as easy as some of the options presented above, but if you’re a hard worker and avid user of the products you’re promoting, it can quickly become a very lucrative home business.
The major downside here is that most MLM companies require you to invest in a starter package and/or monthly fees to stay active and promote their stuff. On the upside, you’ll be placed under another team member who can help you start earning and building your own team.
5. Connect with advertisers that are willing to sponsor influential Instagram users.
Suggested tool: The Mobile Media Lab
This last Instagram money-making tactic is really only easy if you’ve got the followers and engagement to show for it. So if you’re someone who has ideally tens of thousands of followers or more, and you can rack up lots of likes and comments within minutes of posting, then you may be in good position to try getting at least a few good sponsorship deals from companies that would be willing to pay you to promote their brand to your audience.
You could reach out to companies’ marketing departments directly, or you could try applying to The Mobile Media Lab instead — a creative agency specifically focused on bringing influential Instagram users and advertisers together.
If chosen, you could easily start earning hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single post that features a product from big brands like Coach, Expedia, Timex, Puma, and others. @weworethat is a massively popular Instagram account that pulls in over six figures in sponsorships from apparel and accessory companies that want their products featured on her account.
Making money here is the easy part — building a huge, loyal following is obviously not so easy. The good news is you may be able to score a few smaller sponsorships even if you have below 100,000 followers. The Mobile Media Lab has a sign-up form to apply to work with them, but given that they’re only interested in working with the most influential Instagram users, there’s no guarantee you’ll be approved.
Instagram has really opened up some new doors for business owners and entrepreneurs all over the world. Whether you’re just a student looking to make a few extra bucks on the side, or the CEO of an international company looking to build its brand and reach a new audience, Instagram can help you do it.