4 Creative Ways to Make Money on Instagram
An Instagram Story I love to share?
A long time ago, I posted a series of stories on my personal Instagram talking about working in PR, influencer marketing, my work with creators, etc. All of a sudden, I get a DM from a girl I loosely knew from my sorority in college, and I open it up, slightly surprised that she’s messaging me…
“Lol ew what the heck is she doing?! Who does she think she is?? This is so weird…”
YEP, she was definitely trying to send my Instagram Story to somebody else to trash talk me…and accidentally sent it to me instead.
3 years later, I’ve built an entire thriving business around my love for helping creators make money. 🤷🏼♀️
This being said, there’s always something to be said for putting yourself out there. With the confidence to stick your neck out there comes creative ways to make money on Instagram.
69% of influencer marketing campaigns happen solely on Instagram. It’s an absolute behemoth of a platform for brand collaborations, and it shows no signs of going away anytime soon.
(Although, I would encourage with a disclaimer to make sure you are diversifying your content away from Instagram – it’s hugely hugely popular right now, but every app has its downfall. As Instagram gets more saturated, it’s natural that creators and brands are going to look for other less saturated platforms - potentially like TikTok.)
Not only does Instagram offer brands so many tools to sell their products, increase awareness, and get in front of their ideal audience, there are also so many unique, creative ways you can make money on Instagram as an influencer.
- 69% of influencer marketing campaigns happen solely on Instagram (via eMarketer)
- 500 million people view Instagram Stories every single day (via 99Firms)
- 30% of consumers say they’ve bought a product from a recommendation on Instagram (via AdEspresso)
- 55.4% of influencers use Instagram Stories and swipe up links for sponsored campaigns (via Upfluence)
- Brands cite “swipe up links“ as one of the most important factors in an Instagram campaign
Let's dive into creative ways beyond just your normal sponsored Instagram post. The goal here is to give you unique ideas to make money on Instagram while still giving tons of value to your audience.
1. Host a Giveaway with a Brand
A hosted Instagram giveaway with a brand is becoming increasingly popular, but it still flies under the radar. As brands are choosing bloggers and influencers with more care and attention to their actual real audiences - aka not fake followers, not bots, good engagement, - hosted giveaways are becoming an additional avenue for collaborations between brands and bloggers.
Basically, the way it typically works - the brand gives the blogger a featured, new product or a wide array of items, and she offers it as a giveaway to her followers. To enter the giveaway, followers usually have to go follow/comment on the brand's Instagram and/or tag friends in a comment.
Why does it work well?
- Your readers get some really nice products from a brand - they get to try it out, see if they really like it.
- The brand gets exposure in front of their ideal audience - and it's also giving product again to someone who could become a long-term buyer.
- Brand gains social media followers - if they’re smart and know their average lifetime customer value, they’ll be able to see a direct ROI from this.
- Readers get to be more involved in the collaboration - instead of passive action like simply liking a picture, they get to be actively involved, tag friends, care about winning, etc.
Also, along with obviously providing the free product for the giveaway, there is exposure cost thrown in as well.
Personally, I’ve seen a giveaway collaboration run for a little less than a normal sponsored content price, but that’s just my personal experience. I’m sure there are many instances where you could tack it on with other content to get your sponsored rate back to normal.
When this is a true match in blogger-brand heaven, it can be a really fun, genuine way to make money on Instagram. When you’re finished, you can use Kalypso to compartmentalize your sky-high giveaway metrics into a wrap-up report brands will love.
2. Instagram Story Takeover
In a perfect world, this can be another really genuine collaboration for a blogger to make money on Instagram.
As brands are trying to focus on more collaborative partnerships with influencers, things that are less #ad and more organic are popping up.
A few key benefits to taking over a brand’s Instagram Story….
- Less #ad saturation on your own platforms - your audience might see your first post saying you’re doing the takeover, but that’s most likely it.
- Get your creative juices flowing – Instagram takeovers push you to get creative and really focus on your content. Maybe your normal, daily content gets a little repetitive, but when you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to create cool content for another account, it can spark your creativity.
- Gain exposure to new, ideal followers - taking over a big account like Sephora or LiketoKnowit is undoubtedly going to drive followers to your account as well; even taking over a small account with great overlap between audiences will drive follower gains, too. Putting your best foot forward with engagement will help drive some of those people over to your account as well.
As a blogger, you can charge a flat fee for an Instagram Story takeover.
It's usually a smaller fee than a sponsored Instagram post or blog post because you're just going to be posting for 24 hours on the brand's Instagram while encouraging your followers on your Instagram to go follow them as well.
It's a super-easy way to monetize your Instagram, and for brands, they're getting in front of their ideal audience by partnering with you, securing engaging content, and having an actual user demonstrate how to use their products, etc.
3. User-Generated Content (UGC)
A way to make money on Instagram as an influencer that really flies under the radar? Creating user-generated content for brands.
What is user-generated content?
Any content that’s been created for a brand by its community, followers, or organic users of the product. It’s natural content, low-production value typically, and feels just like you’re watching someone’s Instagram Story.
Stay with me on this -- as an influencer, you’re creating user-generated content every day. As users on Instagram, we’re all accustomed to how an organic Instagram Story looks, feels, sounds, complete with text, colors, and stickers. When we see Instagram Stories content like that, we think, “Hey, my friend posted that!”
When we see something that’s professionally shot and edited, looks like a movie, feels very produced, we often think “Hey, that’s an ad!"
The goal of user-generated content for brands is that they can use them on their social media ads.
UGC is having its moment in social media advertising - almost any Facebook marketer is on Twitter these days with long threads of how well UGC is performing for them in 2020.
For brands, it’s a perfect scenario - they can have regular users produce content for them at an extremely low cost, and they get to use that high-performing content to generate even more product sales. Sounds good to me, right?
Cost-effective content that looks GREAT that brands DON’T have to produce that performs BETTER than content they make = WIN WIN WIN
- UGC posts shared to social channels see a 28% higher engagement rate than standard brand posts.
- UGC-based ads get 4x higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click.
- Videos created by (and featuring) users get 10x more views on YouTube than content created by brands.
- 84% of millennials say that UGC on websites has at least some influence on what they buy.
*all above stats from SocialToasters
As a professional content creator, you already have a great eye for fun, engaging content because you do it every day.
Relatability is key in UGC and the accessibility of micro influencers can pave the way for effective content.
PRO TIP: Reach out to brands you’ve worked with in the past and ask if they’re interested in you producing UGC for their social media ads. Make sure THEY understand what UGC is and that you won’t be posting it on your platforms. Send them the metrics that show UGC performs better in paid ads~
You get paid, you don’t even have to amplify it on your social platforms, and the brand gets great content for their ads.
It’s a pretty simple win-win partnership to make money on Instagram, and the best part is, you can probably leverage it into a more traditional paid collaboration as well.
4. Instagram Brand/Strategy Consulting
When you have a killer Instagram, an engaged audience, and a strong following, it’s natural that people want to pick your brain. They want to know your strategy and your secrets, and you might get these reach outs from brands, social media agencies, or even readers asking,
“Soo, what are your best Instagram tips?”
Instagram consulting is another popular way to make money on Instagram as an influencer.
While your instinct might be to quickly do a blog post or something like that for free, there’s always going to be people who want to pay for 1-on-1 time with you to hear your feedback on their Instagram strategy and get personalized help.
Especially brands and companies who are desperate to learn more about how to appeal to users on Instagram, they want to know how the best of the best are doing it - and they have the budget to pay for help.
I am biased, but I think that creators and influencers are some of the most engaging and natural accounts on Instagram, and with good reason. You’re highly experienced, and you know so many little tips and tricks that go such a long way in taking your account from good to great.
Instagram consulting doesn’t necessarily have to become a pillar of your revenue, but it’s nice for the one-hour sessions every now and then with brands. It’s definitely a valuable stream of revenue but definitely requires some organization.
Some tips to make your Instagram consulting streamlined and professional:
- Use Calendly to schedule calls - so easy and simple. Eliminates the multiple messages back-and-forth to book a time, which also reduces their barrier to booking the call and paying you.
- Send over a detailed questionnaire beforehand, and set aside time to review - There’s nothing more annoying than when you’ve spent money on a strategy session, and you spend the majority of the time talking about the basics. Get those out of the way with a simple Typeform you have on hand to send.
- Record it - You don’t want your client to be overwhelmed with taking notes and freaking out that they won’t remember something. Use Zoom to record the session and send them the video recording.
Little things like that can make your Instagram consulting process so streamlined and professional. All of those tools are free and super easy to put together.
4 Creative Ways to Make Money on Instagram
Wow, that was a long post, but to wrap it up, you can do more than your typical Instagram feed post to make money on Instagram. If you’re willing to head off the beaten track and branch out, you’ll experience the lucrative results.
Warren Buffet said, “Millionaires have around 7 streams of income” - even though it’s just a social media platform, why don’t you have 4-6 ways to make money on Instagram?