Instagram’s popularity has exploded in recent years. What was once a simple photo sharing app has turned into one of the most popular social media platforms around.

People are using it far and wide for a variety of purposes from keeping up with their inner circle to learning about the latest trends. It’s become a place where influencers and brands are welcomed and embraced for all they have to offer.

The key is finding ways to stand out from the crowd and connecting with a devoted audience. If you’d like to earn some social media side cash or even earn a full-time living online, take a look at these eight surprising ways you can make money on Instagram for inspiration.

1. Try affiliate marketing.

It used to be that you had to have your own website set up to promote affiliate products. These days, you just need an active social media account. Because Instagram is so popular, it’s the perfect choice for promoting the products and services of others in order to earn a commission for yourself.

There’s good money to be made by becoming an affiliate. Platforms like Shopify, Amazon, Clickbank and more offer tons of opportunities to find affiliates to promote that fit within your niche and appeal to your particular follower demographic.

2. Become an influencer.

There are influencers of all audience sizes, depending upon your specific area of expertise and interest. Becoming an influencer involves first cultivating an active and engaged following on Instagram, then making a name for yourself among those loyal users.

You don’t need to reach celebrity status with a cult following, just as long as your audience is engaged and has shown they have trust in your knowledge.

Once you’ve established yourself, you can begin to approach brands to suggest collaborations. Depending on your niche and activity level, brands may even begin to seek you out with proposals of their own.

Typically, a brand will pay an influencer for a sponsored post. Rates vary based on size of following and engagement, but you can earn some good money this way.

3. Sell your digital products.

Promoting and selling your own personally created products through your Instagram feed makes sense. Again, it’s wise to create a brand for yourself and cultivate a following by sharing what you know and showing your unique personality.

Once people start to connect with you, they’ll likely be interested in what it is you do and what you have to offer.

You can sell digital products like ebooks, white papers, photos, artwork and printables within your niche. Establishing yourself as a trusted expert within your field will encourage folks to want to know what it is you have to say. There’s quite the market for informational products out there.

4. Sell your physical products.

You can also sell your own physical products, as well. If you use your creativity and talents to make things, why not try reaching an extensive audience through Instagram? Just as with any other product you’d want to sell, it’s best to establish your online presence in order to attract more interest in what you have to offer.

You can sell nearly anything that appeals to a particular demographic. You may need some initial startup costs, as well as adequate work and storage space in your home.

Once you make sure you have all you need, you’re ready to start selling. Instagram allows you to tag items that lead potential customers directly to your website or online sales venue.

5. Get involved with dropshipping.

If you don’t have the startup capital, talent or space necessary to product your own product, don’t despair. There are plenty of suppliers out there who will maintain inventory and even ship products you promote through your online properties.

It’s a no-frills way to make money selling physical products that you wish to promote. You set up an online store, promote products you love and your dropship supplier handles the backend. You’ll earn a profit based on agreed-upon commission terms.

 6. Become a brand ambassador.

Influencers who succeed with sponsored posts and other short-term partnerships with brands may be interested in pursuing brand ambassador opportunities.

This role works in a similar way to sponsorships, but it’s usually for a longer period of time and is more detailed. It’s a real partnership between an influencer and a brand, and it involves significant trust and admiration on the part of both.

In order to be chosen as an ambassador, a company must view you as someone they admire whose image and interests are in line with what their own company values. And vice versa.

You should only look to create such long-term partnerships with brands you genuinely believe in. Otherwise, your audience may see you as fake or as a sellout.

7. Teach what you know.

Influencers who have established themselves as trusted experts within their niche can often make money through teaching what they know.

You can provide this information through webinars or online courses that your audience attends either in real-time or through pre-recorded sessions. Some experts also sell their consulting services to others. Why not profit from your hard-earned knowledge?

8. Sell your Instagram account.

Finally, did you know you could sell your Instagram account? It’s true. If you’ve taken the time and effort to create a significant and loyal following with hundreds or thousands of posts, you don’t want to just shut it down should you find that you’re ready to move on.

There are people and companies who may be interested in profiting from your established hard work and reputation. Your online social media property can be worth quite a chunk of change. There are sites like Swapd who can broker fair deals for you that are worth considering.

These are just some of the ways you can make money on Instagram. Each requires dedication and time, but they’re definitely worth it if you wish to work and earn a living online.

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