Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms around, and brands are taking notice. Its fast-paced growth, combined with the simple visual appeal it offers users of all niches, makes it an ideal money-making resource for influencers.

Now’s a great time to leverage this trend into a fun and rewarding income. You truly can make a full-time living off just Instagram with some research, time and dedication. There are tons of people out there doing just that. Learn how to get started with these tips.

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Gain Followers

In order to be paid for your Instagram content, you first need to have followers. Having a sizable audience means more eyes on what you post, leading to more potential brand interest. Obtaining followers can seem daunting when you’re just starting out, but there are some strategies that will help you to find link-minded folks.

Cultivating a following takes time, but the investment is worth it. You first need to ensure you’re posting regularly with high-quality content. Shoot for once a day to gain momentum. Be sure your photos are crisp, clear and original. Avoid using as-is stock photos or blurry images. You can always customize stock images with a filter or text. Using the same filter and font for each image adds continuity to your personal or business brand.

One way to give you a boost in growing your Instagram followers is to sign up for an automation service like SocialCaptain, which uses AI to help you target your marketing faster. You can target filters by hashtag, username, location, subject and more to help you find the most relevant accounts.

As a frame of reference, there are different tiers of influence on Instagram. Brands typically only begin looking at profiles with at least 5,000 followers. Micro-tier range is around 50,000, while macro or mid-tier influencers have secured followings of approximately 500,000. There are also mega-stars of Instagram with audiences of millions.

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Encourage Engagement

It’s not all about the numbers, though. Engagement matters. Companies want to see that your audience is liking, commenting on and saving your posts. This demonstrates an actual interest on the part of your audience, rather than having followers who simply scroll on by what you post. A good target to shoot for is about five percent engagement, meaning approximately five percent of your followers regularly act upon your postings in some way.

Acquiring active followers also helps your content to be seen by more people due to the way in which Instagram’s algorithm works. Posts with more engagement will be sent to the top of people’s feeds, helping more of your audience to find them.

Take a look at what others within your niche are doing. Incorporate relevant hashtags into your posts. Find ways to improve upon or stand out from the competition. Most importantly, be yourself. Show your authentic personality in ways that make people want to learn more. Soon, you’ll be increasing your followers, cultivating engagement and catching the attention of brands who want to work with you.

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Know Your Audience

Having an Instagram presence people are willing to commit to and pay you for involves even more than large numbers and quality engagement. You have to take things a step further by really knowing your audience, making them feel validated and giving them the content they want. This requires a certain awareness and finesse.

In order to make a full-time living off just Instagram, you will have to find just the right balance between what your community is interested in, what companies are willing to pay for and how to continue to keep everyone coming back for more. Your audience and the brands you seek to work with must find true value in your content. This isn’t as difficult to accomplish as it may seem.

You must keep in mind that you’re creating relationships in your online pursuits. Your followers need to find you authentic and relatable. Therefore, any brands you partner with must be ones that fit within the interests and needs of your tribe. You have to believe in what you’re pitching or your followers will see through you.

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Explore Monetization Options

Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty of deciding on which monetization methods make the most sense for you. One of the most popular ways influencers make money is through sponsored posts, which we’ve touched upon already. You can reach out to brands through direct message if you feel your vibe is compatible with their product.

Be sure to share your selling points such as how many followers you have, along with your average rate of engagement. There are also platforms and agencies that help to connect influencers and brands. What to charge per post depends upon your following and engagement.

Affiliate marketing is another way to earn income using Instagram. There are companies that allow you to find relevant affiliates and track your sales. You either earn commission based on sales or the number of clicks your posts gain. Be sure to promote only products that you would use in your real life and that you genuinely feel would appeal to your audience. Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links within individual posts, but you can always refer followers to your bio for product links.

Selling your own products and services through Instagram is also a possibility. Obviously, it’s a wonderful platform for photographers to showcase their work. You could also show off your crafts, baked goods, homemade bath products or just about anything you have to offer that would appeal to a particular niche.

Making a good income through Instagram alone really is possible. It requires some research, dedication, talent and strategy. You also have to be authentic and communicative with your audience. Some trial and error will almost certainly be necessary, but you’ll soon develop a strategy that works for you if you’re persistent.