Instagram is ideal for selling products that photograph well.
If you have some photography skills, you’ll have a huge advantage for the platform. Bonus points if you’re photogenic yourself and want to bring some extra life to your product photography. Don’t have a camera? Learn how to take stunning photos with your phone with our product photography course. Nothing is going to stop you from earning money from the photo and video sharing app.
Here are 7 business models to make money on Instagram:
1. Become an influencer and make money from sponsored posts.
If you can reach coveted influencer status, you can use your Instagram profile to promote all kinds of products from all kinds of brands..
If you’re not familiar, an influencer is someone who has built a reputation and loyal following by sharing regularly on their social accounts. They have a good following and they’re able to convince their audiences to jump onto trends and buy certain products.
They have this power because they’ve spent a lot of time building trust and relationships with their audience.
Brands tend to partner with influencers to do sponsored posts that help spread the word about their products. To get to this point, you need to grow your Instagram following as well as regularly come up with posts that generate strong engagement from your followers.
Top influencers make thousands of dollars per sponsored post. Keep in mind that it takes a long time and a lot of hard work and talent to get to this point. It’s attainable for sure, but make sure you manage your expectations if you choose this route.
As an influencer, it’s extremely important for you to know your audience. You need to understand who those people are – their interests, values, needs, and wants.
This way, you know which brands would best fit them. If you’ve switched to an Instagram business account, you can research your audience stats a bit more through the Instagram Insights feature.
If you’ve created a noteworthy online presence, chances are big brands will reach out to you. But as you’re building, you also find brands yourself that you think match your personality and values the best.
Reach out to them directly (through Instagram or through their websites) to try to negotiate a deal. 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. It’s always a good idea to use an Instagram hashtag that tells people it’s a sponsored post (something simple like #sponsored or #ad).
2. Become an affiliate and make money selling other people’s products.
You can sell other people’s products and get a cut. There are loads of people who make money from Instagram through affiliate programs.
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. (If you’re only interested in getting exposure for your brand, you might want to go through these brand awareness tips to gain traction).
Affiliates make money through a trackable link or a promo code to make sure that you know exactly which sales came directly from your posts.
Create engaging posts so you can promote the products without being pushy. Since you can only have one link on your Instagram bio, you might want to connect a landing page to your affiliate link, which you can quickly create using a “link in bio” tool like Linkpop. In each post, make sure to tell people they can buy the product via the link in your bio. And create a fun Instagram caption to make it sound less salesly.
At first it may sound like a tough game, but affiliate marketing has a lot of potential if you plan on growing. You can expand your presence by including a website and/or other marketing or social media channels.
3. Become a Virtual Assistant to an Influencer
If you’d rather work behind-the-scenes, consider becoming an assistant to an Instagram influencer.
Many influencers out there need help – with filtering sponsorship requests, running ads, identifying fake followers, and more. You can offer to be their VA and charge by the hour for your services.
As an Instagram influencer VA, you’ll be accountable for lots of things, such as managing DMs, scheduling posts, and replying to comments. Also, the influencer may ask you to share content ideas for growing their personal brand.
So if you always wanted to practice your Instagram marketing skills without being the center of attention, this is a great place to start.
4. Sell Instagram caption services.
Many small business owners use Instagram to promote their goods and services, but only a few of them have the resources or expertise to write good Instagram captions. If you’re good at coming up with creative Instagram captions, you can sell your services to these companies. Just remember, they’ll judge you by your ability to write engaging short-form copy.
To get the attention of business owners, write and put up some captions on your own account. Then include the ones that generate the most engagement in your portfolio. Chances are, if a business is going to hire you for crafting their Instagram copy, they are going to want to see your work. So make sure you have some examples they could look at right off the bat.
How much to charge for Instagram captions? Whatever pricing you feel you are worth. It could be $600 for 10 captions, or $1,000 for 20 captions. The important thing is to charge for your expertise rather than your time or your content.
5. Sell poster photos and other virtual products.
Instagram is all about the visuals. That’s why beautiful products and photos will get more sales.
You can sell poster photos, paintings, drawings, animations, videos, and other image or video-based virtual products. On each post, include an interesting caption and 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. Once you snap some great shots, use the best photo editing apps for phones to get the most out of the photos that you take. Try to be original, creative, and fun when you’re taking pictures. Those will get way more attention than boring ones.
You can use Instagram to promote your photography portfolio using relevant Instagram hashtags.
6. Sell your own physical products.
You can sell any physical product that you make yourself or buy from suppliers. This conventional ecommerce retailing usually requires stocking some inventory, meaning you’d need to spend some startup capital to buy your products.
You’ll also need a place where you can keep the products, like a spare room at home or a rented storage space. This is especially true if you plan on saving money by buying products in bulk. You’ll need a place to keep everything before they’re ordered by and delivered to customers.
The good news is you can sell products directly on Instagram by setting up an Instagram Shop (more on that later). Just tag products in your Instagram images and you can lead your Instagram followers to your product pages, where they can buy your stuff in one fell swoop.
7. Sell dropshipped products.
Dropshipping is a business model 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. Phew.
This works in a similar way to our previous idea of selling products on Instagram to earn money. The only difference is that you won’t need to store any inventory. With dropshipping, you can experiment to find the niche products that would sell well, without wasting startup capital.
What Are the Requirements for Making Money on Instagram?
Using apps, following a do’s and don’ts list, using awesome 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.
Let’s look at a few.
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 to set one up. 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. This lets you promote your products directly to Instagram users through posts, Stories, in the Explore tab, and in a special Shop tab on your profile.
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 let you publish products, along with their pricing and specifications on separate pages.
This way, shoppers feel like they’re still on your Instagram pages while they’re actually already on the ecommerce-ready shopping app pages.
I recommend using Shopify because it has loads of apps that can be integrated with Instagram. You can try many of the apps for free, so there’s no risk if they don’t work out for you.
4) 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.
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. No cheating!
Following these rules will improve your chances of earning money from Instagram. According to CoSchedule, it’s recommended to post 1 to 2 times a day so your followers wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. This will also give you time to make unique and eye-catching posts. The best time to post would be before launch at 11 a.m on Wednesdays and Fridays.
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.
You can probably figure out that anything with the word “ban” is a bad thing, so try to avoid this as much as possible. It’ll hurt your ability to make money.
5) Master Instagram Filters and Photography
Canva did a study on America’s favorite Instagram filters. Based on rank, they’re: Clarendon, Gingham, Juno, and Lark. And the world’s favorite filters are: Clarendon, Juno, Valencia, Gingham, and Lark.
Most popular filters for nature:
Most popular filters for fashion:
Most popular filters for food:
Most popular filters for selfies:
Use tools like Picodash to see which photos work. You want to do the kinds of things that successful accounts do, but still create your own unique content and personality. Motivate yourself to learn more each day so you can earn money from Instagram.
6) Create Posts Inspired by Viral Stories