How to Make Money as an Instagram Influencer

What exactly does an Instagram Influencer do?

Making Money on Instagram - iPhone with gold dollar signs
Making Money on Instagram - iPhone with gold dollar signs. Donald Iain Smith / Blend Images

With more and more Instagram users turning their hobby into a profitable business, it's clear that the age of the Instagram influencer has well and truly arrived. To the uninitiated, the business of being a social media influencer can appear strange and even surreal but in reality it's very much a legitimate source of income and for many users a full-time career. Here's what you need to know about what an Instagram influencer actually is and how to become one yourself.

What is an Instagram Influencer?

A social media influencer is essentially someone who influences others to partake in an activity or purchase a product through the creation of a post they posted on a popular social media network such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Google Plus, etc. An influencer is often considered to be someone with a high number of followers or subscribers that also has a high ratio of interaction, or influence, among their fans.

An account with a million followers that averages only a few likes or comments per post wouldn't be considered an influencer for example. However, another account with only a few thousand followers which receives a few hundred likes or comments per post could very well be considered an influencer as their followers are seen to respect their opinion and support whatever content they create. In short, they're engaged.

An Instagram influencer is simply a social media influencer who uses Instagram to influence their followers. They will often also be an influencer on other networks as well though. An Instagram influencer doesn't necessarily have to post paid promotional content to be considered an influencer though more and more are doing so as a way to support their social media hobby or even transition into being an influencer on a full-time professional basis.  

What are Paid or Sponsored Posts?

Due to the reach that many Instagram influencers have with their audience, more and more companies are choosing to invest time and money into paying Instagram influencers to promote their products or services. Doing so can often be more effective than traditional advertising, especially when trying to target younger demographics which may not consume as much television or print magazines as previous generations.

At least one report has stated that marketing firms are seeing an average return on investment (ROI) of around $6.85 per dollar spent on influencer-related marketing while a 2017 study has predicted that the money spent on Instagram influencer campaigns could grow from $1.07billion in 2017 to $2.38billion in 2019.

An influencer marketing campaign on Instagram could consist of a single paid post on an influencer's account but can also include a series of posts and/or Instagram Stories, written reviews and endorsements, videos, live video broadcasts, or the influencer taking control of the brand's official Instagram account to drive followers, interaction, or create a sense of authenticity with the account's audience.

How Much Money do Instagram Influencers Make?

The amount earned for posting a brand's paid post can vary greatly depending on a range of factors such as how many followers the influencer has, the amount of effort required, the brand's marketing budget, and how many other influencers are being hired to share similar content.

Instagram influencers can get paid anywhere from five dollars to $10,000 (sometimes even higher!) per campaign and there really is no industry standard as of yet. Many influencer agents and services will often have a recommended price range based on an account's follower number but again, this will vary and there is no set amount.

How to Become a Paid Instagram Influencer

For those with a solid following on their Instagram accounts, becoming an influencer can be surprisingly simple and a lot less intimidating than most would assume. Here are the three main methods most use for getting started:

  1. Get an Agent: This is the higher end option for getting paid Instagram influencer gigs and is mostly used by those with either a lot of followers or who are already a practicing professional model or artist. In addition to helping their client land the usual jobs in their chosen industry, the agent will also reach out to companies and inquire about potential social media advertising campaigns. This method is essentially the same as trying to be cast in a TV commercial and is naturally limited to a select demographic of Instagram users (i.e. models and actors).
  2. Negotiate Directly: If an Instagram account is showing high engagement in a niche topic (such as travel, beauty, gaming, etc) companies will often reach out to the account owner directly with a proposal through an email or a direct message (DM) through the Instagram app. This is actually more common than most people think so it's always a good idea to activate notifications for Instagram app DMs so as to not miss out on an opportunity.
  1. Third-Party Apps and Services: By far the most popular way to get started as an Instagram influencer is to try one of the many free services which are designed to connect influencers to brands. These services usually take care of all of the payment processing and legalities and will even offer tips and advice to new influencers who may be unsure how to negotiate details or format a post correctly. One of the best services to check out is TRIBE which is free to join and has quickly become one of the most popular ways for influencers and marketers to connect after launching in Australia in late-2015 and expanding globally in 2016. TRIBE is managed entirely through their iOS and Android apps and updates almost daily with promotional campaigns featuring a variety of products in different regions. Brands can provide direct feedback to users through the app and payments are made either through a bank transfer for PayPal. There are similar apps which offer the same service but TRIBE is the best place to get started and is the easiest to use.