When you log onto Instagram it can feel like the only way you can make money is if you have 100K+ followers and brand campaigns attached to your stories. This can often be an unrealistic target and can make us founders feel disengaged, overwhelmed and not good enough.

But I’m here to show you 5 ways that you can monetise your Instagram account without having thousands of followers all with the power of what you already have in the app.

Close friends list

The close friends list is such an underused area of Instagram but I have been privatising that space for 2 years now.

The idea of a ‘close friends list’ is that you can share stories to a handful of people privately and only people on your close friends list will be able to  see them and interact with them. You can have anyone on your close friends list and you don’t have to be following them or them following you.

The idea here is to share content that people have to actively opt into receive. It could be that you share exclusive inside information; share vouchers or incentives or perhaps even share expert guidance, tips and tricks. The customer will pay you a one off or monthly fee to be a part of that inside community and as a return they will receive something that your other Instagram followers aren’t.

Personal outreach

You are more likely to turn a current follower into a paying customer than you are to convert a stranger. We all know that someone inside a shop is more likely to buy something than someone walking by on the street so stop spending your time concentrating on those who aren’t following you (i.e. walking by you on the street) and turn your attention to those who are following you (i.e. inside your shop).

It takes a little confidence and it takes a little time to build up a paying relationship but don’t forget to engage with your followers. Follow them back if they look like potential clients; like their posts, engage with their stories. When you notice a new follower send them a message to say hi! Instagram is a social space and I’m not telling you to bombard all of your followers with sleezy sales DMs but a gradual and consistent friendly approach can pave the way for reaching out when you have something paid to offer them.

Next time you have a new product launch or a new service to offer browse through your followers list and identify people who it would be perfect for and send them a friendly DM to let them know. Make it personal to them, keep it light and you’ll be surprised at how many paying customers you already have following you.

Affiliate links

Business is a collaborative game and we are often recommending other products and services left right and centre so why not make a little bit of a kickback on those recommendations. It may not make you millions but using Affiliate links can certainly make sure that the business tools you use are paying for themselves.

Every time you sign up to a new tool, have a look if they have an affiliate or ‘partnership’ scheme that you could get a link for and send it out every time someone asks you which tools you use. Or perhaps you’re forever buying new gadgets, books or accessories off of Amazon. Set up an Amazon associates programme and make a little kick back through this.

If you are recommending products and services anyway then this is a great way to earn a little keep without having to change your normal business routine.

Digital downloads

It doesn’t matter if you are product based or service based I am certain you could come up with a few ideas for a digital download. It could be a ‘how to’ guide; an E-Book; or even a collaboration piece. Somehow you will be able to make money through digital downloads.

They can be completely free to create (I love making mine on Canva) and you can pop them into your Instagram link for a few quick win sales.

Typical digital downloads sit around the £15-£35 mark and if you market them right and consistently remind your followers that it’s available then you could create a steady stream of income for yourself.

It’s a brilliant way to add recurring revenue into your business and can serve as an ‘introductory product’ to your audience to give a little teaser of how you work, what you do and how passionate you are before they decided to jump in and pay for your higher ticket items.

Instagram shopping

You don’t have to be an influencer or have thousands of followers to set up a successful Instagram shop. Think of yourself as an exclusive boutique. Serving a personalised customer base. Spend time exploring how Instagram shopping works and curating your collections. This relatively new feature in Instagram is being rolled out as we read this and is becoming more and more intuitive. With a checkout business Instagram account your followers will be able to buy your products directly through Instagram and its Facebook shopping feature as well as buying straight from a live feed. You are able to create a fully functionable and customised shopping experience for you followers directly in Instagram and partner with creators to tag your products into their posts and create product launching campaigns.

Now get experimenting! Don’t limit yourself and hold yourself back until you get to (x) amount of followers! You have the ability to start earning no matter how small your audience is. Treat every single follower with the potential to become a customer or a client down the line and stop chasing the vanity metrics.

You’ve got this!

Where to find me

 Website | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Pinterest | Now I’m Worried Podcast

Inge Hunter

Inge Hunter

About your author

Inge Hunter is a Digital Marketing strategist and multi-passionate entrepreneur. Inge helps business owners strategically boost their visibility, grow their digital footprint and expand their business potential  – so you can not only have a larger audience, but a more engaged, responsive and quality consumer base. Inge is a confident speaker, writer and authority on the future and power of digital media for SMEs in the UK.

You can find out more about Inge and her business here.


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