A vitamin-subscription box.
The newest restaurant you must try.
If you’re on Instagram, odds are you’ve seen at least one of these things. Endorsed by someone you follow. In the past month.
It’s easy to poke fun at your latest acquaintance that’s taken up this endeavour, but that doesn’t stop the tiny voice in your head asking, “Are they getting paid for this?” quickly followed by, “I can hold a bottle of self-tanner and smile too – can I get paid as well?”
These influencers – as society has labeled them – have created a digital empire by snapping a few semi-filtered shots with one hand, while promoting the latest trend with the other. Their credibility comes through an influx of social engagement, which occurs while building an influence that is rewarded with products, money, and sometimes even fame.
We’re putting the numbers to the test to see how financially independent one can really be from a couple thousand likes. And just how realistic that task is to conquer.
It Pays to be Popular 💁
While climbing the influencer ladder, it’s common to get paid more per post if you have a higher follower count. This logic stems from the idea that the more eyes that see the content, the more brands are willing to pay.
But what determines that ✨magic ✨number one must hit before these posts actually become profitable?
< 10,000 Followers
“Micro” influencers have anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 followers. Unlike your popular friend that has acquired this many followers by posting cool stuff, the people behind these handles are vying to grow their page around a specific niche.
According to a recent survey, these accounts can make up to, on average, $88.00 per post. However, most micro-influencers hold off on charging upfront so they can first garner a larger, long-term presence.
Understood as a dedicated hobby, this follower level can get your Instagram handle in the door for future collaborations or sponsored posts, filled with some free perks along the way.
< 100,000 Followers
At this stage in the game, brands are sending out direct messages to accounts with this amount of followers like clockwork, asking for product endorsement in exchange for freebies: Think designer-labeled clothing, monthly packages catered to health and wellness, or a free meal from the restaurant that wants exposure.
Some occasional money may come in, but most influencers are hesitant to start charging at this stage since it may delegitmize their growing success.
For example, one self-proclaimed "foodstagrammer" currently holds 72,000 followers. While hundreds of likes swarm in for each post, the account is waiting to monetize their work until at least hitting the 100,000 mark – which is the “socially acceptable” marker.
It’s somewhat of an unspoken rule that influencers can expect to be paid $10.00 for every 1,000 followers they have, once they hit the 100,000 threshold. Charging for posts before hitting this may result in getting paid less, or settling before the account has fully bloomed.
Influencers with 50,000 to 80,000 followers get around $200.00 per post, but the price point changes based on the advertiser. Some accounts make deals with brands to post promotional codes on their feed, and everytime a new person uses their code, they make a percentage of the sale. Other accounts opt into giveaway deals that purely boost their follower count.
Whether these middle-tier accounts are maintaining their presence on the side working vigorously to turn their accounts into a full-time career, their followings are impressive.
< 1,000,000 Followers
The leap from 100,000 followers to one MILLION followers is quite an undertaking to say the least, coming with no standard manual or rules to follow on what to post and how much to charge.
Accounts of this nature (think 250,000 to 500,000 followers) have hit the jackpot of Instagram influencing, with possible earnings averaging at $670.00 per post.
But it doesn’t even need to be a picture on their feed that brings in the cash.
Accounts this large have various features that lower-tier handles can’t access yet, such as a verified account (blue check mark) and the Instagram story “swipe up” capability, brands and companies can leverage these features for more effective influencer ad campaigns.
Once an account reaches more than one million followers, the sky’s the limit on what they charge.
Time is Money ⏰💰
But it’s more than just taking aesthetically-pleasing photos and tagging brands. Not only do Instagram influencers need a committed following, they also need these followers to engage with their content.
Many middle-tier influencers are lumped into direct-message groups called pods, filled with 15 other accounts also trying to make it big.
According to the influencer community, people in these groups are sharing their new posts all of the time, with the expectation that everyone else needs to engage with those accounts. Comments should be at least five words and include emojis, because that will help increase engagement.
Participating (or choosing not to participate) in groups like these can have an impact on how much one can make from their account.
Curious if your account has what it takes to start? Check for yourself here.
1) Quitting your day job to live off of an Instagram-influencer salary is easier said than done, since accounts need to garner thousands of followers before they can even start to see a monetary profit.
2) Instagram influencers with under 10,000 followers can make, on average, $88.00 per post. Those with under 100,000 followers average $200.00 per post, but these numbers often vary account to account. Most accounts in this level are instead, gifted with free products or discounts for posting.
3) Accounts ranging from 250,000 to 500,000 followers can make a pretty penny posting on their accounts for brands, whether that be in a static picture, GIF-like video or an Instagram story. Once an influencer has reached one million followers, it’s safe to assume they are making quite a decent amount of money, and working very hard to maintain it.