With over a billion monthly active users, Instagram has established itself as an absolute powerhouse in both interaction and businesses, with millions in revenue being directly and indirectly influenced by users with their own significant body of followers – these people are known as influencers. As the name implies, they make use of their online presence to advertise. They can offer endorsements, product reviews, and other influential actions for a tidy sum. All it takes is an account, a following, and something to talk about… you could do that (easily), right?
What makes an Influencer?
What most people assume here is follower count, and they wouldn’t exactly be wrong. That tends to be what most users – businesses and individuals alike – see first. This determines an influencer’s pricing range and expectations. While most people debate the range of followers needed to define influencer categories, you should just focus on hitting a solid four-digit number to start off.
Imagine a classroom with, say, thirty or so students. All of them sit in their desks, keeping their heads down as a teacher barks out instructions. No one asks questions, no one learns, and everyone fails to actually show any interest at all, so the school liquidates the course. Pretty extreme example here.
The golden word here is engagement. Imagine it as the number of people asking questions, along with the people who answer and ask their own follow-ups on what an influencer has to say. It’s the level of interaction in an influencer’s community, and this helps you look way more appealing to prospective companies looking for an avenue to connect potential clients and their products. Authentic engagement is the regularly maintained amount of followers on a certain account’s follower base.
How many followers do you need before you can earn?
You don’t actually need a certain number, honestly. Don’t get us wrong here: more followers and activity is almost always better for account growth, and always better for improving the value for both your follower base, personal influence, and perceived legitimacy by people.
The main point is advertising here, so more followers lead to a bigger client base. You could buy followers and engagement – it’s worthwhile, but you can’t exactly sell to them. Your priority is engaging people with your account: why should they care and why they should keep caring. Build up your account with interesting content to grab people’s attention before you break out the promotions.
Most people assume the biggest profit is made from company-backed advertisements, and you’d be right. $100,000+ per post is actually a thing on Instagram, with the rare few who pass the million-follower count even hitting the $250k range.
Even micro and nano influencers can make upwards of $30k and $50k a year, respectively. These are the types of influencers with around 1,000+(nano) or around 5,000-100,000+(micro). As you can guess, even modest influencers can earn significantly and cleanly. Imagine earning that much just for giving a company exposure – not even guaranteed sales!
If you sell your own products, though, you get the perks from both ends for just your own time and labour. We’ll go over this more in the later part of the article.
How to figure out your niche?
Some niches are better than others for advertising. Fashion, lifestyle, fitness, and travel are very good categories to break into. As a bonus, most of these allow niches involved to advertise their own products, inspirations, and trainers in an organic and trustworthy way – very important for connecting with your audience! Tutorials and tips are also great for followers, with music, interior design, and plenty of other potential communities to include. These are the most common – and effective – niches on Instagram, and they enjoy steady and significant engagement from upwards of hundreds of thousands of followers in their #hashtag categories alone.
Figuring out your niche can be difficult. It boils down to what you want to accomplish. If you want to earn from Instagram posts alone, put more emphasis on your account’s general appeal to both users and sponsors. This is a great (and less hassle) way to establish your account: all you really need is engagement, appeal, and trustworthiness to your audience.
Others can play around with their extreme influence, using it to prop up their own line of merchandise – products, accessories, art – whatever floats their (or your) boat! This takes a heck of a lot more work, but what you’re getting out of it is an online shop – minimal business expenses beyond tax, along with constant, free (self-done) advertising with a trackable consumer base with Instagram Analytics.
What about commissions?
This is known as affiliate-based marketing and can be very lucrative for users. An affiliate is different from an influencer in that affiliates target sales specifically. Influencers don’t mind sales to their sponsoring companies, but they have nothing to gain if their follower base actually tries a company’s product/service: they were paid for exposure, and simply don’t profit from the actual purchases.
Affiliate programs tend to offer commissions at around the 10-20% range, though your mileage may vary. This tends to be done with promo codes to track how many followers were actually swayed by a specific influencer. Affiliate programs are relatively harder to get than shout-out posts but have immense potential to increase your pay-outs. These should be taken when available: even if just one person buys from it, that’d already be an increase in revenue for about the same amount of work.
One last thing…
For sponsored and affiliate posts, you may want to indicate when a certain post is sponsored. Your audience’s engagement relies on friendliness, interest, but most importantly trust. If you continue putting up sponsored content without indication, some people could take it as deceit. Even if it wasn’t intentional and only a small group of followers are seriously vocal about the issue, it could lead to controversy and problems within your active community. This could easily crumble everything you’re trying to build, and you’ve got to especially watch out for even seemingly negligible problems.
So in summary, you’ve just got to be aware that Instagram is advertising. You don’t need specific follower counts so much as a generally dedicated following, and feel free to sponsor and promote your own product lines. If you continue as an influencer, you only need to provide exposure. Affiliates should go for follower-to-customer conversion without shilling the product too much.
You can always opt-in for one our Instagram followers packages for a quick followers boost.
Hope you get what you’re going for, buddy. Good luck on building your following.