If you believe yourself to be an Instagram influencer, you may wonder how you could earn money from your online social activities. You have probably heard stories of influencers earning a fortune for making a few posts.
Some social networks make things easy – there is a clear-cut advertising system on YouTube where Google and many YouTubers share advertising receipts. But Instagram has no such policy. If a firm advertises on Instagram (and parent company, Facebook), all of that payment remains inside Instagram / Facebook. They share nothing with the account holders and content creators.
If you want to earn money from your Instagram activities, you need to take a less formal path. You need to connect with brands – or wait for them to contact you.
How to Position Yourself as an Influencer and Connect With Brands on Instagram:
- You Can Convert Your Instagram Hobby Into a Career
- To be an Instagram Influencer, You Need to Influence
- How Many Followers Do You Need to be an Influencer?
- Signs That You Might be Ready to Connect with Brands on Instagram
- Typical Early Brand Collaborations
- Starting to Charge
- Ways to Find Brands You can Work With
- Platforms You Could Join as an Instagram Influencer
You Can Convert Your Instagram Hobby Into a Career
Most successful people begin by using Instagram as a hobby. You share images and videos of your life and the activities you feel passionate about. In the beginning, you are unlikely to think about trying to connect with brands. You are just on Instagram to enjoy yourself and network with others. Over time, though, you may find that people value and share your posts. This probably has the effect of spurring you on to sharing more.
But the problem is, Instagram (like all Social media) can be a time suck. You can spend a considerable time perfecting and posting your pictures, constructing captions, and styling stories. You may find that this starts to get in the way of your everyday offline life.
If there is a chance that you may earn some money from your Instagramming, however, you will find it easier to justify the time you spend online. Even if the only person you are trying to convince is yourself.
To be an Instagram Influencer, You Need to Influence
It is something of a self-fulfilling requirement that to be an influencer, you need to influence people. Brands will have no interest in you if your only supporter is your mom, who feels obliged to lend her support to you.
Before considering connecting with brands on Instagram, you need first to build your market reach. You need to encourage as many relevant people as possible to follow you, and you have to participate in regular engagement with your followers.
The key to this is relevance. If you search the net, you will find shady sites offering to sell you followers for a relatively low price. But any rate is too high. Bought followers will not engage with your material – they won’t leave comments or share your images – they won’t ever look at them. These “followers” are unlikely to care less about the topic on which you focus most of your posts.
Brands are only interested in working with people who influence active audiences. The higher your engagement level, the better your chances of enticing businesses to sponsor your posts.
The critical steps to building an engaged audience are:
- Create an enticing bio that makes people want to know you better
- Post regularly and engage with your commenters
- Use 10-15 relevant hashtags on each post
- Use captions to add context to your posts – tell their story
- Only post high-quality images
- Don’t make repeated product pitches (either for yourself or for any brands who sponsor you). These should not be more than 20% of your posts.
- Post videos often
- Build relationships with other influencers in your niche
- Always remain authentic
How Many Followers Do You Need to be an Influencer?
There is no absolute minimum size to be considered an influencer. It all depends on your specialty niche and the engagement level of your followers. A brand would rather have an influencer who regularly engages with her audience, and who succeeds in having people share her work on a regular basis.
I recently wrote about how Instagram has altered its algorithm to favor posts with high engagement. This means that some relatively small Instagrammers can succeed in making their posts visible. I suggested ways that you could increase the visibility of your images. If you manage to do this, brands will notice, and they will take an interest in what you post.
Also see this article where we cover what an influencer truly is.
Signs That You Might be Ready to Connect with Brands on Instagram
There is little point approaching brands too early. They will take a quick look at your account, and then discard you because they cannot see that you have anything to offer them.
However, you could start thinking about working with a brand when
- You reach 1,000 followers (but, you will still want to increase this number significantly – it won’t be enough for most industries and brands. 5,000 is a more realistic number of followers for brands to take a genuine interest in you).
- Your followers are engaged with you – they share your posts, they like them, they make comments, etc
- Your posts begin to turn up as Top Posts
- You have been operating your account on a regular basis for at least six months
- A small business approaches you
Typical Early Brand Collaborations
Beginning influencers typically begin their promotional work with small brands – often ones who can’t afford a marketing budget. Don’t expect to become rich from your early collaborations. Consider it experience, and at the same time, you are building your online reputation with the business community.
These early collaborations enable you to build an online portfolio of your work. You can use these first partnerships to your advantage later when its time to work with larger businesses with deeper pockets.
You will probably make your early collaborations in return for free product. Clearly, though, there is little point working for a company if you don’t like and can’t support their product.
These are likely to be uncomplicated arrangements. A brand will offer free product samples to an influencer in return for their product being featured in a post.
These deals can be doubly useful for a beginning influencer. You both receive free product and have ready-made content for your feed.
It is essential, though, that these product posts are still relevant and suitable for your audience. Your followers expect you to be authentic and they will leave you if you make irrelevant or untrustworthy posts.
Starting to Charge
Eventually, talented influencers should succeed in growing their account to a point where they can work with businesses with more sizable marketing budgets. An obvious question which you will ask yourself is, how much should I charge?
Our Instagram Influencer Sponsored Post Money Calculator
We can help you come up with a rough figure of what you could charge brands for sponsored posts. Our Instagram Money Calculator allows you to calculate your estimated earnings from your Instagram account if you believe you are an influencer, based on your engagement and number of followers.
This can only be a rough guide, however. It depends on the niche you work in, and the individual brands you approach. Fashion boutiques prefer to work with high-profile influencers, for instance, while firms that sell bathroom fittings will be happier to work with a micro-influencer. Businesses set their budgets at a level that reflects the level of influencer they feel will best represent them. Brands will also set their rate according to the level of authority they believe you have in your niche.
However, our Instagram Influencer Sponsored Post Money Calculator gives you a good guideline as to what you are worth.
Ways to Find Brands You can Work With
As your influence grows, you may find that brands will outreach to you with proposals.
But in your early days, you are still an unknown. You may have to pitch to businesses operating in your niche and offer your services.
Chrystie of Living for Naptime shows an excellent way you can use a Trello board to organize the process of outreaching to brands:
Platforms You Could Join as an Instagram Influencer
Although some of the platforms select influencers using an algorithm, many of them encourage people with good social followings to register as an influencer member.
Working with a platform means you can avoid much of the outreach needed to connect with brands on Instagram. Each of the platforms has businesses as clients who are actively seeking influencers. If you meet their criteria, they will take an interest in you, and contact you via the platform.
We have covered a range of these platforms in more detail in 25 Top Influencer Marketing Platforms. We have also discussed 5 Things Influencers Should Look for when considering an Influencer Marketing Platform.
In most case, you will go through a negotiation process with a brand before you agree on your price. This can be a complicated process, but always be aware of your worth and don’t let the business talk you down. PMYB has published a post targeting companies on how to negotiate for the best price. This will give you an idea of some of the tactics they may use against you – and which you can turn onto them.
Of course, it is up to you whether you are prepared to work for the price that the business offers. You may find that the extra work an influencer campaign requires, along with any potential risk to your reputation with your followers, may not make the sum offered by a brand worthwhile.
Be ready to walk away from a deal if you don't feel it works for you. Any arrangement needs to work for both parties if it is to be successful.
One way you can improve your position in negotiations is to be proactive in establishing clear metrics to evaluate the success of any campaign. You can use these to demonstrate the value you can provide brands. You could negotiate a value-based price for each post.
One thing that will need to be very clear in your influencer marketing agreement is whether you are bound by any form of exclusivity / non-competition clause. For instance, a brand may demand that you do not represent any of their competitors for a set period of time. If a brand requires exclusivity, you should factor that into your negotiations.
Instagram provides a fantastic opportunity for ardent Instagrammers to make a living from their hobby. If you can establish yourself as an expert on something and can build enough influence, to be considered a favorite, you have the potential to work with brands to make money.
It should be a win-win-win situation. You will win because of the money you can earn. The brand can win if it gains customers as a result of the posts you share. And hopefully, your audience will win, if you restrict yourself to only working with brands whose product will help your followers.