If working hard and making money is the American dream, not working hard and making money is the Instagram dream. But making serious income using social media requires some serious strategy. Whether you’re a creator or a business, you’ll find the most success making money on Instagram if you do your research.
Keep reading to get inspired by examples from creators and brands, and find tips for making money on Instagram that apply to everyone.
You can also grab the popcorn and watch this video from Hootsuite Labs.
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a fitness influencer used to grow from 0 to 600,000+ followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.
Can you make money on Instagram?
Hell yeah. In fact, helping creators make a living on the platform is a top priority for Instagram, especially as competition heats up from TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube.
“Our goal is to be the best platform for creators like you to make a living,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s first-ever Creator Week in June 2021.
In 2021, Instagram was the second-most downloaded app in the world. It’s the 7th most-visited website globally, the 4th most-used social media platform, and has 1.22 billion users every month. All of which is to say: that’s a massive potential audience. With an enormous and diverse pool of people who could potentially be exposed to your content, there’s plenty of opportunities to earn money.
(If you’re looking for more Instagram stats—you know, to rattle off at parties and impress your friends—you can find 35 of them here).
How much money can you make on Instagram?
Numbers are tricky, because creators and brands are notoriously private about how much money they’re making. On top of that, calculating income from Instagram is complicated—if you sing a song on a Reel, the sound goes viral and you get a record deal from that internet fame, then tens of thousands of people buy tickets to your concert, does that count as making money on Instagram? What if you post food videos, then provide a link to your recipe blog, and host ads on your blog that make you money?
It sounds bizarre, but that’s the way most successful creators’ journeys go. How much money you can make on Instagram depends on your credentials, audience size, engagement, strategy, hustle, and a dash of dumb luck.
Here’s how much some creators and celebs have reportedly cashed in:
$901: The average amount of money an Instagram influencer with 1,000 to 10,000 followers can make per post, according to Business Insider
$100 to $1,500: How much a creator can be paid for a swipe-up advertisement on their Instagram stories according Brian Hanly, CEO of Bullish Studio (a talent agency for influencers)
$983,100: The amount Kylie Jenner reportedly makes per ad or sponsored content post
$1,604,000: The amount Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly makes per post
In 2021, Hype Auditor surveyed almost 2 thousand influencers (most based in the U.S.) about how much money they make. Here’s what they found:
- The average influencer makes $2,970 per month. “Average” numbers aren’t the best to go by, since there’s so much differentiation between the highs and lows—as is referenced in the next stat!
- Micro-influencers (accounts with one thousand to ten thousand followers earn on average $1,420 per month, and mega-influencers (accounts with over one million followers) earn about $15,356 per month.
How to make money on Instagram as a creator
Even if you don’t have a “business” in the conventional sense, there’s lots of ways you can use Instagram to make money as an individual. With a solid following and clear niche, you have influence—and can be an influencer.
Partner with brands
Partnering with brands is likely the most well-known way that creators can make money on Instagram. Find a small or big brand that aligns with your values (that part is important—partnering with a brand that has nothing to do with your regular content, or even directly contradicts your regular content, will make you seem inauthentic).
Partnerships with brands can take many forms: you might be paid to make an Instagram post that features a specific product, or be offered free products in exchange for content. To get started, try making a few posts that feature some of your favourite things—restaurants, skincare, whatever feels true to you—for free. You can then point to those posts as examples when you’re reaching out to brands.
Lots of makeup and beauty influencers participate in these kinds of brand deals. Here’s an example of a paid partnership post from creator @mexicanbutjapanese for Nordstrom.
Hint: when you’re participating in a paid partnership or sponsored post, be transparent. Use hashtags, mark the post as sponsored, and be clear about the partnership in your captions. Not following Instagram’s branded content guidelines can result in posts being removed—plus, it’s sketchy.
Join an affiliate program
This is related to brand partnerships, as joining an affiliate program still requires you to connect yourself to a business that sells specific products or experiences. Affiliate programs essentially pay you to market other people’s products (so again, you want to make sure that the products you’re highlighting align with your values). If your followers buy something from the brand through you—usually using a specific link or discount code—you get paid.
This nail artist is an affiliate marketer for a nail polish brand—when followers use her discount code to buy the nail polish, the creator makes money.
Enable Live Badges
For creators in the U.S., Instagram’s Live Badges is a method of making money directly through the app. During a live video, viewers can purchase the badges (which cost between $0.99 and $4.99) to show their support.
To turn on Live Badges, go to your Profile and tap Professional Dashboard. Then, enable monetization. Once you’ve been approved, you’ll see a button called Set Up Badges. Tap that, and you’re good to go!
If you’ve enabled Live Badges, make sure to mention it when you go live (remind your followers that if they’d like to show their support with money, it’s easy to do so!) and express gratitude when someone purchases a badge. Saying thank you goes a long way, and will likely encourage other people to pitch in.
Sell your merch
Using Instagram as a marketing tool for your other revenue streams is a great strategy for moneymaking. If you’ve curated your personal brand enough to have a certain look, logo, catch phrase or anything else that’s recognizably you, consider selling merch that’s splashed with that extra sparkle (you’re brand). You can make money from sales—plus score some free advertising when your followers start walking around with your name on their sweatpants.
Drag queen extraordinaire Trixie Mattel sells branded merch, and uses Instagram as a platform to advertise
Link to your blog or vlog
Selling advertising space on your own website—or making money from Youtube—can be super lucrative, and you can use Instagram to direct your followers to that external site (hint: use a link tree to make the most of that link in your Instagram bio).
Here are some quick examples:
- Foodies who post pictures of food they’ve made and also have a blog where they post full recipes
- Youtubers who post highlights of their vlog on Reels, then provide a link to their Youtube channel for the full video
- Fashion influencers who post their outfits on Instagram and link to their website, where they share where the clothes came from
- Outdoor adventurers who post gorgeous landscapes and link to their blog where they detail the best road trip routes
Food blogger @tiffy.cooks posts videos of her making food on her blog, and links to in-depth recipes in her bio. The recipes live on her blog, which also hosts posts that contain affiliate links.
Offer paid tutorials or masterclasses
This is similar to linking to a blog or vlog, but instead of making income indirectly (through businesses advertising on your page or Youtube ads), your followers are directly paying you for a service you’re providing.
If you have a particular area of expertise, you could offer an online masterclass that requires a paid ticket. This method of moneymaking is common for fitness influencers, who may post short workouts for free and then link to a full training routine that you need to pay to access.
Film colourist @theqazman offers quick tips on Instagram, but also hosts ticketed masterclasses. This way, his content still appeals to a wide (non-paying) audience, but folks who are serious about learning the ropes will pay him for a full lesson.
You can also offer tutorials or masterclasses for free and simply ask followers to tip you if they have the means—that’s the method athlete @iamlshauntay uses. Her link in bio directs followers to ways they can pay her for her work if they’re able to. This is a good technique to use if you’re looking for maximum accessibility: there’s no financial barrier to your content, but there’s still a clear way for your audience to pay you if they want to.
How to make money on Instagram as a business
Being present, active and engaging on Instagram (and keeping up with trends) is one of the best ways to find business success on the platform in 2022. Here’s how to do it.
Promote special offers
The online audience is a sucker for a good deal (and Instagram users love to buy stuff: 44% of Instagrammers say they use the app to shop weekly).
Use Instagram to showcase all the great things about your company—specifically, anytime you’re having a sale. Not only does posting your sale, promo code, or special offer on Instagram advertise to your followers, it also makes the information easily shareable.
This holiday sale post from clothing brand @smashtess has lots of comments that are just people tagging their friends. It’s an awesome way to promote the sale and also have the sale shared organically.
Set up countdowns to new launches
You can use Instagram to give your followers a sneak peek of new releases, launches or product lines—and using the “Countdown” or “Reminder” functions, you can provide potential customers with a simple way to flag when those new products will be available for sale. This creates some hype around your offer, and once the release happens, users get a notification reminding them to check out the goods (and, hopefully, check out the goods).
Denim brand @decade_studio released a short video on Instagram to promote the launch of their latest collection.
Set up an Instagram Shop
Instagram Shops are a direct method of making money off of the app. Users can buy products using the platform’s native e-commerce tools, and it’s easy to set up a shop.
Instagram shops are an impulse buyer’s best friend (or worst nightmare, depending on how you look at it). Your shoppable products or services will show up in your followers’ news feeds, along with regular posts.
Hosting an Instagram shop is also a great way to provide quick customer service to folks who use social media (basically everyone—75% of the global population over the age of 13). Customers can DM you or comment on posts to learn more about your brand. (Hint: if you’re feeling overwhelmed in your DMs, consider using a chatbot to support your customer service team.)
When you post something with a buyable item, the little shop icon will appear on the post, letting viewers know that it’s available for purchase.
Home goods store @the.modern.shop uses shoppable tags in many of their posts.
Partner with creators
Influencer marketing allows you to share your company with the creator’s audience (and the creator also gets a spotlight for your audience—it’s a win-win).
When you’re researching folks to collaborate with, make sure you pay attention to their content and values: you want to pick someone who has goals that align with your own, so the partnership makes sense to customers and doesn’t seem like some oddball marketing scheme.
For example, it makes sense for a plant-based bakery to partner with a vegan influencer (more sense than Bill Nye partnering with Coca-Cola, that’s for sure).
Try to collaborate with creators who would be likely to try and/or like your products, anyway—for example, dancer @maddieziegler has long had a partnership with activewear brand @fabletics. You can offer the creator money, goods, or an affiliate deal (more info on that in the “Join an affiliate program” section of this post, just above!) in exchange for posting about your company.
Partner with other businesses
Like partnering with creators, partnerships with other businesses gives folks on both sides of the deal an opportunity to interact with a wider consumer base. Try contacting other businesses like yours and hosting a contest or giveaway—it’s an excellent way to gain followers and to key in to a new audience.
This giveaway from @chosenfoods and @barebonesbroth requires entrants to like and save the post, follow both companies and tag a friend in the comments. Both brands are building their audience—followers just waiting to be converted into consumers.
Straight up advertise
Hey, the basics still work. Advertising on Instagram is one of the ways you can make money on the platform and actually track your progress. You can turn any post into an ad by boosting it, and your Instagram analytics will tell you how much of a difference the boost made.
Make money on Instagram using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can schedule and publish posts directly to Instagram, engage your audience, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.
Easily create, analyze, and schedule Instagram posts and Stories with Hootsuite. Save time and get results.