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What does it take to make your account work for you and not the other way around? How can you turn your scrolling and posting into something that allows you to make money? Instagram is one of the hottest social media platforms on earth. The only platforms ahead of it are Facebook and YouTube. Over one billion people are using it every month.
It’s catapulted a surprising number of people from obscurity to success, too.
With Instagram, it’s possible to grow your account and turn it into a money-generating machine. It isn’t easy, and it takes hard work, but you can do it simply so long as you’re willing to invest the time and attention. It’s more doable than you think—and you could do it in just a month.
1) Build Up a Following
If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear?
You could be putting out the best content on Instagram and no one could ever see it. Building up a following is one of the most important parts of monetizing your Instagram account, because without having people follow you, why would anyone pay you to do anything? It’s not going to get seen.
Creating an audience that wants to hear what you have to say is important, and you’ll have to do it quickly. One of the best ways to do this is liking posts from accounts that follow people similar to you. Yes, you can invest the time to do this manually, but there are also ways to automate the authentic “liking” process using a simple, engagement-driven tool like Kicksta.
As the company mentions in its latest Instagram guide, “Whether we like to admit it or not, you could have the best product in the world, but if you only have a few followers on Instagram people will immediately begin to discredit it. At the same time, your competitor could have a mediocre product, but be driving more sales than you because of the social validation they’ve gotten from their followers on Instagram.”
Kicksta continues: “You need to attract the right Instagram users that are going to convert into more likes, comments, clicks, and, most importantly, fans of your brand.”
Liking posts is one of the fastest ways to do this, and following accounts that are similar to yours is another great way to do it. Once you’ve gotten to a certain point, it’s reached critical mass and will start to generate some new followers organically. You don’t need that many followers to start monetizing.
You just need to focus on our next point …
2) Focus on Engagement
There’s an old proverb that states “A man who has friends must show himself friendly.” That applies just as much on Instagram as it does in life. The key to getting ahead of the Instagram game isn’t just to focus on follower numbers—though that matters, too.
The key is to build an audience that’s engaged.
People who don’t focus on engagement are the ones that do black-hat tactics like buying fake followers, and sooner or later, that comes back to bite you. If companies are trying to use you as an influencer but your engagement rates are low, sooner or later they’ll stop trying.
Why would they want to work with you? No one cares what you have to say.
Make sure you reply to your followers when they ask questions. Focus on the post types that get you the most engagement, and ignore the types that lower your numbers there. Give your audience what they want. You need to be an active poster and put out content that your audience wants to interact with.
Ask questions, be responsive, and give them what they want.
3) Reach Out to Companies
The next step, once you’ve started to build up an audience and grow your engagement, is to reach out to people or companies in your niche who might be looking for some promotion.
Know your stats for engagement, your followers, and what your ideal partner looks like. When you reach out to them, realize that you’re building a relationship, just like you would be doing in real life. There’s a certain amount of quid pro quo that goes into it.
Know who you are and what you can provide, show them that you can give them genuine value, and offer them your services. You’d be surprised how quickly you can grow.
4) Provide Genuine Value
The last thing you need is to make sure that every post provides real value for the people that follow you. A lot of that comes down to the old Delphic maxim “Know thyself”, or as Later puts it, “know your why”.
Why do you have your account in the first place?
What are you able to give people? Focus on that.
As Eduardo Morales notes in his piece on what made his Instagram account successful, “… over time, the more low-quality paid content I featured, the more my audience lost interest because I wasn’t actually featuring the best [enamel] pins (the reason why they’d originally followed me).”
Morales says, “My engagement rates went down, lowering the long-term value of my account because a much lower percentage of my audience took action whenever I recommended a product or service or sold something = less customers for myself and for the people I featured.”
That’s a mistake many, many influencers make once they start making money. Don’t get greedy. Promote good products, products you use yourself and that you’re comfortable recommending to a friend just as much as you would be to a stranger.
If you build up an engaged audience quickly, reach out and make relationships happen with companies who have products to promote, and stay authentic and true to yourself, you’d be shocked how quickly you can monetize your Instagram account.
So what are you waiting for? Start now and see how far Instagram can take you.
Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endorse or review brands mentioned; does not and can not investigate relationships with brands, products, and people mentioned and is up to the author to disclose. VIP Contributors and Contributors, amongst other accounts and articles, are professional fee-based.
Nathan Resnick is a serial entrepreneur who currently serves as CEO of Sourcify, a marketplace of the world’s top manufacturers. In the past, Nathan has brought dozens of products to market, been a part of campaigns on Kickstarter raising a total of over $1mil, used to live in China, and knows the ins and outs of how to turn ideas into realities. He currently writes for Entrepreneur and the Huffington Post.