Making A Living Out Of Your Instagram Account

Nowadays, we live in an era where savvy people are able to turn social capital into real capital, and there’s nowhere that’s more apparent or prevalent than on social media. While Twitter and Facebook might be the platforms most widely used, Instagram has proven particularly profitable for those who are able to spin it into a side hustle, or even a full-time job. But how do you make such a seemingly fantastical proposition into reality? Here, we’re going to look at the steps, options, and tips to help you along the way.

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Work on building followers

Most Instagram accounts that make money do it as influencers, meaning that they’re working with brands that benefit from making use of the wide following that they have. As such, the number one thing you should focus on is how you’re going to grow your followers. Some are able to do it through a few lucky viral posts, but in most cases, it’s all about understanding your brand, your appeal, and how you demonstrate it to others, whether it’s by showcasing your lifestyle, being funny, or simply taking great photos that people want to see more of (be it yourself or otherwise.) There are more strategies to build your following, but it starts with having that strong brand.

Put out high-quality content

A key part of what both your audience and what brands are looking for is the quality of content. We live in an attention economy, where you have to compete with other talented creatives for the time and attention that your audience gives you. There are plenty of Instagram content ideas that you should be researching, and trends that can be helpful to know, even if diverging from them can often help you stand out more. What’s most important when thinking about the content you create is remembering your audience, and always thinking about what value your content offers to them.

Make it routine

Being able to generate great, attention-catching and valuable content isn’t easy. When you’re trying to do it on a regular basis in order to keep your audience engaged and to keep building new followers, it’s even less easy. As such, you should do what you can to make content production routine, reliable, and consistent. For instance, some people build a creative workflow, a process by which they’re always generating and working on ideas. Plotting out the steps that it takes you to create quality content can make it a lot easier to jump upon inspiration when it happens, rather than fumbling your way through the process time and time again.

Take Photos for Instagram
Image – Pixabay License

Getting paid by Instagram

If we’re going to talk about how you’re going to make money on the platform, then we should start by looking at the monetisation methods built into the platform itself. Instagram does have a Creator Fund that they use to pay content creators on the site, directly. For instance, you can try to get a Live Badge for your account, which allows viewers to tip your account directly, particularly during a live stream. There are also financial bonuses that Instagram offers to accounts that are able to reach certain milestones. However, this program is on an invite-only basis at the moment, so the most likely way to get on it is to grow your account to the point that Instagram starts paying attention to it.

Collaborate with brands

Perhaps the most common route for making a living as an Instagram creative is by finding brands who are willing to pay you to either be a spokesperson for or a model for their products and services. Starting down this path begins with asking yourself “How can you collaborate with brands on Insta?” For some people, it might involve doing reviews of products while being sponsored by the creators of said products, others with create carousels or reels to create videos or photo montages of them using and enjoying said products, while others will have more long-term partnerships, frequently featuring brands in their account. A key part of success in brand collaboration is choosing the brands that match up with your own likes, and what your audience already likes to see. Fashion brands would be an easy match for fashion-focused accounts, for instance.

Selling your own digital products

Do you have some form of expertise or insight that people could be willing to pay for? Whether it’s about fashion, cooking, money, fitness, or otherwise, Instagram can be a highly effective platform for marketing and offering digital products and services. If people already come to your account because they believe in your expertise in certain fields, then you should ask yourself if there are people willing to pay for expertise, advice, or other products, be they videos, eBooks, or even services like online consultations. Of course, given that it’s Instagram, you can also sell your photographs, photography services, or modelling services, as well.

Sell Your Merch on Instagram
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Selling your own merch

For some people, their expertise, insights, and information aren’t the only strong points driving their content. Some people simply get how to brand themselves and their content well. People can get attached to the brand of the account, including personal brands, to the point that they would gladly show their own support for it. There are creator merchandise stores that specialize particularly in these kinds of products. If you have built a brand with recognizable catchphrases, logos, or other elements that could be easily converted into merchandise, then you could make some money from those most fervent supporters who would be glad to be seen wearing your brand. Of course, with that in mind, developing those kinds of brand signifiers could be an active aim in future content creation.

Get direct support from your fans

One model that has become increasingly popular, as of late, on the internet is the rise of crowdfunding websites. While originally only used to crowdfund specific products and projects, the concept has expanded with sites dedicated to crowdfunding creators. Asking people to subscribe to you, and to fund your creative efforts is a big ask, and it’s typically done by those who make things like video essays, who illustrate, or otherwise regularly put out unique content that has value divorced from their personality alone. However, if you have a wide fanbase who are willing to financially support you, it has the benefit of allowing you to focus on creating content divorced from the reality of appealing to advertisers and sponsors.

Don’t use Instagram alone

It is true that Instagram might become a primary platform for you, and where you earn the bulk of your money, but smart creatives understand that they shouldn’t put all of their eggs in one basket. If you’re already treating social media and online content creation as a full-time job, then you should make sure that you’re diversifying your output, somewhat. This could mean reposting your Instagram posts to Twitter, where applicable, or it could mean making Tiktoks, or even longer-form Youtube content. Having a toe in other waters can make it a lot easier to pivot if some changes happen in the social media landscape in the future, or if you end up finding growth happens easier for you in a different space.

Making Money on Instagram
Image – Pixabay License

Bring people to your own site

When you’re making money through Instagram, you are stuck, for better or worse, in Instagram’s own money ecosystem. You can only really get paid directly by your fans in the way that Instagram wants you to. Otherwise, you have to look to outside sources such as collaborating brands and crowd-funding to make your money. However, if you can direct your followers and fans to your own website, then you could potentially monetise your content in a much wider range of ways. Of course, what you sell on your own website is up to you, but if you can build a following that’s able to keep tabs on you independent of a specific social media platform, then that’s a following that’s more likely to be with you even if that platform disappears.

Keep your expectations realistic

Making money from Instagram is, by no means, a pie-in-the-sky idea. It happens all the time. It’s not just reserved for those with the biggest followings and broadest brand exposure, either. There are different levels of influencers, from macro to micro to nano, that people typically find into. Understanding where you fit in that scale can also give you a better idea of how much you are likely to make by monetising your content right now. That’s not to say that you can’t continue to grow and thus continue to get more value from your account, but keeping your expectations realistic can be important to avoid getting burnt out or dejected.

Making a real living out of an Instagram account isn’t easy, it’s a competitive environment, and you have to treat it like a real business if you want to get as much out of it. However, the path to making at least a little money from it is open to all, so keep the tips above in mind.

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About Dequiana Jackson

Dequiana Jackson, Founder of Inspired Marketing, Inc., helps overachieving women entrepreneurs conquer limiting beliefs and create marketing plans that grow their businesses. This includes one-on-one marketing plan development, digital product creation, web design and content marketing. Dequiana is the author of Know Your Business: How to Attract Ideal Clients & Sell More and runs the award-winning blog,

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