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Blog / Beginner's handbook / How to Make Money on Instagram: 12 Ways to Turn Posts into Profit

Beginner's handbook

How to Make Money on Instagram: 12 Ways to Turn Posts Into Profit

How to Make Money on Instagram: 12 Ways to Turn Posts Into Profit
Elizabete Libiete

By Elizabete Libiete

17 min read

We’ve already shown you how to make money from home, but now we’ll dive into how to make money on Instagram—the 4th largest social media platform worldwide.

With around 2B active monthly users, Instagram reaches around 38% of the 5.3B internet users globally. With such a huge market share, Instagram is no longer just a platform for sharing moments but a lucrative opportunity for those keen on making money.

This guide is your entry point into mastering how to make money on Instagram, tailored for influencers, entrepreneurs, and anyone else eager to convert followers into financial success. We’ll explore 12 tried-and-true ways to monetize your presence on the platform, ensuring you have a comprehensive toolkit to start earning.

How to make money on Instagram as a business owner

An excellent way to make money on Instagram is by using your IG account as a storefront to sell physical and digital products. Design and sell trending products or anything else that you’d personally like to buy. Here are several ways to go about it.

Probably one of the easiest ways to start selling products on Instagram is through a print-on-demand provider. Partnering with a service like Printful enables you to print your unique designs on hundreds of different products (like custom hoodies, mugs, shoes, blankets, posters, and hats) without making a large upfront investment.

When someone makes a purchase on your ecommerce store, the POD company will automatically print your design on the product, pack it, and ship it to your customer with your branding. This way, you don’t have to worry about stocking up on inventory that may or may not sell or deal with the logistics of packaging and shipping your products to customers worldwide.

Printful also provides you with product mockups to showcase your items on your Instagram. Use the Instagram Shopping feature to tag products in your stories, reels, and posts.

The Aussie Mom is the perfect example of how to make money on Instagram by selling print-on-demand products. She uses a mix of her own photos and product mockups to create a fun, colorful Instagram page. This helps promote her products to her following and ultimately get sales. 

@theaussiemom on Instagram

Source: @theaussiemom on Instagram

The dropshipping business model is very similar to POD in that you’re only responsible for setting up your ecommerce store and handling marketing while the supplier or manufacturer fulfills your customers’ orders. The difference is that you don’t have to design the products you sell. Dropshipping simply means the seller accepts customer orders without having stock on hand, so you can also sell products that someone else has designed.

Some popular products to dropship are clothing, home & living products, accessories, and baby products.

With Instagram’s in-app shopping features, you can streamline the purchasing process, making it easier for Instagram users to buy directly from your Instagram feed. With the right mix of high-quality visuals, targeted Instagram marketing, and engaging content, Instagram can be a powerful platform to drive your dropshipping business forward, turning browsing into buying and followers into customers.

Buying things in bulk at a low price point, keeping inventory, and selling them one by one is probably the most traditional approach on our list. However, advertise the items in your Instagram store, and voilà, another option to make money on Instagram. 

Buying in bulk often means that you get products for a lower (wholesale) price, which may help you save money in the long run. Plus, the manufacturer or distributor will sometimes provide you with product photos to help you get your business rolling. 

However, a major downside to this model is that it requires a large upfront investment. You’ll need to buy multiple sizes, colors, etc., of the same product without knowing if and how well they’ll sell. Plus, you’ll need a place to store the stock, which could be an added expense if the products take up a lot of space.

This could be a good idea if you already have strong ecommerce marketing knowledge or experience running a traditional in-person store. But it’s a riskier way to start selling products instead of, say, using the POD model.

Another way to make money on Instagram is to tap into the second-hand market or offer handmade goods. Both have become super popular for customers looking to make more sustainable choices, pay less for brand names, or buy novel hand-crafted items. 

To test the waters, you could start by running an online “garage sale” with your own stuff. Create a post for each piece of clothing, furniture, or appliance, make a reel showcasing the items, and post video stories inviting followers to check out your offering. 

If you’re ready to take it a step further, you can browse thrift stores in your area or online and flip things you find for a profit.

Audrey Leighton Paris is doing just that. Based in Paris, the brand launches a collection of elegant clothing and accessories each month. It’s made up of quality pieces that are thrifted, sourced from collectors, or made new in her atelier. New or vintage, Audry Leighton creates stunning, coherent visuals for every product.

a screenshot of a social media post

Source: Audrey Leighton Paris

5. Sell e-books, courses, or tutorials

The market for digital goods is growing twice as fast as the market for physical products. How can you seize this opportunity? Make money on Instagram by selling digital products and services.

E-books: This is an excellent way to share your insight or interests with your IG followers. It could be a recipe book, a financial advice book, a fiction book, or a book on any topic you’re an expert in or passionate about. Create posts with snippets from your book, and go live answering the audience’s questions on the topic. It’ll show your expertise and that your digital product is worth paying for.

Atticus Poetry started off by sharing their poetry on Instagram and has now published their 4th book, which is available both as an e-book and in hardcover. They’re also making money by selling merch with their most beloved quotes.

@atticuspoetry on Instagram

Source: @atticuspoetry on Instagram

Video courses: E-learning really took off during the pandemic and is expected to continue to grow. So if you have knowledge that others are interested in, create a course! Again, you should show off your expertise on Instagram by posting snippets of the material, but just enough so your audience becomes interested in paying for the complete learning experience.

Karina from Perfect Face without injections is an expert in facial massages and exercises. Her Instagram profile consists of short tutorials, before and after photos of clients, and invitations to join self-care “marathons”​​—video courses that followers can sign up for.

@karina_na_more on Instagram

Source: @karina_na_more on Instagram

6. Sell photos, illustrations, and digital art

Photos: Instagram is an ideal platform for photographers to showcase their work, be it breathtaking landscapes, intimate portraits, or captivating street photography. Your imagery can tell stories, evoke emotions, and, most importantly, attract buyers. Instead of creating beautiful photos of a product, your product is the beautiful photo.

You can sell photos directly on the platform or use Instagram to promote your work on one of many websites for selling photography, where customers can buy prints or digital copies. Engage with your audience through behind-the-scenes content, photo stories, and insights into your creative process, which can add value and context to your work.

Illustrations: For illustrators, Instagram serves as a digital gallery where each post can highlight your unique style and creativity. From detailed sketches to bold graphic designs, your illustrations can capture the attention of potential clients.

Use captions and stories to share the inspiration behind your pieces, upcoming projects, or exclusive offers for your followers. Consider offering custom illustration services or promoting your availability for freelance projects, effectively turning your Instagram page into a portfolio.

Digital Art: Digital artists like Shaun Ryken use Instagram to display their art and sell it in various forms, including NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and printed merch like t-shirts.

By creating visually striking and meaningful digital artwork, you can engage a community of art lovers and collectors interested in owning a piece of your creativity. Highlight the uniqueness of your digital art by sharing the process behind creating each piece, from initial sketches to final touches, and direct followers to platforms where they can buy your art.

Valuable read: Selling on Instagram vs. Etsy: What’s Right for You?

@shaunryken on Instagram

Source: @shaunryken on Instagram

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How to make money on Instagram as a creator

Another excellent way to make money on Instagram is by embracing the role of a content creator. While a business typically focuses on promoting its products or services through posts, stories, and ads, a content creator often centers around building a personal brand, engaging a specific audience with original content, and using their influence and creativity for monetization opportunities such as sponsorships, partnerships, and merchandise sales.

Whether you share captivating visuals, insightful videos, or inspiring stories, your creative output can attract a dedicated following and brands looking for authentic voices to collaborate with. Here are several ways to transform your Instagram into a lucrative platform, turning your passion for content creation into profit.

You don’t need a million followers to call yourself an Instagram influencer and create sponsored posts. In fact, many companies are now looking for micro-influencers—people with accounts that have anywhere from 1K to 100K followers. Big influencers tend to post so much sponsored content that it loses credibility. Smaller influencers still have a close relationship with their Instagram followers and post plenty of authentic content.

a graph of a number of people

Source: HypeAuditor

Think about yourself: would you trust a product review of a vacuum cleaner more if it comes from a friend who you know and trust or from a celebrity who probably never cleans their own house?

Plus, bigger influencers are oftentimes out of reach for most brands. Many charge a lot for posts, and collaboration might require lengthy contracts, complex conditions, and multiple steps. Micro-influencers offer more flexibility and quicker content turnaround times, so brands are often interested in working with them.

So how can you earn money as a micro-influencer? You can offer Instagram marketing services to brands and create sponsored content in the form of a story, a post, a reel, or a combination of these things. 

Companies typically pay Instagram influencers per piece of content, but they’ll need to know your Instagram account statistics for recent posts before sealing the deal. They’ll want to make sure that your followers are real, that the audience you reach matches their target customer demographics, and that your content is generally engaging.

Receiving products in exchange for Instagram marketing services like promotional posts is still considered sponsored, so many influencers start by accepting products instead of making money. 

However, don’t fall into the trap of only working for products. If skincare is your niche, you could end up with a cabinet full of creams and serums but no actual money to spend. As your audience and influence grow, don’t hesitate to negotiate a payment on top of the products, even if a brand doesn’t offer it at first.

Here are 3 ways to get sponsored if you don’t have a high follower count:

  1. Learn about and sign up for influencer marketplaces

  2. Tag brands in your posts and hope you get noticed 

  3. Pitch companies by sending them emails, DMs on Instagram, or even reaching out to specific employees on LinkedIn

Either way, start small. When you don’t have a proven track record, you have better odds of scoring a deal with the local kombucha brewery than with Coca-Cola.

Read also: How to Make Money as an Influencer

8. Promote affiliate products

Affiliate marketing is a low-cost way for businesses to promote their products, as there’s hardly any upfront investment they need to make. It’s also a great way for you to earn extra cash. 

While both influencers and affiliates promote products or services on their Instagram accounts, the way they earn money is what sets them apart. As an influencer creating sponsored posts, you and the brand will agree on a sum of money, usually per piece of content posted. Brands often ask to approve the content before you’ve actually published it and may request to make changes. 

As an affiliate, however, you’ll get a unique link or promo code and a commission for sales from Instagram users clicking the link or using the code to make a buy. It doesn’t matter if it takes you a single story or 2 weeks of constantly posting about the same product—whether or not you get paid depends on the end sale. Since it’s a more flexible process, brands are less likely to micro-manage your posts, so you often have more creative freedom.

To become an affiliate, there are 3 common ways to go about it:

  • Reach out to brands you like. Most bigger companies will already have info about affiliate programs on their website. In some cases, they might set requirements for having a certain number of followers or a specific activity level in the past months. Usually, though, like in the case of Printful’s affiliate program, your interest is all you really need. Smaller brands might not have shared the information but will likely be willing to work with you if you reach out to them directly.

  • Join one or several affiliate networks that act as the middleman between you (the affiliate) and the brands. Apart from the ease of filtering and narrowing down programs you’d be interested in, the main benefit of making money through affiliate networks is that they’ll handle the financial transactions and guarantee payment of your commissions. Check out this list of The Best Affiliate Networks & Programs.

  • Lastly, if you’re growing your brand and have an engaged audience, take advantage of it to get noticed by businesses. Once you’ve picked a specific niche and used relevant hashtags, those niche brands are more likely to come knocking on your door. Don’t forget to develop an effective marketing strategy to help build your profile and get noticed.

How much can you make as an affiliate? According to the Affiliate Marketing Benchmark Report 2022 by Influencer Marketing Hub, most affiliates make below $10K a year, but some stars make more than $150K annually. That’s a wide margin to make good money from affiliate deals. 

Learn More: 10 Tips for Affiliate Marketers to Make More Money

Lauren and Penny is a great example of an influencer doing it right. Lauren posts adorable photos of her dog wearing different accessories and puts her affiliate code in the captions for almost every post. She also has conveniently organized highlights by brands that she collaborates with and uses the linktree in her Instagram bio to promote affiliate links. This way, followers can easily find her promo codes when needed.

9. Get recurring income with fan subscriptions

Fan subscriptions are great for making money on Instagram. Followers can fund their favorite influencers and creators by paying a monthly fee for special content or perks. 

Maybe you can share personal finance tips, or maybe you live an adventurous lifestyle and others are interested in finding out exactly how you can afford it. Invite followers to pay a monthly fee to gain access to exclusive content, increased access to you, or special discounts for products.

Here are some services that’ll help you do that:

  • Instagram subscriptions: In 2022, Instagram launched its own subscription service, which allows you to show certain Instagram stories or posts only to those followers who have paid a monthly fee. However, it’s still an invite-only feature.

  • Private Instagram account: Even before Instagram rolled out its own service, content creators figured out a way to earn money on this social media platform: by creating a private Instagram account in addition to their public accounts. You can get access by paying a monthly fee that generally varies between $20–$40.

  • Subscription platforms: You can also use your Instagram account to guide your followers to sites like Patreon, Substack, or Tribe. There, they’ll be able to see your content after paying a monthly or annual fee. On Patreon, you can create different subscription levels and make certain posts correspond to higher-priced levels.

  • Subscription plugins: Most popular website platforms like WordPress or WooCommerce allow you to install a subscription plugin to your blog.

You can also make money with virtual tips. Instagram Badges is a new feature currently available to Instagram influencers in the US with at least 10K followers. It works like this: during live video sessions, your fans can show you appreciation for what you do by buying a badge. 

You still need to create engaging, free content to hook subscribers to your platform. Try posting sneak peeks of your content, like a few seconds of a video clip, a blurred-out image of your photography work, a single paragraph of your article, or 1 out of 9 tips, to get fans to sign up. Then, give full access to the exclusive content only to subscribers.

Tracy Anderson is a fitness coach who runs an online studio based on subscriptions. She posts a lot of educational content on Instagram and even offers a 2-week workout plan for free to provide her audience with the assurance that she can bring real value to their lives. The linktree in her Instagram bio contains links to join her paid-only programs, making it easy for followers to find her plans.

10. Promote your services

Promoting your services on Instagram can be a game-changer for professionals like photographers, designers, and other service providers. You don’t need an enormous following to make an impact—even with a modest base of engaged followers, you can showcase your talents and attract clients. The key is to leverage the visual and interactive nature of the platform to highlight your expertise and differentiate yourself from the competition.

Instagram serves as the perfect portfolio for photographers, designers, and artists. Regularly post your best work, share stories behind the scenes, and use hashtags to reach potential customers who appreciate your style.
Remember, the goal is to use your account to display your work and build a relationship with your audience. With consistency and a strategic approach, Instagram can be a powerful tool to grow your customer base and expand your reach.

11. Promote your blog or vlog

In addition to showcasing your professional services, Instagram also offers a prime opportunity for bloggers and vloggers to promote their content and grow their subscriber base. This visual platform can serve as a direct funnel to your written or video content, attracting engaged Instagram users interested in your niche.

For bloggers, captivating images or quotes from your Instagram post can pique interest and drive traffic to your blog. Use Instagram Stories to tease new blog content or share highlights from your posts, encouraging followers to swipe up or click the link in your bio for the full story. Vloggers can share snippets or trailers of their latest videos, using visually appealing thumbnails and engaging captions to draw viewers to their YouTube channel or website.

12. Sell branded merch

Selling branded merchandise on Instagram offers a monetization avenue for artists, musicians, non-profit organizations, and many others. You can showcase your merch in a way that’s both appealing and accessible to your followers. Whether it’s custom t-shirts, hats, tote bags, or any other product that resonates with your brand’s aesthetic and values, Instagram serves as a stage to promote and sell these items.

Start by creating engaging content that naturally includes your merchandise. This could be through stylish photoshoots, creative Instagram stories, or reels. Highlighting the quality and design of your merch can significantly influence your followers’ purchase decisions. Use features like shoppable posts to create a seamless shopping experience right from your Instagram feed or stories.

Additionally, consider running exclusive promotions or limited-time offers to create urgency and encourage immediate action. Engaging with your audience through polls or asking for feedback on potential merchandise ideas can also foster a sense of community and involvement, making your followers feel like an integral part of your brand’s journey.

By selling branded merchandise on Instagram, you open up a new revenue stream and deepen your connection with your audience, turning your followers into brand ambassadors. Remember, success in selling merch on Instagram relies on a mix of creative marketing, genuine engagement, and products that truly resonate with your audience.

Learn more: 50 Surprisingly Creative Merch Ideas

Can you make money on Instagram?

Absolutely, you can make money on Instagram! As one of the most dynamic social media platforms, Instagram offers various avenues for individuals and businesses alike to generate income. From influencers and content creators to entrepreneurs and small business owners, the potential to monetize your Instagram presence is vast. The key to success lies in building a dedicated following, authentically engaging with your audience, and strategically utilizing the platform’s features, such as Instagram Shopping, affiliate links, sponsored posts, and more.

How much money can you make on Instagram? 

The amount of money you can make on Instagram varies widely, depending on several factors such as your niche, audience size, engagement rate, and the monetization strategies you employ. While some users earn a few hundred dollars per month through affiliate sales or sponsored posts, others can make thousands or even tens of thousands per month by leveraging multiple income streams.

Start earning money on Instagram

We’ve explored 12 effective ways how to make money on Instagram, discussed how to sell products on the platform, and gone over the ways you can reach potential customers as a creator. Now is the time to take the first steps!

If you want to learn more about how to set up your Instagram for success, take a look at other Printful blog posts where we talk about ecommerce, marketing, trends, and much more. Good luck, and let us know how it goes in the comments.

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By Elizabete Libiete on Apr 5, 2024

Elizabete Libiete

Guest author

An artist at heart, Elizabete loves to express herself creatively through acting, painting, and writing.

An artist at heart, Elizabete loves to express herself creatively through acting, painting, and writing.