People are getting rich on Instagram. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner make up to $300,000 PER POST! But what about the rest of us? Can a mere mortal, without the Instagram following of a small nation, still make money on the platform?
Enter Morgan Timm. Morgan is a lifestyle blogger that started making money on Instagram when she only had around 3,000 followers. I recently interview Morgan on what it takes to start making money on Instagram.
My biggest take away from our conversation was how easy it is to get started. Once you reach 1,000 followers, you have the potential to start making money from your Instagram account!
The majority of money being made on Instagram is through sponsored posts. A sponsored post is when a company pays an IG user to post about their product.
For most people Instagram is just a fun platform to share pictures with friends. However, for those that are serious about building an online business, it can be a lucrative platform.
After interviewing Morgan and doing a lot of in-depth research on the topic, I’m happy to present to you this comprehensive guide on how to make your first $1,000 on Instagram.
Plan your Brand
Before you act, you need to plan. Think about successful companies. What are they known for? Nike is renowned for its high quality athletic ware. Zappos is an industry leader in customer service. Disney theme parks are aptly called the happiest places on earth.
None of these reputations sprung up without careful planning. You can bet that every one of those companies carefully curated the brand that customers perceive.
What you are known for will become your personal brand. Personal branding is important because it will determine what types of companies will sponsor you. Will you be a light hearted hippie chick? A rugged hiker type? A tech nerd? An A-list fashionista? Choose a brand that is authentic to who you really are.
Make Your Account Match Your Vision
Now that you have developed a personal brand, it’s time to make your Instagram account match your vision. It’s going to be sad, but you need to delete all the photos on your account that don’t support your brand. If your personal brand is a fun natured surfer dude, delete all those posts of yourself playing World of Warcraft on your mom’s computer.
Morgan emphasizes that Instagram is a platform where quality trumps quantity. As opposed to mediums like Twitter where users are expected to post every day, some successful Instagram accounts only post once or twice a week.
Make sure all your photos are high quality. Companies will notice if you even have one grainy looking picture. No matter what your personal brand is, you need to make sure come off as a professional.
Finally, you need to start building a visual theme in your Instagram account. All your photos should look cohesive and tell the same story. If a viewer only glances at your photo for a second, they should be able to instantly that it’s one of your photos.
Try using a similar color scheme in all your posts. For example, Morgan uses mostly browns and whites in her pictures. A photo of a darkly lit night club would look very out of placed on her account. Choose a few colors that look good together and stick with them! For more info, Morgan has an excellent article about building an Instagram theme.
Action Tips to Make your Instagram Account Sponsor Worthy:
- Build an active following
- Only post high quality photos
- Develop a “look” for your account that sticks to a color pallet.
- Post similar content
- Avoid publishing inappropriate content that would turn off potential sponsors
I asked Morgan how she got her first sponsored post. She said there are two ways to begin building partnerships with companies.
First, there is the direct approach. You can research companies that you think would be a good fit with your personal brand. If you have a smaller following, try reaching out to smaller companies. All companies will have a person in charge of marketing. Some businesses even have social media specialists that handle Instagram and Facebook accounts. You can search for their contact information on the company website. Send them an email with an introduction and why you think you would be a good Instagram Partner.
Here is an example of an email to the imaginary company CheeChee’s Pocket Squares. Alex is the fictitious social media specialist.
My name is Adam Anderson; I’m reaching out to you about a potential Instagram partnership. I have been an avid user of CheeChee’s Pocket Squares for two years now and I would love to promote your products on my account.
I have 800+ followers and an average of 92 likes per post. Do you have any upcoming opportunities where I may be able to partner with your brand?
Keep your first email short and sweet. Attach a link to your Instagram account so they can review your past posts. Not every email will result in a partnership. Be selective in reaching out to companies that best represent your authentic personal brand and you are more likely to strike a partnership.
If you are unsure of what companies to contact search for the #ad or #sponsored hashtag on Instagram. The products that people are promoting are companies that are actively looking for Instagram partners!
The second approach is basically doing a free sponsored post and getting companies to take notice of you. This is the approach that Morgan used to get her first paid sponsored post.
The idea is that you post a picture of a product on your Instagram account with a positive review. You tag the company that makes the product in your post. The company will see that you are posting positive comments about their product and may reach out to you to create a more formal partnership.
Again, this approach doesn’t work 100% of the time. Smaller companies are more likely to take note of your post that giant behemoths like Nike. The positive side of this approach is you are already using the products you are promoting. They tie in perfectly with your personal brand so your post will come off as authentic and genuine.
Throughout the process be professional in your interactions with companies. As your online following continues to grow, businesses will inevitably become interested in having you as a partner.
Action Tips to Find Sponsors:
- Reach out to companies directly
- Do “free” sponsored posts to attract the attention of brands
- Search for the #ad and #sponsored hashtags to find companies that are already sponsoring Instagram users
- Put your email in your IG bio
- Hashtags and location tags really count
Launch Your First Sponsored Post
Brands want to partners they can trust. When companies pay an Instagram user for a sponsored post, they are expecting the user to be professional.
That doesn’t always happen.
Scott Disick reportedly makes up to $20,000 per Instagram post. However, a company recently got less than they paid for when they asked Scott to do a sponsored post for Bootea Shake.
Scott was apparently supposed to post a picture of himself standing next to the Bootea Shake product with the caption “Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk protein shake.”
However, Scott apparently copied and pasted not only the requested caption, but also the instructions from the company!
Whoops. That’s one company that won’t be hiring Scott again soon.
Don’t be like Scott.
- Here are some actionable tips to make sure your sponsored posts are on point:
- Know what your sponsor’s goals. Are they just looking to increase awareness? Gain followers on their account?
- Know the terms of your agreement. Are you allowed to accept sponsorships from competitors? Can you take your post down in 2 weeks?
- Take a high quality photo
- Double check your text before you post
Onward and Upward
Congratulations on your first sponsored post!
One benefit of being an Instagram influencer is you can build a sponsor portfolio overtime. If a company likes working with you, they will likely do another campaign with you in the future. Overtime you will develop a list of partners that can provide you with a consistent income.
You will continue to grow your income as your audience grows. In addition to increasing your Instagram following, Morgan recommends building out other platforms as well. Advertisers are more likely to sponsor influencers with smaller followings if they can post on multiple accounts.
Don’t doubt you can make serious money as an Instagram influencer. Know your cost per thousand (CPM). When you are first starting out, you should aim for a CPM of $5 – $15. For example, if you have 10,000 followers and a $7 CPM your revenue would be $70.
10,000 X 7 = 70
You can increase your CPM by having high quality posts and an engaged following. Remember you are building a business! Don’t be afraid to take a lower CPM on your first few posts in order to build relationships with companies.
And that’s it! Rinse and repeat! A few sponsored posts should land you at the $1,000 mark. From there you can continue to grow and expand your business.
A big thanks to Morgan for her great insights! I would highly recommend visiting her website morgantimm.com for great tips on building an online business.
Hey! My name is Morgan Timm, I’m a 21-year-old blogger and online influencer. I’m insta-obsessed and hashtag crazy so when I’m not working on my website, I’m probably scrolling through Instagram (come say hi @morgantimm!). On top of all that, I’m passionate about helping people monetize their online influence so they can run and hide from the 9-5.