How many instagram followers do you REALLY need to start making money in 2018?

It is frustrating to see influencers making thousands of dollars per post on Instagram while we struggle just to see our follower count rise on a daily basis. We all want to be the next influencer to land big sponsored deals that pay for us to travel the world and eat the best looking food, but it’s hard to know exactly when your account is ready to start making money.

One of the first metrics that users and brands look at to determine account influence is your follower count, mostly because it is front and center for everyone to see. Even so, there is no set Instagram follower number to make money in 2018 that works for every influencer in every niche. In today’s post, I am going to go over how to approach your follower count and when should you monetize them.

How much money can you make on Instagram?

This is the first question anyone who is trying to monetize their Instagram has, but there is no hard and fast answer. There are a lot of variables that factor into the amount of money a user can make by posting on Instagram such as account niche, the way of monetization, quality of posts, follower count, and engagement rates, just to name a few.

One of the most popular ways (if not THE most popular way) that influencers make money on Instagram is through sponsored posts. Influencers are responsible for setting their own rate for working with brands, so the income potential varies even more here.

For instance, an account just branching out into influencer marketing and sponsored posts may start by charging $25-$50 a post and accounts that are already established as influencers with 30-80k followers can charge hundreds of dollars per post. Once influencers reach over 100k followers, they tend to start charging at least $1,000 for just one post such as Sam Ushiro who has 283k followers and charges $1,500 a post. Not to mention, celebrities like Kim Kardashian West with 107 million followers can rake in over $500,000 for a sponsored Instagram post.

Couple influencers’ wide variety of rates with the varying amount of brands they work with and the number of sponsored posts received, and it becomes completely possible to make a full-time living just by posting on Instagram!

How many followers do you need to make money on Instagram?

The answer is… it depends! If you feel like this answer is a let down, hear me out.

When brands are looking to work with influencers, they want to know that their marketing budget is well-used. What brands really look at is how well your audience is engaged, no matter the follower count because that means more product awareness, and potential sales, for them. Brands also look at how your follower count and engagement rate fit in with your niche and quality of your posts.

Engagement rate is gold

While the amount of followers you have can be anywhere from 1,000 to 1 million to make money from Instagram, one thing that is a constant is high engagement rates. There’s no point in posting content on Instagram if your followers aren’t seeing or interacting with it.

For instance, imagine you had $100 and wanted to make more money with it. You could invest it with a person who had hundreds of thousands of potential buyers at their fingertips, but you noticed that only a hundred or so were actually paying attention to what they said. Your best bet would be investing that $100 with someone who only had a couple thousand potential buyers, but they are all constantly paying attention to what they say.

The key to making money on Instagram is not follower count. It is having good a engagement rate. Your engagement rate is the total number of likes and comments on a certain number of posts, divided by the number of posts, divided by followers, multiplied by 100. (There are plenty of online tools available if you don’t feel like doing the math yourself!)

Later, an Instagram marketing and scheduling platform, states that engagement rates between 2-3% is average and rates between 4-6% is considered high. An engagement rate that breaches double digits is considered to be “viral.”

When your engagement rate is high, that tells brands that your followers are hearing what you are saying and, better yet, listening! They will invest their money with you because it will, in turn, result in your followers buying their products.

Your niche matters a lot

Did you know that 7 out of 10 people rely on social media to make purchase decisions AND almost half of them rely on the opinion of influencers. Whether you know it or not, people out there are looking for recommendations to follow and yours is one of them! If you are passionate and knowledgeable in a particular niche, you could be earning money just by promoting brands and products you already love!

Some of the most profitable niches on Instagram are Health/Wellness/Fitness, Travel, Fashion, Beauty, Business, Wealth/Finance, Luxury and Lifestyle. Users in these niches work with a variety of brands, create a wide range of content, and have great success in monetizing their Instagram accounts.

Take Huda Kattan, for instance. She started as a beauty influencer on Instagram and currently has over 2 million followers and recently launched her own popular line of makeup. Kayla Itsines is also a successful Instagram influencer who started as a personal trainer but now has 7 million followers and a huge following for her series of bikini body guides.

Some niches are so specific, that you don’t have to have a lot of followers to start landing sponsored posts, such as “hamburgers” instead of “food” or “acne skincare” instead of “beauty.”  

More and more brands are working with microinfluncers in these specific niches to promote their products because they have a more engaged, targeted following.

While the definition of a microinfluencer varies from professional to professional, they are generally defined as a user who has more than 1,000 and less than 100,000 highly engaged followers. That’s great news for accounts who are still growing but are ready to start landing sponsored posts!

Don’t limit yourself to sponsored posts

Earn extra as an affiliate

Partnering with brands isn’t the only way to monetize your Instagram account. On top of working directly with brands in sponsored posts, you could also use affiliate marketing to make an income on Instagram. Affiliate marketing is when a brand pays you a commission after someone buys a product that you recommend. Usually with a promo code or affiliate link, the affiliate marketing networks you are a part of will track of the amount of sales your recommendation garnishes and will pay you a percentage of the profit when it’s all said and done.

Selling affiliate products is as simple as recommending a product as long as you always remember to include your tracking link or code. The best place is to start is with products you already use and recommend and researching if those brands are already a part of affiliate marketing networks.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of affiliate programs available for you to join and in every niche imaginable. Some of the top affiliate marketing networks to join when just getting started include Amazon Associates, Linkshare, Shareasale, and Commission Junction.

Earn even more with your own products

By far the best way of monetizing your Instagram account is by selling your own digital products. Just like Lucy Davis, an Instagrammer in the fitness niche who earned over $20,000 in six months by selling her ebook online and promoting it on Instagram. Selling on Instagram isn’t as difficult as it may sound. It can be as simple as writing an ebook in your niche and marketing it to your followers!

Even though there is no numerical threshold you have to cross in order to consider yourself an influencer and start making money on Instagram, that doesn’t mean you should give up on growing your audience. Growth is always a good indicator of a successful, thriving account and once you have 1,000 followers, a lot of monetization opens up for you.

You can even earn $1,000 as long as you have 1,000 followers without using paid ads. More on this in the guide below.

All in all, as long as you are seeing great engagement and creating quality content, you are on the right track to making money on Instagram.

Ritvars is the marketing lead at Sellfy.