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How to make money from your Instagram account – 3 foolproof strategies

by Chloe Baird

It seems like everyone is making money on Instagram these days. So, why can’t you too?

There are over 1 billion monthly users who log into Instagram every month. 63% of these users log in at least once a day. And its potential advertising reach is more than 849 million.¹

Whether you’re an aspiring influencer, a marketing professional, or a small business owner, it makes sense for you to utilise this powerful platform to your advantage.

The question is: How?

Background of Instagram

Instagram started off as a check-in app called Burbn in 2009. But in 2010, the developers took the app in a slightly different direction. At the time, they thought it was too similar to what Foursquare was already doing; however, they had noticed that photo sharing was becoming popular with their existing audience.

So, they changed the name to Instagram and transformed it from a check-in app to a photo-sharing app.

Note: see the importance of listening to your audience, scouting out the competition, and finding your niche!

Within months of the re-brand, Instagram already had 1 million users.

Today, ten years later, it has 1 billion monthly users.

How you can make money from Instagram depends on what category you fit into.

Are you:

  1. A small-medium business owner looking to increase your social media presence, and convert followers to customers?
  2. An aspiring influencer who wants to post brand-sponsored content?
  3. An affiliate marketer who wants to use your own profile to sell other brands’ products and services?

You could also be a marketing professional looking to upskill and add to your competitive edge by increasing your social media knowledge.

Instagram marketing

If you already know exactly what group you fit into, then that’s great! Open Colleges’ latest partnership course, the Instagram Marketing short course[ , is aimed at these groups of driven people who want to get the most out of their social media account.

The next step is deciding which strategy you want to utilise to start making money from your Instagram account.

Strategy #1: Start selling your own products

There’s no doubt about it. Instagram is one of the world’s most popular, most powerful social media platforms.

So if you’re a small business owner and you’re not using Instagram to your best advantage, then you’re missing out on a huge chunk of the market.

To begin selling your products through Instagram, there are a few basic steps you will need to take first.

  • Know your product

Whether you’ve been running your own business for a while, or are just starting out, you need to know your product inside and out so that you can properly market it on Instagram.

This involves not just understanding what it is your selling but also understanding WHO you’re selling to.

This means doing your research, understanding your target audience, defining your brand’s identity, and knowing exactly why your audience needs your product.

  • Create a product catalogue

After you’ve set up your Instagram business profile, you can start selling your products through Instagram.

Instagram has been releasing features over the past few years that make it easy for people to buy products through the app, such as shoppable Stories and Instagram Checkout.

To sell products through Instagram, you will need to create a product catalogue through Facebook. This will allow you to tag your products in your posts.

  • Make sure your website is up to scratch

Don’t panic if you don’t want to start selling your products direct through Instagram. You can just as easily direct people through to your website or landing page to browse and shop your products by adding a website link to your profile.

But whether you want to sell products through Instagram, or send people to your website to shop, it’s still really important for you to ensure that your website is welcoming, easy to navigate, and tells your brand’s story well. It doesn’t have to be fancy – it just has to be user friendly and align with your brand’s image.

  • Post engaging content

Maybe this is an obvious one, but after you’ve worked out what your product and your target market is, you need to make sure you post content that is relevant to your audience.

As a business profile, you need to ensure that whatever photos and videos you’re posting hold value to your customers, and that your audience will continue to follow you and engage with your content.

The Instagram algorithm will also play a part here, so you need to understand how it works and what its function is.

You can find out all about how to create amazing content and how to understand the Instagram algorithm in our partnership Instagram Marketing short course[

  • Invest in paid ads

As well as creating your own engaging, dynamic content that will encourage people to follow your account, you could consider paid advertising to help boost your brand.

This can be a great way to ensure that the content your posting is being put in front of the right people. Paid ads can help drive traffic to your website and increase brand awareness.

Strategy #2: Get paid to post sponsored content

What does the term “Instagram influencer” make you think of?

People like Kylie Jenner have managed to amass an Instagram following larger than the population of most Australian cities. With their reach and reputation, they’re able to convince their followers to try and buy new products or services – and they get paid for doing it.

But becoming a noteworthy Instagram influencer means that you will need to have a reasonably impressive following.

How do you build up a strong following on Instagram?

  • Find your voice

People want authenticity. To be a successful Instagram influencer, you need to find your niche and express your own personal brand in an authentic way that will make people trust you.

You will also need to consider how your personal brand aligns with those of the sponsored content you want to be promoting. Brands will want to ensure that your target audience and theirs matches up.

On the other hand, you also want to make sure that you’re promoting brands who align with your personal interests and values. This is as much to do with integrity as it is protecting your own brand.  

  • Create an awesome profile

There’s not much space on your profile, so make sure every single character counts!

Along with your name and username, you need to make sure your bio is engaging and helps to tell your brand’s story. After all, your potential followers will be checking out your profile to make sure your interests align with theirs before they start following you.

Done right, a great bio will tell people who you are, what you can give them, and why they should care about the content your sharing.

  • Design a content strategy

There is no shortcut to increasing the amount of genuine followers you have on Instagram. You can always buy followers and bots, but this is quick-fix, non-sustainable solution. What you really want is a loyal following of real people who will engage with your content.

  • research who your audience is and what kind of content they’re after;
  • define your objectives; and
  • plan what and when you will be posting.

There are also third party tools that you can use to help manage and schedule your content.

  • Choose your aesthetic and stick with it

After you have found your niche in the market and have created a content strategy, you will need to decide on the kind of content you will be posting.

No matter what type of content you’re promoting, you will need to make sure it is consistent and authentic.

Your brand could be all about you and your pet doggo, or it could be about living a sustainable lifestyle. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as your brand story and aesthetic are consistent.

Your audience are following you for a reason, and if you start to drift away from the reason why they followed you in the first place, then you are going to lose followers.

The other important reason to maintain a consistent aesthetic is because you want your content to be easily recognisable.

  • Grow your audience

Great! Now it’s time to start growing your audience!

As part of your content strategy, you will need to define who exactly your target audience is.

You need to know:

  • how old they are;
  • where they live;
  • what their interests are; and
  • what times they’re most likely to be checking their Insta feed.

By thoroughly researching these traits, you have a clear idea of who your prospective followers are; which will make it much easier for you to market to them and attract new followers.

Strategy #3: Post other people’s content

What is the difference between an influencer and an affiliate marketer?

An influencer, as we discussed above, gets paid to post content, regardless of how many people click the link or buy the product.

An affiliate marketer, on the other hand, acts in the opposite way. They make money from their Instagram account based on how many of their followers buy the product in question.

The benefits of this strategy are obvious. By promoting other people’s content, you can reap the benefits of every sale you convert without worrying about producing or fulfilling orders.

However, how much money you make from your Instagram account depends on how many of your followers you can convince to make a purchase.

You will also need to have a respectable following to make a decent amount of sales.

  • Find your niche

Similar to becoming a successful influencer, you need to first find your speciality.

Maybe your niche is makeup, or sporting equipment, or clothes, or healthy eating, or anything else you can think of.

After you’ve found your spot in the market, it’s a matter of attracting followers who value this kind of content.

  • Increase your audience

Again, just like becoming an Instagram influencer, affiliate marketers need to have a respectably sized following. This goes double for affiliate marketers, as their revenue is based on sales from the followers.

Just like any other marketing strategy for growing your audience, you need to ascertain specific traits about your target market so that you are able to effectively engage them.

Understanding your audience will help you to make sales and monetise your Instagram.

  •  Reach out to companies you want to work with

This is much easier than you might think.

You can reach out directly to brands (especially if you have a favourite you’d love to partner with) or you can join an affiliate network.

What’s an affiliate network, you ask? An affiliate network acts like a middle-man between you and the brands who run affiliate programs. As Commissionfactory claims on their website, “We connect affiliates to brands and brands to customers.”

There are dozens of different affiliate networks out there, and you don’t have to limit yourself to just the one.

  • Start posting

To make money from affiliate marketer posts, the merchant will provide you with a unique link or promo code which will help them track how many sales are made from your post.

Every time someone clicks the link or uses the promo code, it will go towards your total sales of this particular product.

So now that you’ve got a decent following on Instagram and have affiliated yourself with a brand, it’s time to start posting.

Just remember that authenticity is key and to stay true to your brand’s identity. In addition, you also need to make sure that you’re being totally transparent and that your relationship to the brand is clear.

Your followers will appreciate your honesty and transparency.

What’s next?

Are you ready to start making money from your Instagram account?

Check out our partnership Instagram Marketing short courseto learn all the ins and outs of Instagram marketing, and you can monetise your account.

This course will teach you everything you need to know – from creating dynamic content, to using third-party tools, to successfully growing your audience.

Happy ‘gramming!*1. Source: https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-statistics/


Chloe Baird

Chloe Baird

Chloe is an Open Colleges alumnus who now works full time for Open Colleges as a copywriter and content specialist. She has previously worked as an advertising copywriter for a global technology and homewares retailer and as a content and marketing specialist for a boutique Australian travel agency, specialising in Japan. As a successful Open Colleges graduate, she is passionate about creating informative, relevant content that can help educate and inspire future students to achieve their own goals through study.

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