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Instagram Influencer: How To Grow, Engage, And Get Paid

I like to spend every Friday here on the blog talking about influencer topics. Typically, I cover blog-specific topics like growing traffic and getting sponsored content. Today though, I wanted to focus specifically on being an Instagram influencer. Did you know that you can make money off of Instagram alone? Want to know how to do it? Of course, so buckle up and hop on while I tell you what I have learned about making money on Instagram!

So you want to be an Instagram influencer. Learn how to make money on Instagram!

What You Need To Know About Being An Instagram Influencer

So, you want to be an Instagram influencer. Well, there are a few things that you will need to know before you can start making money off of your Instagram account.

Getting Started as an Instagram Influencer

First thing is first, you need to get started! Yea, I know it sounds redundant but if you want to be an Instagram influencer, you need to start thinking of yourself as such. It doesn’t matter if you are starting with a hundred or a thousand followers, you need to get yourself into the influencer mindset. That means you need to think of yourself and your Instagram as a business. It may seem silly, but I promise it works.

Your Instagram Feed

Now that you are mentally ready to view yourself as an Instagram influencer, I want to talk about your feed. So many people are going to say you need a monochrome, themed, feed. Filled with stunning staged photos and always looks immaculate. Well, I am here to tell you that this is NOT always true.  My feed is nothing like that and it works for me.   A lot of it depends on your niche and the audience you are trying to attract. While yes, you want good, high-quality photos, they don’t have to be photographer quality. You can see my feed below.

Real Instagram Influencer Feed

Seriously, my Instagram is an “inside look” into my life. I use it as an offset to my blog. Where my blog is my professional area, my Instagram is more personal. For me, that works. I get to connect with my audience on a different level, and this is something that brands notice.

Does Instagram Followers Matter?

So you are in the right headspace, and you have decided on how you want your theme, but you don’t have that many followers yet. But really, how much do followers matter? Well, they do, and they don’t…  Confusing right? They matter in a way that you need to have a dedicated following in order to be an Instagram influencer and work with brands. They don’t matter in the sense that you don’t need hundreds of thousands in order to start working.

I started getting brand offers of around 1,000 -2,000 followers on my Instagram. Most of these were free product offers, and I was okay with that. I would work with companies that I liked, receive products as compensation, and build a relationship with the company and its representatives.

Even though I had a small number of followers, they were rather engaged. In the world of Instagram, engagement matters just as much if not more than follower count. Brands want to see that you actually have a level of influence. If your audience is liking, commenting, and interacting with your posts, that is a good indicator that you do have a level of influence.

Growing Your Instagram Following

Even though having a huge following isn’t necessary, you do need real dedicated followers. While it may be tempting to buy followers, just don’t do it! Those followers won’t be real and they won’t be engaged, and that can actually hurt you. If you want to get real followers, it may take a bit longer, but I promise it is totally worth it!


First, you are going to want to be active on your feed. Posting photos at least a few times a week will help you attract new followers. Now, you can’t just post a photo and walk away. You are going to need to make use of the hashtags so that your photos will be seen by non-followers. With Instagram, you can use up to 30 hashtags and I would recommend using all 30. Someone said it to me one time, that if you are handed 30 lotto tickets, would you use all 30 or just a few? Using all 30 will maximize your chances of being seen.

You will want to use a good mix of large and small hashtags as well. Honestly, you probably won’t be seen in the super large hashtags so smaller ones are the way to go. I like to research my hashtags a little before I use them and keep a list of ones I like. All you really need to do is go through and look at the hashtags that you think you want to use. You can see how large they are, the types of photos in that hashtag, and make sure it isn’t a “banned hashtag“.

Another thing to do is to make sure you aren’t using the exact same hashtags every time. Instagram likes for you to change it up. 

Lastly, on hashtags, you are going to want to engage with the hashtags that you are using. Instagram now gives you the option to follow hashtags, so totally do that! I like to go through and like and comment on some of the top posts and most recent posts in the hashtags that I am using.

Engagement With Other Accounts

Going along with commenting on hashtags, you will also want to engage with your target audience. You can do this in a number of ways. Searching through hashtags is a great way to see others in your niche. Commenting and liking their photos, and following those who you enjoy will help you as well.

Something else I like to do is to find a larger account that is similar to mine and engage with its followers. You can see their followers, click on their accounts, and engage with them to try to grow your audience. The idea behind this is that if they are following someone similar to you, they will also be interested in your account.

Just be genuine with your comments ( 4 words plus is the best). Follow accounts you love and continue to engage. I promise, it may seem slow going but you will gain genuine followers.

Engage With Your Followers

Another best practice is to engage with those already following you. If someone comments on your photo, respond! Again, 4 words plus is best practice for this! You can also like and comment on their photos to really build a good relationship with your followers. Remember, Instagram is a give and take and favors those who are active and genuine!

If you’re not getting the desired results, you can always invest in boosting your profile, which is often done when starting out. Lots of newfound influencers are buying Instagram likes at in order to catch the attention of their target audience. This is a great way to boost the reach of your profile and increase engagement.

Use Stories

So stories are the newest function added by Instagram, so it will be the most favored by the algorithm. Using stories is another fun way to engage with your audience. Make use of the polls, hashtags, tagging, and geo-tagging within your stories as well. I have found that if I geotag and use a hashtag, I will show up in the explore stories more often and the hashtag’s story as well. You are also going to want to respond when people reply to your stories. It just helps to build a better relationship with your followers. I mean, who doesn’t like a sweet DM in response to a story or message you sent.

Getting Brands To Notice You on Instagram

I feel like that was a lot of information, and hopefully, you are still here with me after all of that! Now that you know how to grow an engaged audience, I want to talk about how to get brands to notice you as an Instagram influencer.

Follow Them

This may seem very obvious, but you should be following the brands that you want to work with. No matter if they are small brands or large brands, you want to follow them!


Following the brands though, is not enough. You want to engage with them as well! Like and comment on their photos. I like to turn on my post notifications so I can catch a new post as soon as it goes live! Seriously, these brands notice this! They see who is actively engaged with their feed and are more likely to want to work with someone who has shown prior interest.


Brands love to be tagged. If you have some of their products that you love, take a nice photo and tag them either on your feed or in your stories. You can also check to see if they have a designated hashtag that they use often and use that as well. Is this free advertising for them? Well, yes it is but it is hopefully going to lead to a business relationship in the future!

Reach Out!

Now that you have all the basics down. If you are following, engaging, or tagging, a brand, you can go ahead and reach out! Some brands, mainly smaller ones, are okay with you reaching out through Instagram itself, but I prefer to reach out via email. Find their PR email and send them a pitch! Not sure how to pitch? No problem, I have your perfect pitch covered right over here!

Instagram is one of my favorite ways to market and get sponsored posts. It adds a new revenue stream aside from the blog and can be very lucrative. It can be used in conjunction with blog posts, or stand-alone posts, and is an excellent way to get brands to notice you!

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Thursday 8th of March 2018

Engaging is very important. This sounds like a lot of work for me, but it is worth try. Thank you for sharing these tips

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