How To Make Money Off Your Instagram Presence

instagram money
Social Media Week

The title “Instagrammer” is not only a reality, but something that Millennials and members of Gen-Z aspire to become. But, is it a profitable career, and if so, how?

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Instagram has become one of the most powerful platforms on our mobile devices, and even helped launch many careers for influencers and Instagram celebrities.

There’s even a new trend going around Instagram called “Follower Circles” where users form a “share for share” agreement, similar to YouTube creators starring in each others’ videos, or syndication partnerships with editorial content. This is just part of the bigger picture of Instagram stars rising to stardom.

Not convinced?

I’d like to introduce you to a man named Daniel Arnold. He is a photographer who has spent some time cultivating his audience on Instagram. After getting a rather unfair account removal, he started over again and brought back a large number of his original viewers, rebuilding his reputation and establishing a bit of Insta-fame.

But in his professional life he wasn’t doing quite so well. We all know how hot and cold creative professions can be, and he was down to the last of his cash. He decided on a whim to offer prints of any of his photos on Instagram to see if anyone might be interested in physical copies of his work.

They were; Arnold raised almost $15,000 in a single day, straight to his PayPal account, on the work that already existed in his gallery.

This is an undeniable fairytale for so many of us, and for the first time it appears to really be within reach. You are living in a time when you can actually make money on your Instagram presence!

Arnold provides an example of one way, but there are other options available to you.

Create Your Own Hub First

Here’s one fundamental step no one ever needs to miss: Whenever you are starting an online endeavor, make sure you have your own place to consolidate all your efforts. As Daniel’s example above shows, you can be a great successful photographer with hundreds of thousands of followers but that doesn’t mean your account might not be closed one day.

We’ve all been there: Relying your whole success strategy on a third-party platform is just risky and unwise. Your site is what stays with you, it’s what ranks for your name and it’s where you lead your fans to: Whatever happens with your other accounts, your site will be there allowing you to keep doing what you were doing.

And the good thing is, you need neither huge time / money investments nor development background to set up a site these days. It all comes down to a couple of hours of work. Here are the simplest steps to take:

Understand That Audiences Are Cross Platform

Your audience doesn’t just stay on Instagram, they aren’t some kind of digital ghosts cursed to wander the coded pathways of the social media platform for all eternity. They regularly interact on other social networks, and that works in your favor. A fan on Instagram can be a fan on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and any number of other sites.

Why does this matter? Because it gives you different forms of engagement, for one. People will often like a photo, but they won’t always comment. Using your Instagram to attract people to your, say, your Twitter (or vice versa) lends more power to your content.

Link People To Your Blog and Provide A Solid CTA

One of the more annoying limitations of Instagram is that it will remove active links from your posts. People have gotten creative and started using inactive links (using “dot” and “com” instead of .com), or putting links as text overlays in photos themselves. But these are more irritating than a watermark, and not especially protective.

A better way to do things on this platform is to put your blog or site link into your profile page where it is allowed, and then add CTA’s to posts. So any time you post a new photo, at the end of the description you can tell people to check your the link in your profile for more.

This is a great way of generating leads, and then catching conversions on your site. It also gives you PPC or other marketing compatibility that ties Instagram into the process.

Also consider: Instagram Calls-t0-Action

Begin Seeking Outside Work (With Your Instagram As Your Portfolio)

The most successful Instagrammers are those who know how to use their profiles as portfolios to find other work. Male model Matthew Noszka did this, getting his start on the social platform and using it to get in touch with agencies who immediately fell in love with his image.

You can do the same by creating high quality images that cater to the interests of your industry. It doesn’t just have to be models who do this, but designers, filmmakers, graphic designers, fitness instructors, nutritionists, chefs, choreographers, photographers, artists, and just about anyone else.

Promote An Actual Product

Physical products can be a bit difficult to promote on this platform, but not impossible. Using the CTA and profile link angle, you can start creating occasional posts that show a product in action. Take photos or create multi-image posts using an Instagram app extension for the process.

Another way to do this is by creating short video clips of you using or talking about it. You won’t have more than a few seconds, so you will have to be extra creative to pull it off.

Further reading: 12 Solutions to Selling Products Through Instagram

Like Daniel, you can create and sell prints using your Instagram account as the way to showcase your works. Here’s a site that you can use to easily create and print posters using your Instagram content (They have an affiliate program too, so you can direct people there)

Open Yourself Up To Brand Promotions

Once you start becoming more popular, you might find yourself getting messages from brands asking you if you are interested in trying a product and either being paid for a review, or getting something for free. Both of these are a great way to foster corporate relationships that might lead to future opportunities.

You can also contact brands you use and ask them if they would be interested in promotion. Larger Instagram accounts will almost always get some kind of yes.

Don’t forget to disclaim any reimbursed promotions: You don’t want to lose your fans’ trust and respect!

Affiliate Marketing? Yes, Please!

Affiliate marketing is another one of those marketing tactics that seems completely incompatible on Instagram. But plenty of Instagrammers have been able to enhance the success of their campaigns by creating leads on the platform that convert on their own site.

It goes back to that CTA and profile link combo once again. You just start doing videos and posts that talk about your affiliate marketing program. Or else promote your affiliate code for anyone who is interested in trying a product you are already an affiliate of. You would be amazed at how quickly this will build profits.

Never forget that Instagram is, by its nature, aspirational. Your photos are a testament to how you are doing something incredible, proof of quality. People want that themselves, and the visual medium will make them more than willing to try what you are to attain it.

While it takes effort and time, you too can begin taking advantage of the network. Wouldn’t it be incredible to turn a hobby and social time online into cash? If you didn’t just nod your head ‘yes’ then you are out of your mind. It is a dream come true!

Image Credit: Dave Krugman

Ann Smarty

Brand and Community Manager, Internet Marketing Ninjas

Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at as well as the founder of Ann has been into Internet Marketing for 7 years, she is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable. Ann is also the frequent speaker at Pubcon and the host of regular Twitter chats #vcbuzz and #myblogu

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