While slinging #ads to thousands of followers used to be the way to make money on social media, a potential upgrade could make getting paid on Instagram a little bit less #spon. The platform is currently working on a prototype of a creator monetization feature called Exclusive Stories, TechCrunch reported on June 30: A private feed that your followers would be able to subscribe to, likely for a fee. The update might work like Twitter’s Super Follows — users could offer a free feed and a subscription feed. So while Close Friends might be the place to share excessive unfiltered pictures of your dog or baby with your inner circle, Exclusive Stories would be the place where creators could share more intimate or personal content with their fans — for a price.
Instagram tells Bustle they’re not ready to comment on specifics of the feature, but have confirmed that some screenshots of the prototype on Twitter are legit. So while you might need to wait a while until Exclusive Stories come out — the feature isn’t even being tested publicly — there are plenty of other ways to make money on Instagram right now.
Sell Stuff On Instagram Shop
While you can’t offload your old IKEA furniture on Instagram Shop — that’s what Facebook Marketplace is for, obv — you can sell goods on Instagram through the Shop feature. To qualify, you must be an established merchant with a website, selling legal products. If this is you, you can turn on the Instagram shopping feature and submit your account for review. If you’re approved, people can shop your posts or Stories directly.
Partner With A Brand
You don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of followers to get a brand to notice you. Microinfluencers are users with between 1,000 and 100,000 followers, who partner with brands to get paid for posting their products. So if you have interest in posting branded content, switch over to a business or creator account and email or DM companies you care about to see if they’re interested in working together.
Microinfluencer Austen Tosone reported for Bustle in 2018 about various ways to DIY your influencer efforts. She suggested engaging with your audience, no matter the size, to build trust and connections. “Brands are more likely to work with someone who has an engaged following than someone who has thousands of followers who don’t interact with them,” Tosone wrote.
Set Up Affiliate Links
If you post about your favorite things on the reg, you can set up affiliate links so that you get a cut of the profits when your followers buy things you post about. In June, Instagram announced they would be gradually making affiliate tools readily available for creators (aka, people who use creator accounts). Until then, you can sign up with an external affiliate marketer program that speaks to you — Amazon Associates, for example, give users up to 10% of every referral sale.
Throw Up Some Ads On IGTV
If you have a creator account, you might be eligible to make some ad revenue on IGTV videos. The platform is gradually rolling out the ad program for creators, giving them up to 55% of the ad’s revenue that are enabled for their videos. Per Instagram, the feature is already available to a number of creators in the U.S. and they are looking to expand throughout the year “to give more creators ways to make money.”
Go Live With Badges
Instagram has been rolling out Badges to creators over the last year. The program allows select influencers and artists to essentially put out a tip jar for their followers during a Live session. Fans can buy Badges, (aka hearts), which will appear on the screen to show support. One heart costs $0.99, two for $1.99, and three for $4.99. Creators with Badges enabled can keep 100% of their earnings.
Who Can Get Paid On Instagram?
Some of these programs are only available to a select group of creators — that is, people who’ve upgraded their Instagram from an individual account (which is free to do). A spokesperson at Instagram says you must have an “authentic, established presence on Instagram which includes maintaining a sufficient follower base,” to qualify for Badges, affiliate links, and ads. Analytics, Checkout, messaging, and brand partnerships can all be managed in the app so long as you have a creator or business account, regardless of how many followers you have. If you’d rather stay a regular IG user and still want to make money off your account, though, there’s no shame in throwing up a Venmo link in your bio.