5 Ways to Make Money with Instagram

Make Content. Get Money.

Instagram… ever heard of it?

It’s a magical platform that can be used for a variety of different things, like sharing moments with your family + friends, keeping up with your favorite celebrities + brands, and even spying on your exes.

From its humble beginnings in 2010 as a simple photo sharing app, Instagram has experienced quite the glow up-- transitioning from just another time-wasting social media platform into a full- blown money-making machine for both businesses + individuals.

But you might be asking yourself, exactly how do people use Instagram to make money?

Oh, let me count the ways…

If you’re ready to stop insta-stalking on that boy who never called you back + start putting cold hard cash in the bank (#revenge) here are 5 ways that you can use Instagram to make that money.

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Affiliate Programs

An affiliate is someone who gets paid a commission whenever they refer a sale to another business or website. Most affiliate programs will pay you a percentage of every sale you refer, and those commissions can really add up!

You don’t have to be an “influencer” or have a hundreds of thousands of followers to benefit from affiliate programs. All you really need is an engaged audience (as in, they need to be paying attention to you) + the right products or affiliate offers to put in front of them (as in, things they’d actually want or need).

Think about it-- I’m sure there are things you’ve casually recommended to friends, family members, and even random strangers over the years--  wouldn’t it be nice to make a bit of extra cash for sending a sale someone’s way? Some of the most popular affiliate programs, like Amazon or Target, require a simple sign up, then you’re free to share your links wherever you choose.

You can use your Instagram posts, as well as your Instagram Stories + Highlights to share recommendations, reviews, and product roundups. If someone comes across your post + ends up making a purchase through your affiliate link, cha-ching! Everybody wins.

I learned so much about affiliate programs + how to make more affiliate income by taking this course. (And yes, this is an affiliate link, so if you sign up-- I will make a commission.) See how fun + simple this is?!

Sell Sponsored Posts

If you’ve spent some time growing an engaged following, you can use that as leverage to sell sponsored posts to brands. Think of your sponsored posts as mini billboards. You’ve already done the work by using your content to build a targeted audience, so now you’ve got something extremely valuable to any business-- attention.

You can “rent” your billboard space out to brands who’d like to put their products or services in front of your followers’ eyeballs. In order to do this, you need to create a media kit + a rate card, which outlines your pricing for sponsored posts.

When deciding on how much to charge for posts, consider how much time it will take to create the content (if the brand isn’t providing it) as well as the time it will take to schedule, post, monitor the comments, and report the results. You should also consider the value you’re providing-- how will this exposure positively impact the biz that’s sponsoring?

Once you’ve got your rates + your media kit, you can start pitching your offerings to brands you think your audience would enjoy! Dolla-dolla bill. y’all.

Sell a Physical or Digital Product

Instagram has made the selling process so much easier over the years + with its Shopify integration, followers can literally purchase your products directly from an Instagram post!

If you’ve got a business that sells physical products, you can link up your store to your Facebook business page, which will enable you to tag the products in your photos on Instagram. When followers click on the products in your image, they can easily see the price + choose to make their way to your website to purchase.

If you don’t sell physical products, you can still create + sell digital products-- like ebooks, worksheets, courses, and other downloadable content. Of course, once you have a digital offering, you can use your Instagram account to promote it.

When you post content to share your digital product, ensure you add a CTA (call to action) into your caption to click through the link in your bio to shop.

By using Linkin.bio from Later, or a platform like Linktree or Linkinprofile, you can add the direct URL for your digital products into each of your posts. This will ensure that your followers can click through the link in your bio + easily find and purchase your offerings.

Paid Shout Outs

Similar to sponsored posts, selling Instagram features or shout outs is a great way to make extra cash while giving more visibility to others in your community. You can charge followers a fee for a specific feature on your Instagram feed or within your Instagram Stories.

If you have an audience that others would like to get in front of, this is a great way to leverage that, while sharing the talents of others at the same time. Plus, it provides you with even more valuable content, and who doesn’t love that?!

For example, if you’ve built up a community of people interested in yoga, you could offer paid shout outs to yoga instructors, nutrition coaches + others in the holistic / wellness space. This gives them a chance to be seen in front a targeted demographic— who could potentially become their clients or customers.

To do this, create a simple form to gather the information you’ll need for the shout out, remember to ask for things like an image + a bio. Then, collect your payment + schedule the post into your feed.

Tip: Limit the number of shout outs that you offer each month. This creates urgency for others to buy + will also ensure that your followers don’t get annoyed with too many sponsored posts. You want to make money, but you don’t want to be seen as inauthentic + spammy, amiright?!  

Social Media Side-Hustle or Become a Social Media Manager

If you’re really great at Instagram + understand how to leverage the platform to grow a brand, you can offer your skills as a freelance social media manager, or start a side hustle.

Many smaller brands only need help with specific tasks, like creating or curating content, writing sales copy + captions, or doing community management. Picking up a few accounts that you can offer these a’la carte services to on a monthly basis will allow you to earn extra cash, while helping small businesses get seen!

If you’re super passionate + knowledgeable about social media marketing / marketing in general (like we are!) you could even start your own social media agency + offer a full range of services to larger businesses with bigger marketing budgets.

Of course, Instagram is always changing, so part of your job will be to ensure that you stay on top of the latest updates in order to deliver consistent results to your clients. Here at Small Talk Social, we’re never bored-- we’re always learning + trying new things, and we’re constantly updating our strategies + problem solving for the brands we work with!

So, there you have it. 5 really great ways to make money with Instagram.

While it’s totally possible to put money in the bank with the platform, creating an engaging feed that offers value, inspiration, or entertainment to your followers is a key component to being successful on Instagram.

You should always lead with value, then make sure your offers are aligned + authentic!

Have questions about selling on Instagram? Or have you had success making money with Instagram using a method we didn’t cover here?

Let us know below in the comments…