How to turn your Instagram presence into a profitable business!

Ever heard of Cristiano Ronaldo? Of course you have.

Not only is he regarded as one of the world’s greatest footballers, but he is also the most influential person on Instagram.

According to social media analytics company Hopper he has over 440 million followers, and a post on his profile can cost you over $2 000 000.

So how do you become this influential on Instagram? Being famous helps, but what can you do if you are just a normal, everyday person?

Can you make a living with Instagram?

Those of us who are on the wrong side of 40 might find the idea strange, but yes, you can wave your nine to five goodbye and make Instagram your job.

If you are successful, you won’t just make a living, you’ll make a really good living. An example of someone who did just this, is Caley Dimmock, who successfully monetised her Instagram account..

While still in her twenties, she quit her job and bravely took on self-employment. 

“Just a week after announcing my self-employment, I had secured enough work to last me a whole month. Within two months of leaving my job, I doubled my salary,” Caley explains.

“By charging more than my hourly rate at my previous job, but still lower than what an agency would charge for the same services, I increased my income while remaining competitive in the market.”

“Thanks to the client inquiries I receive on Instagram, I’ve been continuously booked, so there hasn’t been stress associated with finding work.”

Using Instagram to showcase your skills in order to attract customers is only one of many ways to generate an income.

How much money can Instagram influencers make?

Earning potential depends on various factors, but these numbers should give you an idea:

$983 100: The amount Kylie Jenner is said to make per ad or sponsored content post.

$1 604 000: The amount Christiano Ronaldo makes per post.

$2 970: The amount an average influencer makes per month.

$1 420: The amount micro-influencers (accounts with 1 000 to 10 000 followers can take home per month.

$15 356: The average monthly earnings of mega-influencers – that is accounts with more than one million followers.


What is an influencer on Instagram?

A survey in 2021 showed that the average influencer makes $2 970 per month.

Those with between one and ten thousand followers are considered micro-influencers, and they earn on average $1 420 per month.

Mega-influencers (accounts with over a million followers), earn about $15 356 per month. 

Clearly, being an influencer can be considered a real job. But what does it really entail?

Influencers are people who have built a reputation for their expertise on a specific topic. They make regular posts about that topic and generate a lot of attention around it.

Influencers can, quite literally, influence their followers to buy a certain product because they are considered trustworthy to make recommendations.

Instagram influencers can be defined as users who have an established credibility and audience, and who can persuade others by virtue of their trustworthiness and authenticity.

Instagram Influencer

Types of Instagram influencers

Influencers are usually categorised by the number of followers they have. We can distinguish between these types of influencers:

  • Celebrities. In life a celebrity is simply someone who has become a household name for whichever reason.
    An Instagram celebrity could be someone who is famous in real life as well as on Instagram, like Kim Kardashian, or someone who is only famous on Instagram.
    Celebrity influencers have over a million followers.
  • Macro influencers. They have a large audience of between 500 000 and a million people. Their large audience is more targeted than that of the celebrity.
    This is because the followers are there for the specific niche the influencer is targeting, and not just to follow a celebrity.
  • Micro-influencers have between 10 000 and 499 000 followers and they have a very targeted audience.
  • Nano-influencers might seem insignificant, having only between 1 000 and 9 999 followers, but they are very efficient in reaching niche audiences.

6 steps to becoming an Instagram influencer

There is no such thing as easy money, even if you work on Instagram. If you want to become an influencer, you will essentially be running your own business.

It will take time, dedication and hard work to become successful. Here’s how to get going.

  1. Identify your niche

This simply means that you have to decide what you are going to post about. This needs to be something that you are passionate about and that you are knowledgeable in.

Is there anything that gets you so excited that you will happily post content about it without even getting paid? 

Bonus points if your niche is something that doesn’t already get a lot of coverage in social media. This will help your account to stand out from the rest.

  1. Define your target audience

Once you have your niche, it will be easy to figure out exactly what type of people your posts will be aimed at.

If your niche is, for example, motherhood, you can identify your target market’s ages, gender, interests and more. The more you know about who you are posting for, the easier it will be to reach the right people.

  1. Set up your Instagram profile

There are a few points that you need to pay attention to when setting up your profile:

  • Your profile photo needs to attract people to your account. Make sure it is eye-catching.
  • Your bio needs to be informative, explain what your content is about as well as contain your contact details. It’s also a great place to add something fun and let your personality shine through.
  • Add a keyword that relates to your name next to your name. This will ensure that people who search for the keyword on Instagram will find your account.
  • Make sure that your account has a good overall appearance. This could be the difference between someone choosing to follow you or not.
  • It’s recommended that influencers set up a creator account, as this gives you essential features such as insights and buttons that make it easy to contact you.
  1. Increase your visibility

The easiest way to do this on social media is to simply be social. Like other people’s posts and leave comments.

  1. Consistently share good content

Instagram is a visual app, which means your content has to be beautiful to look at. Improve your skills with a photography course and learn how to use photo editing software. Keep captions short, it’s all about the images.

You need to post regularly, as this can boost your engagement rate. A good idea is to devise your own posting schedule, allowing you to plan your posts in advance.

Make clever use of hashtags, and consider the times your target audience are mostly likely to be looking at their phones – that is when you want your posts to go live.

  1. Engage your followers

Interacting with your followers can make a great difference in how you are perceived. Never just ignore them.

If someone left a comment, like it and respond to the comment. Answer if someone asks you something. Respond to your direct messages as quickly as you can. Always be friendly and sincere.

Monetising your account

Once you have built a following and your engagement rate is high enough, you can start reaching out to small brands who might be interested in working with you.

Don’t stress too much about the number of followers you have – there is no ‘right’ amount. If your values perfectly match that of the brand in question, even less than a thousand followers could work.

In the beginning you will have to keep things small, because you still have to prove yourself. Don’t expect to be working with big international brands right from the start.

It’s important to be sincere and authentic. Only work with brands whose products and services you actually like and use.

Hootsuite identified these common pitfalls that new influencers need to look out for: 

  1. Don’t say yes to everything. Say no to offers that don’t go with your brand. Treat your sponsored posts like your own content.
  1. Know your value. If someone wants to offer you ‘exposure’ instead of actual payment, you are allowed to politely decline. It’s your account.
  1. Don’t agree to anything you don’t fully understand. Ask questions if you need to.

Final takeaway

Becoming an Instagram influencer takes time, dedication and effort. Focus on creating high-quality content, engaging with your audience and collaborating with influencers and brands to grow your following and reach.

With patience and persistence you can combine social media with your biggest passion, and turn it into a successful career.

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Picture of Noleen Fourie
Noleen Fourie
Animal lover, avid reader, imaginative over-thinker with a weakness for fudge, Noleen has vast experience in both the newspaper and magazine industries, and believes that knowledge is power.
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