8 Ways to Make Money on Instagram Without a Following

Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms and it just passed the 1 billion monthly active users (MAU) threshold. Only Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp can boast the same.

With growth and engagement comes opportunity, and there’s plenty of it hidden in plain sight.. It’s possible to make money on Instagram—and a lot of it.

At Foundr, we’re passionate about Instagram. It’s the platform behind our humble roots. From the get-go, we went from 0 to 10,000 followers in 2 weeks—now, we have over 3.2 million followers.

This growth has helped us crush sales, drive conversions, boost online exposure, expand our audience, and scale the business rapidly. And it’s all thanks to Instagram.

It’s not about if you can make money on Instagram—it’s about how.

Ready to make money on Instagram? Let’s get started.

Can You Make Money on Instagram?

Yes, and you don’t need 500K+ followers to get started. Any time you can build a following and drive awareness and traffic consistently, you’re going to have opportunities to make money.

Instagram users spend an average of 53 minutes on the platform every day. And they’re not just mindlessly scrolling—they’re engaging. Instagram generates almost 4x more interactions (likes, comments, shares, direct messages) than Facebook.

More than 80% of Instagram users admit that the platform has inspired them to buy a product or service—with over 1 billion users that’s a massive market of potential customers.

You have the market to make money on Instagram. The real question is how.

How Do People Make Money on Instagram?

We know people are making money on Instagram and it’s no mystery how they’re doing it. We’ve had thousands of students take our Instagram Domination course and they’ve provided plenty of testimonials on how they’re using Instagram to make money:

Black Dog Traders Selling on Instagram

Just three months after taking the course, Austin Peterson had grown Black Dog Trader’s Instagram to over 12,000 followers. Shortly after, they made their first sale of a $250,000 truck through Instagram. Now, they’ve expanded to over 20,000 followers and Instagram is one of their top sales channels.

Deonna Monique Using Influencer Marketing on Instagram

Deonna sells high-quality hair extensions that have been featured in magazines, TV shows, and movies. She used Instagram to connect with celebrities to endorse her products, and then she began to see huge sales—as much as $900K in 24 hours. Deonna’s grown her account to over 100K followers and credits Instagram for helping make her a millionaire.

Emily Chong Finding an Audience on Instagram

Emily launched an ecommerce store but she needed a way to grow awareness and sales. Turning to Instagram, she built a following of 26K followers in just a few months and generated almost $70K in sales (90% of them coming straight from Instagram).

Adam and Chelsea Building an Email List Through Instagram

Adam and Chelsea launched an ecommerce store but they didn’t want to rely on huge advertising budgets to drive traffic and sales. With just a single Instagram post, they built a 600-person email subscriber list—helping them drive $2,000 in organic sales in less than 2 days.

Instagram is making people money every day. Now it’s time to learn how.

8 Ways to Make Money on Instagram

1. Instagram Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are a popular way to make money on Instagram. Brands pay Instagram users to promote its content or products —it’s a form of influencer marketing.

Don’t be intimidated by the word “influencer.” You don’t need 500K or 2M followers to qualify as an Instagram influencer. Micro-influencers are emerging as an Instagram revenue builder and you could fall into that category with anywhere from 1K to 10K followers.

Brands care more about engagement rate—the number of likes and comments you get in proportion to your posts and follower count. If your 10K followers engage with your content at a higher rate than a 100K follower account, you might be a better fit for many brands.

Example of a Sponsored Post on Instagram

View this post on Instagram

Ellie Huges is a prime example of a micro-influencer. With less than 10K followers, she’s still able to earn partnership opportunities with brands like Encircled, an ethical clothing line.

She crafted a beautiful video promoting the all-day jumpsuit, and she continued posting photos to her Instagram before and after the video launch to boost reach.

2. Affiliate Marketing on Instagram

Affiliate marketing is when you promote someone else’s product and then receive a commission when a qualifying sale is made through your affiliate link.

With Instagram, you can promote affiliate products through your individual posts or your Instagram Stories. The tricky thing with Instagram is it isn’t always easy to get people to click links (especially since links are not clickable within the post captions).

You also need at least 10,000 followers (or verified status) to be able to get the coveted “swipe up” feature in your Instagram Stories. This feature makes it easy for followers to “click” your affiliate link with a simple upward swipe of the thumb.

Joining affiliate programs is relatively easy. Most brands don’t have rigorous qualifications—the more people who sell their products, the merrier. However, to get exclusive affiliate partnerships with some brands, you’ll need to show high follower counts and engagement rates.

You can find affiliate programs for many of the products and services you already know and love—just Google it. If you want broader affiliate opportunities, consider signing up with a popular affiliate network:

Earning potential is usually lower through Instagram affiliate networks than individual programs through brands, but they’ll get you access to an extensive collection of physical and digital products.

3. Using Instagram to Sell Products

Instead of marketing other brands’ products and services, why not sell your own? You could sell physical products (like apparel and beverages) or digital products (like courses and eBooks).

There are plenty of ways to sell your own items on Instagram:

Instagram Shoppable Posts: If you meet Instagram’s requirements, you can add shoppable tags to your product images. This lets followers see price tags and even click straight from the product image to the sales page.
Instagram Shoppable Stories: Highlight products and services in your Instagram Stories, and then drive your viewers to “Swipe Up” to visit the ecommerce page.
Sponsored Content on Instagram: Remember when we talked about being an Instagram influencer? If you don’t have a significant following , consider working with accounts and micro-influencers that do to sell your products.

4. Become a Brand Ambassador on Instagram

Sponsored posts are usually a one-off gig, while brand ambassadors are typically long-term relationships. Become a brand ambassador for the right companies and that could be a full-time job.

Before becoming a brand ambassador on Instagram, brands require:

  • Followers
  • Engagement
  • Experience
  • Brand fit
  • Activity

It’s a risk for brands to invest in brand ambassadors and they usually do it with quite a bit of paperwork to protect themselves. As a brand ambassador, you’ll be a representative of that company—and that means you’ll need to be a little more conscious and intentional with everything you post.

You may lose some freedoms as a brand ambassador, but it can be a lucrative Instagram money-making tactic—especially if you already love and use the products you’re endorsing.

5. Sell Photos on Instagram

Instagram is a place to share photos and videos. Unlike other social platforms, you can’t just share text descriptions or links. Because it’s such a photo-centered platform, it’s perfect for selling your images.

Whether you take still photography or are a Bob Rossinspired painter, you can post your images on Instagram to find buyers. Put out your best work and let your audience know where to download files or purchase prints.

Instagram has a wide variety of audiences, so you can find just about any interested niche on the platform. This means you can draw anime or shoot landscape beach photos, and you’re going to find followers.

6. Instagram Support

With thousands of businesses joining Instagram, many need creative and administrative help. They may be new to social networks or they might not know how to appropriately reach their audience—and that’s where you come in.

If you have a proven track record of growing Instagram accounts, there’s a good chance someone will pay to learn from you (or pay you to do it for them). Sell your services growing social media accounts or even writing Instagram caption copy.

If you have connections to macro and micro-influencers, you can also sell your services as a talent networker (an agent, of sorts).

7. Start a Business Instagram Account

Why build other brand’s accounts when you can just scale your own success? If you know the art and science of growing on Instagram, you can do it for a living.

  • Start a New Account: Identify high-traffic niches. Create an account that targets that unique audience.
  • Grow Your Instagram Profile: Post content, connect with the community, and build a loyal following.
  • Sell Your Instagram Account: Once you’ve sufficiently grown the account, find a buyer. Brands and individuals love a shortcut to the top and many are willing to pay good money for an already booming Instagram account.
  • Repeat: Do it again. Keep building profiles and selling them to the highest bidder.

8. Drive Instagram Traffic to Your Website

You might not be able to sell ad space on Instagram but you can do it on your website or blog. Use Instagram to build a following and drive traffic back to your primary domains. There, you can sell to your audience or monetize with ads.

Once you get traffic to your website, you can do whatever you want. You can turn your organic traffic into email or SMS subscribers or you can drive them to your products and services. You could also run affiliate programs on your website to capitalize on traffic there too.

Instagram Money-Making Tips

Whether you’re becoming an affiliate marketer or a brand ambassador, this is what you need to do on Instagram to make money.

Grow Your Following on Instagram

It’s all about the numbers. Whether you like it or not, brands need numbers to make decisions. They’re looking at maximum reach and potential return on investment (ROI). Your follower counts and engagement rates drive these figures.

Grow your following and you’ll grow your revenue on the platform. But growing an engaged following isn’t easy. That’s why we launched an entire course on building a high-quality Instagram account and earning followers.

Cross Promotion on Instagram

Your Instagram followers can be subscribed to email, SMS, and connected on LinkedIn. . Ask your followers to engage with you on other channels and ask your audience on other channels to come follow you on Instagram.

Focus on building a holistic community rather than followers on a single platform. Each channel has a purpose, and while Instagram is a great money-making tool, other platforms are better suited to making the final sale.

Selling on Instagram

Remember, first and foremost, Instagram is a social network. It’s not a shopping mall or an ecommerce website—it’s a place for friends, family, and communities to connect. If you sell too hard, you’ll risk alienating your followers and losing their trust.

People use Instagram to shop but they mostly use it to create relationships and share content. Engage with your community and then make the sale. When in doubt, put relationships first and put the sale second.

Instagram Ad Space

Unlike an entire website with pages and blog posts, there’s not a lot of real estate on Instagram. You have your profile page, individual posts, and Instagram Stories—and that’s about it. Learn to take advantage of every opportunity

Write a compelling “about section” on your profile and swap out your link to match the actionable CTAs in your posts. Add a high-quality logo for your brand image. Include well-thought-out captions with every Instagram post—don’t let it become a last-minute afterthought.

Free Instagram Followers

Followers will come if you engage with the community on Instagram. It’s all about give and take. Don’t sit back, post, and hope an audience will come flooding in. You need to proactively find your followers, engage with them, and entice them to come see your content.

Follow (and use) relevant hashtags to find like-minded individuals. Search for your competitor’s followers to learn more about them and engage with them. You’re not the only one who enjoys seeing likes and comments on your posts.

Don’t Purchase Instagram Followers

Never purchase Instagram followers. Ever. They’ll hurt your engagement rates and ultimately destroy your credibility. Just don’t do it.

Instagram Reels and Other Instagram’s Features

Experiment and have fun. Instagram is an innovative platform that’s always coming out with new features like Reels, their answer to TikTok. Don’t be afraid to try using Reels, Stories, go live, and IGTV.

Accelerate Your Instagram Follower Growth

Ready to put your Instagram growth into overdrive? We’ve got the tips, secrets, and know-how to help you make it happen.

Sign up for our Instagram Domination course to learn the exact formulas we used to grow our following from 0 to 500K followers in just 12 months. Foundr CEO Nathan Chan will show you how to create content that attracts your target audience and drives insane amounts of engagement. He’ll also show you how to develop money-making posts that turn your fans into customers without coming off too salesy.

If you want to grow your Instagram following the right way, this is the course for you. Sign up now to begin your Instagram domination.

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