Have you been jealously eyeing those popular influencer accounts on Instagram and wondering how to make money on Instagram yourself?
There are a few key factors involved and in this guide, we’ll help you understand everything you need to know.
What is affiliate marketing?
The main factor lies in setting yourself up as an Affiliate Marketer. If you’re unfamiliar, affiliate marketing is where you earn a commission by linking to products in your content.
Visitors who click those links are tracked and calculated by a third party. If that visitor makes a purchase using your unique link, you earn a percentage of the sale. Rates can vary widely between ~5% to ~70%; it depends on the affiliate program and size of the company.
The basic principle sounds easy, but it will take some work if you want to earn a regular, reliable income from Instagram affiliate marketing. While passive income is fun to receive, it’s not something you can dabble in from time to time. It requires actively engaging in your social media account(s), reviewing analytics, and creating campaigns that bring in revenue. Studying trends and learning how Instagram affiliate marketing works on a deep level is also essential.
The main areas you need to learn about are:
- Maintaining the proper Instagram account
- Joining an Affiliate Network
- Setting up links correctly
- Best practices
- Looping in your website to get more from your marketing
We’ll cover all of these areas in this article. By the time we’re done, you’ll be well-positioned to start earning a real income from your Instagram account.
How to get started with Instagram affiliate marketing
1. Switch to a Creator account
The first thing you need to do is to switch to a Creator Account. It doesn’t matter whether you currently have a personal or business account; Instagram lets you convert it.
You need to switch because it becomes much easier to control your presence on Instagram and manage your messages. Plus, there are much better analytical tools. You should be aware that converting to a Creator account will make your account public. Still, if you’re going to do affiliate marketing, it doesn’t make sense to have a private account anyway.
Here’s how to do it:
- In your profile, tap the hamburger menu at the top (three horizontal lines).
- Go to Settings and select Account.
- Select Switch to Professional Account (if you have a business account, choose Switch to Creator Account).
- Choose a category that fits you best.
From there, you can follow the prompts that Instagram gives you to finish setting up your Creator Account. You don’t need to go through all three steps if you’re not ready, but you’ll need to visit them at some point to get the most out of your new account status.
We’ll get into more detail about dialing in the settings on your Instagram account in a bit. First, let’s cover an important step in becoming an Affiliate Marketer.
2. Join an affiliate network
If you could choose the slow, lonely road to earning income with Instagram affiliate marketing or the fast route with lots of support, which one would you take?
It’s not a trick question; the second choice is why you need to learn about and join an affiliate network.
The concept is simple. Merchants need affiliates to help sell their products, but finding them can be challenging. Publishers want to make money as affiliates, but finding good affiliate programs can be equally tricky. This is where an affiliate network comes in. An affiliate network is an intermediary between a publisher (you) and a merchant.
The affiliate network serves both publisher and merchant by providing a platform for each to find the other. There’s also a higher level of trust for publishers because the merchants are vetted by the network.
Let’s talk about an example.
Jacob has a small side business selling supplements to vegan athletes. The supplements are 100% vegan, and Jacob does pretty well selling them to local gyms and health food stores. He wants to grow his market, but he doesn’t have a lot of extra hours for travel, and his advertising budget is tiny.
Rachel has a very popular Instagram account where she likes sharing her vegan food adventures and workouts. With a follower count over 25k and growing, she knows she could make some extra money with her account. Rachel thinks that affiliate marketing could work for her, but she doesn’t know how to find trustworthy companies that align with her vegan branding.
Jacob joins an affiliate network where he creates a landing page to feature his product. The network hosts the page and any branded marketing materials he wants affiliates to use. He pays a small fee for the hosting, but he doesn’t have to travel or actively promote the supplements himself.
Rachel joins the same network, and in her search, she finds Jacob’s company. She signs up as an affiliate and gets unique links to use anywhere she chooses to promote Jacob’s products.
It’s a win/win for both Jacob and Rachel. While Rachel does the heavy lifting of figuring out how to position and feature the supplements, she earns more money the harder she works at it. Jacob has to pay commissions for Rachel’s sales, but he doesn’t have to work as hard to expand his market.
As an affiliate marketer, joining an affiliate network is the smartest thing you can do.
Here are three of the top networks to explore:
With over twenty years in business and 194 million sales in 2021, ShareASale might know what they’re doing. They have a specific program tailored to Influencers. ShareASale has merchant search tools that help you find the right programs for your brand.
The Influencer Marketing program by Commission Junction (CJ) is touted as a way for you to keep your authenticity and “say what you want.” Keeping your unique branding intact is a huge benefit when you’re running an affiliate marketing campaign on Instagram.
According to one testimonial, CJ “[Takes] the time to educate us as content creators, and listen to feedback from bloggers.”
ClickBank’s affiliate program advertises that they’ve paid over $5 billion in commissions since 1999. The company also offers a full complement of guides and certifications through its Spark program. Analytics tools also help you track sales and rank products by top conversions. Purportedly, ClickBank pays the highest commission of any current affiliate network.
No matter which network you join, you’ll have a much easier time making money reliably and regularly.
While you can share your unique affiliate links anywhere you want, our job here is to focus on Instagram specifically. Let’s talk about how to share links through your Instagram Creator Account.
3. Set up links on Instagram
You may be thinking, “This all sounds great, but if I can’t put a live link in my posts, how will anyone click on them?” That’s a great question, and that’s why setting up an Instagram bio in the best way for business is crucial to making affiliate commissions.
You may have noticed that some influencer accounts use a link in their bio that sends visitors to a Linktree page or something similar. These pages are known as link-in-bio pages and they allow you to list all your affiliate links in an easy-to-manage way. This is an effective strategy since Instagram doesn’t really let you put URLs in your post descriptions.
But here’s the kicker. Suppose you have a very long link list. In that case, there’s a higher chance that:
- A visitor will be confused with so many choices, and
- There’s a higher chance they won’t click on anything and just go back to Instagram.
Don’t fret! We’ve got a solution for you 😉
An even more effective way is to create a specific page on your WordPress site that shows your Instagram feed. Every post then links to your affiliated product.
This puts Instagram’s storytelling benefit in action. Showing yourself using your affiliated product or service in your posts will act as a live testimonial – one of the most effective marketing strategies.
With every new image or video that you post, your link-in-bio page will actively update on its own. In short, you could have a dynamic page that features fresh, new content as often as you post to Instagram.
Using the Link in Bio template, you can create a page that hosts your Instagram posts in an attractive grid. Then you’ll need to use the “Promote” feature. This allows you to create custom links for each post in your feed.
Want to automate your links? No problem.
Spotlight PRO can automatically detect URLs in your captions, and turn them into fully-functional URLs on your link-in-bio page!
That’s it! When visitors arrive at your Link in Bio page, they’ll see your Instagram feed. The difference is that clicking on a post takes them where you want them to go, such as a product for sale. This is a powerful addition to your Instagram affiliate marketing strategy.
Now that we have the nuts and bolts down let’s review some best practices. Managing a personal account where you share fun posts with close friends is much different than running a Creator account where marketing is your focus.
Keep it real
One of the biggest mistakes you could make is to suddenly pivot with your account and make your posts salesy. If you already have a loyal following of people who enjoy your content, then keep giving them that content. You do you. The difference is mainly behind the scenes, where your links are.
For example, it’s lovely to post about a new coffee you’re sipping while sitting on your front porch. You can even add a “link to drink in bio” if you like. You want to avoid writing a lengthy sales pitch in the caption. People can see through that it usually turns them off. Don’t be that person.
The legal stuff
In many countries and U.S. states, there are laws about linking to products you’re promoting. Make sure you understand them before you go linking willy-nilly. Typically, regulations regarding affiliate links simply say that you must disclose that a link is tied to a product for purchase and that you make a commission.
You really can earn an income from Instagram
Congratulations! You’ve just learned how to make money on Instagram as an Affiliate Marketer. There’s a lot to understand about maintaining the correct type of account, affiliate networks, and strategies for linking to products. The good news is that it’s certainly possible.
By using a combination of an Instagram Creator account and implementing Spotlight PRO‘s Link bio feature on your website, you’ll be earning a regular income through Instagram affiliate marketing in no time!