How Instagram Influencers Make Money

Contrary to popular opinion, you do not need hundreds of thousands of followers to make money on Instagram. In fact, “micro-influencers” (i.e., those with fewer than 10,000 followers) tend to provide one of the highest ROIs for brands because they generally have a much more engaging audience. 

This means that practically anyone can become an Instagram influencer.


How Do I Make Money on Instagram?

Generally, Instagram influencers make money in one of four ways:

  • Making sponsored posts and/or stories
  • Becoming affiliates
  • Opening their own online store
  • Getting paid directly through Instagram’s “Bonuses” feature

Making Sponsored Content

One of the most common ways of monetizing your Instagram account as an influencer is by providing sponsored content for brands in your industry. 

This involves charging a flat fee for every post. The specificities for this are usually verified in written form. Such a contract can include:

  • The number of posts that you will be required to make (and the frequency that you will make them in.)
  • The total amount that you will be owed per post 
  • An exclusivity clause: This may mandate that you are not allowed to advertise a specific brand’s competitors
  • The type of wording that you will use in your post (e.g., including sponsored hashtags, etc.)
  • A call to action link: For example, you may be required to include a link to your sponsor’s website in your Instagram bio

Becoming an Affiliate

Although this may sound similar to making sponsored content, affiliate content is different because it is aimed at generating sales for brands rather than simply raising awareness through advertising.

This means it is also structured differently from a monetary standpoint, and usually involves adopting a commission pay structure that includes a promotion link. 

If you are thinking about becoming an affiliate, always try to:

  • Review products you actually recommend
  • Review products that your followers are actually interested in (e.g., same market.
  • Maintain a balanced profile

If any of the above points are not carried out, you will risk looking overly advertised and losing your follower’s trust and confidence. 

This will mean your following will become less engaged with your posts and recommendations, and you will consequently offer a smaller ROI to your affiliated brands — making you less attractive and unable to bargain for higher commission rates.

Building Your Instagram Store

Another way to make money as an Instagram influencer is by using the platform as an extension of your business’s website

As an Instagram business, you can use the platform to sell:

  • Physical products such as custom-made T-shirts or accessories. A print-on-demand service can be used to start this offering for a low startup cost.
  • Services such as photography, animation, or consultancy.
  • Digital products such as diet and workout plans or business courses. If your industry, experience, and expertise allow you to sell digital products, you should consider adding them to your offerings as they are infinitely scalable. 

Through your post’s comment sections and your account’s direct messages, you will also be able to interact with your customers personally. This can allow you to:

  • Understand what your customers like about your products or services
  • Request feedback and make any amendments necessary
  • Identify customer demand for new products or services

Make sure that you enable Instagram shopping in your settings to allow your followers to browse your products on Instagram through your links rather than having to be redirected to a different website. 

This can be done by:

  • Opening the Instagram app
  • Going to your business’s Instagram profile
  • Selecting the “Settings” option
  • Selecting the “Business” and then the “Shopping” option
  • Choosing the “Product Catalog” that you wish to connect to your Instagram account

Keep in mind that this option is only available for accounts that have been approved by Instagram.

Bonuses Feature: Getting Paid by Instagram

Bonuses allow influencers to earn money directly from Instagram by using features such as “Live” or “Reels.” This is similar to YouTube’s partnership program. If your account qualifies for bonuses, Instagram will notify you.

The current downside to this method is that Instagram’s bonuses feature is still relatively young, so it may not be available to your business yet.

How Do I Price My Instagram Posts?

How much you will be able to charge for your Instagram posts will depend on several different factors, such as your niche, how engaged your followers are with your content, and how many followers you have.

Your Niche

Are you an Instagram influencer in a competitive market? If yes, then you will likely be able to charge significantly more. 

This is because there will be a higher number of potential sponsors that you will be able to find and work with. 

The increased competition that your sponsors will face will additionally incentivize them to offer you fruitful payment structures in exchange for exclusivity contracts. Such competitive niches include fitness, beauty, travel, and health.

Your Engagement

How engaged your followers are with your posts is extremely important. This is because it will directly affect how much they trust your recommendations and sponsored posts and how much sales and traffic you can generate for the brands you work with. 

The higher your engagement, the higher the price that you will be able to charge per post (or, when it comes to affiliate content, the larger the commission that you will be able to request). 

This means that relying on options such as fake Instagram followers is seldom (if ever) profitable.

Your Followers

Even though your total followers will not — by themselves — dictate how much you will be able to charge per post, they are definitely a strong factor if you maintain a satisfactory engagement rate and are in a competitive niche.

Just like any form of advertising, your sponsors will pay more if you can reach a higher number of persons, and that is why world-famous superstars like Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson or Floyd Mayweather can bring in well over $1 million per Instagram post.

Pricing Instagram Content

One of the easiest ways to judge if you are participating in a fair arrangement is by identifying how much money you are bringing in for your partner(s). 

If, for example, you are getting paid $100 per Instagram post, but you are bringing in multiple thousands, you may want to leverage your position and renegotiate your rate. 

When it comes to affiliate marketing, you should also note that there are other payment structures that you may wish to follow that do not require you to generate a sale for your brands — although this will likely result in a lower commission rate. 

For example, you may want to adopt a pay-per-lead pricing model that rewards you every time a lead completes an agreed action as a result of your influence.

This could include:

  • Filling out a contact form
  • Signing up for a free trial
  • Signing up for a brand’s newsletter

Similarly, you may elect to operate under a pay-per-click rate (PPC), where you get paid every time an individual goes to your sponsor’s website through a promo link on your Instagram. 

The benefit of this is that you would get paid regardless of whether that customer ended up buying your brand’s products or services or not.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find brands to work with?

You can choose to directly contact brands through their social media accounts, LinkedIn profiles, or partnership-affiliate emails (if applicable). 

Make sure that you target brands that have similar beliefs to yours, as this can go a long way in ensuring that your customers will be interested in engaging with them. 

You may also choose to list yourself on online influencer marketing places. These serve as “online ads” of your Instagram account and can be viewed by brands looking for new affiliates who may want to contact you.

How much do Instagram influencers make?

You don’t need a large follower base to make money on Instagram. Generally, micro-influencers (i.e., those with fewer than 10,000 followers) can expect to charge around $88 per post, with top influencers charging multiple thousands (or even millions). 

Therefore, the answer to “How much do Instagram influencers make?” is very difficult because it is different for each person. Even though some Instagram influencers may be able to bring in quite a sizable income on a few thousand followers, others will require many more.

Do I need to register my business as an Instagram influencer?

Yes. Regardless of the industry that you are in, there are certain steps that you will need to fulfill to ensure that your business is both legally legitimate and compliant with any state or federal regulations that you will be subjected to.

For more information, check out our How to Start a Social Media Influencer Business guide.

Is becoming an Instagram influencer expensive?

Not at all. All you really need to get started as an Instagram influencer is a camera, a laptop or a computer that you can use to edit your posts, and a stable internet connection.

Of course, how you operate may significantly increase your costs. For instance, you may choose to:

  • Use Google and Instagram ads to increase your growth
  • Hire third-party animators or editors
  • Purchase expensive photography equipment
  • Purchase dedicated editing software