How to make money on Instagram

7 min read
Will Stevens

“How can I make money on Instagram?” is a question that’s likely crossed the mind of any regular user of the social network.

And although the image of people making money through Instagram is often that of celebrities with millions of followers, it is possible to generate income from Instagram with a more modest number of followers.

So then…

How do I make money Instagram?

To monetize Instagram you need to:

  1. Focus on a particular niche
  2. Post high-quality images/videos
  3. Avoid shortcuts
  4. Engage with existing influencers in your niche
  5. Identify streams of potential revenue

Let’s look at each of these steps in turn

1. Focus on a particular niche

Although having a significant number of engaged followers is always helpful when trying to make money from Instagram, focusing on quality of followers over quantity is a very good idea, especially in the early days. Follower count isn't everything, and engagement can matter more.

By picking a niche for your Instagram account and sticking to it, you’ll attract followers who are interested in that particular subject.

That means they’re more likely to engage with your posts, and when you start looking for sponsors to partner with you’ll be able to show them that you have expertise in a particular area. In short, you'll be on the path to becoming an Instagram influencer. Then, once you've got an audience, you can start to think about audience monetization.

So what niche should you pick? Well, areas like fashion, beauty and photography are always popular on Instagram. Though the main consideration for selecting your niche is that it should be something you’re passionate about.

This guide to selecting a business niche may help.

2. Post high-quality images/videos

This almost goes without saying, but high-quality images and videos are crucial for a successful Instagram account, and that means they’re crucial if you’re to make money from Instagram.

It’s also important to post to your account on a regular basis – people are more likely to engage with an account that’s active regularly.

Planning your Instagram content in advance whenever possible is a good idea.

3. Avoid shortcuts

It’s possible to buy thousands of Instagram followers for just a few pounds. But don’t be tempted. They’re not real followers, they won’t engage with your posts and it’ll make you look bad when you come to partner with brands or other organizations.

You'll need to grow your following naturally and a strong Instagram marketing strategy will help you with this.

4. Engage with existing influencers in your niche

A better way to build your Instagram following than paying for it is by engaging with Instagram creators who are already influential in your niche.

The idea is that if you engage with their posts, they’ll engage with yours and ultimately you might gain some of their audience. Although you will want to focus on engaging with people on Instagram, it can also make sense to promote yourself on other social media platforms as well.

You can learn more about engaging with influencers in this guide.

5. Decide on a monetization method to use

There are four main ways of monetizing Instagram:

  • Brand partnerships for sponsored content and posts
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Selling your photos/videos
  • Starting a business website related to your Instagram niche

Let’s look at each option for starting an Instagram business.

Brand partnerships for sponsored content and posts

Many brands are willing to pay in order to benefit from the audience of an established Instagram account.

It might be a cash payment, or it might be free products – but the idea is that, in return, you’ll create content related to that brand.

Larger established influencers are often sort out by brands, but there are sites that cater for smaller influencers looking to team up. These include: FohrIndaHash and (if you have a follower count of over 5,000) Grapevine. By using an influencer agency, you may be able to access more and more lucrative brand partnerships.

Don’t expect to earn big money from sponsored Instagram posts right away. And also make sure you strike the right balance between posts that have been paid for and regular posts.

You’ll also need to make sure that you comply with advertising rules – this includes indicating that a post has been sponsored.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest ways of making money on the web, and it offers an excellent way to make money on Instagram.

Affiliate marketers earn money when someone clicks through to a website via a link and their content and then makes a purchase.

Companies that use affiliate marketing tend to pay a certain percentage of the value of a sale, although there are plenty of different offers out there.

One of the good things about affiliate marketing is that barriers for entry are lower than for brand partnerships, and potential income can be high.

On the downside, you’re not guaranteed any income as it all depends on people clicking your affiliate links and then making a purchase.

As with sponsored posts, you’ll need to comply with advertising rules. You’ll also need to comply with the rules of any affiliate schemes you join.

This guide explains how to make money from affiliate marketing.

Selling your photos/videos

If you’re taking high quality photos and/or videos for your Instagram page, you may be able to sell them for a profit.

One way to do this is by submitting your photos as stock images to sites such as Shutterstock and Getty Images.

However, you’ll only be paid pennies for each download of your photos, so you may struggle to earn a significant amount of cash this way.

If you capture newsworthy images and/or videos, then you can expect to be paid more for this kind of content. There are several news agencies that specialize in this field, so make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. It’s also possible to sell your images directly to media outlets, and sometimes you may find they approach you directly if you’re taking photos of a news event.

You should also follow the National Union of Journalists’ advice for selling photos to the media.

Starting a business website related to your niche

So far, we’ve looked at ways you can monetize your Instagram account directly, but you should also give serious thought to creating your own business website.

Not only will creating your own website allow you to build an audience of your own (so you don’t have to rely solely on Instagram for your income, it will also open up new ways of monetizing your Instagram presence.

For example, you could launch new products related to your niche and sell it via an online store.

You could sell framed prints of your best Instagram photos (and earn much more than you would selling stock photos.)

You could start a blog and include affiliate links, or sponsored posts.

Or, you could do all of these things – the beauty of creating your own website is that you can use it for anything you want.

If you want to focus on selling a product, we suggest using GoDaddy’s Online Store. It’s easy to get started and you don’t need any technical skills at all. And don’t worry – you can add a blog to your site too.

If you want to focus on blogging, then you might want to consider using a WordPress website from GoDaddy. You can also check out this guide to learn how to start a blog in under 20 minutes.

This guide explains how to make a website.

Oh, and even if you don’t want to create a website right now, you should still strongly consider buying a domain name that relates to your Instagram handle as soon as you can, before someone else snaps it up.

Summing up

Having an engaged Instagram following is a great foundation from which to build your own business – after all, many startups are desperate to build such a following after they launch.

You might not become an Instagram millionaire, but you might be able to quit the day job.