Wondering how to make money on Instagram for free and without followers?
The number of people that have been making a living on Instagram has grown rapidly in recent years, leaving the rest of us wondering – How do they do it? How can I do it too?
We wouldn’t blame you for thinking the key to making money on Instagram is gaining thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of followers, which can feel incredibly daunting, especially if you are starting from scratch. But what if we told you that there was a way to make money on Instagram without masses and masses of followers? You read that right, it is entirely possible to make money on Instagram with a completely realistic following.
Those Instagrammers that you see making money on the platform, make money because their profile has grown a valuable reach. And brands will pay to reach those followers with their products. However, with so many celebrities and influencers on Instagram spouting endless #ads, sponsored posts and merch, the platform has seen a rise in micro-influencers making money from a much smaller following.
Why? Their followers trust and relate to what they have to say, more than they can with a rich and famous influencer.
So, if you’ve come to this article wondering how to make money on Instagram without followers, we’re here to show you that a little effort could turn your Instagram profile into a lucrative side hustle. Instagram profiles are used by so many to share their hobbies, passions and life with others. Whether you enjoy sharing your pets, food, photography, art, makeup, fashion, work or friends on social media – if you have ANY sort of following on social media, it could be monetised by following a few simple steps.
In this article, we’ll cover the ins and out of how you can make money online without a large following. As well as how to optimise your Instagram profile for monetisation. It may seem like a long road between posting your first photos to getting your first check, but we’re here to prove that it’s something anyone can do!
Whether you’re wondering how to make money on Instagram with 500 followers, how to make money on Instagram with 1000 followers, or none at all – keep reading to learn how you can start making money ASAP.
The basics of how to make money on Instagram without followers:
How many followers do you need to start earning money?
Micro-influencers on Instagram typically have anywhere between 2000 and 50,000 followers, however, you can get to work on making a monetisable profile today even if you have no followers at all just yet. Those micro-influencers with between 2000 and 50,000 followers are at the level where brands may approach them to collaborate on marketing campaigns. However, with a much smaller following of 500 or 1000, you will still have gathered a valuable group of people who trust what you have to say, and can relate to the content you post. The key purpose of this article is not only to show you how you can make money from the followers you already have, but we’ll also show you easy changes you can make to gain more quality followers too.
The importance of being a micro-influencer in 2020
In a world of celebrity culture and mega social media influencers, you might be thinking that you and your relatively small following have very little significance on social media, and in the wider world. However, we’re here to tell you how wrong you are. Any following at all, is valuable and something that could be monetised. And to make the best of your social media presence, you shouldn’t take this responsibility lightly.
Sure, when you do get to 10,000 followers (it will happen eventually with enough time and effort, trust us) it will be a big deal, and a turning point in how much money you make, or how easy it comes to you. As, brands are more likely to reach out to form partnerships with Instagrammers with over 10k. Another important part of getting to 10k is being granted Instagram’s “Swipe Up” feature, which has an impressive conversion rate of 15-25% for each Instagram story.
However, you can still get the ground running on making money from your Instagram presence without yet reaching 10k. There are a variety of ways to make money on Instagram without relying on brands being able to find you, and it begins with shaping your profile in a way that will provide the best return for ads and collaborations.
Which profiles are the best at making money?
Whether it be micro-influencers or celebrity accounts, every Instagram account that is making money has a few things in common. There are 3 key factors that make an Instagram profile that will not only appeal to customers, but to brands looking to collaborate with micro-influencers too. The best profiles for monetization will have these three things in common, allowing them to attract maximum followers, and develop output and following that brands will want to capitalize on – making you money in the process.
- The first thing a successful profile will have is the focus. This is why it is really common for an influencer to limit their page to one specific topic, whether it’s health and fitness, makeup, fashion, recipes, vegan lifestyle, business or whatever other monetizable markets they are interested in. Focusing your entire page around one specific topic may sound incredibly limiting or boring – but it is the key to building a monetizable platform. Brands love profiles that a high level of focus, as it means that via the influencer they have direct access to a large pool of their target market. Every brand has a certain demographic they are looking to reach, and your profile could be a valuable gateway for them.
- The second key factor is style. An aspect that you might have noticed popular Instagram profiles have in common – their profile has a certain style that is cohesive, appealing and unique to their page. Owning an Instagram profile that follows a specific style in all of its posts helps you appear to potential followers and brands as more of a business than a person. This doesn’t detract from the relatability and personality that you bring to your page, it simply helps you look a little more professional to brands, and more reliable to customers. After all, you wouldn’t want to buy something online from a poorly designed, bad quality website, would you? You can add more cohesiveness to your profile by using similar colours and tones in your posts, only posting a specific style of photo, or continuing a certain theme in your captions.
- Great visuals. Instagram is a photo sharing platform, if you are serious about making money on there, there’s really no excuse for sharing poor-quality visuals. If you think you have a good eye for taking photographs, that’s a great start. If not, try taking a look at other popular Instagram pages in your genre and how they take photographs. However, even if you are trying to imitate another page in how you take your photos, you must remember to not get lost in the process and always make it your own!
It is also important to notice, that even in profiles that have hundreds of thousands of followers, they have to maintain a healthy balance between #ad content and general posts. As you strive to make money through Instagram, it can be easy to focus on the sponsored posts and lose the attention of your audience. If followers think you’re all about making money off of them, they probably won’t like it. Keep reminding your followers of the reason they followed you (your unique, relatable content and awesome personality!), and they are more likely to repay you by being interested in the products you recommend them.
What are the different ways to make money on Instagram?
So far in this article we have touched on brands collaborating with Instagrammers, and how they probably won’t start to notice a profile until it has at least 10k followers. However, there are, in fact, several different methods for making money on the platform, allowing you to make the best of whatever size following you have. Furthermore, just because you have not yet reached 10k followers, does not mean that you can’t work with brands and do sponsored posts, it just means you might have to work a little harder for them.
Here we list four main methods Instagrammers are using to make money. We touch on how they work, who they best suit, and the pros and cons.
Instagram influencer communities:
When you like the sound of working with brands, but don’t yet have the following for them to properly notice you, Instagram influencer communities make it easier for you to connect with brands compatible with your audience. There are a range of different influencer communities, each suited to different types of profiles. They will help you find the brands that want to pay for your reach, as well as the trustworthy voice you offer to followers. Influencer communities are convenient for brands too, as it makes it easier for them to find Instagrammers to work with. Each community will come with its own unique requirements (e.g. Amount of followers), take a varying cut of your earnings, and range of perks.
Key influencer communities include:
- Heartbeat: Heartbeat is a great option if you are a female influencer with a relatively low follower count. Heartbeat does not have a minimum follower requirement, and matches Instagrammers to brands based on questions about what you post. You will either receive money or free products for your sponsored posts.
- Popular Pays: Different to Heartbeat, Popular Pays is a platform brands use to post a campaign they are working on, and influencers can pitch why they would be the best to work with them on the campaign. Each job comes with a different price tag, that can sometimes be negotiated.
- Tribe Group: Tribe Group is based in Australia but operates across the world. Each influencer will have to apply to be on their roster, however Tribe does not have any specified minimum follower restrictions. One of the great advantages of Tribe, is that they allow you (the influencer) to set you own price for your services.
- Shoutcart: Shoutcart is essentially an online store filled with influencers, that brands can then browse for who they like, before adding them to their campaign cart. All you have to do is make a profile and set your own price, Shoutcart will let you know when a brand has chosen you to collaborate on their campaign.
- Ifluenze: Ifluenze is a great platform for getting in contact with brands and working on campaigns with them. They have a minimum follower requirement of 5,000 followers, however, once you are in you can pitch your proposals to a wide range of brands.
Selling your work:
If you have shaped your Instagram profile around something you’re passionate about, be it photography, art, writing, your ideas or beliefs, it could be time to get innovative and entrepreneurial and sell your work. If you make art, people will love looking at it on Instagram, and those that have clicked ike’ may even appreciate the chance to buy a print or an original. There are many different apps on the market that allow artists to sell their work in the form of prints, while taking care of shipping and payment. You could even make your own website full of your products, and use your Instagram to reach new customers.
Of course, you can also sell prints if you’re a photographer. However, if photography is your thing, you could sell stock photography too. Keen photographers have hard drives full of photos that they are doing nothing with, or Instagram feeds with photos that could be used for a greater purpose. There are a range of stock photography companies online that will buy your photos and make them available for others to use online. Make sure you read over any of the licensing agreements involved before signing on the dotted line.
If you are a writer, a keen chef, a fitness expert or a self-proclaimed expert in just about any field, one lucrative way to make money is by publishing an eBook. Anyone can create and publish their own eBook through Amazon, Kobo or iBooks, and they are exceptionally easy for your followers to buy and read. One of the most important parts of creating an eBook that sells on Instagram, is writing in it valuable information that followers within your niche will really want to know. Whether it’s a personal trainer’s secrets to losing weight, or a vegan Instagrammer’s latest 10-minute recipes, write something that people will feel compelled to read. Furthermore, eBooks are usually priced significantly lower than paper books, so it will seem like a great bargain for followers.
Affiliate links are a way for you to receive money every time someone buys a specific product, because they used a link that you shared. Once you sign up to affiliate marketing, you will be provided with a URL that is entirely unique to you, when people use it, you’ll get a cut of the sale. Due to Instagram’s restrictions on personal accounts posting links in their posts, you may have to post your affiliate link in your bio, or create a LinkTree account for followers to click through to. It is quick and easy for anyone to sign up to an affiliate program online and get sharing!
Reach out to sponsors:
With less than 10k followers, brands may not just stumble upon you and reach out to you personally for a sponsor deal. However, the door is open for you to reach out to them, if you think your voice and reach will be valuable to their products and business. Try reaching out by direct message to your chosen brand with a casual yet professional proposal, if you’re lucky, they may reply with positive news! This does mean that you will have to set your own rate, which you can’t just pluck from thin air. There are calculators online that will use your reach to let you know how much you should be charging for a post.
Step by step guide to making money on Instagram
Step 1: Optimise your profile
Whether you’re looking to make money, or just looking to grow your Instagram followers, optimising your profile is key. It’s all about making your profile stand out from the rest, and appeal to the right audience. You can do this easily by bearing in mind the 3 key factors we mentioned earlier in the article; focus, styles and visuals. Find a specific theme that suits your interests, focus on it, and push out interesting and relatable content surrounding that subject.
· How to get your bio right?
Your bio is essentially the homepage of your Instagram account, and a prime opportunity to solidify yourself as a brand. Tell your new and existing followers who you are, what you like, letting them know exactly what they can expect from following your account. Choose a profile picture that is eye-catching, while also embodying your niche and your personality. You can also make the most of the link in your profile by pointing followers in the direction of your affiliates or your own website/shop.
· What should you be posting?
Considering that there are millions of people posting everyday on Instagram, each one of your posts should be created with the purpose of standing out from the rest. You want to draw people to your page, who are interested in the same things as you. Find your niche, and ensure each of your posts fit into it – this all helps develop your own personal brand.
· How often should you be posting?
When it comes to social media algorithms, quantity is not necessarily better than quality. And when you are looking to grow your presence and make money, quality should always be your priority. Spend more time creating top quality content, instead of trying to push more and more out. 3-5 well thought out posts per week is usually more effective than several meaningless posts each day.
However, it is vital that you are consistent. Post high-quality photos or videos consistently, add a meaningful caption, and interact with new followers in the comments. Aim to create a community of people interested in what you have to say on your chosen topic, and listen to their advice and questions. These are all necessary moves in creating a monetisable platform.
Step 2: Gather a valuable following
As we’ve learned earlier in the article, these days with making money on Instagram, it’s not necessarily about the size of your following, it’s about gathering a valuable following who see you as a reliable voice in their area of interest.
However, if you’re in a rush to grow your following you could end up with lots of bots – which, when it comes to earning money, will be useless. It’s all about patience and putting out the right content. Following the above tips on content consistency will help you gradually bring in authentic followers. If you need help with consistency, try one of the many online services that allow you to schedule your posts for specific times. This way, you can aim to post at times where engagement is statistically higher.
· How to get more Instagram followers?
- Posting consistently
- Sponsoring user-generated content (turning your customers into advocates for your business)
- Instagram contests (to enter, followers have to tag others or share)
- Showcase your Instagram on your other websites and social media
- Start a conversation
- Find the hashtags that have the highest conversion for your niche.
Step 3: Take the next step to monetize
Once you have developed a decently-sized audience, all interested in your niche and in your personal brand, you stand in good stead to sell them a product. How you go about this is entirely up to you…
· Pitching a sponsor
If you think getting a brand to sponsor you is the appropriate next step, you’ll have to strategize which brands you want to target. Do some serious searching for brands that not only sell products within your niche and that your audience would love, but also have a track record of paying attention to micro-influencers. If you are lucky, brands may find you based on the hashtags you use. However, don’t sit around waiting for brands to find you, be proactive and reach out to the brands that you think will be a good fit.
When reaching out to a brand, you’ll need to pitch to them on why your reach and voice will be worthwhile to them. If an agency was doing this for you, they would pull together a media kit that explains your social media presence and the demographic of your followers. So, if you are sending the pitch personally, you will want to include this same info. When you’re not going through a middle man, the best method may be to contact the brand via DMs.
· Selling your own products
Aside from sponsorships, you could try using your Instagram platform to market your own products that are within your niche. Your followers enjoy your content, so why not create products along the same lines? If your page is all about inspirational quotes, why not print them on a tote bag? Make your own t-shirt designs, stream online webinars or write your own educational eBook. There are loads of budget-friendly products you can create and sell to your followers for a good profit.
Step 4: Engagement and growth
If you’ve got this far and managed to monetise your Instagram presence then well done! That’s awesome. But now comes the tricky job of keeping your followers interested, and continuing to grow.
It’s always great to do a #ad post, especially if its making you good money. However, it can seriously interfere with your connection with your followers if everything you post comes with a #ad. Even if you aren’t sponsored and are just selling your own products, followers won’t want to feel like they are merely potential customers to you. At worst, this can lead your followers to turn on you entirely and unfollow. It can be tough finding a healthy balance between ads, paid posts, promotions and organic content, but it is so important that you put effort into trying.
It can also be important to let your followers know that you only work with brands that you wholeheartedly believe in. As this not only helps you continue to be reliable and trustworthy in their eyes, but also adds extra impact to the products you are trying to promote or sell. Transparency is another key way to show your followers that you respect them, always add a “#ad” to your paid posts. They won’t think you’re a sell-out, and you can continue to make great income from Instagram.
Therefore, with all content you post remember that integrity is vital! You want your followers to remember why they followed you in the first place.
Q & A
Whether you have read through the entire article and still have questions, or want some of your burning questions answered to summarise the info in this article – here we answer some of the most-searched questions about making money on Instagram.
Q: How many followers do I need to make money on Instagram?
Any audience is a great starting point for making money on Instagram. Even with just a few hundred followers you could make money from selling photography, art, eBooks, webinars and more. Once you reach 2,000 you will be within the bracket of micro-influencers and brands may even approach you with collaborations.
Q: What are the best ways to make money on Instagram in 2020?
There are a variety of methods to make money on Instagram, whether you’ve got 500 followers or 50,000. Anyone can start selling their own products to their followers, be it eBooks, t-shirts, tote bags, webinars, art – whatever your Instagram niche, make a product that sells it. Once you are a micro-influencer, you may be able to collaborate with brands. You could reach out to brands yourself, pitching why your reach and voice will be worth their while. Or you could sign up for an Instagram influencer community, such as Heartbeat, who help hook you up with brands. Lastly, affiliate links are another easy way to make some money through Instagram. There are many different affiliate programs that are free to sign up for online. However, you probably won’t make a significant amount from your affiliate links until you have a larger following.
Q: Can I get sponsorships and brand deals with only 2,000 followers?
Absolutely! It just takes a little bit more effort. Those with much larger followings will often be propositioned by brands, however, as a micro-influencer you may need to reach out to the brands yourself. There are plenty of agencies or influencer communities that will give you all the help you need to get in touch with brands, helping you secure a lucrative deal to suit your niche.
Q: What are the best ways to get new followers on Instagram?
First and foremost, make sure you are posting consistently and using the hashtags that are delivering the highest returns for your niche. Next, there are a range of things you can try to attract more attention to your profile. These include: Instagram contests, linking your Instagram on other social media or websites, sponsoring user-generated content and starting a conversation with your followers.
Q: How can I get a brand deal on Instagram?
If you think you have grown a reach and voice on Instagram that could be of great use to a brand, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try and secure a brand deal. Develop a pitch that shows you and your followers in their best life, so the brand will see exactly how useful you could be for them. If you don’t want to contact brands yourself, there are agencies that will make sure you get seen by the best brands, while taking a cut of the profits. Or there are influencer communities that help connect you with the best brands within your niche.