How to Make Money From Your Instagram Photos: Best Three Methods

How to Make Money From Your Instagram Photos Cover

Uploading eye-catching and engaging photos on Instagram and want to make some money out of them? Excellent! Depending on what type of activity you want to do, there are several ways to monetize your photos and find some customers among your Instagram followers

Undoubtedly, the primary reason for Instagrammers to use the platform is entertainment. Still, interestingly, 130 million Instagrammers tap on shopping posts every month, and 72% of Instagram users report having made a product purchase after seeing it on the app.

See? Even when Instagrammers don’t see the physical product, they tend to buy it based on the photos they see on this highly-visual platform.  

Instagram allows you to upload photos in several ways, but it also has many tools that make it easier to sell services and goods of your own or become an influencer and find a sponsor to sell theirs. That’s why you should never underestimate the power of Instagram to increase your (personal) brand awareness or build a perfect online shop. 

Without any further ado, let’s see how you can make money using your Instagram posts.   

How Many Followers Do You Need to Make Money on Instagram?

The biggest question that you might have in your head right now is how many followers is enough to start making money on Instagram? Well, you can make money with zero followers; however, a good rule of thumb here is to have around 10K followers.

Haven’t reached that number yet? Don’t worry; in the following, I’m going to walk you through the most common and easiest ways to make money from your Instagram photos, whether you have zero or 1M followers. Also, I’ll give you some tricks that you can do to increase your followers along the way.

Three Ways to Make Money From Your Instagram Photos

There are three main strategies that you can map out to make money on Instagram using your photos. Depending on the type of activity and even your business, you can choose one or even all of them. 

1- Become an Influencer

If you have an impressive number of followers or can create a community on Instagram, you better become an influencer!

Being an influencer makes you nervous, and you think only certain Instagrammers can become one? 

You’re wrong!

When there are over 500,000 active influencers on Instagram ─ that’s almost 40% of all users ─ why should you not be one of them? Let me tell you why becoming an influencer is a good idea.  

Why Becoming an Influencer?

The first cogent reason to become an influencer is that instead of traditional advertising such as TV, radio, or magazines, more brands are investing in using influencers on Instagram.

Look at this chart that shows the trend of the number of brand-sponsored influencer posts on Instagram from 2016 to 2020. 

Number of brand sponsored influencer posts on Instagram from 2016 to 2020
The number of brands sponsored influencer posts on Instagram from 2016 to 2020. Credit: Statista

In only four years, the number of sponsored posts reached 6.12 million in 2020, almost five times more than it was in 2016. Don’t forget this only count “Paid Partnership” posts and not non-promotional posts or the ones that only use hashtags such as #ad (~13M) and #ads (~2M). 

But why do brands place so much value on Influencers anyway? 

You already know why; just look at some of the Instagram influencer pages and pay attention to the content they created. 

Do they look like ads to you? I don’t think so.

David beckham making money on Instagram with his sponsored photos
David Beckham Sponsored Post by Cotyinc

The main reason why brands prefer partnering up with influencers instead of making glamorous ads is the shift of people’s preference toward the advertisement. 

People don’t like pushy advertisements anymore; they prefer an honest recommendation from someone they trust. This is what is called electronic words of month or e-WoM. 

And Instagram influencers are doing a great job at spreading positive reviews of a brand on the platform. So if you want your brand to be promoted in this trendy way, you can find influencers by scaping Google.

Moreover, according to InfluencerDB, younger social media users, specifically aged 14-39, are most likely to consume content through influencers. Also, half of the people under the age of 20 have purchased a product or service promoted by an influencer.

And guess what? Most of the Instagram users are in the same age group:


Distribution of Instagram users worldwide as of July 2020, by age and gender
Distribution of Instagram users worldwide as of July 2020, by age and gender. Credit: Statista

What a better social media than Instagram for brands to promote their business?

What Essential Assets Should You Own To Be a Successful Instagram Influencer?

So, being an influencer is promising, especially on Instagram. You get paid for your posts, and it’s also fun. But, what are the main characteristics of a successful Instagram influencer?

Here are what you should have:

1- Impressive Number of Followers and Engagement Rate

As mentioned above, although it’s possible to make money without any followers on Instagram, having an impressive figure written as followers on the page is still a must for influencers.

The number of followers is the first thing that brands will check when visiting your profile, and to be honest, you don’t exactly make the best first impression with zero followers.

However, this does not mean that you need to have millions of followers to get the brands’ attention. The best place to start is to gain your first 1,000 followers; that’s when brands, even the major ones, start noticing you. Because with 1,000 or more followers, you’re officially a small-sized (nano or micro) influencer, which is gold for brands, why? Read the following.

Why Brands Love Micro-influencers?

For influencers, more followers equals more money; however, it’s not the case with brands. Apparently, the fewer followers an influencer has, the more engagement they produce. That’s why micro-influencers (those who have 5K to 10K followers) are all the rage these days.

Take a look at this chart:

Like Follower Benchmarks by Account Size
Like Follower Benchmarks by Account Size. Credit: InfluencerDB.

As you can see, Instagram accounts that have between 5k and 10K followers, gain nearly 3% higher engagement than accounts with greater followers.

More surprisingly, the accounts with 1K to 5K followers (nano-influencers) make even more engagement, almost 2% higher than micro-influencers!

This is an excellent opportunity for brands to reach more audiences by spending less money.

But money is not the main reason for all brands to run micro-influencer campaigns; this type of marketing is so effective that even global brands such as GoPro and Coca Cola use it:

How to Gain More Followers on Instagram?

You need to show the brands that you are worth investing in, and the best way to demonstrate that is to have a high Instagram engagement rate. To have a satisfactory engagement rate, you need to gain real and engaged followers, even if it’s only about getting 1000 followers.

One of the best ways to achieve that is by using Instagram services such as AiGrow.

AiGrow is a perfect tool that helps you to grow your audience sustainably and helps you to be discovered by brands. 

This tool offers you a wide range of packages that are suitable for any user, especially for micro-influencers who need to enlarge their fanbase and increase their interaction with them. 

The good thing about AiGrow is that unlike other similar services in the market, you get the best results even with a tight budget. Also, there are many more features that AiGrow offers, and I’ll mention them further in this article. 

 2- Become an Expert or a Creator

The second important factor for any influencer to have is the level of professionalism. For celebrity mega-influencers, it’s easy to make million-dollar deals per a single post as almost everybody knows them. Also, most of them eventually become ambassadors of huge brands.

Hailey Bieber Makes Money from her Instgaram photos sponsored by bareMinerals
Hailey Bieber Sponsored Posts by BareMinerals

But if you’re not a celebrity, to make money from your Instagram photos you should either be an expert in something or be a creator to become an influencer.

By expert, I don’t necessarily mean that you should have a MA in something. You just need to be informative and brave enough to share your knowledge in the best possible way on Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

Where passion and profit intersect… THAT is where you want to build your business. ✨ Most entrepreneurs get into doing their own thing for a few main reasons: to pursue independence, impact, or their passions. Often, it’s some combination of all 3 but along the way, it can be easy to lose sight of that initial intention. That, my friend, is what we want to avoid. ? This episode is all about digging into those personal WHYs — the core values that motivate you and what you’re deeply interested in pursuing — and how to spin those things into a business model that grows with you, that doesn’t hold you down or stifle you. ? These are the 3 steps you need to take in order to build a business that sustains and supports your heart, desires, goals, passions and life trajectory. Let’s jump on in! Link in bio.

A post shared by Jenna Kutcher ? GOAL DIGGER (@goaldiggerpodcast) on

Jenna is a podcaster, photographer, and entrepreneur. She constantly shares marketing tips on Instagram and other exciting things such as glimpses of her personal life to make her audience more connected and trusted to her.

Results? Many brands want to work with her because of her unique personal brand and stunning engagement with the followers. She has a seven-figure income, by the way. 

You may think you’re not an expert or creator in any area, but think twice! 

Do you make delicious food, travel a lot, love to paint, or have a fantastic garden in your house? If you do a good job showing your business, hobby, or even your lifestyle with other people, you can be an influencer!

This chart shows you the most popular niches that influencers are working in:

Distribution of Sponsored Instagram Posts between topics
Distribution of Sponsored Instagram Posts Between Topics. Credit: InfluencerDB

Note: The trend that I’ve mentioned above about how brands love nano-influencers and micro-influencers might not completely apply in the fashion industry. Although you can work with fashion brands with a negligible amount of followers, major fashion brands still focus on big names. 

Here’s our guide to becoming a fashion influencer and get featured by fashion pages.  

Related Article: The Complete Guide to Become a Music Influencer     

3- High-quality Photos

If you want to make money on Instagram using your photos, you better take care of your page’s aesthetic theme. 

If you don’t have an impressive and eye-catching feed, brands won’t risk losing their good reputation by making you their messenger. After all, you are going to get money by posting photos!   

@hetisdemerckx instagram feed
Credit: @hetisdemerckx

Try to use Instagram in-build filters to make your photos more alluring. Clarendon is the most popular built-in Instagram filter

Also, a better way to make an outstanding feed is by getting help from professionals. Some of the AiGrow growth packages come with content creation options for designing your posts and making you stand in the crowd.  

How To Gain Brands’ Attention?

Now that you’re all ready let’s see how you can make yourself visible to brands.

1- Tag Them on Your Photos

Whenever you upload a photo on Instagram that involves a product or service, you can tag the brand’s page on it. It’s worth trying as user-generated content is becoming more and more popular for brands these days.

For example, it’s completely safe to tag @starbucks if you’re enjoying the coffee, or tag @forever21 when showing off your new dress.

Forever21 UGC Instagram Post
Forever21 UGC Instagram Post
2- Sign Up to an Influencer Platform

Did you know there are websites and even Instagram pages that match you with the brands looking for you?

Just sign up for some of these websites and pages to enhance your chance of being discovered by brands. Ainfluencer is one of the best of these types of websites, check it out. 

3- Participate in Their Instagram Challenges

Sometimes, brands run Instagram challenges and invite everyone to join in. Then they pick up the best posts and repost them on their page. This is an example of a challenge run by @nike and presented by @cristiano and a fitness influencer who participated:

Make Money with Instagram photos by participating in Instagram challenges
Credit: Coach Booshy
4- Find The Brands that Look for Influencers or Brand Ambassadors

Many brands seek a suitable candidate to be their influencer, brand representative, or even better, ambassador. 

If you have an eye on their Instagram pages or even their website, you’ll find out when they need you.

Here’s an example of a brand looking for an ambassador:

Brand Ambassador announcement on enjoy legging
Brand Ambassador Announcement on Enjoy Legging
How to have an eye on all of these brands?

Easy! Try AiGrow’s “Listing & Repost.” This tool allows you to monitor specific hashtags and Instagram pages. Just add all the brands that you think might be interested in working with you to be the first one to know!

One more thing: it’s completely okay to cold pitching. This way, you may seem even more interested and enthusiastic in brands’ eyes.   

Mistakes That You May Make as an Influencer

Try to avoid these mistakes to prevent damaging your career on Instagram.

1- Do Not Promote Something You Don’t Like

Never promote products that you don’t believe in. How can you convince your followers to buy something if you don’t like it in the first place? This mistake only leads to losing your followers’ trust. Do not sacrifice your followers’ trust over more money!

2- Do Not Bombard Your Audience with Promotional Posts

If you frequently promote brands on your page, even if you do it indirectly, people eventually get tired and have the feeling that you force them to buy those things. Better to strike a balance between your non-promotional posts and promotional ones.    

3- Know Your Worth

Depending on your number of followers and your niche, there’s an average amount of income that you can charge brands based on them. Here’s a good indicator for some of the most popular niches on Instagram:

price per industry for influencers

If your niche is not among the photo above, a good rule of thumb to calculate the price that you should charge is to consider $10 per 1k followers. For example, if you have 15,500 followers, you’ll earn $155 per post.  

2- Try Affiliate Marketing

Still wondering how to make money on Instagram with few followers? If you’re good at persuading people to buy things, affiliate marketing is the best choice for you.

You probably know what affiliate marketing is, but for those who don’t know, it works this way: you put a link from a website in your blog or social media and get a commission whenever somebody clicks on the link or buys that product. This method is excellent for those without an impressive number of followers as for some people, maybe a one-time click or purchase is the goal.

Almost all of the links that you see on websites related to products or services are affiliate links. A good example of affiliate links is on flight booking websites.

You can do affiliate marketing on Instagram too.    

Why Affiliate Marketing on Instagram?

Because it’s a pretty good platform for affiliate marketing, here’s why: 

1- Covering a Variety of Categories

Using affiliate marketing programs on websites such as Amazon, you can discover hundreds of products to promote on your Instagram. The good thing is, no matter what your niche is, you can find the perfect product to promote. 

Working with these websites and promoting the link on your Instagram is an easy task. Clickbank is one of the leading sites that offer affiliate marketing, read all about the different categories on it, and how to use it here.  

2- Impressive Commission Rates

Some of the affiliate programs pay you a considerable commission (up to 90%). So, it’s worth trying. 

3- Great Exposure

As mentioned above, one of the main reasons why Instagrammers use the app is to buy stuff. On the other hand, the app has more than 500 million active daily users. Add these to the fact that Instagram has a comprehensive set of marketing tools. See? Instagram can be super useful for affiliate marketing.

Where to Put Affiliate Links On Instagram?

The first thing that comes to your mind is the Instagram bio, right? And that only holds one clickable external link. Well, that seems a little bit depressing for an affiliate marketer. But hold your horses.

What if I tell you it’s possible to add a clickable affiliate link to every single photo on your feed?

Yes, you’ve read that right. AiGrow has a feature called “Bio Link” that does the magic and adds links to all of your posts.

First, sign up for AiGrow and then enjoy this feature for free!

Then, watch this walkthrough video:

Using this practical tool, you can easily promote your products in separate posts and attach the corresponding link. Also, using Bio Link enables you to add more than one link to your bio. 

Mistakes That Affiliate Marketers Make on Instagram

Here are some common mistakes that you might make while marketing affiliate links on Instagram:

1- Not Choosing a Niche

You might consider trying to sell any type of product using affiliate links to get more money, especially now that you know it’s possible to add links and make money with each Instagram photo. 

But don’t! It’s much better to focus on your niche only and try several products from one family. How would you feel if somebody who runs a fitness page put an affiliate link about Chinese language packages? Wouldn’t it feel more normal for him/her to promote fitness books or weight-loss products? 

2- Not Trying the Product First

Let’s face the truth; there are tons of junk products that companies hope to sell via affiliate marketing. That’s why you should always try out the product you want to promote first to avoid future problems. 

You can guess which product is better than others by looking at the number of times it got sold on the affiliate website. 

3- Exaggeration

It’s tempting to use hyperbolic language to sell a product better. But this is only another mistake. Just keep it as real as possible. Note the positive sides of that product, and if it has a very noticeable disadvantage, it’s a good idea to mention it. This way, followers will know that you only want the best for them.

3- Become an Online Seller

Why not turn your Instagram page to your own shop and make money from your photos? If you’d ask me, the best option is to become an entrepreneur on Instagram. Actually, many influencers eventually become an entrepreneur themselves. 

The good thing about setting up an Instagram shop is that it’s free! There are three main ways to start a free shop on Instagram: Shoppable Instagram, adding CTA buttons, and using Bio Link.

If you want to know how to open a shop using these three ways and compare these three, read this article.

Tips on Selling Your Products on Instagram 

After setting your shop, you can adopt some techniques to make more money when uploading your Instagram photos.

1- Use Flash Sale

Use an element of emergency in your captions or posts when uploading them. For example, if you sell a limited-edition or one of a kind products, make sure you mention that in the caption with the appropriate writing style.

View this post on Instagram

DM to get the link to purchase this cute little Cookie / Cream pedestal for $30 + shipping!

A post shared by Brian Giniewski (@brianginiewski) on


2- Sell Your Photos

This is a great way for photographers, digital artists, travel influencers, or anyone who has a stunning feed to make money from their photos on Instagram.

Christian Mate Grab Sells photo on Instagram
Christian Mate Grab Instagram Page

Some pages print their Instagram photos on paper, board, or even magnet and sell them to the followers. 

Another way to sell digital photos on Instagram for photographers is to add a link from stock photo websites such as Shutterstock or Adobe Stock to its corresponding post on Instagram. 

3- Sell Experience

Take your time and fully explain why people should buy your products or services on Instagram. The more detail you give them, the less question remains on their mind. 

It’s best if you upload photos of people using that item in real-life situations. 

Tips for Better money-making on Instagram

No matter which of the three ways you chose to make money from your photos on Instagram, you can use these tips to get a better result in this process.

1- Switch to Instagram Business or Creator 

Having an Instagram Business account or Creator account helps you to know your followers more closely. Using Instagram insights, you can gain useful and up-to-date information about your followers, such as gender, age, country, and the hours of the day they are most active. 

Moreover, you can see which type of content they like the most and then use that insight into your future strategies.

Instagram Insights
Instagram Insights

Don’t forget that some of the Instagram features such as CTA buttons and Instagram shoppable won’t be visible if you don’t switch your account into Business or Creator. 

2- Schedule Your Posts

Having a disciple is valuable, even on Instagram. Make sure that you share your photos on the best possible hours in the day to get the best result. 

To make things easier and smoother for you, you can use an Instagram scheduler such as AiGrow to plan your upcoming posts. 

AiGrow Scheduler banner

3- Reply to Customers ASAP

As some of your Instagram photos are about introducing and eventually selling the products or services, people might ask questions about that item. 

Even if you explain everything in the caption, there are always followers who don’t read the caption carefully and ask questions anyway. The important thing is always to answer all the questions or complaints quickly and promptly.

Comments on Casper Instagram account
Credit: Casper Instagram Page

It’s worth mentioning that we tend to become very impatient on social media; the average expected time to reply to a comment is only one hour.  

Final Words on Make Money from Your Photos on Instagram

Make money from your Instagram photos does not have to be a difficult job. Just decide how you want to make money and do the tips and tricks that I’ve mentioned in this article. 

Don’t forget that AiGrow can help you in any case:

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