What You Need to Make Money on Instagram and Build an Engaged Following

Instagram is rapidly becoming a social network of choice. Its emphasis on visual content means that it is home to some of the most engaging content on the internet. People love photos and are far more likely to share a visual post with their friends than one that is text alone.

Visual content should be an essential element of any marketing strategy, and Instagram is becoming pivotal to this.

Instagram is growing rapidly in popularity. It now has over 1 billion users, half of whom check their accounts every day. That is potentially a massive market for your good or service, which you are missing out on if you lack an Instagram presence.

But, as with all social networks, you can’t rely on people rushing to your Instagram account, just because you are there. Your mere presence on the platform isn’t enough. You need to set up your Instagram correctly, and then operate it intelligently.

In the early days, you are unlikely to have many followers. This is where influencer marketing can help you. You can use influencers to drive traffic to your own Instagram account and build up brand awareness. Here are some of our ideas on what you can do to make money on Instagram.

What Do You Need To Make Money on Instagram?


No brand will pay you to be an influencer unless you have people you influence. While your number of followers is not necessarily the most important statistic, it is still very important.

If you only have a few hundred followers, you simply don’t have sufficient influence for brands to want to pay you. You need at least a few thousand followers to consider making money on Instagram.

Brands want exposure to your audience, hence you first have to build up a following.

Remember, though, that even the largest influencers started off with only a few people following them. Don’t be discouraged if you don't have a large following at the moment. All this means is that you need to work on building up genuine followers.

  1. Engaged Followers

Having a few thousand followers is not enough in itself to guarantee you success, however. Anybody can build up supporters - indeed anybody can buy followers. However, they are of little benefit to you if they don’t interact with you. Nobody is going to pay you if you are unable to influence and persuade your followers.

If you can show that your posts have a high level of engagement then your posts are probably solving your followers’ problems, or at the least entertaining them.

You know that your posts are valued by your followers when they lead to a high number of comments, shares, likes, and in turn, additional followers.

What Can You Do To Create Engaged Followers?

1. Craft a Good Bio

Your bio contains your only clickable link on Instagram, so it is an extremely important part of your money-making strategy. You need to use your bio well.

Most people who consider following you will first scan your bio. Therefore you need to sell yourself there. Your bio tells people who you are. Keep it simple and clear. Show your creativity and personality in your bio, without going overboard or trying to be clever.

This is just as true, whether you are setting up your Instagram account in your own name, or whether you are setting it up for a business.

If you run a business, use your bio’s clickable link to direct people to a customized landing page on your website, rather than simply to your home page.

You also want it to include a clear photo of you, so people can clearly see who they are communicating with. For a business, you may prefer to show a crisp logo instead, particularly if there is no single face behind the business.

2. Post Regularly

To build up a good relationship with your followers you need to hang out with them online. This means that you need to post regularly, preferably on a daily basis.

the more you post on instagram the more likes you get

Source: Tailwind

According to Tailwind’s Instagram analysis, greater frequency leads to greater engagement. Tailwind found that accounts that increased their rate of posting over the three-month analysis saw a significant increase in their engagement rate. Tailwind also found, unsurprisingly, that the more you post to Instagram, the more followers you acquire.

3. Engage With Your Followers

To be successful you must be more than a broadcaster, however. You can’t just post your own images, even on a daily basis, and be considered influential. You also need to engage with your followers.

You need to try and take part in the conversations on posts, share other people’s posts and like your followers’ posts.

If somebody replies to a comment you have made, you should in turn reply, to keep the conversation going.

4. Use Relevant Hashtags

Instagram allows you to make great use of hashtags, to help you group posts on similar topics. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post.

While using 30 hashtags in a single post is probably excessive, you can realistically use up to 15 per post.

But make certain that your hashtags are relevant. You want the right people to find your posts. Thre is no point is using hashtags as click bait. The hashtags need to legitimately match the content of your post.

You have approximately 2,000 characters as a caption for your post. You will use some of these for your hashtags. Use the rest to tell the story behind your images. If you’re posting as a brand, tell the brand’s story. Experiment with your captions, to see what resounds with your audience. Your followers will probably appreciate the gesture if you @mention them when relevant.

5. Think Carefully About What You Post

You are in competition with millions of other followers on Instagram. Thus if you want to build your account up to the state where you can make money, you need to keep ahead of the competition.

There are already 1 million advertisers on Instagram. There are 8 million business profiles on the app, up about five times the number in September 2016.

This means that you need to consistently post quality images. You will get nowhere my posting boring low-quality images, stock images, or even worse, clip art.

You could consider taking a photography course to improve your skills. You could also invest in improved photographic equipment. You might struggle to compete if you simply upload quick snaps from your phone unless they show totally unusual and enticing images.

If you operate a business account or get to the point where you can make posts on behalf of companies, do remember that you need to keep your authenticity. You will never build up any genuine relationships if you simply post marketing messages. It is generally considered good practice for you to make no more than 20% of your posts promotional.

Don’t forget about using video content. Quality videos can add to your reputation. You can upload videos of up to 60 seconds. Videos are great for helping engagement, too.

6. Work with Influencers to Build your Own Following

While nearly every business needs a quality Instagram page (as well as a Facebook presence), you will struggle to build a following at the beginning. No matter how well you run your account, ti will take time for your posts to work their way through the Instagram algorithm. Unless you are in an extremely niche industry, you will face incredible competition from others wanting to build their Instagram presence.

One way you can get around this problem is to work with people who have already found their Instagram audience - influencers who operate in your niche.

You could set up a campaign with influencers in your niche with the goal of building up awareness of your own Instagram account. That way, the influencers promote your account to their followers and assuming your niches closly align, you should gain a solid boost in your follower numbers.

The more people you can “grab” as a result of a small investment in influencer marketing, the easier it will be got you to operate your own Instagram account, and in time, make mnoney on Instagram.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.