How Instagram Influencers Make Money: Secrets to Cashing In

how Instagram influencers make moneyInstagram influencers get cash, perks, and generally treated like a VIPs for posting beautiful pictures for brands. But while many Instagrammers are already getting paid huge sums for creating lifestyle content about food, fashion, events, and more,  there are many companies that are just now starting a brand ambassador program.

That means there’s still a lucrative opportunity for Instagram newbies to rake in the cash. Read on to catch up on the basics, and be sure to read our latest eBook published in partnership with NOTICE Agency: How to Become a Paid Instagram Influencer, How I make a Six-Figure Income Partnering With Brands.

1. Instagram influencers pick subject matter that fits their passions

Instagram influencers are always being evaluated on how their account looks. Start with our 10 secrets from the pros to building massive amounts of free Instagram followers. Once you’ve got the look down, brand marketers and their agencies will review your profile to see if you are worth spending marketing dollars to support. You need to tell a story about who you are with just a few images, so make that grid look like you live and breathe your topic!

For example, if you want to become a fashion brand ambassador, make sure you’ve got the polish to support luxury brands. If your passion is power tools, make sure your content looks rugged and ready to roll up your sleeves.

Too many sponsored or obviously paid for posts are a turn off to modern marketers. Brands have gotten very smart about evaluating an Instagram influencers, so expect to be grilled about your engagement, follower count, and most importantly content quality. If you can maintain a balanced, professional style from day 1, you’ll have a much easier time getting brands to pay money for Instagram posts.

2. Buy a camera, tripod, and light box, then learn to shoot

Instagram is all about stunning, lux photographs. Taking top notch photos is an obvious strategy for any Instagram influencer. But if you expect to get paid, you’ll need to up your game. There’s good news: Point and shoot long lens cameras are now mainstream. You don’t have to be an expert photographer for your pictures to look amazing.

Here’s an essential camera and equipment package recommendation for every Instagram influencer:

3. Find or build a pod of Instagram influencers

Every popular Instagram influencer getting paid to take photos has a secret: Pods. Pods are groups of Instagram influencers who band together to like, share, comment, and support each other. When one member of the pod posts to Instagram, he or she notifies the group via Facebook, WhatsApp, or text message.

The group then knows to find the post and like, comment, or share. When a brand sees higher, more authentic engagement, it’s more likely that brand will pay out for future work. Pods are controversial, but they are a mandatory for anybody that wants to become a paid Instagram influencer.

Instagram influencers pods

4. Watch the algorithm and stay nimble

Instagram’s algorithm is a secret blend of programming that controls what you see when you scroll. It’s super important because the algorithm only shows the best content to users, so if you don’t know how to play into the algorithm your pictures will get fewer likes and comments. Ultimately, you’ll need to pay close attention to what kind of content gets the most engagement from your audience, and as your following grows adjust tactics to match. Here’s a few other key pointers:

  • Watch for trends before they go mainstream. Certain categories, such as beauty, move very quickly, and paying close attention to top influencers can give you an idea of which products are starting to get popular. Finding the next red light mask before anyone else could mean brands come to you first.
  • Upload content when your audience is paying attention. Getting Instagram performance analytics means switching your account from personal to business. Within about 24 hours you’ll be able to see who engages with your content and when they are more likely to do so.
  • Use hashtags where users are browsing, like when you go to events, concerts, or restaurants. Using these types of hashtags will be more likely to result in new people seeing your content, and more followers.
  • Instagram’s algorithm likes content that quickly engages followers. Lean on your pod (see above) to like and comment on your posts as soon as they are live, making it more likely new users who do not follow you on Instagram will see your content too.

instagram influencers camera5. Always be selling your Instagram influencer skills

It’s tough to come up with a steady stream of high quality content and market yourself at the same time. But if you want to be a paid Instagram influencer, you’ll have to sell harder than you ever have before.

Let’s face it, when you can buy an amazing camera for under $400 and brands often pay $1,000 or more for sponsored Instagram posts the barrier to entry is low. Competitor Instagram influencers are always right around the corner. You have to be proactively finding and reaching out to marketers and influencer agencies that control the budgets.

It doesn’t hurt to have a working knowledge of influencer marketing ROI and influencer marketing benefits so you can speak the language of marketers…

BONUS: Ask Instagram influencers for advice

Most Instagram influencers started out with zero followers. Surprisingly, even big time influencers making thousands of dollars per post will take the time to answer your questions. Try to find places where influencers gather, then ask them what they think about your approach and work. You’ll be surprised how open the influencer community has become.

You may also want to join professional clubs, coworking spaces, or online groups for creative professionals. Many artists, advertising agency pros, and brand marketers have become Instagram influencers. They often have the ability to bring new talent business, and may refer smaller or less interesting projects your way, giving you a foothold to get paid to be an Instagram influencer.

If you don’t know any Instagram influencers or can’t meet with groups, consider reading newly-published material on the topic. You can learn the business from the information shared in books and articles. We’ve compiled a list of the best we could find on Amazon, so read up!