how many followers on instagram to get paid

How Many Followers Do You Need to Get Paid? 12 Ways to Get Paid on Instagram (Without Millions of Followers)

How many followers do you really need to make money on Instagram?

The answer might not be as much as you think. While you won’t make the rich list without several hundred million followers to your name, you can still get paid as a small-time influencer. 

If we’re being honest, you don’t even need the verification check — though it will help.

So, without further ado: Here’s the run-down on how many followers you need on Instagram to get paid. 


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How many followers on Instagram do you need to get paid?

According to recent research, Instagram influencers typically charge $10 per 1000 followers.

That’s not a hard and fast rule, though. Other common rules of thumb are “1 cent per follower” and “$100 per 100,000 followers.” 

In part, this is because of the huge difference between a sponsored post by Kim Kardashian and a sponsored post by a small-time fitness guru.

Kim Kardashian poses for a sponsored post on Instagram.

Source: @kimkardashian

A Kardashian post will reach a lot more people. But, a small-time fitness guru might have better engagement. That means a higher number of likes, comments, and DMs compared to their number of followers.

But let’s take a step back. The $10 per 1000 followers rule doesn’t mean Instagram will Venmo you $10 as soon as you pass that milestone. Plus, if you’re still working hard to reach your first 100 followers, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. 

The thing is, most resources that talk about how much money you can make on Instagram are talking about brand partnerships. While that’s an important part of success as an Instagram influencer, there are other ways to monetize — ways that don’t involve representing brands at all.

That said, partnering with brands is one of the most effective ways to get paid on Instagram. So we’ll cover that first. Then, we’ll move on to methods that even small accounts can use to make money online.

How to Get Paid on Instagram Method #1: Make money by leveraging your audience and brand

If you’re new to the influencer game, you may be thinking, “What? I don’t have a brand. I barely have an audience.”

Well, guess what? If you’re an influencer — no matter how small — you have a brand. Hooray! Confetti! Pop the champagne! Get used to it. 

The number of followers you’ll need for each method in this section varies. Be honest about where you are in your journey, and take the advice that works best for you.

To land a sponsorship, you’ll need to connect with brands who want to spread the word about their product or service. 

They’ll pay you to create content that highlights their product. Then, you share it with your audience. 

We wrote a whole post about how to connect with brands by using influencer marketplaces. In that post, we also discuss the importance of knowing what kind of influencer you are: nano, micro, macro, or mega.

This chart from #paid shows how much you may be able to charge for sponsored posts at different stages of your career. 

A suggest rates sheets for influencers from #paid

Source: #paid

There are various ways of splitting up these categories (I know, I know, nothing’s simple). Suffice it to say that it’s totally possible to land brand deals with less than 10,000 followers.

The fantastic news? A lot of businesses choose to partner with micro-influencers, because macro-influencers (who are usually celebrities) are just way too expensive.

An image showing the cost per post for top influencers...which is why businesses often choose smaller creators.

Source: Hopper HQ

The thing is, 87% of Instagram users have said that influencers affect their decisions about what to buy — so you can see why brands are interested in working with smaller creators.

This means that even if you’re only at a few hundred followers right now, landing that sponsored post is closer than you think. 

2. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is probably the second most well-known strategy for getting paid on Instagram. That’s because when it works, it works.

With affiliate marketing, you promote a product to your audience, and direct them to the sales page via a special link.

Instead of getting paid a flat rate to create a sponsored post, you get paid every time someone makes a purchase — or sometimes, every time they click.

We wrote a whole primer on affiliate marketing, so if you want to set up some sweet passive income streams on Instagram, make sure to read it. 

And if you’re ready to go, you can get started with affiliate marketing right now!

That’s because all your Instagram followers have one thing in common — they’re on Instagram. And, since great minds think alike, they’re trying to grow their audience too.

Your followers are actively looking for tools like InstaChamp, a suite of tools that helps you automatically grow on Instagram by boosting your engagement.’s Instagram Comment Guard tool

If you’ve ever struggled to keep up with Instagram comments and direct messages (DMs), or if you’ve lost sleep because you ran out of daytime hours to engage with your audience, or if you’ve cried over the fact that you only get one link on Instagram, or if you’ve struggled in vain to get more mentions in Instagram stories…

You get the idea. InstaChamp can help out with pretty much anything. 

You can make passive, recurring revenue by promoting InstaChamp to your network. When you become a affiliate, you get 25% of every referral, and 5% for every sub-referral. For life.

The best time to sell InstaChamp to your followers is now, while it’s still new. You’ll be the first person to tell your followers about this, which sets you up as a thought leader and monetizes your audience at the same time.

So give InstaChamp a test drive. Experience a headache-free day of marketing on Instagram. (Unheard of, I know.) And then, show your followers what it can do. 

3. Lead the way as a brand ambassador

Sometimes, brands want more than a sponsored post or two out of their influencer marketing. Instead, you can cultivate a long-term relationship and make good money as a brand ambassador — the public face of a brand.

Keep in mind that not all brand ambassadors and sponsorships are paid — and that can be a good thing.

Some businesses trade brand-new products or services in return for your promotion. For example, influential YouTube gamers often receive early access to hyped up video games…something the rest of us can only dream of.

A YouTube gamer promotes a new game to her Instagram followers

Source: @kelseydangerous

In return, they play the game for their audience, which boosts sales when it’s finally released to the public. 

Along the same lines, fashion influencers often receive free clothes, accessories, and makeup to demo for their audience.

Free stuff is awesome, but if getting paid is what you’re after, keep in mind that performing well with unpaid sponsorships means you’ll have a great track record to show brands who do have the budget to pay you.

And you’re right in thinking that you shouldn’t accept sponsorships or become a brand ambassador for a deal you’re not excited about. While some hustle is necessary to win in the long run, resentment will show through in your sponsored content…and that’s not a good look for anyone.

Work hard, play the long game, and be honest. That’s how you win with sponsorships and brand ambassador work — just like with anything else.

4. Open an online store

If you’re the creative type (and if you’re building a brand on Instagram, you’re 100% creative), opening an online store can be a great way to make money through Instagram.

Think of it this way. Instagram has over 1 billion active users. And 70% of people use Instagram to find new products. The math is in your favor. 

You can set up your own online store on a site like Shopify — or, if you’re using a business Instagram account, you can turn your photos into shoppable posts.

Forever21 uses Instagram’s shoppable posts function to make more sales.

Source: @forever21

That means you can sell without ever leaving Instagram. Pretty sweet, right? Plus, if you can get Instagram followers, you can expand the reach of your business by asking them to share your products.

5. Sell art & designs

Did you know you can open an online store even without a physical product?

That’s because sites like Redbubble, Society6, Teespring, and countless others make it simple to create print-on-demand (POD) products. 

Independent artists sell cute cat art on Redbubble.

You bring the art — they bring the materials. They get a piece of each sale you make, and you all go home happy. 

To use this method, all you really need is:

  1. A way to create digital art (graphic tablets work best, but an iPad, Android tablet, or even your standard phone can work)
  1. Artistic talent (which you can build through sites like YouTube and Skillshare) and a pixelated procreate brush.
  1. Great ideas & marketing skills (which you can also learn online!)

Using Instagram is a huge plus here, because it lets you showcase your content to new audiences, sell to your existing audience, and get instant feedback from your fans about what they like, dislike, and want to see from you in the future. 

6. Create paid content for megafans

If you’re already creating content for an audience online, why not let megafans behind the scenes?

Sites like Patreon and Ko-Fi let megafans pay to support the creators they love. In return, many creators offer special content just for patrons — including behind-the-scenes info, video calls, and exclusive offers.

Megafans have a chance to pay creators extra on Patreon

Source: Patreon

For example, if you use Instagram to promote your music, you could let paying fans hear songs — or song clips — before you release them to the public. You could ask them for feedback, which means they get to help you create the product they love. 

You could even let your patrons vote on the style and topic of your next piece. Make sure to publicly thank your paid supporters, and let the rest of your fans know how they can join the club too!

7. Connect with freelance clients

Freelancing is one of the most straightforward ways to make money on the internet.

If you have a marketable skill — think writing or graphic design, among others — there are businesses out there that need your help. 

While sites like Upwork and Fiverr can be a great start for freelancers, they actually drive down the value of most freelance work by turning it into a mad dash to sell for the lowest prices.

It’s far better in the long run to build your own brand and make one-to-one connections with your clients. And Instagram can be a fantastic way to grow your freelance business.

A content writer sells her freelancing services on Instagram.

Source: @elnacain

This is especially true for brands with strong visual elements. If you’re an artist, graphic designer, or website designer, you’re already set up to have a strong Instagram feed that shows clients what you’re about.

8. Market your expertise

There’s a reason coaching is so popular these days. If you’re an expert in pretty much any field, you can turn a profit teaching other people what you know.

Since Instagram is so visual, it’s a great place to show off your skills and attract people who want to learn your secrets. 

So, if you’re great at fitness, you could use Instagram to market a workout course. Same goes for cooking, baking, art — anything that you can teach and that your followers will pay to learn.

A creator uses Instagram to make a living teaching crochet hobbyists to build a business

Source: @thecrochetpreneur

If you plan to do this, first make sure you have a good product-market fit.

To find out what people want from a course, showcase your expertise through great free content. Find out if there’s any qualifications your audience would want from a coach, and get them — or demonstrate how you’ve earned their equivalent. 

Then, start small with your coaching program, and slowly build it out. This is a whole business unto itself, so make sure to treat it as such.

How to Get Paid on Instagram Method #2: Make money by helping small business owners build their brands

Up until now, we’ve talked about how to get paid on Instagram by building your own brand. This is the most popular approach, but there’s plenty of money to be made by helping other brands grow as well.

The upside to this method is that you really don’t need any followers of your own — although a sizable audience can always help.

So, if working magic behind the scenes is your jam, try one of these methods:

9. Sell visual content

Every brand needs spot-on visual content. And spot-on visual content is hard to come by. It takes time to plan, time to create, and time to upload — all time that busy brand owners don’t have.

If you’ve got photography skills, you can shop out your photos to brands who need to freshen up their feed.

Jonpaul Douglass sells his photography with his Instagram account

Source: @jonpauldouglass

To do this, you can create accounts through websites like Sellfy, or you can offer unique packages through your Instagram account. You can even take it up a notch by creating your own website on Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress for ultimate credibility!

10. Write captions for businesses

Every good photo needs a caption. And writing captions is harder than it looks — especially if you’re a small business owner with 10,000 other things to do.

You can ease the load for business owners by selling caption-writing services! If your captions perform well, this can be a great way to get paid on Instagram without having a huge following at all.

Examples of creators selling Instagram captions on Fiverr

Source: Fiverr

Writing great captions is an in-demand skill that you can use to get paid on Instagram — even without a huge following. Give it a try and see what happens!

11. Invent Story masks and filters

Ever seen a Story with a filter that made you go, “Where on earth did you get that?!”

Well, you can be the source of that awe and wonder if you’ve got a knack for creating Story masks and filters.

With tools like Facebook’s Spark AR, you can create scroll-stopping masks and filters, even if you don’t know how to code. 

Creators sell Instagram filters on Fiverr

Source: Fiverr

Market yourself well, and this can be another effective way to get paid on Instagram without having a huge follower count.

12. Start a career as a virtual assistant

If you’ve been on Instagram for any length of time — and especially if you’ve tried making money from Instagram — you know things that small business owners don’t.

Small business owners are busy, busy people, and most of them don’t have time to take care of small, everyday tasks. They’re looking for help — and that help could be you.

A creator sells virtual assistant services on Instagram

Source: @itssydneydouglas

Virtual assistants (VAs) for Instagram take care of anything from scheduling posts to writing captions to finding great hashtags.

That’s because most business owners don’t have time to leave likes and comments on Instagram every day. If getting paid to scroll through Instagram sounds right up your alley, you should definitely consider this option.

Or, like in the photo shown above, you could offer VA services in a totally different niche (like coding) and use Instagram as a way to promote yourself.

Is it possible to get paid on Instagram with no followers?

Short answer: yes.

If you’ve got in-demand skills like writing, photography, filter creation, and graphic design, it’s possible to make your first sale through Instagram with zero followers.

That said, it will require a lot of hard work, networking, and marketing. Growing your follower count will always help you — not just because it makes you look good, but because it exposes your work to more people. 

That means more potential customers are seeing what you can do. And, by keeping up a steady stream of content and engaging with the followers you do have, you’ll learn where people actually need help.

For more tips on how to grow your Instagram following, check out the Instagram Marketing tag on our blog. 

We’ve published tons of content to help you get your Instagram brand off the ground — and to help you get paid.

If you’re planning to use any of the strategies we talked about (or if you’re already using them), we’d love to hear about your challenges and your wins! Let us know in the comments. 


Grow Instagram followers and engagement with new tools for influencers, artists, brands and D2C businesses. Sign up to be the first to use tools that generate elite engagement via Instagram DMs.

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