In our "Hacking Your Instagram Growth" series, I've gone over the "growth" stage of building your Instagram account. If you haven't already, I strongly urge you to start by
reading that series as I guarantee it will be highly beneficial for you, no matter if you're an Instagram newbie or professional. However, if you’ve already read all the articles in the series and implemented all the tips I gave you, it's high time we move on.
So, you gained a nice following, your followers are engaged, you post top-quality content on a regular basis, and now you're ready for the next step. You're thinking it's time to start earning some money from all your hard work. How would you go about that? Well, this two-part series will cover exactly that - How to monetize Instagram? I'll go over all the different ways you can monetize your Instagram account and give you tips on how to maximize your earnings. I'm sure you're excited to start, so let's get to it.
When to monetize Instagram?
The first thing you need to figure out is when is it a good time to start monetizing your account. The following applies only to niche accounts and personal ones if you're an influencer. The sole purpose of a business account is monetization, so your followers already know what they'll get by following. As a rule of thumb, I usually wouldn't start any kind of monetization below 20k followers.
Now, some of you might be thinking you'll never get those numbers; others might say it's still too early. Ideally, you'd wait for 50k before starting monetization, but I know a lot of people are impatient, so I think that 20k is a fine middle ground to get your feet wet and get some rewards for all your effort. That being said, if you CAN wait to hit 50k followers, you'll be in a better position to start monetizing.
Why wait to monetize?
The reason I advise waiting for your account to reach a certain point before monetizing is simple - you will kill your engagement very fast if you start monetizing early. Your followers want engaging content, not ads, and if you start serving them ads straight from the get-go, they won't have a reason to stay.
You can't reach the explore page, or top posts in a hashtag (read previous articles for more on this) if you're engagement rate drops. That severely limits your growth potential, and you don't want that with a small following. It's better to wait it out and start at the right time than find yourself stuck at a certain number of followers just because you couldn't wait an additional month or two.
Another reason for starting later, rather than sooner, is that you won't earn much money anyway without a large, engaged following. No matter the monetization method you choose (more on this in a bit) it's a numbers game. The bigger your followers AND engagement (very important), the more you earn. Consequently, the smaller your account is, the more your costs (loss of potential followers and engagement) outweigh your profits.
How to monetize Instagram
So now that we determined the WHEN let's determine the HOW. There are different ways you can go about monetizing your Instagram account. The three main ways are:
• Selling shout-outs
• Advertising other people's products - affiliate
• Advertising your product - e-commerce or a service
In this article, we'll focus on selling shout-outs only. The other two methods will be discussed in detail in our Part 2 so stay tuned for that.
Shout-outs have become an extremely popular way to monetize Instagram followers and have enabled people to earn money from their social media fame. They are not only limited to just Instagram, but they've certainly become popular through it.
A shout-out is exactly what it sounds like. Someone "shout-outs" a post made by your (or story) and puts the link you give him in the bio (or swipe-up field for stories) and invites users to click it. After the specified time, your post will be deleted (stories disappear in 24h anyway) and the shout-out completed. The shout-out buyer supplies the post and CTA (Call-to-Action). The length of the post being "up"(before deletion) is negotiated, and the service is priced accordingly. The shout-out is paid upfront since as soon as the post goes live, the supplied link will start getting traffic.
Determining the price of a shout-out
To determine the price of a shout-out we should look first at what shout-out buyers are looking for. Nobody wants to buy a shout-out just to realize they got no traffic to their website. That's why, along with your follower count, buyers look for your engagement rate. They look at the average likes or comments your usual posts receive and may even ask to see results of previous shout-outs. They do this because some accounts buy a bunch of followers and then try to sell shout-outs. Of course, all of those followers being fake, the buyer has wasted his money.
Shout-out buyers look for active accounts with a large number of followers and a large engagement rate. So, the higher those stats are for your account, the better you can monetize your Instagram account.
One more thing to keep in mind is that not all niches can charge the same amount per shout-out. You've probably seen those meme pages full of funny content, with loads of followers and an insane engagement rate. They have those engagement rates because users tag other people to show them the joke. Do those users convert well into buyers? They don't; they're there to have fun, not to buy anything. They may buy the occasional funny shirt or mug, but even that is too saturated. Meme pages tend to charge far less for shout-outs since everyone knows their traffic is mostly useless (I say mostly because
To find out the price for shout-outs in your niche, simply send out messages to other popular pages in the same niche asking for a shout-out. You can use a fake account for this if you don't want them to realize what you're doing. Don't forget to take their engagement rate and followers into account when you calculate how much you should charge.
After this post, you should have some knowledge of what's available to you regarding making money on Instagram. I've explained shout-outs and the way buyers think when buying them. Hopefully, you understand why good engagement rates are just as important as follower count. Stay tuned for our next article in the series: Monetizing Instagram.