Instagram Affiliate Marketing – As an affiliate marketer, the quest for finding new traffic sources never ends. Especially with new social platforms popping up every day, it becomes very difficult to spend time on each one of them and test for in your pursuit to get quality traffic. When the scene is such, it is always best to seek the help of social media platforms that have been tried and tested by experts, while developing strategies to use them effectively.
Instagram is one such platform that many affiliate marketers use as a source of quality targeted traffic to promote affiliate products and services. As an affiliate marketer myself, I have used Instagram extensively and would like to share everything about it that I know.
If you have been into this space for some time now, you would know the importance of having social media as one of your promotion channels. In this article, I will try my best to provide you with information regarding the importance of Instagram for affiliate marketing, how to effectively use it while making some good money along the side.
Why Instagram Affiliate Marketing?
Among so many social media platforms why am I talking about Instagram you may ask?
I have mainly two reasons to put forward, and they are –
- The unprecedented growth of the Instagram platform
- Higher engagement rate Instagram
To complement my answer, here are some statistics on this social platform. The Instagram app alone enjoys a user base of 800 million, out of which 400 million users are daily active users as per the recent data. These numbers cannot be seen on any other social media platforms like Snap Chat, Tumblr etc.
When you find so many active users in one place, why go anywhere else. The time is right to get into the trend and make some money before Facebook replicates the strategy of lowering the reach on Instagram too. If you are not aware of this, let me tell you that Facebook Marketing has become very challenging these days for it is lowering the reach each passing day. Even organic reach i.e. showcasing a post on a page to its followers is very calculated and not every follower gets to see a post on his wall.
Gone are those days where you could have a page on FB and enjoy free referral traffic from Facebook. In recent times there have been a lot of changes and the reach of pages has dropped to low levels. Engagement rates on Twitter are also diminishing and Snap Chat doesn’t really have an audience of impulsive buyers. Now that you know why Instagram is hot for affiliate marketing, let me walk you through the different ways of making money through Instagram as an affiliate marketer. Instagram is the definitely the hottest gold mine where you need to start digging.
In recent times, there have been reports of Instagram influencers making thousands of dollars just by posting stuff of others, which they otherwise would have. While this amount is justifiable for celebrities, there have been instances where normal users have been paid a hefty lot of money to post on in their accounts by advertisers.
Different Ways of making Money through Instagram
While these posts seem normal, they are in fact paid promotions or also called shout outs. So, even if you have a following of more than 10,000 followers you can expect to make some really good money. There are some factors like the type of account you have, engagement rate for your pictures etc, which ultimately decides the amount of money you are likely to get for each post you make pertaining to an advertiser
While there are many ways to making money with an Instagram account, our focus is solely on affiliate marketing as of now. However, I will explain some marketing methods of making money with Instagram that is completely out of context with respect to affiliate marketing.
There are many ways using which you can earn money on Instagram. To start with, I will talk about the comparatively easier ways of making money on this social media platform. To make simple for you to understand, I have divided the sources of earning into direct and indirect sources.
How to earn directly from Instagram?
The direct way of making money from Instagram is pretty straightforward. There are two ways of approaching this. You have to either reach out to potential advertisers or based on your account popularity advertisers may approach you. The activity is very simple; you will have to make a post endorsing products of advertisers.
The amount of money you will be making from this activity depends on many factors like engagement rate, demographics, the niche you are in etc. This is a typical way of making money from your Instagram followers. I have come across Instagram accounts that charge up to $3,000 for a single post that talks about a product/service.
However, there are chances that your engagement drops because your followers wouldn’t like to see advertisements being posted often by you. This is why you have to ensure that you space out advertisements, while not overdoing it. Per my experience, one ad post against 10 of your personal posts is the right way to go forward. It is all about keeping your persona alive and growing, while not jeopardizing your reputation in the face of your followers.
How to earn Indirectly from Instagram? The Affiliate Marketing Way!
If you do not wish to do shout outs or advertisements for others, fearing that your account quality will be affected, Affiliate marketing is the way forward. You can start linking out to some niche related affiliate offers by placing the link in your bio. However, it is important that you have a landing page as you cannot directly link to the offer page. This is against Instagram terms and conditions.
If your account is very specific and if your followers love your page then you can start a blog on the same niche. You can also sell products related to products.
For example: If you have an Instagram account for your dog, wherein you have posted pics related to your dog then people following your account will have a connection with only dogs and at max other pets. This can be a good opportunity for you to sell dog-related merchandise like calendars, mugs, t-shirts, dog bowls, collars, organic dog food etc.
How many followers should I have to make really good money on Instagram?
Now, let me address the most important question which I am sure is bothering you at the moment. How many followers do you need in order to start making money on Instagram? There is no absolute answer for this because it varies depending on the niche you are in. If you in a niche that has less no of influencers while having a high number of following, then you can start earning with as low as 5000 followers.
Here is a post which explains how some of the influencers make $75 with just 5000 followers. I do not agree with all that is said in the post, however, some of the points may be true. Also, a lot has changed in the past year and the competition in the space of influencer marketing has increased drastically bringing down the rates of shout outs.
I have made a list of the most important factors which decides the amount of money you make on Instagram –
- Size of the account (No of Followers)
- Engagement of the account (likes, comments to followers ratio)
- Niche competition
- Demography of followers (followers from tier 1 country = more money)
- Posting frequency of the account (how often you post)
Getting back, for now, let us focus on the ways to make money on Instagram. I have divided this into three different ways, I am not saying these are the only ways of making money, but these are some of the things I have tried and they have worked for me really well.
Step By Step Guide to Make Money from Instagram
We have briefly gone across some of the ways you can make some cash from Instagram. Now I will explain some of the methods in detail so that you can take action using this guide.
How to earn from your Instagram Photos
If you have a huge collection of high-quality photos on your Instagram profile, you can then make some money by selling photos to stock image websites. Before you go ahead and sell your images, research if your niche is popular on image stock websites. There plenty of image stock websites you can sell your images to, however, this will not give you a lot of money. The amount of money depends on your niche and rarity of the pictures.
Also, selling stock photos online is a long-term game. Your images have to be of high quality and you will only make money when someone downloads or pays for that photo on the stock websites. They generally have a revenue sharing program and most sites will offer you anywhere between 20%-40% commission per sale. To help you get a head start here are some of the well-known image stock websites, where individuals and companies can buy copyrights for your images –
However, if you are looking to grow your account as an influencer one, then the best way to make money is from paid promotions. You have to start building your followers by posting high-quality niche relevant pictures. I have seen many Instagrammers posting high-quality images but fail in placing right hashtags. This definitely lowers your chances of growing the account in a big one. Let me explain how to find relevant hashtags that can fetch you more likes and followers.
How to use Instagram Hashtags to generate more Likes and Followers?
To get more exposure for images you post, you definitely have to include hashtags. Placing right hashtags ensures is the image/post is categorized under the right category so that the post/image shows up when people search for it. This also gives you a chance to hit the explore page on Instagram. Simply put, pushing hashtags is akin to SEO for your website.
However, there are two approaches you can follow. One is to make use of all 30 hashtags (Instagram limit) for maximum exposure or stick to highly relevant and long tail hashtags for a more targeted approach. I’d say use hashtags which will help you describe your image, do not use 30 just because Instagram allows you to. You may end up getting irrelevant followers because of some unrelated hashtags.
Finding relevant hashtags can be a tough ask, which is why you can make use of apps which help you generate hashtags. The app I would recommend is ‘Hashtager’ which is available on the Play store. The app is simple to use, all you have to do is enter a relevant keyword and the app will return with hashtags which are closely relevant to it.
Here is an image below which shows the difference between using all 30 hashtags and targeted hashtags. You can notice that the one with lesser hashtags also looks better than the other picture.
Affiliate Marketing to Earn Money on Instagram
The traditional approach of affiliate marketers is to build a website around certain keywords and rank it. However, with Instagram, there is a whole new dimension to affiliate marketing. Affiliate Marketing using Instagram has become one of the main sources for both advertisers and publishers to enhance their reach while generating a good income from the efforts.
Instagram for Advertisers
Advertisers always keep looking for sources where they can market their products. In the last few years due to the growth of influencer marketing, advertisers have now turned their eye to Instagram to market their products. This is mainly because the engagement rate on this platform is the highest among all the other social media platforms. It is easy to find niche related accounts for any budget, from $5-$5000/ post, you can find any type of influencers.
Instagram for Affiliate Marketers
The process of making money on Instagram is a bit different from building websites. On this platform, your focus should be on choosing a least competitive niche. Start by posting high-quality niche relevant photos and follow some growth hacks. If you do not manage to grow your account past 10,000 followers then you cannot earn any substantial amount of money. I will give a brief idea of how you can grow your Instagram accounts.
How to grow your Instagram account initially?
Growing your Instagram account can be the biggest challenge you will face when you begin. This is one of the reasons why most of them give up on growing the accounts. It takes you months and years to reach 5-10,000 followers. I will share with you some tips which will help you grow your Instagram account.
- Posting High-Quality Pictures: There is no substitute for quality and original content to seek gains on Instagram. Good quality and original content is a must irrespective of the niche you are in. Post at least 2-3 high-quality images every day. Also, ensure you use the best hashtags so that your image gets the maximum push.
- Networking with similar accounts: Reach out to accounts which are similar to your niche. Do not bother reaching out to accounts which have like 500k followers, you will not get a reply. Your aim must be to network with similarly sized accounts, interact with the content that they post and I am sure you live to get some interaction with them.
- Shoutouts: One more way of getting followers to your account is to purchase shout outs. The basic idea of a shout out is to ask bigger accounts to make a post about your account asking their followers to follow your page. You can research and reach out to these accounts individually or you can take help of shout cart. Shoutcart is a marketplace wherein you can buy and sell shout outs.
On ShoutCart you can easily find niche relevant accounts. They assign a quality score to each account, the higher the quality score better is the engagement, better is the account for a shout out. The shout out prices depend mainly on the size of the account and the quality score, I have seen prices ranging from $2 – $100 depending on the quality, duration of the post and the size of the account.
Making money from Sponsored Posts
In order to get offers from advertisers for sponsored posts, your account should have a good reach. While many claims that you can start earning even with 1000 followers, I would suggest you to start looking out for sponsored post opportunity only after 10,000 followers. I have found that even if you do 1 post/ week your engagement takes a hit, this is something which you cannot take when your account is very small. This is why I feel it is sensible to advertise only after you have a good number of followers.
Do not look for a few bucks when you can make hundreds and thousands of dollars from your Instagram account in the long term. One more thing you have to keep in mind is never to promote products/ accounts which are not related to your niche. No matter how much they offer you, both you and the advertiser will not get good results from this. Your engagement will take a huge hit and your advertisers may not make even a penny in sales for being irrelevant to your followers.
Your aim must be to promote high-quality products that are highly relevant to your followers.
Ex: promoting dog programs/ products on a dog-related Instagram page is the right approach.
Do buying followers, Likes, and Other tricks help on Instagram?
You would have heard from many gurus that buying followers and likes is a good way to get your account started. There plenty of apps and services online which can provide you with thousands of fake followers and fake likes. Please note that they ‘fake’ and it does not add any real value to your account. In fact, your engagement rates drop and your accounts become worthless.
Let us assume you buy 10,000 fake followers to get started. Each picture you post may not even get 100 likes as the followers are totally unrelated to your niche or are bots. This clearly indicates that your followers are fake and getting new targeted followers becomes very difficult.
Not only does your engagement fall, but this will also negatively impact your chances of monetizing your account. No one will ever approach an account that has thousands of followers and doesn’t receive any likes and comments. Advertisers keep a close watch on the account analytics before they go ahead and buy a sponsored post. This is why I feel that you have to stay away from all these apps and services which promise you to give thousands of targeted followers for pennies. If you are here to make some good money, make in a long-term affair.
Importance of Follower engagement and Instagram Analytics
I have been talking a lot about follower engagement throughout this article that is because it is the most important aspect you need to track while growing your account. In simple terms, follower engagement is the number of likes and comments you get relative to the number of followers you have. Higher the follower engagement more valuable is your account. That doesn’t mean that you’ll need to have a 50% engagement, no account has that. For Instagram, an engagement rate of 20-30% is considered to be very good.
Does that mean you have to buy fake followers and likes to pump the engagement rate of your account? No, doing this will only hurt your account further. Your aim must be to grow your account organically by following the tips I gave above. If your aim is to make thousands of dollars from a single post, the organic following is the only way. Give your account at least 6 months to a year to build.
Also, it is important you monitor the health of your account using an analytics service[some service which has affiliate] This will allow you to know your follower demographics, the best time to post, how are followers engaging with your posts etc.
Some additional things you need know before starting Instagram Affiliate Marketing…
In order to be successful on Instagram, having a strong account is a must. Your focus must be on building a highly engaging niche account. Let me summarize some of the important steps you’ll need to take in order to be successful.
- Choose a niche which is unique and has less competition
- Learn the art of hashtag research and always add relevant hashtags to the content you post
- Do not buy followers or likes from social media panels online. NEVER EVER VENTURE INTO BUYING FOLLOWERS!
- Form connections with similar account owners and start networking. Know from their account what works.
- What works for them might work for you as well. Why not give them a try.
Lastly, ensure that you post highly visual images which will create a connection between your account and your followers.
Other tips which will help you stay ahead in the game of Instagram Affiliate Marketing
- Influencer marketing space is seeing a lot of competition because of the money it can generate; you will have to create unique content to stand out from your competitors.
- It is always a good practice to keep track of your competitors. Make notes from your competitors’ strategies and implement if it makes sense to your efforts. S
- Keep track of the Instagram algorithm changes, they constantly tweak their algorithm, techniques working today may not be relevant after an update.
- Keep your account safe; ensure that you do not share your techniques with others.
There you go everything that I wanted to talk about Instagram Affiliate Marketing. I am done with briefing you about using Instagram as an affiliate marketing channel to make money. The best way to learn would be to start an account and implement the tips I have given above. Do not try to analyze it without practically doing it. Generally, people read articles and come up with their own conclusions without even giving it a try. I hope that this guide would be useful to you in starting your first Instagram niche account and making some money passive through affiliate marketing.