how to make money from InstagramThe prevalence of social media has made it a powerful business tool. This is especially true when it comes to marketing. Social media has made it easier than ever for businesses with small budgets to expand their marketing reach. Businesses no longer need a massive ad budget or a team of highly-skilled experts to effectively reach a large audience.

Social media also gives businesses the opportunity to make money and increase revenue. Monetizing Instagram, for example, is a proven strategy many entrepreneurs are using to reap enormous rewards.

But there is one catch: You need the tools and knowledge to make it work effectively. Here are a few things to keep in mind to effectively monetize and market your business with Instagram:

Making Money on Instagram 101

There are two ways to monetize your Instagram presence: 1) partnering with brands and sponsors and 2) using your account to generate more sales.

Let’s start with brand partnerships. Many of Instagram’s most popular accounts (those with thousands or millions of active followers) strike deals with brands to feature their products and services in their posts. This can take the form of subtle product placement-style advertising, or overt personal endorsements. Compensation for this may range from free goods and services to significant cash payments.

Your Instagram account can also be used to generate more revenue for your business. In this case, you are using your account as a marketing tool and disseminating your message to your online following in an effort to drive more traffic and engagement.

The Recipe for Success

Whether you are seeking to forge partnerships or generate your own revenue, the key to successfully monetizing your Instagram account remains the same: Build a large, highly engaged following. In other words, having 100 semi-random Instagram followers who don’t interact with you is a non-starter. To make your account appealing enough to draw the attention of sponsors, you will need thousands of active, high quality followers. The same principle applies for generating more revenue for your business. To move the needle, you will need to build a community of interested followers.

How do you do this successfully? One word: Content. Accounts that share useful, interesting and actionable content—consistently and frequently—build devoted followings. These kind of followings get people through your door and draw the attention of potential sponsors.

In addition to creating great content on a consistent basis, it is important to have top-notch quality photos. Instagram is a highly competitive platform, where brands put maximum effort into creating aesthetically-appealing content. This means you will need to ensure your content appears professionally shot and edited.

Finally, it is important to realize that you don’t have to be especially notable to monetize an Instagram account. For example, fairly obscure models and fitness trainers are using Instagram to earn thousands of dollars every week. If you can build a following, sponsors will find you, and so will new potential customers.

Some Advice

There are some not-so-scrupulous operators on Instagram who will offer to automate the process of building a following. Pay them some money, and you will receive thousands of followers in return.

Although this might sound more attractive than working every day to create intriguing photos and video to share, the truth is that it simply doesn’t work. One hundred high quality followers are more valuable than 1,000 low quality followers, and you simply can’t monetize an audience mostly comprised of automated bots and inactive accounts, no matter how large it might be.

To help you build your following organically, consider the following tips:

  • Search hashtags in your business niche to find those who share a common interest
  • Follow people you believe will be interested in your content
  • Engage with others by commenting or interacting with their photos and videos
  • Start a contest that requires participants to follow your business on Instagram
  • Offer discounts and deals available only via Instagram

The Takeaway

The key to making money on Instagram is building a large, devoted following. You can achieve this with quality content and professional photos. This way, you will develop a large, active customer base and potentially attract interest from sponsors.

To learn more about innovative marketing strategies, join me and other leading experts, including two from Google, at my “Breakthrough Marketing for Breakout Sales” digital marketing conference on April 14, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona.