Does Instagram Pay Influencers in 2023?

If you want to share a combination of photos and videos, Instagram is the ultimate social media platform. Owned by Facebook, it’s tied into Facebook’s massive user base. It also attracts a younger demographic separately from Facebook. But why stop with sharing your pictures and videos? Why not take things to the next level and become an influencer?

Companies will often partner with popular Instagram users to promote their products. You don’t even need that many followers. Even a couple of thousand is enough if they fall into a niche advertisers want to reach. If that’s the case, you’ll be able to start earning money from your Instagram account. You can also monetize your videos with ads, promote your own business, or participate in affiliate marketing.

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Let’s be clear: Instagram does not pay influencers, at least not directly. Brands and advertisers pay them, though some of that revenue will pass through Instagram in the case of video advertising. Let’s talk more about Instagram influencers and how they earn their money.

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What Is an Influencer?

People often confuse influencers with celebrities. This isn’t really the case, though many celebrities are also influencers. But that’s really no different than what celebrities have always done. Long before social media, brands were paying celebrities to promote their products to the public.

In fact, celebrity endorsements go back at least as far as the Middle Ages. If a duke or even a king stayed at an inn, he could choose to allow the inn to fly his heraldry. If you saw a nobleman’s banner hanging on an inn, you knew it gave top-tier service!

Thankfully, you don’t have to be a celebrity or European nobility to become an influencer. In fact, anybody can be an influencer. All you need is a following of people who trust your expertise. In other words, you need to build a personal brand.

Let’s say you’re good at motorcycle repair, and you have your own shop. You might take pictures and post videos to help people with their maintenance. Over time, people would come to know you as a motorcycle expert. They might even share your content, which is good news. It means you’re reaching beyond your followers to your followers’ followers.

As you might imagine, there’s no shortcut to becoming an influencer. You need to post good content that people find valuable. You also need to do this consistently. You won’t build a following by posting every six months. Put out a steady stream of content that keeps your followers engaged.

With as few as 1,000 followers, you can earn your first endorsement. You’ll typically need more than that, but it all depends on your niche and how many people share your content. So, how do you monetize your following? Here are six different ways.

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How to Earn Money on Instagram

There are a few main ways that influencers earn money on Instagram. Let’s go over a few of the most popular methods.

1. Obtain a Sponsorship

First things first; let’s talk about sponsorships. This is what most people think of when they think of Instagram influencers, and it’s a reliable way to earn. A brand pays you a certain amount of money to shout out their product, typically with a photo or video. The exact type of brand you would partner with would depend on your niche. For example, if your channel is all about snowboarding, you might partner with a helmet manufacturer.

This is important for two reasons. For one thing, you don’t want to alienate your audience. The snowboarding channel’s audience might be put off by a makeup sponsorship. For another thing, advertisers want to reach people who are already interested in their product. That’s why they want to advertise on relevant channels.

If you’re lucky, a sponsor will seek you out. In practice, that won’t happen unless you have a very large channel with lots of visibility. You’d be better served by working with an agency, who can help you find appropriate advertisers. There are many agencies available, each with their own specialties.

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Unless you have a lot of reach, it can be hard to attract “big name” advertisers. Instead, look for advertisers with a particular niche. Let’s go back to the snowboarder example. Maybe your channel is too small to attract a helmet manufacturer. But you might be able to promote a helmet camera mount for a GoPro, for example. Think about what your followers want, and get creative!

Finally, remember that Instagram posts are covered by the same laws as other marketing. This includes laws about truth in advertising, so be careful about who you endorse. You should also go into your account settings and set up branded content, then tag your sponsor. This will display the proper disclosure that your post has been paid for.

2. Promote Your Own Business

You don’t need a sponsorship to make money from your Instagram account. If you have a small business, you can use Instagram to promote it. How you do this will depend on your type of channel. Let’s go back to our earlier example of a motorcycle mechanic. The most obvious thing to do would be to promote your own services. You’d only get business from people in your area, but there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, you probably have more followers close to home than anywhere else.

If you’re selling a product rather than a service, things get even easier. For example, Instagram is a great place to promote artwork and photography. Why limit yourself to selling your work through a local studio? You have the entire internet at your fingertips. And if you have an Etsy or Shopify storefront, you can put a link to it on your profile. That way, you’ll make it easy to find your products.

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While you’re doing all this, remember that Instagram is primarily a visual platform. When you post pictures of your products, make sure they’re well-lit and attractive. Enable high-quality photo uploads so people get the best possible look. And make sure to use a relevant hashtag to make your posts more discoverable.

Of course, you’ll get better results when you know your audience well. Use Instagram Insights to see who’s interacting with your posts. You can get information about follower demographics, as well, so you know who’s interested in your content. That way, you can tailor future posts to your core audience.

3. Sell Your Old Stuff

Even if you don’t own a business, you might have stuff you want to get rid of. A lot of people hold a garage sale or yard sale to make a few bucks from unwanted items. But why not offer your items to all of Instagram? Sites like Poshmark make it easy to get rid of old clothes and other things.

As when promoting your business, make sure to take well-lit, good-quality photos. At the same time, be honest about the items’ condition. If your old end table has a scratch on it, include that in the pictures. It’s better to be honest upfront than to deal with an angry buyer later on.

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4. Monetize Live Videos and Q&As

Instagram isn’t just for pre-recorded content. You can also put out live videos to share with your followers. Viewers can purchase “badges” with values from $0.99 to $4.99 as a way to thank you for your work.

The best way to encourage people to donate is by providing extra value for those who buy badges. For example, you could host a live Q&A session, and give first priority to those who donate most. For this to work, you’ll want to announce the live video in advance. Otherwise, people might not know it’s happening until it’s already over.

5. Let Brands Run Ads on Your Videos

Like YouTube, Instagram allows you to monetize your videos. Go to your account settings, and turn on the monetization option for video ads. From then on, advertising will appear in your videos, as long as the videos are at least 2 minutes long. Shorter videos won’t qualify for advertising.

You’ll be paid 55% of any revenue generated, while Instagram will take the other 45%. Payments are issued at the end of each month.

6. Try Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a special type of advertising where you earn a commission for promoting a product. Typically, an advertiser will give you a unique code or link to provide to your followers. When followers use that code or link for their purchase, you get a small percentage.

The nice thing about affiliate programs is that there’s no barrier to entry. Even the smallest Instagram accounts can sign up and start promoting products. If you only earn a few pennies at first, who cares? At least you’re making something, and your earnings will grow along with your following.

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Final Thoughts

While Instagram doesn’t pay its influencers directly, there are plenty of ways to earn money on the platform. You can promote your own business, sell old junk, or sign up for video monetization. Affiliate marketing is a great way for anyone to start earning. And if you’re an established expert, you can make good money with live videos and Q&As.

Regardless, Instagram in 2023 still proves to be a very lucrative endeavor for some. Whether you have a couple thousand or hundreds of thousands of followers, truth is, you can make some really good money if you monetize your account in the right ways.

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