Hot as influencer marketing is these days, it’s easy to wonder: how much do Instagram influencers actually make? After all, the industry as a whole makes billions of dollars each year. While some influencers are household names and thus celebrities, such as Kylie Jenner or Taylor Swift, most others in the influencer space are ordinary people. Influencers can be housewives, bankers, college students, aestheticians, and more. Really, anyone with a social media account and some spare time can become a nano or micro – influencer with enough niche content, persistence, engagement, and time, from the travel blogger who evaluates coffee shops across the country to the backyard chicken-keeper. Here, we’ll just talk about the Instagram content creator crowd. Along with YouTube, it is one of the more profitable platforms for influencers.
How Much Do Instagram Influencers Make? It’s More Than Just Sponsorships
When we talk about how much Instagram influencers make, there are several factors at play. First of all, not everyone spends all their time working as an influencer. Rather, many start out as hobbyists, and many never quit their day job and instead see their role as an influencer as a side hustle that is able to bring in thousands of dollars a year for additional expenses, savings, or additional hobbies. Not only that, but some influencers make money in ways that don’t involve paid-for sponsored posts. Income can be thought of fairly broadly and posts must adhere to community guidelines and the rules set forth by the marketing partnership. Below, we’ll discuss the most common ways influencers bring in consistent income and begin their influencer career.
Some work for product
Especially when starting out in the age of influence, many Instagram personalities will exchange sponsored posts for goods and services. One of the nice things about this option is that the influencer gets to play with something for free, then give his or her opinion about it. Often, these deals are set up in a review type format, but that doesn’t work as well for Instagram. A fitness influencer, for instance, may be given a set of sportswear to try out and give their opinion on.
For Instagram product exchanges, try a selfie showing off the product and saying something complimentary about it. Beauty products are great for this format: perhaps a foundation held up all day on the model’s oily skin, which is a major issue, or an influencer in outdoor sports takes a hydration pack on the latest adventure. At some scenic spot, he takes a photo with himself and the item and writes a witty caption detailing the efficacy of the product (or adds some words to the picture itself).
Here’s the key to making this type of deal: Make it a fair exchange. As I’ve said before, you don’t want to make an influencer feel like he or she is being cheated. Not only will they not come back, but they have followers who will listen if they complain about it. At the end of the day, you need to have a mutually beneficial relationship with your influencers if you want to truly make the most of their follower count and increase your brand’s reach. In these relationships, influencer charges are not set dollar amounts, but are more likely to be specific collections or sought-after products.
Further Reading: 7 Benefits of Giving Free Products to Influencers
Others work for affiliate commissions
Not every influencer in the influencer industry likes to get paid a flat fee for their creative work, and there are other influencer marketing strategy alternatives to giving away product. One of the better options is with affiliate marketing links. Affiliate programs have the influencer incorporate the affiliate link in their post somehow. That could mean adding the links to products through photo editing, in which case the consumer would have to type in the address manually. Or, the link could be added in the Instagram bio area, which allows directly adding links. Read my post on Instagram link in bio to see how this can look.
Another way to pay influencers for results rather than exposure is by using promotional codes. Here, it is very easy for the influencer to add the promo code in the photo description. When someone buys your product using the code, the influencer gets a commission.
One thing I like about this kind of compensation is that it pays for results. However, it isn’t the way to go if you’re mainly trying to build brand awareness. That’s because brand awareness campaigns aren’t intended to get immediate sales and rake in thousands of dollars, which tends to be the goal of affiliate marketing. Using these techniques inappropriately is a great way to make an influencer feel cheated and destroy the relationship between you, the influencer, and their specific niche audience.
Further Reading: The Definitive Guide to Instagram Affiliate Marketing
Some influencers create their own products
Although many influencers get paid primarily through sponsored posts, many influencers also have other sources of revenue. For instance, having a custom line of products or developing digital products are popular ways to monetize influence. You’ll see this a lot with fashion brands or the beauty industry: Take a look at some of the larger influencers, and they have a product line all their own. Alternatively, they might work with a major brand in the beauty community (or another community) to make a “collaboration.” Here, the beauty influencer (or other type of influencer) helps design something special. In both cases, the influencer makes money off the sales. While a few Instagram posts will likely be part of the promotion, this isn’t the same thing as a sponsorship and involves a more significant collaboration between both parties.
Here’s another way that people can monetize Instagram: teaching. This usually involves some sort of course creation or membership site that they sell. Users can post Reels or videos and do tutorials or discuss items of interest to their audience. So, a rock climbing enthusiast might give followers tips, and then advertise an online course on rock climbing. At the same time, he or she can “double dip” by selling rock climbing gear through sponsored posts magnifying the lives of influencers and encouraging followers to mimic them. Using all of these techniques is often how people shift from using social media as a hobby to making it a full-time career.
Instagram might just pay you directly
To more effectively establish the efficacy and use of Instagram Reels, Instagram has begun offering certain creators money according to how their reels perform. Whether you have several hundred followers or tens of thousands, it may be possible to monetize income among accounts, simply by making sure that you post reels consistently and promote them well enough to garner the number of views required to earn the Instagram “bonus”. Not everyone is eligible for Reel payouts, however, as the platform is focused primarily on rolling out the offering to those with previously successful reels, and those with a solid base of followers.
From ethical influencers to influencers who focus all of their attention and energy on fashion and beauty, people from all niches and backgrounds can utilize Instagram itself as a source of income. Differences in income will be determined by number of followers, performance of the Reel in question, and overall performance of the Reel. Fraudulent activity is closely monitored through this program, and holders of accounts displaying questionable activity will be removed from the program if they have 3 or more incidences of fraud.
Sponsored Posts: There’s No Fixed Formula for How Much Instagram Influencers Make
Perhaps the trickiest part about sponsored influencer posts is trying to negotiate a fair price for the campaign. As I pointed out above, there’s more than one way to make money as an Instagram influencer, and not all of them involve cash or a definitive monthly income–and not all influencers treat their accounts as a full-time job. Furthermore, the world of influencer marketing is still something of a Wild West town. Essentially, negotiating a fair rate all comes down to negotiating agreeable terms with your intended influencer. Remember: influencer marketing generally has a high return on investment, so there’s no reason to be a cheapskate on custom content. From travel influencers to health influencers, the sway of their influence can be an invaluable asset to your marketing campaigns. At the same time, you don’t want to get taken advantage of. Here are some considerations:
Check Out an Instagram Influencer Calculator
While rates are highly negotiable in influencer marketing, there are some emerging industry models that serve as a good starting place. For instance, there are a slew of Instagram influencer calculators, like the one pictured above, that consider a variety of variables, such as the number of followers and engagement rate–which can help weed out the possibility of fake followers–to give you a starting point for the precise number of dollars per post you can expect to pay. I’m a fan of this tool because, in addition to a rough estimate of cash payments, they’ll give you detailed information about the kinds of people an influencer has following them. Look at the report, and you can quickly find out if they’re a match for your target audience.
In fact, I wrote a whole post about these calculators, How Much Should I Pay an Influencer? Testing Out 7 Instagram Influencer Calculators, which details the range of prices these calculators estimated that my Instagram posting was about. While there were differences amongst the results, there was also a surprising amount of consistency.
What does the consistency in calculators mean? That there is an emerging set of rules on how to set prices for the majority of small to medium sized influencers. When you’re talking about an influencer with millions of followers, some of these rules are altered significantly, and they do tend to have set prices. Fortunately, the highest-paid Instagram influencers will have a set rate, and you won’t have to bother with the process of determining what the average influencer expects. Unfortunately, those rates are likely to be quite high, and your influencer marketing campaign may not recover from seeking out the top performers. Instead, ope for those with sources of income that more closely align with the size and scope of your brand or company.
Consider the Number of Followers
In the industry, we talk about nano, micro, macro, and mega. Really, the mega influencers are bordering on celebrity status with over a million followers. Nano influencers have fewer than 10,000 followers, micro up to 100,000, and macro between 100k and a million. A lot of ink has been spilled, including on my blog, about the value of the nano and micro influencers.
Why does following size matter for pricing? Because a lot of brands pay by the number of followers that the influencer has. Generally, for the lower levels of influencer, expect to pay around $10 per 1,000 followers. That means shelling out $100 for that micro influencer or $1,000 for a macro influencer. Keep in mind, however, that some influencers charge something significantly outside those guidelines. Being someone famous off of Instagram can cause a price to rise, while willingness to work for charities might lower them.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected pricing, and this might be to the benefit of the brand. Read my post on changes in influencer marketing with COVID-19 for the details.
Further Reading: A Practical Guide on How to Reward Influencers
Think About Engagement
One thing you’ll see in the calculators mentioned above is that they take follower engagement into account. With the larger followings, there will be more people who just hang around to see what someone has to say. For instance, Katy Perry has a very low engagement rate of under 1%. She has a lot of followers, and is famous in other forums. We’d think of her Instagram nod as more of a celebrity endorsement, and these are priced very differently.
On the other hand, engagement rate makes a big difference with lower level influencers. That’s why some influencers and brands use a different pricing model: number of engagements. With this model, a brand pays based on the number of followers who generally engage with the influencer’s posts. Here, the price tends to run between $250 and $750 per 1,000 engagements.
Arguably, the pay per engagement model looks more expensive, and it’s definitely less set in stone. However, people who engage are more likely to buy, at least in the short term. Plus, effective influencers start at around 2% engagement. To get 1,000 individual engagements at this rate, they’d need to have 50,000 total subscribers. Do the math, and you’ll see it can actually be cheaper to go this route for fashion influencers, beauty influencers, and travel influencers, and other people in their own respective fields of expertise.
Don’t forget industry
Just like everything else in our free market economy, supply and demand is a major driver of pricing. For instance, if your brand is a B2B company that sells farm machinery, there won’t be a lot of influencers available. While there are a lot of farmers out there, not many have the time to become a social media influencer. Plus, farm machinery is something that farmers purchase relatively rarely, and when they do, it’s a major expense. With any kind of technical sales, expect to pay a bit more than the base rate. It doesn’t make sense to settle for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
However, beauty is a category where everyone wants to break in. Makeup, hair, and skincare are a lot of fun for many people, and highly profitable for companies. Given all those glossy magazines and glitzy events, everyone wants to look their best. It’s no wonder that people want to pitch beauty products, and with competition comes lower prices. A fashion blogger can be a great influencer to engage on their social media channel, as fashion and beauty frequently intertwine and you can pull from a larger range of influencers.
While an influencer campaign usually is just a post or a Story, there are other times when the overall relationship is more complicated. In these cases, it can cost significantly more money to engage the influencer. Here are some examples of “extras” that cost:
Especially if you are trying to work with an influencer in highly competitive industries, you might try to edge out the competition more thoroughly. In this case, it might be advantageous to come up with an exclusivity contract with them. Here, you’re asking the influencer not to work with your competitors for the endorsed product. As you can imagine, this is going to cost you more money because you’re asking them to give up streams of income in other places.
This one might mean a few different things. For instance, you might pay for the right to post that Instagram photo in other places, such as your website or a traditional ad campaign. Doing this kind of deal costs more, because you are paying for exposure in more than one forum from their creative work. Expect to pay even more if the influencer has a large following offline.
This almost goes without saying, but not every Instagram influencer is famous only on Instagram or even only on social media. While you might be thinking mainly of celebrities here, it is also true of subject matter experts in various industries. For instance, well-known athletes will do endorsements. Scientists might help promote laboratory equipment, which can not only be sold to big businesses but also to the local high school science lab. Any time an offline reputation is significant, expect to pay more–and expect to see more significant results for major brands and small companies, both.
Further Reading: How to Find Out If An Instagram Influencer Has Fake Followers or Not
Here’s How Much SOME Instagram Influencers Make
You’ve come this far and you still want some concrete figures on how much Instagram influencers can make. OK – I hear you! Based on all of the above, you can see how the rates can significantly vary, but here is some data to work with based on various surveys to give you a better feel to add up the annual income of various types of influencers, from influencers with millions of followers to those with much smaller follower counts.
This is an influencer marketing platforms that actually shows averages of what their clients are paying per sponsored posts based on a number of factors. Based on their data, this is the average rate at which Instagram influencers are monetizing their content: (numbers are approximate)
- 2-10,000 followers: $115
- 10-25,000 followers: $129
- 25-50,000 followers: $208
- 50-75,000 followers: $219
- 75-100,000 followers: $294
- 100-150,000 followers: $354
- 150-250,000 followers: $447
- 250-500,000 followers: $580
- 500,000-1,000,000 followers: $866
- 1,000,000+ followers: $1,628
The influencer marketing platform HypeAuditor surveyed 1,865 influencers to come up with their own findings as follows:
- On average, influencers earn $2,970 per month with their Instagram account, reaching an annual income of nearly $36,000
- Nano influencers (having between 1K and 10K followers) earn $1,420 per month, for an average annual income of around $17,000
- Mega influencers (having over 1 million followers) earn $15,356 per month, totaling an average annual income of over $180,000
On the other hand, there are the super famous top Instagram influencers, many of whom I detail in this blog post of mine: The Top 30 Instagram Influencers To Follow. Social media dashboard Hopper maintains a list of how much these top celebrities can make. Here’s how much mega money the mega famous can make per post according to Hopper HQ:
- Cristiano Ronaldo: $2,397,000
- Kylie Jenner: $1,835,000
- Lionel Messi: $1,777,000
- Selena Gomez: $1,735,000
- Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson: $1,713,000
Further Reading: The Top 30 Instagram Influencers To Follow In 2022
Final Words on How Much Instagram Influencers Make
While there are definitely stars in the influencer marketing industry, the majority of these people will need some other kind of job. Most influencers see their business as a side hustle, and it’s easy to see why: often, you need to do a lot of posts to make significant amounts of money in the influencer space. In addition to content creation, there’s engaging with followers, trying out products, and negotiating deals. Don’t expect to get rich quick, but those that are successful can look forward to a bright future.
Hero photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash
How Much Do Instagram Influencers Make FAQs
While there is no definitive answer to this question, it is safe to say that 1 million Instagram views can generate a significant amount of money. To put it into perspective, a single ad view on Instagram is estimated to be worth around $0.01. This means that 1 million views would be worth around $10,000. Of course, the actual amount of money that can be generated will vary depending on a number of factors.
The highest-paid Instagram influencer is Kylie Jenner, with an estimated worth of $1 million per post. Jenner, who has over 150 million followers, has used her social media platform to build a successful cosmetics empire. In addition to promoting her own products, Jenner also occasionally partners with other brands, such as Puma and Adidas.
Though Instagram has not released exact numbers, they have said that you need to have a following of at least 500,000 to be eligible for their partnership program. This number seems to be the sweet spot for a lot of social media stars and celebrities. If you can reach this number, you are likely to get a lot of sponsorships and partnerships. Even if you don’t have 500,000 followers, there are still ways to make money on Instagram.
1K followers on Instagram can be worth a lot or a little depending on various factors. The biggest factor is if the 1K followers are all real and engaged or if they’re just fake accounts. Fake accounts will do nothing for you, they’ll just inflate your ego. It’s like having a bunch of people that only exist in your head cheering you on; it feels good but it doesn’t actually do anything.
Instagram influencers’ earnings can vary widely depending on their niche, their audience size, and the type of content they produce. For example, an influencer with 1 million followers could potentially earn anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 per sponsored post. So while there is no easy way to calculate how much an influencer could make, it is clear that the earning potential is significant.