Instagram Monetization: How to Monetize Instagram
Instagram currently has more than 1 billion monthly users and has become the social media platform of choice for mega-influencers such as Cristiano Ronaldo, who has some 450 million followers, and members of the Kardashian clan, who collectively have more than 1.2 billion Instagram followers.
One thing that draws these globally recognised celebrities to the platform is the array of Instagram monetization options. But you don’t need hundreds of millions of followers to make money on Instagram. In this guide, we’re going to break down the process of monetizing your Instagram account.
What is Instagram Monetization?
In 2021, the influencer market reached a global value of nearly £11 billion. What many of the most successful influencers have in common is a robust Instagram presence. The mega-influencers are drawn to the platform for its many and varied monetization options, and you should be too. Those monetization options include sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, live workshops, webinars, online courses, coaching and much more. We’ll look at some of those monetization options in a bit, but first, let’s look at the Instagram monetization requirements.
Criteria for Monetizing Instagram
Unlike some other social media platforms, Instagram is known for taking a laid back approach to monetization. It doesn’t erect a series of hurdles for you to jump over or continually place roadblocks in the way of optimising your earning potential. However, it does have some rules and there are some steps you will need to take in order to get more from your Instagram monetization efforts.
Prohibited Behaviours to Avoid
Instagram has very specific guidelines regarding what can be displayed on their platform. You cannot post content that includes:
- Copyrighted material posted without the permission of the copyright holder. Repeatedly violating this rule could get you banned.
- Pornographic images or images of general nudity. There are a couple of exceptions. For instance, photos of women breastfeeding are acceptable as is nudity in some artworks.
- Photos or videos promoting or glorifying self-abuse. That means no masochistic imagery or imagery promoting things like eating disorders, unless it is used to raise awareness.
- Still or moving images of graphic violence are allowed. The only exception might be if the imagery is related to a newsworthy event and is used to inform or educate.
- Video content or other images promoting or celebrating terrorism or terrorist events. No imagery promoting or celebrating hate groups, no selling firearms or drugs and no spam.
- Imagery that contains threats or bullying. No imagery that seeks to demean someone for their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, sex, religion, disability, illness or national origin.
Steps You Need to Take
Here are some steps you should take before you start monetizing your Instagram account.
Be an expert in your field
99.99% of Instagram members are not famous before they come to the platform. Therefore, they need to have something of value besides celebrity to offer potential followers. The best way to ensure you will be one of those who successfully monetizes their Instagram account is to possess some type of expertise. It could be in just about anything: furniture building, cosmetics, travel, art, music or a thousand other things.
Be a consistent content creator
Followers equate to money. Active followers equate to more money. The best way to gain followers and keep them active is to post new content on a consistent basis. For some people, this might mean posting once a week. But if you really want to ramp up the engagement rate, you’ll probably need to do better than that. The Head of Instagram (yes, that’s his official title), Adam Mosseri said recently that in order to optimize your chances of building a following you should post 2 feed posts per week, along with 2 Instagram Stories per day. Who are we to argue with him?
Leverage the right hashtags
When you add hashtags to your posts they trigger different Instagram algorithms and increase the chances that your content will be discovered. Sometimes the right hashtags are obvious. For example, if you specialise in vegan cuisine, relevant hashtags would include #vegan, #natural, #vegetarian and so forth. But sometimes finding the right hashtags is not so straightforward. In those cases, you can utilise one of the many hashtag generation tools available on the internet, like this one.
Optimize your bio
Your Instagram bio is your business card, your display window, your CV and more all wrapped up into one compact, easy-to-digest digital format. Few other things will be as influential in determining if first-time visitors take the time to explore, like and share your content, and follow you. Make sure your bio gets to the point and…
- Explains in a few words who you are.
- Provides links to your website, Facebook page and other outside platforms where you are represented.
- Targets your desired audience with specific keywords.
- Includes your brand’s hashtag.
- Includes the right profile picture. For a business, that’s a logo. For an individual, that’s a headshot.
- Provides ways people can get in touch with you.
Build a community of fans
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to try to monetize an Instagram account until you have a significant number of followers. To get those followers you will need to adhere to the other steps we discussed above, including frequent posting, possessing expertise and more.
8 Ways to Monetize Your Instagram
Instagram has proven an effective platform for professionals with something to teach or promote. We’ve pulled together 8 proven ways to help you monetize your Instagram:
1: Host webinars and online events
There are hundreds of millions of smart, motivated, young (and not so young) professionals on Instagram, making it an ideal platform for finding an audience for your webinar. But you shouldn’t just dive into a webinar on Instagram without laying the groundwork first. If you do, you’re likely to be the only one participating. So in the lead up to your planned webinar, make sure you implement the following steps:
Optimize your bio
You’ll hear us talk about the importance of the bio at various times in this article because it’s incredibly important. The bottom line is that you only have a few seconds to impress someone with your bio before you reel them in or lose them. So make sure the bio says exactly who you are, what you do and, most importantly, HOW YOU CAN HELP THEM. And make sure you include a smart-but-friendly photo.
Work that post
The image you use for the post announcing your webinar should be engaging. If you don’t have an image of your own that rocks, Instagram has a huge library of professional-looking fully optimized images you can use. You can use a free program like Canva to add a title and other information. Also, make sure your caption covers all the essentials in a succinct manner including: what the webinar is about, the main benefit to participants, and how to sign up. Oh, and don’t forget a webinar-specific hashtag.
Use Instagram Reels
This is a fairly new Instagram feature designed as a response to the social media earthquake that was TikTok. Reels enable you to create and post short video clips, but you can also use it to create movie-style trailers for your webinar. Reels runtimes have recently been increased to a maximum of 90 seconds so make the most of it. At a minimum, include the title of the webinar, the topic, a few reasons the viewer should attend (the value proposition), and the date.
Use Instagram Stories
Stories are short clips with a shelf life of 24 hours. Stories have proven a big hit with Instagram influencers who use them to give their followers updates on their daily life. But you can use them to tease your upcoming webinar with the topic, benefits and date. If you have some client testimonials from previous webinars, include 1 or 2 of them as well.
Hone your presentation
With so many users, Instagram is incredibly competitive. Therefore, it’s vital that your video is not simply you sitting in a dimly lit room with old Kiss posters on the wall behind you. Set an attractive stage and make sure you are the right distance from the camera and that lighting and sound are spot-on.
2: Offer coaching
One of the most common ways of obtaining coaching leads these days is to start a blog, invest in some very expensive SEO and hope the world beats a path to your digital door. A better way is to use Instagram. All you have to do is post a few short instructional videos and use captions to tout your expertise and to tease full courses.
Leveraging Instagram in this manner is a great way to not only enhance your public profile but to generate leads and reel in new clients. Just make sure to link to the course in your bio, and by all means, make sure you respond to people who leave comments. That kind of personal engagement is key to building a community of followers.
3: Leverage affiliate marketing
In 2021, Instagram significantly increased monetization possibilities by eliminating the requirement that you have 10,000 followers to be able to use Stories, and by introducing the Instagram Affiliate feature.
Affiliate marketing has been a monetization mainstay of the internet for years. It’s a simple concept: you earn a commission every time you direct someone to an online retailer and they buy something. Since introducing affiliate marketing to Instagram, millions of people worldwide have started earning money by adding affiliate links to their Stories, Reels and captions. The only requirement is that you inform your audience that the links are affiliate links.
The Instagram Affiliate program recently graduated from the testing stage to the operative stage and is now available to all creators. You can add links to Amazon or other affiliate programmes you are aligned with, but Instagram hopes to create their own internal affiliate network wherein you find products inside the Instagram app, share links and earn commissions.
To be eligible to join Instagram Affiliates you will need to:
- Agree to comply with all Instagram content guidelines.
- Agree to adhere to all Instagram monetization policies.
- Be upfront with your audience about the presence of affiliate links.
While Instagram Affiliate will automatically include an “Eligible for Commission” label it’s nonetheless suggested you also add a note such as “I earn a commission on any sales made through this link”.
4: Create an online course
If you have developed your own online course, Instagram is a great place to promote it. Creating high-quality Instagram posts that outline the course’s benefits, provide a snapshot of what is being taught, tout your expertise and more is a sure way to spread the word and produce conversions. If your courses are being offered through a custom app, you can provide a link for people to download the app as well. And don’t forget you can use Instagram Ads to bolster your visibility and reach exponentially more potential clients. Instagram Ads are a proven way to:
- Drive traffic to your online course.
- Enhance your personal and professional profile.
- Increase both your number of Instagram followers and those buying into your courses.
5: Offer consulting services
Instagram is a surprisingly effective platform for promoting your consulting services. With nearly a billion regular users in the coveted 18-34 age range, many of whom are in the early stages of launching their careers, you are going to find a ready audience – if you know how to reach them. To that end, here are some ways you can leverage Instagram to gain new clients for your consulting business.
Switch to a business account
If you haven’t already switched to a business account, do that now. With a business account, you’ll gain access to advanced features including auto-publishing and advanced insights including reach, impressions, profile visits and more.
Take advantage of Instagram Ads
Because Instagram and Facebook are owned by the same company you get automatic access to Facebook Ads Manager with an Instagram business account. You have 2 ways of running ads on Instagram: promote an existing post or use Reel Ads. You’ll want to remarket to people who have already shown an interest in your video content and you can find them by using the “Custom Audience” feature in Facebook Ads Manager.
Use Instagram polls
This is a great way to gauge the readiness of your audience to engage with your services, as well as to fine-tune your services based on the feedback you get from the polls.
This is a step up from the poll but, unlike a poll, each question in your quiz can only have 1 right answer. Use them to float ideas, gain insight and hone your delivery.
Be sure to create a client funnel that is optimized for mobile
There are limits on what can be done with Instagram on the desktop. It’s really intended to be a mobile platform and you need to assume that people viewing your Instagram are doing so on mobile. Therefore, any other resources you link out to need to be optimized for mobile. No exceptions.
6: Combine the above in an online community platform
We mentioned that Instagram can be used to drive awareness of your coaching app, but that’s not all. With a white label community app, like we offer at Disciple, you can create an integrated social media community that grows and replenishes itself, with members moving back and forth between your app, your Instagram account, your website, affiliate partners, other social media accounts and more. Before you know it you’ll have a self-sustaining ecosystem that draws in new members, customers and clients without you having to break a sweat.
7: Sponsored Posts
In most cases, this is what people think of when they think of monetizing Instagram. And for good reason. Mega-influencers have been using Instagram for several years now to promote products and have been raking in astonishing amounts of cash in the process. Since you are not a mega-influencer (yet) you will need to approach brands yourself and convince them of the wisdom of allowing you to promote their product.
If you have enough followers (having 6,000 – 10,000 followers typically qualifies you as being a “micro-influencer”) chances are good you will find a brand to align themselves with you. Your job then will be to work with them to devise promotional posts that promote the product in a sophisticated and appropriate way that doesn’t seem too much like a standard hard-sell TV ad.
8: Product placement in your content
A sponsored post is when you introduce and talk up a specific product. Product placement, on the other hand, is a kind of subliminal advertising.
With product placement, you might create an Instagram post that seems on the surface to be about something that’s going on in your life at the moment, such as planning a party. The shot, however, is composed in a way that a product you are being paid to promote is visible in the background. You don’t ever mention it or engage with it in any way. Yet, there it is. The subtle message being you approve of that product.
Films have been using product placement for decades. Often a significant chunk of a film’s budget can come from brands paying to have their products placed at various points throughout the film. It’s a great way to monetize Instagram, and if you have enough followers there are plenty of companies out there that will be willing to work with you. Just a few things to keep in mind:
- Until you get famous enough that brands come to you, you will have to conduct research on which brands might be a good match for you and then approach them.
- Any products placed in your Instagram posts should dovetail effortlessly with your personal image and the type of lifestyle you promote.
- You may need to do a mockup demonstrating how you propose to present the product, but in all likelihood, the brand’s marketing department will have very specific ideas about how and where the product should be placed.
Other Ways to Monetize Instagram: Honourable Mentions
In an effort to prevent creators from migrating to the competition, Meta (the owners of Instagram and Facebook) offer creators a couple of other ways to earn extra money:
Instagram Reels monetization
Here’s just a few ways to monetize Instagram Reels:
- Create sponsored content
- Get paid to give shoutouts to other Instagram accounts
- Utilise Instagram Reels Shopping
- Promote your freelance services
- Drive traffic to your monetized YouTube channel
It’s also worth noting that the Reel Summer Bonus rewards the most popular Instagram Reels with cash.
The Live Video badge bonus
This bonus rewards creators for going live with video badges. Bonuses start at £100 and progress to £500. Who is eligible for these bonuses? Instagram isn’t saying other than to state that the programme is currently by invitation only. However, you can bet that your number of followers and the level of engagement of those followers will have a lot to do with whether you get an invitation.
How to Monetise Instagram FAQs
How many followers do you need to make money on Instagram?
Unlike with YouTube, there is no minimum number of followers you need to have before you can monetize your Instagram account. That said, it does not make a lot of sense to try and monetize an Instagram account if you have 37 or 110 or even 500 followers. Most experts suggest that you first work to build your brand and establish your reputation, and then worry about monetizing later on. If you try to make money from Instagram too soon you’re likely to get discouraged and give up.
How many followers do you need on Instagram to get a blue tick?
There is no set number of followers required to earn a blue tick (also known as a “blue badge”) on Instagram, but according to the company your account “must represent a well-known, highly searched-for person, brand or entity”. The blue tick is not an endorsement. It simply means that Instagram has verified that yours is the official account for that person, brand or entity. If you believe your account meets that criteria then applying for a blue tick is simple:
- Sign in to your account and tap the hamburger icon in the top right.
- Then tap “settings”.
- Then tap “account”.
- You will see a button that says “Request Verification”, tap it.
- That will open up an application form.
- Fill in all required fields in the application form.
- Attach a photo of an official government-issued ID, such as a passport.
- For businesses, a utility bill or tax statement will do.
- Once the form is complete, tap “Send”.
Once you send the information it will typically take about 30 days for Instagram to verify your account.
Who is the highest-paid Instagrammer?
The amount of money mega-influencers make on Instagram is, frankly, hard to believe. But believe it we must because it’s true. The top-earning Instagram star for the second year running is Cristiano Ronaldo who makes a staggering £1.3 million per sponsored post. In 2nd place is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who “only” makes £1.2 million per sponsored post. The 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th positions are occupied by singer Ariana Grande, reality star Kylie Jenner, singer Selena Gomez and Kim Kardashian who each make approximately £1.1 million per sponsored post.
How can Disciple’s platform help me make money from my Instagram followers?
A Disciple app can help you build a community from the ground up that you can direct toward your Instagram account when you are ready to open one. If you’re starting from zero trying to build a following solely on Instagram, it can be quite the slog. But if you take a slightly different tack and create a branded app using Disciple’s white label software first, your odds of hitting the ground running on Instagram are much better. Over time, your branded community app will continue to feed new visitors to your Instagram account, and vice versa.
The secret to Instagram monetization is preparation. Don’t come to the platform ice cold with no followers and no plan. Instead, ensure you have something of value to offer people, have a content creation schedule you can stick to, optimize your bio to optimize engagement and be patient. But before you even open an Instagram account, use a community app from Disciple to create a groundswell of interest and build a community that you can then bring with you when you ultimately make the move to Instagram.