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4 Powerful Hacks to Make REAL Money on Instagram

Aside from YouTube, Instagram has perhaps the most potential for monetization of any social media platform. Harvesting this potential does take a small amount of luck, but skill and hard work also play a huge role in success. So how exactly do you build your account from the ground-up, and make money doing it? We are glad you asked. Without further ado, here are the four basic steps you will need to take in order to give your Instagram side hustle every possible chance for success.

1) Identify Your Goal

The first step to making money on Instagram is to identify your goal. Sounds obvious, right? If you are reading this article, clearly your goal is to make money!

Not so fast.

I have a question. Before Instagram. Who were you??? #SideHustle #InstagramFlow Click To Tweet

While making money through Instagram is your end goal, you will need to decide how you are going to get there first. Do you want to make money by selling a product or service? Or do you want to get paid for producing sponsored content? Or perhaps both?

The way you want your Instagram account to generate income will directly impact your next steps, so it is important to think through your options.

2) Study Your Audience

Who is your audience? What do they like to do? Do you know what sort of content do they enjoy? What are their hobbies, their interests, and their passions? What do the other accounts they follow look like?

Knowing your audience is incredibly important. Studying your ideal audience will help guide your content choices, so that everything you post can have as much impact as possible. Once you know what they enjoy, what they need, and how you can best serve them, you will be able to form a cohesive brand that both speaks to what they already like and brings something new to the table. 

So how do you know who your audience is? If you are selling a product or a service, your audience is simply your ideal customer. Who needs (and wants) what you are selling? If you are a wedding photographer, for example, your target audience may consist of newly engaged young women. If you sell watches, your target audience could consist mostly of men who enjoy watch collecting or fashion and have a significant amount of expendable income.

Choosing an audience is a bit harder if your goal is to attract sponsors. In this case, your audience isn’t built in — you will have to design one from scratch. The more niche your account, the easier it will be for you to grow your account and create a trustworthy, cohesive “personal brand.” Start with your passions, and branch out from there. If you love reading, for example, you could create an Instagram account based on the “bookish” crowd. If you love fashion, you could focus on connecting with and learning about people with the same taste as you.

3) Design a Plan

So you’ve picked your audience and gotten to know them intimately. You understand the type of content they like, what speaks to them, and what niches they are interested in. 

What now?

Now, it is time to develop a plan. Things to consider: What kind of images do you want to post? What look/feel are you going for? What will your captions be like? How will you grow your account and get new followers? 

Beyond this, you will need to decide what your main focus is. If you are selling a service or product, you will want to focus on producing clear, well-light, and attractive photos that showcase your service or product at its best.

If you are building a niche account with the goal of attracting the attention of potential sponsors, you will want to focus on building community. The community you create will be your largest asset, and the thing that most attracts the attention of potential sponsors. Sponsors want to work with influencers who have their followers trust. This means that you should post pictures that are authentic, and captions that are real. You may want to share about yourself and your personal life. Think about your account as a micro-blog of sorts and post content that tells a story and forges connections. Comment on your followers posts. Reply to comments on your own. Be vulnerable. Be real. 

4) Follow Through

Almost anyone can do the first three steps, but it is the final step that will separate out the success stories for the rest of the pack. That step, is consistency.

Consistency is the name of the game in social media. It is only through consistently posting new content and engaging with the Instagram community that you will be able to grow (and maintain) your account. The optimum posting frequency for Instagram is three times a day — hey, we didn’t say it would be easy — but you can get away with once a day if you are okay with slower results. 

Oh, you're on Instagram? Tell me how much of a professional photographer you are. #SideHustle #InstagramFlow Click To Tweet

On top of this, you will need to be consistently commenting on and liking posts from others within your niche. Community hashtags (like #bookstagram for the “bookish” community) are great for discovering new accounts and engaging with others in your community. This sort of outreach is one of the best ways to get your account discovered by new followers. Engaging with your current followers as well will help build trust and keep them hooked.

If you find the consistency game difficult, try scheduling social media time into your day. This will help remind you to post, as well as make sure that you are actively engaging daily. There are even several third party apps that will allow you to schedule your Instagram posts ahead of time. A few of the most popular third-party schedulers include Later, Zoho Social, Buffer, and Hootsuite.

Case Study:

Check out the following Vintage Watch (Theo and Harris) dealer and HIS story when it comes to making money on Instagram.  It nicely contextualizes our steps in a real way through his own business:


Instagram isn’t the place to make a quick buck, but if you are willing to put in the work, its potential is sky-high. In end, no matter the type of account you are creating, consistently publishing great content and engaging with your audience is key to successfully monetizing your account. It is the connections you make, after all, that will eventually convert into sales or draw the eyes (and pocketbooks) of eager brands hoping to promote their own products.

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