How to Make Money on Instagram: 12 Proven Ways
As one of the fastest-growing social media platforms, Instagram has quickly gained over one billion active users—and is expected to reach nearly 1.5 billion by 2025.
Over the past few years, it’s evolved from a simple photo-sharing app to a powerful digital marketing tool that influencers and businesses of all sizes are using to reach their target audiences.
Much like TikTok and Facebook, social media marketing on Instagram is at an all-time high. If you want to learn how to monetize your Instagram, you need to not only grow your followers but also need the right business model.
In this article, we’ll cover the top strategies to start making money on Instagram this year.
Celebrities can earn a lot of money by posting on Instagram. In fact, the highest-paid social media influencers get anywhere from $92,000 to $3.2 million per post. Obviously, your income depends on your reputation, your number of followers, and your ability to grow your Instagram over time.
To calculate your estimated earnings from your online presence and social accounts, it’s important to calculate your engagement rate. Why? Engagement shows that your audience is active, so it’s no wonder that influencer prices and costs depend heavily on this metric.
Views and clicks don’t mean anything unless users take action.
The formula to determine your engagement rate is pretty simple. Combine the number of likes and comments per one post and divide it by the number of followers, then multiply by 100:
No matter your engagement rate, there is always room for improvement. The main idea is to find your niche and promote your services so that your income can also grow.
So, wanna make money on Instagram? Let’s talk about how.
- 1. Promote Affiliate Links
- 2. Sell Physical and Digital Products
- 3. Publish Sponsored Posts
- 4. Become a Brand Ambassador
- 5. Create Visual Content for Sale
- 6. Provide Social Media Marketing Services
- 7. Write Captions for Businesses
- 8. Make Instagram Stories Masks and Filters
- 9. Find Freelance Clients
- 10. Create a Subscription
- 11. Accept Virtual Gifts
- 12. Enable Live Badges
To make money with affiliate marketing, you need to join high-paying affiliate programs so that you can add affiliate links to your Instagram and make a commission on the sales you generate.
When done right, affiliate links can bring in a large amount of money.
To do this, look into joining affiliate networks like Shareasale, Clickbank, Awin, and Impact. You can also join individual affiliate programs right from a company’s website or by searching: “COMPANY + affiliate program.”
Since Instagram has a solid user base of engaged people, it’s a perfect place to promote affiliate links.
No matter how many followers you have, you can insert a clickable link in your Instagram bio. For instance, lifestyle influencer Hilary Bodiford uses this feature to promote affiliate links:
Her bio link says “shop my Instagram” in the URL, so her followers know they’re in good hands. Click on the link to be met with different products featured in her content.
Take a look at how she promotes products she’s linked in her Instagram bio link (using the LTK app):
It leads viewers directly to where they can make purchases with her affiliate links but stays authentic.
Instagram followers pay close attention to Instagram posts, so using captions to tell about affiliate marketing links is a great way to grab their attention. However, all links in Instagram posts are non-clickable, so you have to get creative.
Write a call to action inviting your readers to click on the link in your bio. Or, take a page out of this plant influencer’s book:
Samantha Hermann creates posts and Reels to showcase her favorite products, then tells viewers to comment a certain keyword (the brand name of the product in the above example) if they’re interested in it. She then uses an automation tool to DM the affiliate link to the product to each person who comments the trigger word, directly sending her affiliate link to each interested viewer.
Over the last few years, Instagram has turned into a strong sales generator for the right ecommerce store.
Since people actually do use the app to discover and buy products, they rolled out more Instagram business account features like in-app checkout, the shop button, product tags, and shoppable stickers to make the shopping process easier.
If you’re interested in selling physical or digital products on Instagram, you can look into choosing an ecommerce platform like Shopify to launch an ecommerce website, then use Instagram as another marketing channel.
If you’re a beginner, you could also start a dropshipping business so you don’t have to ship your own products or handle returns. Another option is to learn how to sell on Amazon and promote your products on Instagram that way.
Either way, you need to add links to your content in your Instagram account. Just write a call to action and include a website link so that interested followers can learn more about your offer.
And if you have an Instagram creator or business account, you can create your own online store with a catalog of merch.
Take a look at this Instagram shop by Life Time:
It’s a shop on an Instagram account run by influencer Candid Syd. She runs her own personal Instagram, an Instagram for her podcast, Well Said, and now her coaching platform Life Time, where she sells physical products.
But that’s not the only way to go about running an Instagram shop. The possibilities are endless. From cheap cosmetics and second-hand clothes to luxurious apartments and expensive cars, people buy all kinds of products on Instagram shops.
No matter what you sell, your potential customer is probably there. However, it’s important to find your niche and look at the competition by searching for hashtags and keywords you want to target.
Influencer marketing is on its rise, according to Social Toaster: 92% of individuals trust word-of-mouth recommendations, 76% of people say that they’re more likely to trust content shared by common people than brands, and 82% of customers want to get referrals from friends before making a purchasing decision.
Simply put, people seek out peers’ recommendations, so it’s no wonder more and more brands reach out to influencers to get shoutouts for their brands.
Since users crave transparency on Instagram, all influencers need to disclose sponsored posts, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for online advertising. And here’s what a sponsored post may look like on Instagram:
You’ll see that her first paragraph ends with the #ad disclaimer. Alexi McIntosh is a food blogger with over 40k followers, so it’s no wonder that brands reach out to her for a chance to enter an already-established community of engaged Instagrammers.
Want to know the best part? There’s no need to have a solid following to start making money with sponsored posts and brand partnerships. When choosing the right influencer, most brands pay close attention to the engagement rate, so even big brands like Dunkin’ want to work with nano- and micro-influencers.
Since these influencers have in-person interactions with the majority of their subscribers, they deliver better results, which means you can get an offer even if you have less than 1,000 followers on Instagram.
Sponsored posts work well on Instagram, but most companies want to establish long-term relationships with influencers, so they seek out brand ambassadors who can promote a company in a positive light on a regular basis.
Since Instagram is the most preferred channel for influencer marketing, it’s a perfect place for users to find brand ambassador programs and collaborate with companies to promote their products. Large brands also frequently send free products to influencers so they can review and promote them.
For example, Shay Mitchell is a lifestyle influencer with a highly engaged community of over 36 million loyal followers. So it’s no wonder that brands are eager to build a long-term partnership with her.
Lululemon is known for working with popular influencers as brand ambassadors. This post below is the perfect example of this type of partnership—both accounts are even tagged so it shows up on both profiles:
Most brand ambassadors sign contracts with brands to promote their products. And to get better results, brands need to find an influencer who has a following that represents their target audience. For ambassadors, this means a great opportunity to make money as the standard salary for a brand ambassador is somewhere in the $40-50,000 range.
Micro-influencers in a specific niche are often more valuable to brands than major celebrities as they have a more engaged audience.
It’s no secret that Instagram is a visual platform: People upload 3 billion photos & videos daily. However, it’s not enough for brands to upload overly polished professional photos of their product to stand out from the crowd.
Modern customers crave authenticity, so they pay close attention to user-generated content.
In fact, most consumers believe that UGC (user-generated content) is 35% more memorable than other media, so businesses of all sizes want to publish content created by their customers. Simply put, it’s your opportunity to sell the photos and videos you create.
When it comes to the travel industry, companies of all sizes invite real travelers to take photos showcasing their experiences while staying at brand properties in exchange for free accommodation and payment.
For example, a small town in New Zealand, Wanaka, achieved a 14% increase in tourism after working with Instagram influencers who shared images of the city on their profiles.
However, I don’t recommend this approach unless you have a huge following. There’s nothing more annoying to hotel owners than a fake influencer asking for a free stay.
It’s no secret that Instagram has strong sales potential, so more and more brands want to use this platform to promote products, reach out to the target audience, and increase sales. According to Business Instagram, over 25 million businesses and 2 million advertisers are on the platform.
The competition is growing, so brands need professional assistance if they want to cut through the noise. In other words, social media marketing services are in great demand.
Case in point:
Jenn Herman is an Instagram expert who has proved her niche expertise—she’s an international speaker and consultant, and she has worked with big brands. Today, Jenn Herman offers a great variety of services, including social media marketing strategies, consultations, and training. Guess what? Jenn uses Instagram to promote her social media marketing services as well as provide tips for businesses.
Brands crave different social media marketing services—from training and guidance to monthly support. This means social media experts have many opportunities to find freelance gigs and make the most out of their knowledge on Instagram.
The days when only big brands could afford Instagram marketing are far behind us. Today, brands of all sizes want to use this platform to promote their products and services, and 92% of small businesses plan to invest more time and effort in social media marketing.
While big brands have a great in-house content creation staff, entrepreneurs often seek out freelance talent to reduce social media marketing costs, meaning, they often want to find creative specialists who write captions for their businesses at a low cost.
Take a look at the most popular online workplaces like Freelancer and Upwork, and you’ll find hundreds of offers like the one below:
Image Source: Upwork.com
To get a full-time job offer, you need to prove that your application stands out from the crowd, and the best way to do it is to show your social media marketing writing portfolio. Plus, you need to run your Instagram page creatively so that interested employers can see examples of captions you write. The more creative and engaging your captions are, the more potential clients you can hook.
Back in 2016, when Instagram copied Snapchat’s short-lived content and launched Instagram Stories, no one could have predicted the booming popularity of this content format.
Today, over 500 million people watch or create Instagram Stories daily. Since this type of content is available for a limited period of time, people are highly engaged, and it gives brands more opportunities to hook their target audience.
What is more, companies create Instagram Stories masks and filters to prove their niche expertise and promote their products. While some companies have in-house designers who create filters for their brand, other brands want to collaborate with talents who specialize in Instagram masks and filters.
And if you’re creative, you can build an income stream on Instagram since the Spark AR Studio allows all users to create AR filters for Instagram Stories. For example, Eva Buechler uses her Instagram to promote Instagram filters she creates:
With the growing popularity of Instagram Stories, there’s no doubt that ephemeral content is the future of social media. Thus, making Instagram masks and filters is a great way to showcase your creativity and earn money on the platform.
Instagram is not just about posting cute photos of your puppy. Since we’ve hit the 1 billion active Instagram users milestone, it has become a wonderful platform for networking, especially for people in the creative fields. Today, more and more professionals use this platform as an online portfolio.
No matter what you do for a living, whether you’re a filmmaker, ghostwriter, or public speaker, you can utilize Instagram to find clients.
Case in point:
Jing Wei is an illustrator who has worked with Etsy, Panda Express, New York Times, etc. With over 20k followers, Jing uses her Instagram profile to share her latest works. Here’s just one example of a post sharing a mural she created on her profile:
With a dedicated work Instagram account, potential clients can see your portfolio in-app and decide if they want to work with you or not. You can use your Instagram bio as a call-to-action to generate even more clients.
Here’s an example:
The CTA “How we can help you,” leading down to their bio link is the perfect way for interested brands to learn more about this duo’s services.
Furthermore, you can stay proactive and offer your services rather than waiting for people to come to you—just find an Instagram account that might be interested in working with you and slide in their DMs.
For example, Al Falk is a web designer who uses this technique to find freelance clients, and it gives results.
All in all, the key to success is to stay credible in your niche, so it’s important to showcase your work on Instagram and tell your visitors that you’re open to new freelance opportunities.
Instagram now has a way to create and promote exclusive content for a monthly price point with subscriptions. When you create a subscription, you can choose to offer a number of exclusive perks.
Some of those perks can include:
- Exclusive live videos
- Subscriber badges
- Subscriber-only posts and reels
- Subscriber reels
- Social channels
- Broadcast channels
You can choose which options to offer, and base your price point on those offerings. Your subscription can cost anywhere from $0.99 per month to $99.99 per month.
Take a look at this example of a monthly Instagram subscription set at $19.99 per month. The content creator provides perks like a subscriber badge, exclusive content, a subscriber social channel, and a subscriber broadcast channel.
Use your Instagram reels and feed posts to promote your subscription. Keep in mind that to make the paywall worth it, you’ll need to keep it filled with high-quality content.
You can also turn on virtual gifts so your followers can give digital gifts that can be exchanged for currency. Your audience can buy stars, and then use those stars to buy different tiers of “stickers” as virtual gifts.
The stars are extremely affordable, and users can buy their first 15 stars for just $0.29. Virtual gifts can then be purchased for just 10 stars, but extend up to 300+ stars, depending on how large of a gift they want to send.
You can then exchange your virtual gifts for actual currency as yet another way to make money online through your Instagram account.
To increase the number of gifts you receive, consider making a call-to-action in some of your reels asking for gifts or donations if your viewers like your content.
Instagram also lets creators earn money from followers during live streams with Live Badges. They work like a virtual tip—followers can buy badges during a live video to support creators.
Badges come in different tiers, represented by one, two, or three hearts, each with a different cost. When followers buy a badge, their comments stand out in the live chat. You can see these super comments and interact with followers as you please.
In the US, badges are available to eligible creators—here’s what you need to be eligible:
- Comply with Instagram’s Partner Monetization Policies and Community Guidelines
- Be over the age of 18.
- Have more than 10,000 followers.
In other countries, like the UK and Mexico, access to badges is invite-only. Head to Settings → Creator → Badges to check your invite status.
These 11 tactics for making money on Instagram can work—but let’s look at some success stories from creators who have made money from their Instagram accounts.
- @noordinarynoire has just over 500k followers on Instagram and reported to Business Insider that she made over $1 million in her first year as a full-time content creator. The bulk of that income was from brand deals.
- @nene_la_shiro, who had over 400k Instagram followers, told Business Insider that he charges a minimum of $3,000 for branded content.
- @jalisaevaughn made $700k in just six months from brand deals. She has just over 400k followers.
- @whatsonvisface shared that she makes $5,000/month on affiliate marketing alone. She has almost 200k Instagram followers.
Yes, you can sell products on Instagram with Shoppable Posts. However, it’s best to use an ecommerce platform together with Instagram to increase your sales channels. Here are the steps to get started:
- Create an Instagram account and convert it to a business profile.
- Make sure that you have a Facebook Page with an active product catalog.
- Ensure that you are selling physical products, as services aren’t allowed.
- Once eligible, you can add product tags to your individual posts. To do this, select a photo you want to tag, tap on the product in the photo, enter your product name from your catalog, and click done.
Also, consider that having an Instagram name style that goes along with your brand will help you attract the right audience.
You probably won’t make a lot of money with 1,000 followers, but it’s still possible. Brands typically pay anywhere from $10 to $500 for every 1,000 followers depending on your niche and engagement.
If you have around 1,000 followers and want to make money, you should look into coupling your Instagram with other marketing channels.
For example, you could learn how to start a blog and link to your digital products or affiliate marketing articles from Instagram. Additionally, you could sell products on your own website with an ecommerce platform. While you won’t make much money with 1,000 followers, omnichannel marketing strategies can boost your income from other channels.
The number of followers you need to make money on Instagram varies depending on your industry. While you can make money with 1,000 followers or 1 million followers, make sure to focus on engagement.
Micro-influencers with a highly engaged audience can be more valuable to brands than huge celebrities with millions of followers. Remember, brands don’t just want impressions and views, they want users to take actions—leads, email sign-ups, and sales.
Getting sponsored on Instagram requires a lot of work and a consistent approach to growing your follower count. Most of the time, you’ll have to pitch for paid sponsorships rather than brands coming to you. Here are some tips to get sponsored:
- Define your brand and deeply know your audience.
- Post consistently with hashtags and geotags.
- Tag brands in your posts that are in your niche.
- Include contact information and links in your bio.
- Start reaching out and pitching paid sponsorships.
Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms with the highest engagement, so it’s easy to make money on the platform if you use it the right way. From sponsored posts to social media marketing services, there are many creative ways for anyone with a personal brand to make money on Instagram.
Ultimately, putting time and effort into Instagram is a great investment that builds over time. And it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon and start the monetization of your Instagram account.
Check out my reviews of the best social media management software to accelerate your growth this year.
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