How To Make Money on Instagram: 3 Best Ways

Menlo Park, California, USA - March 30, 2018: Entrance of Instagram headquarters in Silicon Valley.
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Most of us use social media apps, and there are a lot of stories around about how much money people can make being “social media influencers.” But what exactly does that mean? How much can you make on Instagram? How many followers do you need? Here’s what you need to know about how to make money on Instagram.

How Many Followers Do You Need To Make Money on Instagram?

Many celebrity social media influencers have hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of Instagram followers. But the number you need to make money could be much fewer.

If you have a niche that you can tie to a specific product category that’s big on Instagram, you may be able to be an influencer with just 10,000 followers — or even fewer. Your hobby or passion may be profitable — fashion, travel, fitness and food are popular categories.

Having followers that are engaged is also key to being an influencer. If your followers frequently like, reply to and share your posts, they’re more valuable than those who just scroll on by. That’s why it’s important to allocate time towards engaging your followers by responding to comments and continuing interactions to build loyalty; it can help you monetize your audience in the future.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Increasing your followers should be an important part of your Instagram plan, so make sure you’re always engaging with your current followers and seeking new ones.

How To Make Money On Instagram

If you’ve worked at developing an engaged and growing audience, you could start working towards how to make money on Instagram. Here are three ways you can make money on Instagram.

1. Become a Brand Ambassador

Once you’ve built a following on Instagram, look to see if you can become a brand ambassador for companies who want to reach your followers. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, Instagram users with more than 100,000 followers can make around $700 to $900 for each post they create. This price can be even higher for users with at least 500,000 followers, earning between $2,000 and $3,000 for creating sponsored content.

Snapfluence helps Instagram influencers who can engage followers to learn how to connect with brands. You can learn how to market yourself as an influencer and how to protect yourself when dealing with big brands.

There are other similar “influencer” and ambassador programs out there — just ask around and do your research. But be aware that some programs might only offer free merchandise instead of cash for promoting campaigns and products on Instagram. And then there are the cold messages offering free products if you pay for shipping.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

While you should avoid the cash outlay to promote a brand — even if it’s just the shipping expense — there may be occasions when you may find it worth your while. The extra exposure could lead to more opportunities down the line that could translate to cash. Just make sure you do your research and avoid scams.

Good To Know

As an influencer, you can charge for posts based on the number of followers you have. According to Influencer Agency, you can expect to earn between $800 and $1,500 per post if you have 25,000 to 50,000 followers. You can expect to earn $1,500 to $2,000 per post if you have 50,000 to 100,000 followers. If you have over a million followers, you can charge $10,000 per post or more.

2. Promote Your Business, Products or Services

If you have a service, product or skill to share, you could turn your followers into customers. For example, use Instagram to advertise your tutoring, makeup or freelancing services. If you’re skilled at making handcrafted items or clothing, take pictures of those products and put them on Instagram. Converting your personal account into an Insta business account will open up new possibilities.

Some ways you sell products on Instagram include:

  • Open a shop on Instagram to tag products that people can buy directly in your shoppable posts.
  • Add the shop link to your profile.
  • Start a live shopping stream.
  • Add product stickers to your stories to tag products for sale.
  • Add a shop tab to your Instagram profile. The Shop tab is where your profile visitors can find all the products you’ve tagged in your Instagram posts, including the content that features them.
  • Create curated product collections.
  • Enable Instagram checkout so people can buy and pay for items directly.
Make Your Money Work Better for You

For further exposure, running ads on Instagram is a good way to increase exposure for your products and services, and it doesn’t have to cost you a bundle. Instagram has a comprehensive advertising guide on its site to help you get started.

No matter your product, business or skill, you can market yourself to your followers and earn money. Post pictures of whatever it is you’re trying to sell, and let your followers know how they can contact you for more information.

3. Get Paid for Your Instagram Photos

Maybe you don’t have a business you want to promote or products and services to offer, but perhaps your Instagram photos are jaw-dropping. If so, you could make a ton of cash on Instagram by selling your photos for a fee.

Try selling your photos independently, like Daniel Arnold. The photographer was struggling for money, but he made thousands of dollars in one day by offering an Instagram sale of his photographs, Forbes reported. He had users email him screenshots of the 4×6 prints they wanted to buy from his Instagram archive for $150 each, and the response was overwhelming — he received almost $15,000 worth of requests.

3 Ways to Build Your Instagram Following

As mentioned already, in order to start making money on Instagram, you’ll want to increase your number of followers. Start by connecting with people you know, then branch out to similar users and watch your audience grow. Here are a few ways you can attract and retain followers:

1. Post images catered to a specific audience.

Your pictures should be interesting and relevant to people who fit within the target demographic you want to reach. For example, if you want to represent products related to home décor, you should start by posting pictures of your home, household items or products you love. If you want to sell sporting goods and athletic brands, post pictures of yourself, friends and others being active and using the related products.

2. Add hashtags to your photos.

Hashtags can extend your reach by guiding people to your photos on your Instagram page. Research your desired brand, industry and audience to learn what hashtags people are searching for and add them to your photos. You can even go back to past photos and add hashtags in the comments section.

3. Improve your photo quality.

The higher-quality images you post, the more attention your photos will receive. Take the time to learn some photography skills. You could invest in a professional camera, but if that’s not an affordable option, download an editing app. For example, Perfect 365 can produce “flawless” selfies, and Snapseed is great for retouching and improving the quality of photos.


Instagram users don’t get paid by Instagram, and the platform itself does not pay for posts, likes, ads or shares. If you want to make money from Instagram, it’s up to you to post the content the people want to see and share and to make relationships with companies that will pay you to bring their message to your followers.

It will take time and commitment to fine tune your brand and build a loyal, growing and engaged audience, but the effort could be rewarding. Especially if you enjoy the creativity of taking photos and putting reels and stories together.

Karen Doyle and Cynthia Bowman contributed to the reporting for this article.

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About the Author

Tess Frame is a journalist, a mom, and a home-and-family blogger based in sunny San Diego, Calif. She writes about personal finance topics including budgeting, mortgages and increasing income, as well as wallet-friendly DIY and home improvement projects. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in English from BYU-Idaho and has been writing for various websites since 2009.
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