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Instagram Monetization: A Complete Guide for Creators and Influencers

Follow this step-by-step process to monetize your Instagram and start earning a living as a professional creator — today.

Michelle Martin March 23, 2022
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There are so many ways to monetize your Instagram presence. You can make good money as an influencer even if your last name doesn’t end in -ardashian. Instagram has committed to spending $1 billion USD by the end of 2022 to reward creators and encourage them to make social media their job.

​​Not to sound like a get-rich-quick-infomercial, but by being aware of new monetization features, you can be among the first early adopters and have a greater chance of earning good money with that feature. The early bird catches the worm fat paycheck.

So, whether you’re a beauty or fashion influencer, filmmaker, photographer, or other creative content creator, these are all the brand new and tried-and-true Instagram monetization methods you need to know.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a fitness influencer used to grow from 0 to 600,000+ followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

What is Instagram monetization?

Monetizing your Instagram can take many forms, from working with brands, earning ad revenue on videos, accepting tips, or trying out the new Instagram Subscriptions feature.

There’s a key difference between monetization and selling, though. For creators and infleuncers, monetizing an Instagram account doesn’t mean selling physical or digital products to a social audience. It means earning money for the content you’re already putting out there on the platform: posts, Reels, and Stories.

Selling products and services directly on social media (e.g. via Instagram Shops or by hooking up your online store to social media) is social commerce. You can (and should) do that, but it’s not monetization in this context.

Instagram is the most popular platform for monetizing content creation. The global influencer market size hit a record $13.8 billion USD in 2021, over double what it was in 2019.

All that cash isn’t only for ultra-rich celebrities, either. 47% of Instagram influencers have between 5,000 to 20,000 followers, 26.8% have between 20,000 and 100,000, and only 6.5% of influencers have over 100,000 followers.

Meta, parent company of both Instagram and Facebook, is working hard to attract and keep creators on their platforms. The recently launched Creator Studio and bonus earnings programs speak to the rise of being a creator as a real job anyone can do, not just those born with a silver spoon in their mouths.

Many people are already earning full-time incomes from social media. It’s not too late to hop aboard because the demand for influencer marketing continues to rise. Almost 75% of American marketers currently run influencer campaigns and eMarketer predicts that will reach 86% by 2025.

US Marketers Who Use Influencer Marketing, 2020-2015 - eMarketer graph

Source: eMarketer

7 ways to monetize your Instagram account

There are two main ways to monetize your Instagram: Sponsored content from sources outside of Instagram, or within the platform’s new creator tools.

Let’s dive into the 7 ways you can earn money on Instagram.

Work with brands

This is likely what most people think of when the topic of Instagram monetization or influencer marketing comes up. A brand could pay you for an in-feed photo or video, Story content, a Reel, or any combination of the above.

We’ve all seen the quintessential Instagram sponsored post where an influencer posts a styled shot of the product, chats up how great it is, and tags the brand.

With today’s tools like Reels ads and Stories, branded content is more creative, interesting, and authentic than ever. As a creator, your unique voice is everything and it doesn’t get more authentic than Joy Ofodu’s realistic skincare routine:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Joy Ofodu (@joyofodu)

Brand work is one of the easiest ways to monetize your Instagram because you’re in control. You can reach out to a brand proactively, negotiate your campaign fee and terms, and ultimately, do as many brand deals as you can get.

Yes, you need to have some marketing savvy here in the way you approach deals, and probably have a decent number of followers. But anyone can get started working with brands.

Eligibility requirements

  • In-feed or Story content that’s sponsored through either payment or free product must use the “Paid partnership with” label.
  • The FTC requires sponsored content to have a #ad or #sponsored tag.
  • No specific requirements for follower count, although you should probably aim for around 10,000 as a first goal. Many are successfully landing brand deals with less, though.
  • Be prepared to pitch brands on why they should advertise with you and what you bring to the table (besides your follower count).

Join an affiliate marketing program

Instagram made two important changes in 2021 that drastically increased monetization opportunities:

  1. Allowing everyone to add links to Stories. (Previously you needed a minimum of 10,000 followers.)
  2. Launching Instagram Affiliate.

Affiliate marketing has been around almost as long as the internet. You share a trackable link to a product → customer buys with your link → you receive a commission for referring the sale. Easy.

Instagram Stories are perfect for adding affiliate links. Instagram allows this as long as you disclose to your audience that it is an affiliate link. You can also include links in your captions, like this example from popular fashion affiliate network LikeToKnow.It.

Instagram Affiliate is still in testing as of early 2022, but the company has announced it will be available to all creators soon. Instagram is basically creating their own affiliate network, where you can discover products inside the app, share a link to them, and earn a commission for sales — without any outside partners or awkward copy/paste links in your captions.

Instagram affiliate program preview across 3 screenshots

Source: Instagram

This is definitely an exciting feature, but there’s no need to wait for it to arrive. You can start making money with affiliate links now.

Not sure where to find affiliate programs? We’ve got you covered.

Eligibility requirements

  • Comply with Instagram’s content guidelines and monetization policies.
  • Be honest with your audience and disclose when you’re sharing an affiliate link. The FTC recommends using a simple hashtag like #ad, or saying, “I earn a commission through sales placed with this link.” (When launched, Instagram Affiliate will automatically include an, “Eligible for commission,” label.)

Working with brands and affiliate marketing are both ways to make money using your Instagram account. Now, here’s how you can make money directly from Instagram’s built-in features.

Use Badges in livestreams

During live videos, viewers can purchase what Instagram calls Badges to support creators. These are available in $0.99, $1.99 and $4.99 USD increments. Once you set up this feature, it will automatically be available for all your live videos.

Since it’s fairly new, make sure to mention it to your audience during your live and thank those who support you in this way.

To use badges, click on your profile and go to your Professional Dashboard. Click on the Badges tab and turn it on.

Instagram badges navigation from Professional dashboard

Source: Instagram

After that, you’ll need to set up a direct deposit payment account via your bank or PayPal. Then, just go live!

Instagram announcing the introduction of Badges for Creators

Eligibility requirements

Badges have been around since 2020 but are still limited to the United States. Instagram is currently testing this feature with select creators in several other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and more.

To use badges right now, you must:

  • Be located in the United States.
  • Have a Creator or Business account.
  • Have at least 10,000 followers.
  • Be over 18.
  • Adhere to Instagram’s Partner Monetization and content guidelines.

Enable ads on your Instagram Reels

Until February 2022, Instagram offered in-stream video ads as a monetization method. This allowed brands to run ads before, during, and after video posts on your Instagram profile (formerly known as IGTV ads). Sort of like TV commercials for Instagram, with creators receiving a portion of the ad revenue.

Now that Reels have become the main video focus on Instagram, the platform announced the discontinuation of the regular video post ad monetization option. It’s being replaced with a new ad revenue share program for Reels sometime in 2022.

Instagram Reels are the #1 way to grow your account so you’d be wise to focus on them now, even before this new monetization option launches.

Eligibility requirements

  • Currently under development by Instagram. Keep checking Instagram’s announcements or follow their @creators account.
  • The same as all Instagram video posts: Use a 9×16 aspect ratio and ensure any important text isn’t hidden by the app’s overlays.
  • It’s also a good idea to check Instagram’s content recommendations guide for the best chances of success. A key element is creating original content for Reels, or at the very least removing watermarks from other platforms if re-posting (i.e. the TikTok logo).

Earn milestone bonuses

As part of an effort to draw creators to their platforms and keep existing ones, Meta has announced bonus programs for both Instagram and Facebook content. These are currently by invitation only.

Right now, the 3 bonus programs are:

  1. Video ads bonus, which is a one-time payment for select American creators signing up for the feature. As mentioned above, this type of ad monetization has now ended for enrolment but will soon be replaced with an ad monetization option for Reels.
  2. Live video badges bonus, which rewards hitting certain milestones such as going live with a secondary account.
  3. Reels summer bonus, which rewards the most popular Reels with cash bonuses.

It can be frustrating that these bonus programs aren’t available to everyone. How do you get invited to things like this? By regularly posting high-quality, engaging content your target audience loves, and making use of “app favorite” formats like Reels.

Eligibility requirements

  • These specific Instagram bonus programs are invitation-only. To become eligible for these or future opportunities, your best bet is to start taking your Instagram growth seriously by consistently posting great content.

Enable Instagram subscriptions

Another new feature in 2022, Instagram announced the launch of subscriptions. Available on sister platform Facebook since 2020, subscriptions on Instagram enable your followers to pay a monthly price in order to support your work and access exclusive content, directly inside Instagram.

This is currently in testing and not open for public enrolment, but expect it to open up soon.

This will be an incredibly valuable monetization opportunity for many obvious reasons:

  • Consistent, predictable monthly income.
  • The ability to market it to your existing audience, who are more likely to turn into paid subscribers.
  • Grow your business with new tools and offerings for this core group of subscriber supporters.

The best part? Everyone can make money with subscriptions. If you already have an audience on Instagram, people like what you’re doing. So, do more of it! Ask what people want to see from you and why they follow you. As long as that aligns with your authenticity and business vision, give them what they want. The marketing plan for subscription businesses is really that simple. (Well, sort of.)

Unlike monetization methods that depend on view counts or having “better” content than others, you are in control of growing your subscribers. It doesn’t matter how many people you market to, as long as you have the right offer to make people want to subscribe. And unlike competing with other people’s content, you are always in control of your offer and your marketing plan. #peptalk

Eligibility requirements

  • As of March 2022, this feature is not open for enrolment. As with other Instagram monetization features, expect it to roll out to U.S. creators first, then expand to other countries.

Future Instagram monetization possibilities

While nothing has been officially announced, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri mentioned there’s more in store for the future for Instagram creators. A source even revealed Instagram was exploring the creation of an NFT marketplace inside the app.

Mosseri recently said, “…[It’s going to be] a consistent focus of us to do all that we can for the creator community.” Expect to hear more throughout 2022 as Instagram ramps up creator tools, including the new Creator Lab.

How much money can you make from Instagram monetization?

Short answer: It depends.

Shorter answer: A lot.

While there aren’t 100% authoritative benchmarks to report for how much creators earn on Instagram, there have been several surveys on the subject:

  • The average rate for a single sponsored Instagram post from creators with 100,000 to 1,000,000 followers ranged from $165 USD to $1,800 USD.
  • Affiliate income varies widely, and some creators are earning $5,000 per month from affiliate links alone.
  • Instagram’s bonus program payouts vary widely, though one influencer told Business Insider he received a $6,000 bonus from Instagram in a single month for posting high-performing Reels.
  • What about mega-stars? The highest paid Instagram influencers are: Cristiano Ronaldo in the top spot charging $1.6 million per post, Dwayne Johnson at $1.5 million per post, and Kendall Jenner at $1 million per post.
  • In contrast, a more realistic example is a creator with 13,000 Instagram followers earning about $300 USD per sponsored Reel.

The most expensive influence on Instagram - Statista graph

Source: Statista

Unfortunately, racism and bias are factors in how much creators earn, across all platforms. Adesuwa Ajayi started the @influencerpaygap account to expose the disparity between pay for white and Black creators. Seeing what brands are offering for different kinds of content campaigns allows creators to set more informed rates, and — more importantly — for Black, Indigenous, and creators of color to receive equal pay.

As you can see, Instagram earnings aren’t a straightforward calculation. So what should you charge for brand work?

There’s an old rule of thumb floating around that says a good starting point is $100 per 10,000 followers for a sponsored in-feed photo post. Now, with creative options like Reels, video, Stories, and more, does that seem like enough? I’d argue no.

Another popular method is charging by engagement rate:

Average price per IG post (CPE) = Recent Average Engagements x $0.16

Most influencers use anywhere from $0.14 to $0.16. Engagements are the total number of likes, comments, shares, and saves.

So if your recent posts each averaged:

  • 30 saves

Then your calculation would be: 3,005 x $0.16 = $480.80 per post

Hootsuite can help you out a ton here with detailed Instagram analytics, so you don’t have to tally it all up manually and keep track of your average engagements per post or video. Phew.

Besides seeing all your metrics in an easy-to-read format, you can also find your highest-performing content and the best time to post for max engagement.

Hootsuite Instagram analytics dashboard

It’s never too late to monetize your Instagram content. Hootsuite makes it a lot easier with all the growth tools you need from content planning, scheduling, posting, and analytics to connecting with your audience and a lot more. Try it today.

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By Michelle Martin

As an ex-agency strategist turned freelance WFH fashion icon, Michelle is passionate about putting the sass in SaaS content. She's known for quickly understanding and distilling complicated technical topics into conversational copy that gets results. She has written for Fortune 500 companies and startups, and her clients have earned features in Forbes, Strategy Magazine and Entrepreneur.

Read more by Michelle Martin

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