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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, you probably know that Instagram is one of the top three social media platforms. This social photo sharing app has over one billion monthly active users, and its use is nearly universal among some demographics. Given these numbers, it’s easy to see the potential for making money.
The answer is, yes. Absolutely. And this article will explain the step by step process.
Before you get started, you MUST pick a niche. You can’t promote everything to everyone. You must pick a niche that will be a draw for a specific audience. Hint: Pick a niche that you are already personally involved in. It should be a niche that you enjoy, yourself. If you pick a niche you enjoy, then growing your Instagram following will be fun and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Further, focusing on a specific niche will give your audience a reason to share your posts with other similar audiences who have the same interests.
First, you will create an Instagram account specific to the niche in which you plan to be active.
Note: you can have multiple Instagram accounts, so you do not have to use your primary, personal account.
When creating the account, you may wish to pick a keyword optimized name. To do this, your username (your “@”) and your Instagram account name should have your main keywords in them. This makes it easier for people to find you on Instagram when they are looking for accounts related to a specific niche. This is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the broadest visibility on the platform.
Here’s an example:
Do you see how searchable the profile is? This person’s username contains the words “recipes” and “pantry”. Also, her account name and description both include the phrase “food blogger” so people searching for any of the aforementioned words are more likely to find this particular account.
Switching over to a business account on Instagram is easy. The only condition for a business account is that you have an existing Facebook account. All you have to do is go to your Instagram account settings and select “Switch to a Business Account”.
Next, Instagram will ask you for contact information, like email, phone number etc. from your Facebook account; this information will be used to create a custom “contact” button on your Instagram profile. This will also enable your Instagram shop (more on that later).
Note: you can choose which contact information to make public.
The most useful thing about the Instagram business account is the account analytics (insights) it provides (insights are not available in individual accounts). Below is an example of an “insights” dashboard. In this example, far more women visit this particular account than men, so this should be taken into consideration when creating content and offerings.
Note: you don’t have to switch to a business account right away. You can do it anytime.
Having your own logo will make you look more professional and will make you stand out from the crowd. People are naturally more attracted to professional looking Instagram accounts, especially if they appear to be curated by a large company rather than an individual trying to create a following. A professional logo is an easy way to create the appearance of a large company.
There are lots of ways to create logos; you can either create one yourself with a free tools like Canva, or you can hire someone from Fiverr (for as little as $5) to make a logo for you.
Your profile bio is an important part of your Instagram account. Your bio should explain exactly what your Instagram account is all about, what you promote, and what your values are.
Let’s take a look at a clothing brand:
This brand has its own professional logo and a profile bio that articulates its values. You may notice that they also have custom buttons that convey a nice aesthetic (buttons are also easy to customize BTW).
If you have a website, you can (and should) link to it in your profile.
In the above example, this food blogger has linked to her website.
If you don’t have a website, that’s okay. You can build one later. In the early stages of your Instagram account, you’ll be focusing on building a following anyway.
This step is optional. As mentioned earlier, you do not need a website to make money on Instagram; however, it can definitely help. If you do have a website (or decide to build a website), it should be focused mainly on content rather than trying to sell, especially in the early days.
Here’s an example from our food blogger.
Let’s take a look at the website; it has a lot of great content; in this case, there is a lot of free high quality recipes. Valuable content is a great technique to bring people back to your site again and again. This particular blogger is offering loads of free content, which brings in lots of visitors, but she also offers a few premium products for sale (below).
In this case, our blogger is selling E-Books as well as affiliate products from Amazon.
So this particular Instagram account is driving sales of information products, and it is also earning commissions from Amazon purchases.
Now that you’ve successfully created your Instagram account, it’s time to start growing it.
Your first goal is to reach 10,000 Followers. There are a few reasons for this. The first is obvious. You need a lot of followers to make money on Instagram. But more importantly, Instagram does not permit you to put website links in your posts until you have 10,000 followers. This is the magic number where you should start making money. Being able to put website links in your posts and stories is CRITICAL to making money. It is the best way to drive traffic to your available products or affiliate links. Your website link in your profile will get a little traffic, but links in posts will get a TON more traffic.
How you grow your Instagram following is a topic that deserves its own article, so I wrote one. You can read more here: 6 Ways to Get Instagram Followers in 2020.
After you have achieved a decent sized following on your Instagram account, you can start to make money. The next section of this article describes the four most common ways to make money on Instagram.
There are many ways to make money with Instagram, but here are the 4 most common methods.
Influencers generally have a large, active, following on Instagram, and their followers are typically very engaged. For this reason, influencers can make money by recommending (or even just using) products from certain brands. This is usually done with a sponsored post in which an influencer posts a photo of himself/herself and is compensated by the brand for doing so. This can be an effective form of marketing because influencers have spent a lot of time and effort building trust among their followers.
To be frank, influencer marketing is one of the most difficult ways to earn money on Instagram as this method generally requires a very large, active, following. Brands will not be interested in purchasing a sponsored post from you unless you have enough followers. If you don’t have a large following, then you’ll need to grow one.
You can also earn money on Instagram by creating and posting your own original art. Instagram is a visual social media platform, and accounts with a beautiful aesthetic tend to get a lot of followers. For this reason, Instagram is a great place to showcase your work, especially if you are a talented graphic designer or digital artist. You can sell your art directly to consumers if you like. Also, if you post your work frequently, then you might be able to make money with a Patreon account, whereby your fans donate a small recurring dollar amount as a show of appreciation for your art. You can even make “exclusive” art available only to those who have donated via Patreon.
Instagram is also a great place to advertise and sell your own physical products. You can sell original products that you have made. You can sell niche products that you have purchased wholesale. Another option is to sell print on demand products such as tee-shirts or coffee mugs which have been imprinted with original artwork or designs. The print on demand model is an appealing one for many because there is very little up-front cost involved.
Note: As of July, 2020, Instagram lets you create your own shop on Instagram, where your followers can buy products quickly and easily. Just add a product tag to your Instagram photos to redirect your followers to your Instagram Shop.
This method of making money is far more common (and achievable) for those with smaller Instagram followings. In fact, this is my personal favorite method.
Affiliate marketing is the process by which you – the affiliate – earn commissions by referring people to products being sold by someone else. Two of the more well-known affiliate programs are the Amazon Associates program and the ClickBank program. If you’d like to know more about ClickBank, read our guide for How to Make Money on ClickBank.
The great thing about affiliate marketing is that the barrier to entry is very low and the cost to begin is also very low. You will need a reasonably sized following to be effective, but you don’t need nearly as many followers as you would need in method #1 above. In fact, with as few as 500 real, engaged, followers, you could probably make a few sales (and the accompanying commissions). And of course, the more followers you have, the more money you can make.
I hope that overview is helpful. If you have any questions, you can post them below, and I will personally answer them. And if you are interested in reading more about how to grow your Instagram following, you can read my other article: 6 Ways to Get Instagram Followers in 2020.