Instagram as a social network has seen massive growth in popularity since throughout the last decade, and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. At a time when the smartphone market is competitive enough to allow an unprecedented number of people to buy them, Instagram naturally expands its market and profit. This is by no means an unexpected turn of events if one considers the social network boom and what the characteristic features of Instagram and its competitors are. Instagram has been focused on visual media from its very conception. This gives it a cutting-edge advantage over similar platforms which cater more to, say, written text or audio. The vast majority of information we perceive naturally is visual. With all that being said, the question remains – how you can claim your share of the profit generated on Instagram and start making money now. We will try to answer that question for you.
The main venues for profit on Instagram are advertising, digital sales, physical sales, and photography sales. Let’s start with the first and most popular option: advertising.
Advertising is a broad term that essentially means any type of paid promotion, in which the contractor pays you, the content creator to promote their product. This can be a variety of goods – from internet pages paying for extra traffic to their sites to companies selling books, cooking supplies, fashion products, and anything in between and beyond that. This is an important fact if you like the idea of paid promotion as a means to earn money on Instagram, as it shows that there are plenty of niches with which you can associate your brand and make sure you get noticed by the advertisers.
We can group advertising on Instagram into two distinct categories: Sponsorship and Affiliate Marketing. The main difference between the two is that Sponsorships are promotions for which the advertiser pays directly for the exposure of their product or brand on the promoters Instagram account; while Affiliate Marketing allows the content creator to receive a portion of the sales made through a personalized link through which the customer purchases the product that is being advertised.
To give you some examples: a Sponsorship would be Coca-Cola paying Keanu Reeves to post a picture with a bottle of Coca-Cola on his Instagram account; and Affiliate Marketing would be your favorite YouTuber giving out a referral link to a product on Amazon, and getting a small portion of the sales anytime someone uses that link to buy the product.
If you decide that sponsorships would be a good way for you to capitalize on your Instagram account, you will need to come into direct contact with advertisers. Most of the time an account with a sizeable follower count and follower engagement will attract advertisers on its own and they will contact you. If you wish to speed up the process, or you own an account with a small but very engaged follower base, you can use internet services that specialize in bringing together advertisers and content creators. Here are some of them:
This site offers content creators with 5000 or more Instagram followers the opportunity to list their profiles and uses analytics to bring them into contact with advertisers with similar fields of interest, target audiences, etc.
They offer small sponsored content creation tasks for content creators. This is a great way to monetize accounts with a smaller follower base. However, this site is available only in the United States.
This service posts campaigns from many companies in which you can participate by posting a specific kind of picture with specified hashtags, and get paid for it. They require you to have at least 700 engaged followers to participate.
Affiliate marketing gives you more freedom to decide how to approach your sales pitch, as you can choose how to incorporate the referral link into your posts. It is recommended not to overwhelm your audience with these since your audience is your most valuable asset. This means that finding appropriate products which your audience will enjoy is the key. For example, if your account is focused on fashion, you could find a fashion company that would give you a referral link to use. Another thing to consider is that these links can appear long and ugly. It is therefore recommended to shorten it on pages like bit.ly, shorturl.at or tinyurl.com. There are plenty of online sellers always looking for affiliates, but to find them fairly easily you can use some of the following sites.
Presents many advertisers from a variety of categories reaching from Arts & Entertainment to Spirituality, New Age & Alternative Beliefs.
Amazon Affiliate Program
The online shopping behemoth certainly needs no special introduction – millions of products you can advertise, established brand recognition, and a 10% profit on every sale are enough reasons to make this program one of the most popular ones.
If advertising is not your style, then establishing your own product (or product line) is a great alternative. Let’s start with Digital Sales.
Digital sales are arguably the easiest to set up. Create some form of digital content – this could be an e-book, a digital illustration, music, etc. – then simply market your product to your fan base. It eliminates the problems that physical products create – there is no need for paying storage fees, delivery is very fast, and the stock isn’t limited. You can also consider selling licenses or distribution and trademark rights to distributors. The only trouble you might have is creating a market page for your products, but don’t worry, we have you covered on that aspect as well.
Shopify is a site that helps you build your webshop incredibly easily, and even offers an app that integrates your shop into your Instagram account, allowing you to advertise your products without trouble.
Physical Sales use the same methods as Digital Sales, but they are based on some tangible product you sell. The possibilities are endless. A popular example would be clothes and other merchandise with your own prints on them. You can choose to create the products yourself or to outsource the production to a local producer or one of the many internet shops that specialize in this field. The most well-known sites for this would be Merch by Amazon and Spreadshirt. They take the trouble of production, storage and shipping off of you, retaining in exchange a portion of the profits.
Finally, the thing Instagram was created for is, of course, photography. If you are a professional photographer or an ambitious amateur, you can simply post your photographs with watermarks on them directly to your account, and then sell prints or licenses through an online shop. There are web pages that help with this as well, such as 500px or Twenty20. Another option would be combining your photography with physical goods by selling your photos or illustrations as prints on t-shirts or similar products.
In the end, the most important thing to keep in mind is that your own style and integrity is much more important than quick profits, as a good relationship with your audience determines the success of any of the methods that have been presented.