So, you wanna earn money from the gram?
Social media has become an amazing form of income to many, meaning you can actually use your creative talent to earn a living these days. Whilst there are ways of earning £££ through twitter, facebook and other platforms - I think it's safe to say Instagram is where the big bucks lie when it comes to social media. My insta has played a big part in me becoming a full time blogger as my largest platform (and I only have 10k now!) - but I probably only earn maybe 20% of my income from it as most of my collaborations are based on my blog and social platforms as a whole. Having said that, micro influencers are becoming more and more popular to use these days within marketing and there are accounts with a following of as little as 1000 earning money from the gram! I thought that I would share a few of the ways that I've come across over the last couple of years to earn money through Instagram for anyone who's wanting to get into that side of things.
Apps are probably going to be your best friend if you want to rely solely on income from Instagram rather than from a blog. There are loads of fab ones out there, but there are also a lot that are a big waste of time. With some of them, you can apply for campaigns that take your fancy, there are ones where brands can contact you via your profile and there are ones where you can submit content to brands with a 50/50 chance of approval. I do prefer the first two over the latter... I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of spending a lot of time creating a gorgeous piece of content on the “chance” it might be accepted, but sometimes if you're short on funds it's worth spending the time and chancing it for the extra ££. There are actually more and more apps becoming available too with social media marketing becoming much more common. I've discovered so many apps within the last few months through word of mouth that I'd never even heard of before - but have held some of the biggest brand campaigns. It just shows how helpful a post like this can be to help you discover them!
Here’s some of the apps I use...
Tribe - I have a love/hate relationship with Tribe, it's an app where the idea is you work with brands promoting products that you already own and love - which is fine, love that idea BUT it's totally, totally flawed. You could spend three hours shooting a beautiful flat lay, submit it to said brand just for them to turn it down, and there's nothing Tribe will do about it. You're taking a complete risk when creating content and I'm just not at ease with that. It's a bit of a piss take really isn't it? There are however some campaigns where you can submit mock ups, so a photo similar to what you WOULD take if they sent you product out. I've done a few of these and just submitted a photo that's already live on my instagram grid and then the brands have posted products out to me, basically ensuring that I'm going to get paid for content creation. Sometimes I will chance it and submit content to brands if I'm really quiet and don't have much work in, like at the beginning of January. I'd been so quiet over the Christmas period that I needed some extra cash and I randomly took a quick flat lay for a brand with products I already owned and funnily enough it got accepted the same day! It was total luck but it worked out nicely, obviously this isn't always the case but I felt happy to take the risk with work being so dead.
Takumi - I don't think I've had any collabs through Takumi yet as for months and months I just got nothing. Collaborations basically pop up on the app when you're matched to them, so not everyone will get the same opportunities, and you can then request to participate if you like the sound of it. Whilst I haven't had anything through this yet, it's still worth downloading as I've seen opportunities with brands like homesense and primark come up on mine!
IndaHash - I only discovered IndaHash last year, and I actually thought it looked so dodgy at first as it gives you your rate based on following and engagement which is verrrrry poor. Mine is around £35 or something ridiculous. However, little did I know that they have employees who basically direct message you on instagram when they think you're suited to a new campaign and you can negotiate fees and give your actual rate. I've had a few bits of work through this app now and made some pretty decent dolla. You can select which campaigns you're interested in on the app and then wait to see if you get asked to participate and chat terms and fees etc. It's pretty good as you can work with brands you'd probably never hear from if it wasn't for the campaigns.
Some other apps include HypeFactory, Collabor8, BrandSnob, Collabary and Buzzooka - they're all I have on my phone but there's loads more if you have a browse of the web and the app store!
There's loads of platforms available that you can sign up with and create profiles on, they are usually blog based platforms but don't let this fool you! There are networks such as the blogger programme that actually have opps come up constantly solely for Instagram. I find the blogger programme a bit hit and miss as paid campaigns rarely come up but it's still worth signing up with and looking out for them. A recent favourite of mine is AspireIQ (previously called Revfluence) as I worked with Hello Fresh through them and I'd been dying to try them out for ages. I'm hoping some more good opportunities arrive through this one during 2019. They have recently rebranded and it seems to be much better than how it was before, although I don't think they have an app ready yet from what I can see, if they're even creating one this time! Another platform a lot of people use is Influenster, however I think this is more of a gifting platform where you receive beauty bits to review - still worth signing up with as it gives you more content to produce and more brands to add to your portfolio.
I always include pitching in my posts about earning money through blogging etc but I can't stress how important it is if you want to earn a living in this industry. Unless you have a following of 100k+ (and probably even then) you're a tiny fish in a large pond and you have to put your own name out there. It can be hard at first, figuring out what to say but once you get used to it, it's generally a breeze. All you have to do is find marketing agencies to pitch to or google PR contacts for a brand you fancy working with. If you send a polite email, keeping it short and sweet with your following and maybe an idea of your engagement ratio and a sentence or two with why you'd like to work with them, it usually works a charm. Not many PRs will want to read a three page pitch at 9am on a Monday morning just as they've settled down for work, keeping it short, sweet, polite and to the point is much better. If it's not a specific brand you're contacting and it's more of an agency, you can just say that you'd like to be considered for any campaigns that fit your niche. You can also DM brands on instagram asking for a contact email if you can't find one or have seen them working with other influencers - most brands always reply to me as they're usually very active on the account.
Following on from the above, finding agencies that focus on Instagram marketing is extremely beneficial. You can find hundreds of them from a quick google search, and you just need to get in touch and ask to be added to their database which will then mean you're on the system and can be considered for any campaigns they think you're suitable for. Some of the ones I've worked with are goat agency, PMYB, summer.co and billiondollarboy. You can find plenty more if you google 'influencer marketing agency' though!
One of the best things about Instagram is that you basically have a free online portfolio. Chances are, as an influencer, you're already pretty good at taking a good shot. Use your little portfolio and see if any brands are looking for some photography for their own channels or their websites. I've dabbled in quite a bit of product photography that are jobs I would never have got if it wasn't for my blog and instagram account. A lot of brands prefer hiring bloggers/influencers these days as we are far more affordable than getting in a 'professional' that usually costs £1000+ for a days work. They've realised they can get the same quality shots from influencers for far less! I do think you probably need a DSLR if you want to earn money doing product shots though as you need the crispness and quality you get from a high end camera. Make sure you charge well for this though and more than you would for your own channel as usually you're signing over your creative rights to the brand.
It's not easy posting consistently on Instagram and finding multiple photographs to upload every week with all the captions and the rest that comes with it, but if you put in the effort it mostly always pays off eventually. The more work you put out there, the more you'll be noticed and you will get your chance to work with some amazing brands on some fantastic campaigns. Focus on producing content that you love and not only will the followers come, the work will too!
So those are the tips I have for earning money through Instagram, do you have any other app recommendations?