Instagram has become the place to be on social media. With a billion users worldwide, it shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Aimed squarely at the smartphone user, the core idea was to create a fast and simple photo sharing experience.
Instagram's popularity and ability to tell visual stories means that it has also become a huge opportunity for making some serious money.
So let me ask you. How often have you seriously considered this quote:
“The world is your oyster?”
If you believe that this quote applies to you, then you should conceivably use everything in your capabilities to make sure that you utilize Instagram in way that mints you some significant coin.
Or in other words, grab that pearl when you have the chance. And just so you know, there happen to be quite a lot of oysters in the digital ocean.
Let's dive in, shall we?
Get Your Followers to Support You
Imagine you are a creator on Instagram, and happen to have a decent, yet dedicated following. There never seems to be a disconnect between you and your followers, and your content is well and truly appreciated.
Sometimes though, your followers may want to show their appreciation by helping you out from time to time. Fret not, for there is a solution.
Buy Me A Coffee is a free, fast and friendly platform for creators, big and small, to receive support from their audience.
What's so great about Buy Me A Coffee?
Creating a Buy Me A Coffee page is fast and completely hassle free. You can sign up using Facebook or with an e-mail, set up a payment method and you are good to go. No, seriously. It's as easy as actually buying a coffee .
A Friendly Way To Recieve Support
Buy Me A Coffee allows both one-time payments and monthly subscriptions. There is no demand placed on supporters in terms of patronage.
Buy Me A Coffee encourages your supporters to leave positive messages for you when they are making the payments. Creators can also thank their followers for their support as well.
You can also add your Buy Me A Coffee page links to your Instagram bio and to all other social media.
And why stop here? If you have a Business account, you can also add your Buy Me A Coffee page link to your Instagram story as well.
Do More Using Buy Me A Coffee
Buy Me A Coffee provides options for users to be able to give access to exclusive content.
Ease of access
Buy Me A Coffee's platform is incredibly simple, making it easy for smartphone users to navigate.
You can pay through PayPal, Google Pay and Stripe, which gives users access to a range of payment methods, including all major credit cards as well as Apple Pay.
Using Shopify to Sell Your Products
Instagram is one of the most effective tools for a brand to conduct e-commerce effectively.
If your engagement game is on point, then you can create a potentially lucrative business through the use of high quality and novel photographs, the easy access of customers to products and by maintaining a loyal audience.
The best thing is that these opportunities are not limited to large businesses alone.
Welcome to Shopify
If you have a Business account, you can enable Instagram Shopping, through which you can add Product tags on to your images. This feature enables a brief description of the product and its cost which hovers on the image itself.
People often place their storefront links in their bio itself. Or, if you want to get creative with Instagram’s features, you can place a Call to Action (CTA) on the image.
Instagram Stories have also been enabled with Product Tags, thus enabling brands to alert customers about limited offers which can be immediately accessed from the story itself.
The constant innovation provided by Instagram makes it easier for potential customers to buy products, and a happy customer is always a bonus when it comes to padding your future conversion rates.
For influencers and micro-influencers alike, one of the most profitable sources of income has been partnering with other brands and organisations to create sponsored content.
Essentially, major brands recognize that most influencers have a higher engagement rate than them, since an audience may consider them to be more trustworthy. This trust translates into the interested audience becoming potential customers, a win-win for all parties involved.
The key is specificity.
Take a well known example.
Cristiano Ronaldo, apart from being a footballing god, happens to be the most followed person on Instagram. And accordingly, he is sponsored by several sporting brands, the most famous being sporting goods giant Nike who inked a $1 billion deal with the Portuguese superstar.
The same is true for any enterprising creator. If you have a loyal following and work in a specific niche, then there is a good chance that you may be approached by interested brands.
This is an arrangement where you work as more of a middleman between a brand and a potential customer. Here the Instagrammer becomes a marketer, where you engage in product placement through your Instagram post.
You then supply an affiliate link, either in your bio, or in your Instagram Story (which is available only if you have a Business account with 10000 followers).
The way it works is that you receive a commission out of every sale that is attributed to the post, which can be tracked by the unique affiliate link.
Trust the Middleman
The reason why affiliate marketing on Instagram is successful is because it works on the same principles as sponsored posts: trust. The brand gains interest from potential customers due to your advertisement of the product.
You can seek out brands through affiliate programs. For instance, Amazon Affiliates focuses on partnering with niche-specific accounts (with high traffic and engagement rates), offering different commission rates for different products.
These are just a few ways that you can get about to monetize your Instagram. But before you build your empire, however, a few basics need to be sorted out.
The Basics of Monetizing Instagram
In the end, like any other business, everything boils down to the presentation. And that requires investing serious time and effort to make your enterprise succeed.
It boils down to this: you receive money on the basis of the reach of your Instagram account and how much you engage your followers.
So why do you need a larger following?
The simple truth is that every member of your audience is not going to become a customer.
It follows to reason thus, that the larger your audience, the more prospective customers you have, who can then be converted into actual customers, once you have engaged with them.
Thus, if you are angling for a higher conversion rate, you need to consider several things.
Shake Up Your Bio
The bio is where you put up your most important information. It’s the thing that people first focus on when they open an Instagram account. Which is why it needs to be clear, concise and direct.
Take a look at Jessica Lowe's Instagram. She writes and educates people about Complex Trauma.
This is a prime example of straightforward and no nonsense information.
Jessica explains who she is, what she does, what she gives to others and how she tries to make a difference. All of this, in only a few short sentences.
And while this is not an example of a business, the principle remains the same.
Regularly Update Relevant Information
Keep in mind though, that if you want to keep up your target audience’s interest, you need to update your information regularly.
For instance, you can mention any giveaways that you might be conducting, and direct people's attention to the link that you have placed.
Instagram allows for one link in your bio, so make the most of it.
Also, do remember to use a high quality image as your photo. If anything, it adds a professional, polished touch to your bio.
And while you are in the process of shaking up your Insta, you may want to consider upgrading to a Business Account. As we shall see, a Business account is more beneficial when it comes to managing a brand campaign and tracking engagement rates.
Post Quality Content
Most popular Instagram feeds have photos like these.
Now these kind of photos do drive engagement rates. So it is always a plus point if you upload high quality images of your product or brand. But it is not always the case.
For instance, if you scroll through Patton Oswalt’s Instagram, you tend to notice that he focuses on quirky, mundane stuff that he views through his comedian’s eyes.
In other words, you can always shake things up.
Greats Brand is a premium sneaker company that developed their business purely through social media. As you would expect, you find images of sneakers being modeled by influencers. But they also add in some lifestyle commentary, product updates, and of course, memes.
Unique and eye-catching content always drives engagement rates.
Find Your Niche
While on the subject of small businesses, is it bad to sell only one kind of product? Or in other words, can you monetize something that is very unique? Well, for starters, let us look at someone who does exactly that.
Eduardo Morales, who goes by @pinlord on Instagram, curates and sells different kinds of enamel pins. The key to his success, as he says, was because he created an account which showcased the best enamel pins on Instagram. He followed it up by engaging with his followers efficiently.
Oh, and by the way, he makes over $3500 a month just by selling these pins.
* Creating your own Niche Market
The main thing to take away from this is that your passion can be translated to your niche.
It isn’t that you need to find your own version of enamel pins to create a niche market. The idea is to create a following which shares your passion and is loyal to your product.
Research your competition in this area, evaluate how profitable your niche market can be and always keep testing your capability to sell in such a market.
Use Relevant Hashtags
Twitter began using hashtags for discussing specific events and relevant issues. A hashtag creates a category that makes it easier for users to search for a topic and enter a conversation.
But if it was Twitter which created the hashtag, it was Instagram that really kicked things to the next level.
The Hashtag Revolution
Instagram hashtags categorize content, but also are an effective method to increase followers, brand awareness and increase engagement rates.
Hashtags remain one of the best ways to organically boost your campaign, with posts containing hashtags resulting in an over 70% increase in Likes than posts which do not have them.
It’s not all gravy if you wind up using just about any hashtag, however.
Instagram has a put a 30 hashtag limit, and while most influencers tend to use all of them, but most recommend using at least eleven for a good engagement rate. Location based hashtags and campaign-branded hashtags also boost visibility.
Choose Your Hashtags Wisely
Continuing on the topic of niche markets, you can drive engagement rates higher if you use niche-specific hashtags.
Often, such hashtags help out smaller brands stand apart from the much larger brands and organizations which pose stiff competition. Additionally, they help you interact with your target audience, and create an active community.
And an active community is going to be crucial when you are considering conversion rates.
Successful hashtags often arouse the curiosity of the users, which increases brand awareness of your campaign, and works towards creating a more invested, loyal following.
Developing an Engaged Audience
So now you have begun posting on your new and improved Instagram account. And so far, you have developed a pretty significant following.
And it is at this time, that you need to step up your game, where you begin to directly engage with your audience.
Analysing your Performance
The first step is to analyse how well you have performed on your Instagram profile; this includes your posts, likes and follows.
It basically gives you an idea on what kind of content you need to focus on and what you need to keep in mind for engaging with your target audience in the future.
Like I mentioned before, you have a better advantage if you upgrade to a Business Account, since it enables Instagram Analytics on your profile.
The Analytics option reveals information regarding profile visits, website clicks, reach and audience demographics.
It does so for each specific post, thus you get a better idea about which content made the most impact with your audience, which can then make it easier to develop more relevant and engaging posts in the future.
The next step involves the actual engagement part. Once you have gauged the level of interest your audience has, you can begin to formulate strategies to improve your standing.
Scheduling your Posts
As a start, you can begin by posting regularly on Instagram. For this, I would always recommend using an Instagram scheduler. This helps you to streamline your content, and make it more consistent.
And being consistent with great content is fundamental to success on this platform and a better conversion rate.
Buffer is one such scheduling application for social media, including Instagram. What it does is add your scheduled posts to a queue where they are deployed during peak engagement hours (for Instagram, peak engagement hours are between 2PM – 3PM CDT).
Once you establish consistency on your posts, begin the most important stage of engagement : by starting conversations with your audience.
Reply as much as possible to comments, ask people questions and their opinions, and make sure that you try and act on their suggestions.
If anything, it shows that you listen.
Utlizing Instagram Stories
In addition, you cannot miss out on utilizing the Instagram Stories feature. It has become a staple of Instagram, and its’ importance in business cannot be underestimated. It involves a sequential storytelling feature, which self-destructs after 24 hours.
This time bound nature of the Stories feature shows a sense of urgency. It can therefore be used for regular updates, instead of cluttering up your bio.
You could use it as a call for action for your supporters and if you have a Business Account with more than 10000 followers or which is verified, you can also add a link to your story.
A few things to remember...
Most seasoned influencers use more than a few combinations of these methods to stay on top of the game. But it isn’t necessary that only the top influencers are able to break the bank.
For instance, people with about 100 – 100000 followers, known as micro-influencers, are no less effective.
Micro-influencers are often experts in their field, and because of their smaller following, can maintain a much higher engagement rate, which leads to a better conversion rate. And, they are also much more affordable for brands to work with than with big names.
The point that I’m trying to make is, that no matter what the size of your enterprise, as a creator, if you have a unique product, and you are able to maintain a high engagement rate, then it only takes a small and dedicated following to make sure that your endeavor is successful.
This is not the end, My Friend
Today, you cannot imagine a world where you do not check out Instagram’s News Feed compulsively every five minutes. But no one had known, that this innocuous photo sharing application, developed by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and launched on iOS in the fall of 2010, would become, in less than a decade, a social media juggernaut.
It was the extraordinary foresight of Facebook, who bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, which built the grounds for this stratospheric ascent.
Like I mentioned before, a byword at Instagram has always been innovation. By 2013, they had introduced video sharing of up to 15 seconds, which was then extended to ten minutes. In 2016, Instagram underwent a redesign, going for a sleek monochrome look. In 2018, IGTV was launched, which was a standalone app allowing for uploading longer videos of up to 10 to 60 minutes.
In other words, there was a constant drive to make the app more accessible to people and find new ways for content creation.
In essence, this innovation is what has fueled the idea of being able to monetizing this platform. There are several creators and entrepreneurs, who wrote their success stories through Instagram.
And now, it's time to write yours.