How to Make Money on Instagram

You can turn just about any hobby into a side hustle these days — especially through photos.

Love food? Snap some pics of it and post it to Instagram. Can’t get enough of sunsets? Take a time-lapse and post it to your Instagram Story. If enough people follow and engage with your content, the dream of making money with a simple smartphone camera could become a reality.

The good news is, you don’t have to have a ton of followers to make this happen — even though having a decent following does improve your chances of earning some serious dollars. Here’s how anyone can start making money on Instagram in just a few steps.

First and foremost, learn how to take good photos and establish your ‘theme’

Instagram photo

Instagram photo |

Anyone can take pictures of whatever they come across. But the most successful — and most profitable — Instagram pages all center around a specific theme, object, or idea. Think of all the dogs made “famous” on the platform. All photos on their pages are about them in some way.

Once you’ve chosen a theme, make sure you’re posting the highest-quality photos possible. Smartphone cameras are much better at snapping pictures now than they were when Instagram first launched. You don’t need an $800 camera or fancy lights to get it right. Practice, post, and see what works.

Work with brands on sponsorships

Many social media influencers on platforms like YouTube and Instagram build up a loyal, engaged follower base to the point where brands are willing to pay them to promote products and services. The number of followers or the exact “reach” of your post necessary to attract brands depends on specific companies’ preferences.

Sponsored content can take the form of a traditional photo or video or can appear in your Instagram Story. A brand might agree to just one post or an entire campaign.

Join affiliate programs

Affiliate Programs are sort of like brand deals or sponsorships, but you only make money based on how many products you “sell.” Usually, a company offers to pay you a certain percentage of every sale you facilitate through a link in your Instagram bio (the only place the platform allows hyperlinks, or clickable links).

Popular networks like the Amazon Affiliate Program offer members a 10% commission on all products sold through the links they provide. Some programs are open to anyone who wants to join, while others are exclusive to certain influencers and invite-only.

Sell a physical product or service


Smartphone | KristinaJovanovic/iStock/Getty Images

Whether you’re working with brands and affiliate programs or not, you always have the option of promoting and selling your own products or services through your Instagram account. Businesses do this all the time, even without paying for ads.

You can link to a Shopify link in your Instagram bio, for example, that takes visitors to your online store. Many influencers sell T-shirts, mugs, and other merchandise to both earn a small income and promote their personal brands.

Sell your photos

If you want to make money off your photos specifically, you can list them on specific sites and make them available for brands to license for future use.

Also, going back to the strategy of selling your own stuff, you can find services online to help you sell physical prints, posters, and other objects featuring your photos. If your goal in starting an Instagram account was to make a name for yourself as a photographer, this is a great way to make that happen.

You don’t have to have 100,000 followers or more to earn some extra income through a photo-sharing app. Anyone can do it, as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort necessary to make your account one your followers can’t ignore.

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