How to Make Money as an Instagram Influencer

Try these tips to make money as an Instagram influencer

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

Savvy Instagram users can turn their hobby into a profitable business, and it's clear the time of the Instagram influencer has arrived. The business of being a social media influencer may seem strange, but it's very much a legitimate source of income, and for many users, it's become a full-time career. Here's what you need to know about Instagram influencers and how to become one yourself.

What It Takes to Be an Influencer

A social media influencer is essentially someone who can prompt others to participate in an activity or purchase a product by creating and publishing content on a popular social media network such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Google Plus, and others. An influencer has a high number of followers or subscribers and a high ratio of regular interaction and engagement with their fans.

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

Instagram's Influencer Appeal

Instagram influencers tend to have high engagement with their audience, and companies are choosing to invest in Instagram influencers to promote their products or services. This can often be more effective than traditional advertising, especially when targeting young demographics that may not consume as much traditional media, such as television or print magazines, as previous generations.

A 2015 report found that marketing firms saw an average return on investment (ROI) of around $6.85 per dollar spent on influencer-related marketing, while a 2017 study predicted that the money spent on Instagram influencer campaigns could grow from $1.07 billion in 2017 to $2.38 billion in 2019.

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

What Instagram Influencers Get Paid

The amount earned for posting a brand's paid post varies 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 be paid anywhere from $5 to $10,000 or more per campaign, and there is no established industry standard as yet. Many influencer agents and services often have a recommended price range based on an account's follower number but it varies, and there is no set amount.

Becoming a Paid Instagram Influencer

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

  • Get an Agent: This is the high-end option for influencer gigs and is mostly used by individuals with either a lot of followers or who are already practicing professional models or artists. The agent helps their influencer client land the usual jobs in their chosen industry and reaches out to companies to inquire about potential social media advertising campaigns on their client's behalf.
  • Negotiate Directly: If an Instagram account is showing high engagement in a niche topic such as travel, beauty, or gaming, companies often reach out to the account owner directly with a proposal by email or direct message (DM) on Instagram. This is more common than most people think, so it's always a good idea to activate notifications for Instagram DMs. You don't want to miss out on an opportunity.
  • 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 that are designed to connect influencers to brands. These services usually take care of all of the payment processing and legalities, and they 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. TRIBE launched in Australia in late 2015 and is managed entirely through its iOS and Android apps. It updates almost daily its lists of 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 or PayPal. Similar apps offer the same service, and most of them are easy to use.