PSA: You do not – I repeat, do not – need hundreds of thousands of followers to earn money from Instagram.

Some of the influencers you look up to probably have hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of followers. This doesn’t mean you need to have a huge following to earn money online. In fact, all it takes is one loyal follower to start building your tribe and growing your income.

Can I Really Make Money On Instagram Without a Huge Following? | Kerry Johnson

More and more brands are looking to micro influencers to promote their products, as they offer an intimate and personalised service, often at an affordable cost. As an aspiring IG boss, it’s time for you to take advantage of this.

Before you jump in and start approaching brands, let’s take a look at your account. Check your demographics – are your followers mostly female, male, under 25, over 40, based in the UK? These things are all important when it comes to making money. Is your audience focused? There is no point in promoting brands, products or services to an audience who won’t be interested. This will not be good for you or for the brand you are collaborating with.

Next up, we need to look at your current engagement rate – having an account with thousands of followers, but no engagement, is beneficial to no one. You can check your engagement rate by using an online calculator such as this one. Instagram engagement seems to have dropped overall, due to a recent algorithm change, but there are often ups and downs where this is concerned. Engagement rate will also vary depending on the size of the account.

At present, the average engagement rate is around 2-3%, although this is expected to be lower for accounts with large followings and higher for smaller accounts. As a micro influencer, you should be aiming for 5% or higher (I personally aim to keep mine around 10%).

Getting Started
If you already have a targeted audience and a high engagement rate, you’re ready to go. However, it’s likely you’re going to need to put some work in beforehand. Start by removing inactive followers or those who don’t align with the type of business you are trying to build. I tend to have a lot of males from Asia and the Middle East follow me, but I remove them as they don’t align – my target demographic is females aged between 20 and 40, and living in the UK.

If you want to make money using Instagram, you’re going to need to start treating it as a business – this will take work. You should work consistently on reaching your target audience and increasing (or at least maintaining) your engagement. A social profile is attractive to brands and other platform users. Interact with your target audience (and your current followers) daily.

When you’re in the habit of treating Instagram as a business, you’re ready to start monetising it. Here are a few ideas for you.

Affiliate Marketing
This is the process of earning a commission by promoting another company’s products or services. You can choose what you promote, when and how, and will earn a percentage of the profit for every sale made. There are affiliate programmes available in a number of niches, so you can guarantee you’ll find something that works for you.

Brand Collaborations & Sponsorship
When you grow a targeted, engaged following, you will open up a number of opportunities to work with brands. You may find that they approach you, but you can also approach other businesses to work with. Some will pay you to advertise their products and some will offer free products in return for promotion. Remember that you should only approach brands whose products are geared towards your audience.

Network Marketing
This is a lucrative business model whereby you sell products manufactured by a particular company and earn a profit on each sale. You can also recruit a team of direct sellers, who you will coach to grow a business, and earn a commission on each sale they make.

Sell Your Own Products or Services
Do you make your own products or have a service to offer? Instagram is a great place to promote these. Whether you offer handmade products or create personalised fitness programmes, you will be able to reach your ideal clients through the platform.

Drop Shipping
This is a method of selling where you don’t actually handle any stock. Instead, you transfer your customers’ orders to either the manufacturer or a wholesaler. You set your prices, take payment for the product and then place the order on your customer’s behalf. The goods will be sent directly to them and you keep the profit.

Sell Stock Photography
Are you great at taking photos? Many sites and businesses will pay you for your original images. Instagram is the perfect place to showcase your work. You can refer people to the link in your bio and transfer them to an external site where they can make a purchase.

Ready to take it a step further? My brand new IG Business program will be available soon!