How to Make Money on Instagram (Without 10K Followers)

Making money on Instagram can seem like a challenge if you don’t have at least 10,000 followers already.

But did you know that Instagram has more than 1 billion monthly users? That’s a lot of people, just waiting to find out about you, and what you have to offer!

In this article, we’ll show you all the different ways you can make money on Instagram, even if you don’t have 10,000 followers yet.

Why Having 10,000 Followers Is Important

On Instagram, getting 10,000 followers is kind of like the turning point: suddenly, more doors open up, and your efforts to make money on the platform become a lot easier.

Not only do more brands reach out for partnerships, but you also get the coveted “Swipe Up” feature on your stories. Brands love this feature since it converts at a whopping 15-25% per story.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to start making money with fewer than 10,000 followers.

Whether you’re an individual influencer or a business, we’ll show you the best ways to start making money on Instagram before you get to the 10,000 follower mark.

Let’s dive in!

Instagram for Individuals vs Business Owners

If you want to make money as an individual, your main goal should be to attract brands.

The only reason brands are going to give their money to you is because of your influence on their target audience. Therefore, building relationships and keeping your audience engaged is the most important thing to focus on.

Now, if you’re a business your goals will be slightly different.

Instead of using your content as real estate for brands, you’ll want to get as much of your crowd to engage with your own content as possible.

That doesn’t mean you should be spamming them with ads (we see that enough through sponsored posts). What really moves the needle is creating content that’s so creative and interesting that it outshines the content your competitors are posting.

Capture and share amazing pictures with a story in the description, or highlight an example of when your product helped someone.

telling a story instagram

Creating interesting, engaging content that’s related to your brand’s industry is key. Be consistent in posting and take steps to build relationships with other users.

You can easily build relationships through sharing Instagram love: like other users’ photos, comment on their posts and reply to their stories.

How to Make Money on Instagram Without 10,000 Followers

With under 10,000 followers, you have fewer tools available to help you monetize, but there are still several things you can do to get started.

Let’s explore each of them below!

Make Money on Instagram From Sponsored Posts

This is a very common monetization channel for individual influencers. Basically, a brand pays you to create an advertorial piece of content for them in the form of posts or stories.

In order to do this, you really need to have a strong presence within your followers, as well as trust and engagement.

Because of this, it’s important to make sure that you’re only partnering with brands that you enjoy, would actually use yourself, and are specific to your niche.

If you’re advertising antivirus software but your account is all about hiking, your post won’t get as much engagement. The sponsored brand won’t get any return on their investment, and you’ll lose your trust and reputation with your audience.

On the other hand, if your Instagram feed is about horses and horseback riding, you could easily advertise something like a spray to make the saddle shine. This way, you’ll get far better engagement.

In short, it’s extremely important to know your audience.

Related Content: 9 Ways to Grow Your Email List with Social Media

Now, you might be wondering, how do I get brands to sponsor me when I only have a couple of thousand followers?

It’s not that hard.

Well, that’s if you’ve created a noteworthy online presence and a great relationship with your followers. It’s even likely that brands will reach out to you first. Many smaller companies that want to start influencer marketing on Instagram will usually start out by reaching out to individual accounts with a smaller following first. Besides, they need to start somewhere, too.

Examples of sponsored posts from influencers with under 10,000 followers

Cinnamon And Coriander, an Instagrammer passionate about all things food has over 600 posts of recipes she loves and has created herself.

Although she doesn’t have 10k followers yet, she’s grown quite an engagement with her followers by including long captions about her cooking.

Her posts have many comments as well, with an average of 150 comments per post. The engagement and quality of her pictures attract sponsors like Just Spices to promote them in her posts.

Make Money on Instagram by Promoting Your Own eCommerce Products

If you own an eCommerce store, why not open an Instagram account for it as well?

This is a great way to create more awareness of the products you’re selling. Your Instagram page can be full of attractive pictures with people showcasing the products.

If you don’t have a model, you can be the one showcasing the product, or if the product doesn’t need a model, you can create a nice background to make the product stand out.

Either way, it’s important to invest in a good camera. Instagram users often won’t look twice if your feed is full of low-quality images. And if the user knows your images are bad quality, they may think your product is as well.

Related Content: The 5 Best Types Of Awareness Stage Content To Explode Your Lead Generation

Another great way to promote your products is to show sales and flash sales in the image’s bio. You can also advertise holiday specials or new items. Use lots of emojis to catch the users’ attention and make sure to post it in your stories as well because not everyone will see it on their feed.

Stories are a great way to get creative and get people engaged with your content. You can include many different stickers like polls, locations, and even countdowns to create the fear of missing out on offers.

Since you won’t have the “swipe up” feature on your stories yet, you can include stickers that say things like “tap here” which will bring users directly to your post. You can also use “link in bio” which will urge users to visit your profile and click your website link.

Hot Tip: Want to share a link, but don’t have the Swipe Up magic? You can add a poll to your story and ask viewers to click “Yes” if they’re interested in whatever’s on the other end of the link. Then, copy and paste the link in a message to each person who says “yes.” Even better, you could hire a virtual assistant (without spending a million dollars) to do the copying and pasting for you!

Remember, you don’t need 10,000 followers to promote your business. You likely won’t get a ton of traffic and sales from Instagram directly, meaning you’ll need to market elsewhere as well. But just like anything, it’s important to build a relationship with your audience.

Once you’re building those relationships, your sales will likely increase from Instagram traffic directly.

Example of an eCommerce product promotion through Instagram

Hamaka Hyperlight is an eCommerce store that promotes their hammocks on Instagram. They can be found in the “shop” section of Instagram.

Make Money on Instagram by Dropshipping Products

Similar to eCommerce, you can make money by promoting the products that you dropship. Dropshipping is a business model like eCommerce, except you don’t need to hold any inventory.

When a customer places an order, the supplier will ship the product directly to the customer’s door. You don’t need to worry about storing, packing, or shipping items.

Because of the flexibility of dropshipping, many dropshippers prefer to use Instagram as their main channel of advertisement since there’s less risk in experimenting with which items will sell well. Plus, it’s free! This way, if your orders on Instagram skyrocket or crash, you’re never wasting startup capital.

With under 10,000 followers, it’s completely possible to make money from your Instagram crowd with dropshipping. Like eCommerce, make a connection with your audience and be sure to include a clear call to action so that your customers know where to go when they want to purchase the product.

Check out our guide on how to get started with dropshipping on WordPress.

Example of a dropshipping promotion through Instagram

Treasure Fan is an online dropshipping store that sells all kinds of jewelry. They use Instagram as one of their marketing channels to promote their products.

dropshipping business instagram example

Make Money on Instagram by Selling Your Own Products

Do you create e-books? Fitness or travel guides? How about physical products like bracelets?

Many creators promote their products exclusively on Instagram, only with a small website to display the products and take payments. You don’t even need to have an eCommerce store to do this.

You can also sell products on Instagram by tagging the product in an image. This type of post gives users access to details of the product and its price. It also gives users a link where they can purchase the product.

Yes, unlike the “swipe up” feature in stories, you can do this without 10,000 followers. All you need to do is set up a business account, have a connected Facebook page, comply with the merchant agreement, and primarily sell physical products.

Click here to see the requirements.

And to get in front of the right crowd, you should also use hashtags. A good hashtag will add you to a page with images that are all related. So if someone is looking for something like a necklace, they’ll likely see your post along with everyone else’s.

But to stand out, you just need to generate great content.

Example of selling your own products on Instagram 

Snafu Designs is a company run by 2 sisters. Together they create jewelry from their home and use Instagram as a shopping channel for their users. They also take on all the shipping and handling themselves.

example of making own products instagram

Make Money on Instagram by Becoming an Affiliate

You could become an affiliate for different brands and receive a commission on what you sell. Affiliate links on Instagram are often seen as a trackable link or promo code.

The difference between being an influencer and being an affiliate is that as an influencer, you’re primarily trying to grow brand awareness. On the contrary, as an affiliate, your focus is to get people to click links and make sales in order to gain a commission.

Related Content: 10 WordPress Link Tracking Plugins to Boost Affiliate Revenue—Easy!

Create engaging posts in order to capture your audience’s attention. Let them know in the caption that they can find the product link in your bio.

Many companies will accept you as an affiliate even if you don’t have 10,000 followers. They’ll usually be smaller companies. For example, maybe a new travel agency. You also won’t get a huge commission, but it’s better than nothing.

Once you’ve worked with multiple affiliates, you can build your way up the ladder and eventually go for bigger companies that are willing to share a higher percentage with you.

Example of making money by being an affiliate on Instagram 

Work And Adventure are a travel account. They’re affiliated with Booking.com and sell their audience on hotel stays in Koh Samui, Thailand.

example affiliate business Instagram

Make Money on Instagram by Selling Your Services

Lastly, you can make money on Instagram by selling your services.

There are a ton of accounts on Instagram that sell services like photography sessions, tattoos, personal training sessions, eyelash extensions, and hairstyling.

Most of these small businesses are run from home so they may not have (or even want) a company website to share their talents on. In this case, Instagram is the perfect way of reaching out to people and attracting clients.

A great way to get yourself out there is by finding accounts within the same niche and geographical area, filter ones with a massive following (10K and upward), and follow as many of their followers as possible.

Chances are, this is the crowd that will want to see your posts. And, if you can offer a better or cheaper service than your competitors, they’re more likely to book an appointment with you.

This is a great way to gain referrals through word of mouth. And it’s totally possible to do without 10,000 followers.

Example of service promotion on Instagram

Georgi Stanchev is a photographer from Vancouver, BC. His specialty is portrait photography.

example photography business instagram

He includes the link to his photography website in his bio and lets people know to direct message him for inquiries. He also often posts Instagram stories to remind his audience that he’s open for booking.

The Downside of Social Media Marketing

Although you can make money through Instagram, and good money once you have a large audience, it’s never a good idea to build your business 100% at the mercy of a social network.

With social media, you never know when there’s going to be a popularity crash. Plus, you don’t actually own your account and you can be penalized or even banned if you do something wrong or too many people report you. Because of this, many influencers are creating back-up plans.

Here are some things to consider when using Instagram or other social media platforms:

Platform popularity. Social media platforms are always evolving, so you never know if the platform you’re using is going to lose favor with the masses.

Diversify your traffic. If you’re already growing on Instagram, you can use it to grow your email list. Why do you need an email list? Well, with social media…

You don’t own your account. With an email list, you own 100% of your traffic. You’re not at risk of one day waking up and seeing that you’ve been banned and have lost access to your entire audience. But more importantly, email marketing has the highest engagement and conversion rates.

What Can You do With an Email List?

The options are endless. You can email customers blog updates, let them know about upcoming sales, update them on new product developments, and even send them back to Instagram if you want!

And if you use affiliate marketing as a revenue stream, you can send subscribers the latest offers from the companies you promote along with your affiliate link.

How Can You use Instagram to Grow an Email List?

There are a few tricks to getting your followers on Instagram to join your email list.

First of all, including a link to your website in your bio is your first step. Without a link, followers won’t know where to go to see your content.

link in bio example

Once they click on your link, you can have them land on a landing page with nothing other than a clear headline on why they should sign up, and a form underneath it.

Or, you could send them to blog posts and capture them with a fullscreen welcome mat.

welcome mat example

Like a welcome mat, but not so invasive is a popup. It’s just a little note on the screen asking for emails. You can use Exit-Intent® technology for a popup or a welcome mat.

Lastly, you could also use OptinMonster’s content lock feature to gate content. This would make it so that users will need to subscribe in order to gain access to the content.

gated content example

If you make your content unique and appealing in your Instagram, you should have no issues getting emails on your blog. To take advantage of Instagram video, check out this list of the best Instagram video editing tools (free and paid).

And that’s it!

We hope this tutorial has inspired you to get out there and start making money on Instagram, even without 10,000 followers. Remember, it’s all about building connections and engagement with your followers!

If you’re looking for more ways to up your social media game, check out our guide to getting free traffic from Facebook and 19 ways to use Twitter for lead generation.

Coral Ouellette
Coral Ouellette is a writer who specializes in digital marketing and affiliate marketing. In her spare time, you can find her planning her travels and playing fetch with her Aussiedoodle, Elliot.

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