With more than 800 million users, Instagram is an increasingly popular social media network, where some people are earning a full-time income. Traditionally, there are five business models you can use to generate income. While you can’t expect to become an overnight sensation, with enough time and effort, you could earn a pretty penny from the platform.

Method One: Sponsored Posts

When you’ve got highly engaged Instagram followers and have reached influencer status, you can work with brands and publishers, earning money on sponsored posts. You don’t have to have a massive audience, because it’s not so much the size of the following you have, but how engaged they are that makes the real difference for brands.

Top influencers can earn thousands of dollars for each post. It will take time and effort to reach that level, but that doesn’t mean you can’t earn a little here and there from smaller campaigns while you focus on growing your following.

Brands partner with influencers for sponsored posts to help get the word out about their products and services. As an influencer, you’ll have to handle a lot of things at once, not just the size and reach of your account, but the trust and engagement of your audience, based on the content you build. If you post sponsored content too much, it can be a turn off for your followers, so make sure you’re creating a lot of non-sponsored content, too – and keeping the sponsored content you do share in line with the kind of things you’re already sharing.

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In other words, if you’re sharing makeup and fashion content, don’t take a sponsored content gig featuring sports equipment just for the cash. It won’t do the brand any good, it’ll turn away your audience, and damage your credibility as an influencer.

Generally, you’ll create an Instagram post or story, or series of posts. These will include the promotion of the brand or their products, and that’s why it’s important to know your audience. This way you know which sponsored posts will go over well with your audience. If you’ve switched to a business account, you’ll be able to see more numbers and details of engagement in the Instagram Analytics report.

You’re in complete control of your rates, but you may or may not be able to land the gig based on what a brand is willing to pay. Once you’ve reached a certain status, you may find brands will approach you for partnerships. Until then, there are a number of agencies and influencer marketing platforms you can sign up to be part of and be notified when a campaign that matches your profile is available.

Make Your Instagram Shoppable: Four Different Approaches 

Sell Your Own Products: Are you a crafter or entrepreneur who has their own physical products to sell? You can use Instagram to do it! Under this model, you’d have a small inventory of products you keep in an area of your home (or in a storage facility nearby) and then ship them directly to customers when they place an order. 

Sell Affiliate Products: If you don’t like the idea of creating your own products for sale, you can sign up to become an affiliate for other people’s products and make a cut of the sale when someone buys through your link. The difference between an affiliate and an influencer is the affiliate is working to make says for the brand in exchange for a commission. The influencer is mainly working to create brand awareness.

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The key is engaging posts that allow you to promote products without being too pushy. Since you can only have one link on your bio, you may just want to change that link to a landing page with your affiliate link. Then, in each post, you can include a caption that you can purchase the product in the bio link.

Sell Drop Shipped Products: If you want to sell a variety of physical products but you don’t create them yourself, and you don’t want to keep an inventory of them taking up space in your garage, then drop shipping is the way to go. Under this business model, you pay a fee to a company to pull the product from their warehouse and ship it directly to the customer for you, as if you had handled it all yourself. You can easily do this with a platform like Shopify.

Sell Your Photography or Other Visual Products: Are you an artist? A painter? You can sell nearly any kind of your own visual content on Instagram. You can sell posters or prints of your photos, paintings, animations, drawings, videos, or other virtual products. On each post, you can refer readers to visit the link in your bio or use any number of services to create a shoppable Instagram. You can use Instagram to promote your photography portfolio with relevant hashtags. You may even find local people who want to hire you to photograph their events.

Before you start trying to make money on Instagram, focus on posting quality content that’s in line with the kind of influencer gigs you want to land, or the products you want to sell. You need a solid base of good content to attract likes, and you need followers before you can expect to make any kind of money. Work on building a relationship and engagement with your followers first, and the rest will come along later.

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