How Much Do Instagram Influencers Make? 2021 Top Earners

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Instagram launched in 2010 and was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. Facebook doesn’t disclose how much money it’s pulling in from Instagram, but what is known is that Instagram has grown to have more users and a better engagement rate — as much as 50 times higher — than Twitter, according to Business Insider.

If you’ve been on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed some of your favorite accounts will recommend products. Some do so more subtly than others — you may see a full infomercial or find that the poster uses hashtags or tags products in the photo. It’s likely the Instagrammer is getting paid. And the more followers they have, the higher the “influencer” status and the more money they can make.

You don’t have to be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Ariana Grande, two of the most followed accounts — with over 200 million followers — to make serious cash for promoting a product or to get freebies, such as an all-expense-paid trip. Read on to learn how much do Instagram influencers make — and how you can earn some money, too.

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How Much Do Instagram Influencers Make?

Celebrity accounts with the biggest followings are capable of making around one million dollars per sponsored post. Hopper HQ creates an annual rich list of how much Instagram influencers make. The biggest earners are:

  1. Dwayne Johnson | therock | $1,015,000 per post | 221m followers |
  2. Kylie Jenner | kyliejenner | $1,015,000 per post | 219m followers |
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo | cristiano | $1,015,000 per post | 267m followers |
  4. Kim Kardashian | kimkardashian | $1,015,000 per post | 208m followers |
  5. Ariana Grande | arianagrande | $1,015,000 per post | 224m followers |

The top five earners have the luck of being high-profile celebrities. It’s easier for them to get to million-follower status than the average person. But you’d be surprised — Instagrammers with a small niche following can make a living as an influencer, as well.

Don’t Rule Out Instagram as a Side Hustle

Micro-influencers, who have followings of 2,000 to 50,000 can make money on the platform as a side hustle. A survey of 5,000 influencers found that almost half charge between $200 to $400 for a sponsored post. USA Today reported that some micro-influencers are charging thousands. As your follower count grows, so does the potential to earn more.

How To Make Money on Instagram

Making money as an influencer is all about having an audience willing to hear you out and try the products you recommend. To catch the attention of advertisers and make money on Instagram, you’ll need to have at least a few thousand active followers who like and comment on your posts. You may get freebies at first, but as your following grows, so can the income potential.

Here are ideas on how you can make money on Instagram:

Sponsored Posts

Promoting a product to grow awareness by recommending it to your followers is one of the most lucrative ways to make money on Insta. It’s also one of the harder opportunities to land since advertisers typically approach accounts with larger followings.

To improve your chances for success, make sure your account has a unique niche. The beauty niche is oversaturated, but you may have better luck focusing on the beauty niche for active, outdoor women, for example.

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Good To Know

The sweet spot to really start building momentum seems to be 10,000 followers. Once you get there, the “Swipe Up” feature is activated, which means you can add a link to your Instagram story instead of asking people to find it in your bio. It makes the job of an Instagram influencer a lot easier, especially if you’re promoting more than one product at a time.

Affiliate Marketing

If you have a blog or a following, you may be able to upsell what you do by promoting a product or service and getting a commission of the sale. Affiliate marketing is different than sponsored posts because you make money if your followers buy the product.

It may be an easier way to cash in on your Instagram account. Instead of hoping to get approached by a brand for a sponsored post, you can apply to affiliate programs, such as Amazon, to make money selling their goods and services.

Sell Your Own Products

If you have a business such as a hair salon, retail store or Etsy shop, Instagram can be a good way to sell your products. All you need to do is take some quality photos and upload them to your feed. Instagram has business accounts and tools such as Instagram Shopping that make it simple to set up a store and accept payments directly from the platform.

How To Grow Instagram Followers

As mentioned, you’ll need followers before you can make money on Instagram. The hardest part is getting to 100 followers, then 500, then 1,000. Some people think they can buy fake followers and skip the hard work but brands and advertisers are savvy — the quality of the follower is just as important.

Besides hitting the right number of followers, your audience needs to be active and engaged. This means your posts receive many likes, as well as comments, saves and shares. Here are some tips on how to grow your Instagram followers with a quality audience:

Grow Your Audience

You’re probably aware that hashtags, an optimized bio and marketing your Instagram page on other social media are good ways to start growing your audience. But nowadays, the competition for followers is hot. Finding creative ways to get followers is critical. Some ideas include:

  • Make sure your photos are beautifully taken and unique to your style.
  • Host product giveaways for followers who invite others to follow you.
  • Interact with followers commenting on posts of larger accounts in your niche.
  • Befriend other influencers and ask — or pay –for shoutouts.

Interact With Your Followers

Engagement is just as important as the number of followers. Creating posts that get them to share or comment should be as much of a priority as growing your audience. To get an idea of the level of participation your posts should have, the average engagement rate is one to four percent of your followers.

Some ways to have your audience interact is by posting questions or asking for advice or opinions. Don’t forget to respond to your followers that take the time to interact.

Do Occasional Follower Maintenance

It’s a mystery, but many Instagrammers complain that vague accounts that look like bots follow them. These accounts do bump up your follower numbers but affect your engagement rates since they don’t comment or like your posts.

As your follower count grows, you may want to periodically clean up your account and get rid of inactive followers. It will improve your engagement rate — and chances of landing a lucrative sponsorship.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.

How Much Do Instagram Influencers Make? 2021 Top Earners
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