how to make money on instagram

There is a whole lot more to making money on Instagram than affiliate links and affiliate marketing.

Getting followers on Instagram is a lot more like the courting process of dating than it is like Instagram marketing.


Marketing on Instagram requires a series of strategic steps that attract Instagram users ever so gradually from all over the cyberspace of the Instagram app. The graceful dance between influencers and Instagram users resembles that of an early courtship than it does Instagram marketing, making it the latest focus of most small businesses and marketers hoping to ditch their full-time jobs.

Don’t believe me?

Do a quick search on how to get followers on Instagram and you will easily find a list of Instagram hacks, how to use hashtags on Instagram, and popular strategies on how to earn money on Instagram.

The problem?

Not everyone has time to engage with popular Instagram posts, popular hashtags, or to secure influencers with your selected Instagram community. As a result, brands on Instagram are turning to third-party vendors that help connects influencers with brands on Instagram.

But if you don’t have the cash to advertise on Instagram like many big brands on Instagram do, then you’re going to have to find a few creative strategies for growing your audience on Instagram.

In this guide, we will break down the different ways in which you can become an established expert in your chosen Instagram community and the way in which posting on Instagram can make you money.

Marketing on Instagram can be a bit tricky, what with the influencer marketing campaigns and various Instagram hacks, but it doesn’t have to be.

In fact, with a strategic plan for posting on Instagram and a well-curated influencer marketing campaign, you can easily advertise on Instagram in ways that even sponsored posts and Instagram ads cannot do for you.

Are you ready to create a popular Instagram handle that is also a money-making business?

Then let’s begin with a step-by-step on how to utilize your favorite social media platform to get more Instagram followers that will help you earn money with Instagram.

Can You Make Money on Instagram?

If you are interested in turning your Instagram handle into a money-making machine, then you’ve come to the right place.

Traditionally, sponsored posts have provided the best way to increase engagement and to get followers on Instagram. However, in recent years, marketing on Instagram has become a lot trickier than simply adding quality content to your Instagram posts.

Now, you need to consistently engage with your niche market, create a catchy Instagram bio, secure quality, and mesmerizing images, prepare quality content for your target market, research the trending hashtags, and pay for Instagram ads simply to reach your target audience.

It’s exhausting!

In the end, however, it is worth it.

To get an extra follow on Instagram means that you are potentially getting an extra purchase.

All of the hashtags on Instagram serve as a prime opportunity to market to your target audience. People who are using hashtags within your specific niche are more likely to purchase your goods because they are already interested in your goods before you even advertise on Instagram.

Do you see how your Instagram profile could easily be turned into a money-making machine?

You don’t even need to convince your Instagram followers to make a purchase because they are already eager to do so!

Instead, you need to learn how to better understand your audience so that the process between “interest” and “purchase” is more efficient and results in higher sales.

Why You Want to Make Money on Instagram

Traditionally, marketing has always been an avenue to make virtually any product sexier.

With the advent of the Instagram app and all of the marketing opportunities that come with it, however, brands on Instagram are better able to determine what the best possible product is for their audience. By having direct access to your target audience on Instagram, you are better able to prepare your products so that your Instagram community is more likely to make a purchase.

In essence, your Instagram audience is an almost guaranteed customer.

And the only thing that you really need is a little bit of research on the trending hashtags, optimal images, and a killer Instagram bio to capture customers that you would miss in more traditional marketing settings.

What You Need to Make Money With Instagram

I can easily tell you how your Instagram account can earn money for you, even when you are not working because it’s true. But none of these truths are necessarily true if you don’t have the necessary prerequisites in place beforehand.

Whether you are selling tangible products or you are representing a lifestyle brand, you will not earn a single dime unless the people following your account are actively engaged with your account.

So, before we get into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to earn money on your Instagram account, let’s first acknowledge the foundation to any successful Instagram handle: its audience.

In order to have any long-lasting effects on the social media world, you must first create an Instagram community around your brand so that all your efforts are not lost.

Not sure how to tell if your audience is the spending kind?

Then consider these two factors when building your Instagram community:

1. You Must Get Serious Reach and Influence

There are a lot of steps between Complete Virtual Stranger and Loyal Customer. Before you ever convince a person to invest in your product or service, you must first convince them to spend even a single millisecond on your content.

But this can be a tough task, especially when social factors are considered, such as having a pre-existing and an already engaged audience. (Humans like familiarity, they like what other people like and they follow who other people follow.)

But what if you don’t have a good reach?

One of the easiest ways to do this is by posting your best content when your target audience is most active. Post at times when you know for certain that your target audience is not only online but also actively engaged (by giving likes and follows). This data is easily accessible through the business feature of Instagram Insights.

Another way to get your content in front of your target audience is by strategically using relevant hashtags. By using hashtags on your post, you are joining an active worldwide community within your target niche.

Once you are able to get your brand in front of your target audience, you can work on the next steps.

Instagram marketing funnel

2. Engaged Followers and an Interested Audience

Once you draw people to your Instagram profile, you need to convince them to stick around.

Even if you had one hundred million people view your Instagram post, if they don’t stick around then you won’t be making money on Instagram anytime soon.

Instead, put in the effort to create an Instagram feed that is worth following. To get followers on Instagram, post quality photos to your feed that people will actually want to follow on Instagram.

Build a community with your Instagram feed so that the users are more likely to engage via likes and comments. Instagram users that are actively interacting with brands are much more likely to convert to buyers than other Instagram users.

The key in Instagram marketing is in the engagement.

This, however, takes quite a bit of time and effort to do.

To help you get Instagram followers who will actually buy your product or service, follow this step-by-step guide:

The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Making Money on Instagram

Ready to make money with Instagram? Begin by following these steps to create an Instagram account that makes money:

1. Create a Killer Instagram Profile

Your Instagram account serves as a modern-day homepage, offering an immediate glimpse at what your brand is all about. It is within those first few moments that a user stumbles upon your Instagram account that they decide whether or not to follow your account.

And then, that’s it.

Luckily, the major business consulting firm McKinsey says that it is an accumulation of impressions and experiences that eventually lead to a purchase from your ideal customer. The key, however, is to make every impression count.

Starting with your Instagram bio.

Before you even begin implementing your best strategies for growing a following on Instagram and making cold, hard cash, you must first create an Instagram profile that people will want to stick around for.

So, how do you do that? Begin by focusing on these three areas:

Instagram Handle – Your handle should be as closely aligned with your brand as possible. For instance, if you have a flower shop in Portland, named Peppermint Plum, then your Instagram handle might be peppermintplumflowershop or peppermintplumflowers. With this handle, you not only list your business name but you also include a descriptive word that immediately tells your audience what your brand is all about.

Remember that people want as much information as possible and as quickly as possible. By including these key points in your Instagram handle, you are giving your audience exactly what they want.

Link in Bio – The link in your bio is perhaps the most important feature of your entire Instagram profile. It is the golden connection between your ideal customer’s smartphone and cash in your bank.

So, how do you utilize your bio link for maximum profits?

Remind your audience that it’s there, to begin with! Include simple and friendly CTAs (call-to-action) in the captions of your posts that remind your followers to check out your link. The easiest way to do that is to offer super valuable content in your Instagram feed and link to your bio for more information.

In continuing with the flower shop theme, Peppermint Plum might include a CTA in a post about flower arranging. The Instagram photo may be a high-quality picture of a beautiful flower arrangement and the caption might include a step-by-step guide for creating the perfect bouquet.

And what goes at the end of the caption?

link-in-bio Instagram

A CTA that tells your audience to click on the link in the bio for more killer details and tips on how to create the perfect bouquet.

When you provide valuable knowledge and design to your audience without pushing a sale, they are much more likely to actually click on the link in bio. Since this is traditionally the most difficult step in social media marketing, getting your followers to your webpage, it is worth it to take the time and use the link in bio properly.

Useful Description – Your Instagram bio is limited to only so many characters, so use them wisely.

A well-crafted Instagram bio should always include several things. First, use about a third of the characters to clearly define what it is that your audience can expect to see on your Instagram profile. Next, include a relevant CTA (like in the example above) that encourages your audience to head over to your webpage.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to throw in an appropriate emoji. People love emojis and simply respond to them more than to regular text. *insert shrugging emoji here*

2. Provide Quality Content That Your Audience Actually Wants to See (with the best tools for quality photos and videos)

Even if you totally optimize everything within your Instagram account, if your content is not of high-quality then you will get a lot more users scrolling past your account than following. The difficult task with high-quality content is that not everyone has the artistic eye for creating content.

Especially not people trying to successfully run a small business through their Instagram profiles.

Luckily, there are a lot of different paid and free tools for Instagram that can help you make beautiful content.

Canva is undoubtedly one of the best tools on the Internet for creating quality and engaging content. Their free version is pretty comprehensive and versatile with the option to purchase copyrighted photos, vector images, and designs for one dollar.

With their paid version, which is an affordable $12 a month, you can create GIFs and videos within the platform and use all of their premium photos and images as well.

Later is a great online tool for managing your curated content and providing easy opportunities for users to purchase your products. With their drag-and-drop feature, you can organize all of your content in a way that looks consistent with your theme and the most pleasing to your audience.

The best feature of Later is their option. This tool makes it super easy for users to shop your Instagram feed. This feature provides a landing page that is basically a snapshot of your Instagram feed but with the added benefit of including a direct link to your products from each image.

To spice things up every once in awhile, Boomerang offers an easy GIF-making experience. Simply record your short video and the app puts the video on a loop in a GIF format.

3. Use Hashtags to Get Followers

If you want to make money from your Instagram feed, then you need to get people to your feed. The easiest way to do that is with hashtags.

Hashtags are perhaps the best modern day marketing tool because it allows you to get your content right in front of people that are already likely to buy.

The best online tool for generating hashtags is Hashtagify. With Hashtagify, you can research your target keywords through a comprehensive hashtag analysis.

In the new beta version, not only can you develop a list of effective and relevant hashtags, but you can also analyze the audience that is currently using and interacting with those hashtags. It includes the ability to analyze the audience of influencers within your niche market.


Instagram analytics tools

This is especially helpful because it helps you more clearly define your target market, from what kinds of accounts they are engaging with, which days and times are best for posting, and which types of media are the most popular among your target market.

With this data, which is totally free, you can be sure that you are providing exactly what your target market desires. This is absolutely essential for any business that wants to make money no matter where they get new customers.

4. Don’t Forget Instagram Videos and Instagram Stories

Instagram videos are all the rage this year. Users prefer videos, businesses like sharing videos, and buyers are more likely to buy via video engagement.

Needless to say, it is imperative that your Instagram account include videos.

You do not need to be an artistic video editor to create quality videos, either.

Instead, snag a few behind-the-scenes videos around your workplace or day-to-day living. Pop these videos into a few video editing apps on your smartphone. Upload them to your Instagram feed and Instagram stories within minutes.

There are several free apps for Instagram videos that you can use, though the paid versions are always better. Many of the paid versions cost less than $5 so it’s definitely worth the investment.

Spark Post is a free app by Adobe that provides high-quality templates and features that can help you quickly create shareable GIFs. You can design an image that has the text slide in, fade out, etc. HypeType provides a similar feature by overlaying moving text on your images or videos, which is perfect for announcements or sales.

ImgPlay is a great video editing app that allows you to quickly trim the video. You can also change the speed, put certain sections in reverse, or put it on a loop for a Boomerang-like video (for those times when you don’t take a video through the Boomerang app).

InShot is a great tool to help your videos and images fit within the Instagram size parameters. Most of the time, videos don’t fit nicely into your little square space. With InShot, all of your videos fit everywhere.

Capture by TechSmith is an app that easily allows you to capture the screen of your smartphone, which can be a pretty helpful tool when you want to demonstrate something on your smartphone. Quick tutorials, user feedback, or quirky behind-the-scenes shots can be created with this app.

The most expensive, but also perhaps the most valuable, Instagram tool is Continual. With Continual, you can take any regular length video and splice it into 15-second segments, which is precisely the time limit in your Instagram stories. This allows you to upload your entire video in sequential order on your Instagram stories. This allows you to upload interviews, announcements, tutorials, or any other exciting videos to your Instagram stories.

5. Boost Instagram Posts to a New Audience

Because Facebook and Instagram are so closely integrated, it is easier than ever to place Instagram ads and boost your posts to your target audience.

You can clearly define the types of users you want to put your Instagram posts in front of based on behaviors, demographics, or interests.

As stated earlier, the easiest way to make money is to put your product in front of the people most likely to buy your product. The boost feature on Instagram allows you to do exactly that.

6. Engage Frequently

Just like boosted posts help increase your brand exposure on Instagram, so does frequent engagement with your niche market. Simply by liking, following, and commenting on other accounts, your account is more likely to get new followers pretty much immediately.

The more you engage, the more followers you get.

This happens for two reasons.

First, frequent engagement within your niche market simply helps nudge your target audience toward your account. Maybe they missed your boosted posts and they haven’t checked the hashtags pages.

Instead, they are happily scrolling through Instagram, totally unaware of your Instagram profile.

Until you show up and give their recent post a friendly ‘like.’ When they see your account on their notifications, they will likely click on your profile to see what you’re all about.

And if you targeted your engagement correctly, they will likely follow your account right away.

Second, by engaging within your niche market regularly, you establish yourself as an expert in the market.

This is for no legitimate reason other than the weird way in which our brains make sense of the world.

If users regularly see you engaging with the accounts that they follow and engage with, then they will trust that you must be knowledgeable on the topic.

And after a while, they’ll begin to trust your brand presence.

This social proof is an important, yet often forgotten, aspect of social media marketing.

This is exactly why we created Growr, to help you get Instagram followers fast through automated engagement. (For a free week of our services, click here: )

7. Post Regularly and Use CTAs

This may be the easiest task to remember as it is likely already within your Instagram plan (even if this is the only item within your plan!).

Some people will recommend posting several times each day while others may say that several times a week is fine.

And honestly, both are correct.

The idea is that you post consistently. Users want to know what they can expect from you. They want to see your content regularly. They also need to be reminded that your brand exists!

If you decide to post several times a day, then post several times a day every single day.

Or, if you decide to post three times a week, then pick three days a week to post and reliably post on those three days.

After a few months, you will have enough data within Instagram Insights to determine whether or not your posting strategy is effective.

To really capture your audience with each post, be sure to include effective CTAs. It can be as simple as saying “like if you agree” or as big as “click link in bio”. The idea is to encourage engagement, which will build a tight-knit and active community.

call-to-action Instagram

Think this is silly?

An average of about 25 percent of users who see your CTA will follow through on the action, significantly boosting your single post engagement rates immediately.

8. Network with Instagram Influencers for Influencer Marketing or Affiliate Marketing

Instagram is a bit crowded with over 800 million active monthly users on the platform. Understandably, any given user’s Instagram feed can become inundated with posts from a wide variety of low-quality Instagram accounts.

So how does the user know that yours is worth paying attention to?

Because someone they trust told them to.

Influencers are users that have a massive following that is engaged and curious. Now, these influencers are monetizing their accounts by selling their feed to brands by way of sponsored posts, shoutouts, and collaborative posts.

How to Select an Influencer According to Key Metrics

There is a little bit more to influencer campaigns than high follower counts. You want influencers that not only have a lot of followers, but they also have high-quality followers.

Which types of followers are high quality?

Followers that are engaged with the content by liking, commenting, and clicking on the links provided. These followers are, after all, the same followers that you want hanging around your Instagram feed.

Followers who are engaged are more likely to be engaged with your content, including by converting to buyers.

The easiest way to determine if an influencer has an engaged following is through a simple formula:

Instagram engagement rate

Average user engagement across all of Instagram hovers around 2.7 percent and some of the most engaged profiles are upwards of 17 percent.

While it is doubtful that your budget can afford an influencer with a 17 percent engagement rate (think along the lines of influencers like Kim Kardashian), you can at least aim for an influencer well above the average engagement rate.

An influencer with 25,000 followers and an engagement rate of 6 percent is a pretty reasonable profile to work with that are typically within an affordable price range.

The Best Tools for Connecting with Influencers

NinjaOutreach is the best and most comprehensive outreach tool that is well within an affordable price range.

NinjaOutreach influencer marketing

With NinjaOutreach, you can search for bloggers, journalists, and social media influencers within your target market. As a traditional CRM system, you can also organize your search results into lists for better organization during your outreach process.

BuzzSumo remains as the best tool for discovering viral content and influencers across all social media platforms. The free version allows you to browse content within your target niche, but it does very little to help you connect with influencers. The paid version offers CRM features like NinjaOutreach but for a pretty hefty price tag.

If you would like a little bit of help connecting with Instagram influencers, though, then a service such as TRIBE may suit you better.

influencer Instagram campaign

On TRIBE, you can post your outreach campaign to the platform, which serves as an open market for influencers.

Influencers can browse through all of the listed campaigns and select the ones that resonate with their audience the most.

Affiliate Marketing Through Instagram Shoutouts

For a quick and dirty shoutout experience, however, then check out ShoutCart or jumpfame.

Instagram influencer campaign

You can search through Instagram users that are selling their Instagram captions in the form of shoutouts.

The users are listed according to their niche and basic data (such as follower counts and engagement rates) are listed alongside their usernames so that you can choose the best influencer for you.

9. Provide a Digital Good for Right Now With Contests and Giveaways

Once you develop an Instagram strategy that increases your brand awareness and builds a legitimate following, it is time to bring your followers over to your website.

That is where they will make the final purchase, after all.

The easiest way to do that is to offer your audience something for free.

It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but it’s the truth. If you are able to provide a valuable product for free, then your target audience is more likely to head to your website to get the freebie.

You can easily do this with contests and giveaways, which allow you to collaborate with other Instagram influencers for greater reach.

A giveaway can be created in a number of ways, offering you ultimate flexibility in how you attract new buyers. Entries can range from liking a photo to entering an email address on your landing page.

This is an especially important step in your marketing strategy as it gives you the power to collect followers and potentially email addresses. These email addresses will provide you with direct access to your target audience’s inboxes for email marketing, which is the single most effective marketing strategy in 2018.

The whole point of social media marketing is to generate revenue and email marketing can be a crucial step in the process.

But if you really want to make an impact, offer something for free right now.

Create a downloadable, high-quality, and informative digital document that your followers would love to have. Put it up on your website and tell your followers that it is there waiting for them (using a combination of the techniques discussed above).

That’s it.

Your target audience is already interested in your niche market as well as your product or service, so it is safe to assume that a good chunk of your followers will happily head to your website for the free download.


By having this downloadable digital good ready and available during your contest or giveaway, you are strengthening your desirability in one sweeping motion.


Instagram has come a long way in the past decade, starting as a social sharing platform and evolving into a fast-paced marketing platform.

Though it can be a bit overwhelming at times, it is certainly worth the efforts.

With the guidelines outlined in this post, you can effectively turn your Instagram account into a money-making machine.

What are some of your favorite tools or tactics for Instagram marketing?