Today I am here to talk about Instagram, and specifically how much Instagrammers actually make. All you ever hear about with Instagram are people who are making an absolute killing by posting pictures of themselves. From what you hear, they're raking in easy money.
In fact, one of the craziest things I’ve read is that Kylie Jenner is estimated to pull in $1.27 million for every single post she has on Instagram, which is absolutely insane. I can tell you from personal experience that that isn't normal at all.
How do I know? Because someone whom I happen to be very close with has about 775,000 followers. I know for a fact exactly how much that individual makes every single month from Instagram.
Together, my special guest and I will explain how much Instagrammers really make, from a firsthand account. We'll also explain the problem with the Instagram business model.
We will talk about what being an Instagrammer actually means, how much Instagram pays you, the problem with the Instagram business model as a whole, and how much Instagrammers really make.
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What Does Being an Instagrammer Mean?
An Instagrammer is someone, kind of like a YouTuber, who creates a following and provides them with some type of valuable content they want to see.
When most people think of an Instagrammer, they think of a guy or girl who takes pictures of themselves and posts them. In the video above, I brought on a special guest to talk about her Instagram account. The interview went as follows:
[Ron]: This is my beautiful wife Thalita and she has about 775,000 followers, or a little bit more, on Instagram.
Thalita, how do you feel about Instagram?
[Thalita]: It's okay.
[Ron]: It's okay, guys. We're going to explain why it's just “okay.”
As a reminder, by the end of this video, Thalita is going to tell you exactly how much she makes every single month. She doesn't even know that yet, but she will be telling you that, just to give you full transparency.
Okay, so getting back to what being an Instagrammer means—it's someone who creates value.
Thalita is fashion- and beauty-focused and posts things about that, but are plenty of other ideas, too. There are certain entrepreneurial accounts I follow that post motivational quotes and engage with their followers and sell courses.
[Thalita]: The downside of being an Instagrammer is that anyone can do it. Being a YouTuber is a lot harder and there are more barriers because you have to record and know how to edit, or you would need to have money to pay someone else to edit your videos.
Instagram is such an easy platform that all you need is your phone. But nowadays it's also a lot harder because anyone can be an Instagrammer.
I think anyone who takes pictures and has more than 30,000 followers is considered an Instagrammer
[Ron]: The thing about Instagram to understand too, is although it sounds like it's super easy and there's no barrier to entry, if you're taking it seriously, then it’s a lot of hard work.
I have been Thalita's photographer for years and it's the bane of my existence.
[Thalita]: He hates it.
[Ron]: I can't stand it, but I understand that it's a requirement for Instagram. The thing is, when you look at Instagram as an Instagrammer, you know she took 100 pictures to get that one picture. It takes literally a half-hour to an hour for every single picture.
How Much Does Instagram Pay You?
[Ron]: Next is, how much does Instagram actually pay you? Everyone probably thinks, “Well, Instagram has to pay all their creators something, because everybody's using it.”
So first off, does Instagram pay you like YouTube? We all know that certain times in videos, ads will pop up, just like this one. Does Instagram do that?
[Ron]: So, how much does Instagram actually pay their creators?
[Thalita]: Nothing, zero.
[Ron]: With YouTube, you can make money with the videos, which I appreciate you guys dealing with because it helps me continue to create content. I have to get paid for this or I can't do it.
Instagram, on the other hand, isn't built that way. They actually don't have that network and they don't do a revenue share with their creators, which I see as a huge business problem. I think you'd agree with that?
[Thalita]: Yeah, I don't think you get motivated enough to do the work when you're not getting paid.
[Ron]: Yeah, growing big and getting kind of famous is cool, but—
[Thalita]: But that doesn't pay your bills.
[Ron]: But that doesn't pay your bills, that's the thing. That's the reality of the situation in terms of how much Instagram actually pays you.
Does it give you any passive income or anything like that? No.
[Thalita]: It's not passive at all.
The Problem with the Instagrammer Business Model
[Ron]: Let's talk about the real problem here. It doesn't pay the creators anything passively because there is no ad revenue or anything like that.
So really, as a creator—and we have experienced this firsthand—you have to rely solely on companies contacting you for sponsored posts or for potential contracts.
[Ron]: Now, these can be pretty lucrative contracts. You can make some serious money with these contracts, but the problem is that it's very inconsistent.
Sometimes you get a full-year contract, which is great, but then there may be a year when you have no contract at all. We've experienced that. Thalita has had a contract one year, and the next year didn't have that contract.
[Thalita]: A really nice contract.
[Ron]: Yeah, a very nice contract—a good, full-time living in the U.S.
Another thing to point out is that most of the Instagrammers you see and most of the people who are talking about how much they make are English or U.S.-based.
The thing is, Instagram is worldwide, so the amount of money people in the U.S. make isn't going to be the same as somebody who's in, say, Brazil, which is where Thalita is from.
That's a big problem with the model, is that it's not consistent from country to country whatsoever, even from the contract perspective.
Then like I said before, probably the biggest thing is that there is no passive income component to this. With YouTube, you get ads and ad revenue. With Instagram, you get nothing of the sort at this point, and we're recording this in early 2020.
How Much Do Instagrammers Really Make?
[Ron]: Okay, so the real question, and what you guys are dying to know is, how much do Instagrammers really make? The answer to that question is—and you're going to hate this—it depends.
[Ron]: That's the reality of the situation because your analytics and your engagement with your following really play a big part with your Instagram audience.
Also, the country that you're in really does matter. I’ll give you some examples, and Thalita will be the last example, so if you're dying to know how much she makes, just stay tuned. I promise we're going to tell you.
There is an Instagram account called, “Do You Travel.” In 2017, they reported with 2.7 million followers making low six figures per year. So they're making, we can say, about $100,000 to $150,000 a year, which isn't bad; that's a good amount of money.
[Ron]: That was in 2017, but they've grown since then, I'm sure.
There is another one, Lyzabeth Lopez, who has 1.8 million followers. In 2017, and reported getting $3,000 to $5,000 per post.
Again, these are English-based people. So that being said, Thalita,—@Hello.Thalita, by the way, if you want to follow my beautiful wife—Thalita, how much do you make per post?
[Thalita]: Oh gosh. So…
[Ron]: Be honest.
[Thalita]: I'll be really honest. The thing is, I have a lot of Brazilian followers. I think I have 60% Brazilian followers, 5%-6% American-based people and-
[Ron]: The rest are scattered everywhere.
[Thalita]: Yes, from all over the world.
The thing is, like he said, a lot of companies, especially in America, want to work with girls—influencers—who have an English following and people who speak English, so they can actually sell.
I have around 750,000, or maybe a little bit more on Instagram. My contract with this company that I can't really disclose, is paying me $620 for one post on Instagram and three Instastories.
Do I feel like that's low? Yes.
[Ron]: Especially for her followers.
[Thalita]: Yes, I have almost 800,000 followers. But that's what we talked about, it depends on the country and where your followers are from. It depends on engagement and story views. It's a lot.
[Ron]: I'll say that Thalita has a pretty engaged following.
[Thalita]: I do.
[Ron]: I think it's more about her demographic.
[Thalita] Yes, it’s the demographic.
[Ron]: So yeah, around $620 per post. She usually does about two posts a month for this brand, so she makes $1100 to $1200.
That's the biggest thing—she has no passive income coming in at all with Instagram, so she's doing YouTube and other things.
[Thalita]: I depend on brands.
[Ron]: Yeah, she depends on brands, which is the biggest problem with this model. That being said, she may—and we can't disclose the company, again, because it could potentially ruin the contract—but she may get a contract with a larger company.
[Thalita]: Yes. They're actually going to pay me $2,000 per video. You know IGTV? I make a lot of those outfit videos, where you change on camera and then you show your outfit for IGTV.
[Ron]: She doesn't get naked on camera, guys. Who's thinking that? How dare you, that's my wife.
[Thalita]: No, I don't.
[Ron]: No, I'm totally kidding.
[Thalita]: So they're going to pay me $2,000 for a three-minute or two-minute-long video. That’s $2,000 for a two-minutes-long video on IGTV, that's all. It's one video a week, and we're going to do a year contract.
[Ron]: It's 52 total videos, $2,000 a video. You guys can do the math, we don't have to do that.
[Thalita]: So like I said, they're going to pay me $2,000 per video, which is going to be over $100,000?
[Ron]: Yeah, just over $100,0000-ish.
[Thalita]: Yes, and that's a lot of money. But like we talked about, I don't know if I'm going to have the contract until I sign it.
[Ron]: We've gotten the verbal commitment, but to be clear, we've gotten a verbal commitment before that fell through.
[Thalita]: Yes. So the thing with Instagram is some years you make a lot of money and maybe the next year you don’t make as much, or maybe nothing, because it all depends on brands. You're working for brands because Instagram doesn't pay you anything.
[Ron]: With that being said, the thing to understand is that Thalita is probably an outlier. She's not making a killing on Instagram, but she has around 750,000-ish followers. A lot of people don't even get that.
So when you hear about all these people making a ton of money on Instagram, that is probably the top 1% or 2%. Most people who do Instagram do not make much.
You do get a lot of free stuff, which something we didn't talk about.
[Thalita]: Oh my gosh, yes. What I'm wearing right now, I got for free.
[Ron]: You get a lot of free stuff, which is a nice perk of being an Instagrammer. She gets clothes all the time and I never get anything, but it's not for me anyway.
That is a benefit, but it doesn't pay bills.
[Thalita]: And I'll tell you something, too—don't let those Instagrammers fool you because a lot of them have a lot of money and just act like they're doing work for companies. I know a lot of Instagrammers who do that.
[Ron]: She knows the dirt.
[Thalita]: They act like they're doing a lot of work for companies, they're going on trips and they act like companies are sponsoring, but they are paying for everything themselves. So yeah, Instagram can be a lie sometimes.
[Ron]: It can be all about appearances.
[Thalita]: You don't know who is actually making money.
[Ron]: They may have tagged someone or a company, but maybe they're not really working with that company, and they just tagged it to make other companies think that they are. That's a real thing, too.
The thing to understand with Instagram, being a marketer at heart, is that—and I've seen this with her—there is a return on investment. Influencer marketing is a real thing. It's growing, it's getting bigger and it can be successful.
But honestly, a lot of times, it's not successful. It just depends on the person and who their audience is. So this does happen and it is real, but it's not as common as you may think it is.
The key to Instagram, in my opinion—and we'll see what your thought is—is to do something where you grow beyond sponsorships. You're not just looking for sponsorships and companies, but you're relying on other ways to make money, such as selling an info product, or a course, or getting on calls with people, like a consulting thing.
If you want to make Instagram into a real career, I think that would be the way to do it. I know it sounds crazy and the boomers out there are like, “Oh, that’s not a career.”
It can actually be a career, but you have to move beyond just taking pictures of yourself and hoping to get contracts. It has to be something where you're generating revenue.
[Thalita]: Also, you need contact. You've got to talk to people, unless you have a manager who does that for you. The thing is, sometimes a company won't even message you or talk to you, and you have to approach them.
[Ron]: Yeah, if you're not represented by an agency, she's dealt with that too.
[Thalita]: Yes, a lot.
[Ron]: So, what do you think is the key to Instagram?
[Thalita]: First of all, personality. It’s everything.
[Ron]: That's why I'm not an Instagrammer?
[Thalita]: Yes. The thing is, I know a lot of people who have tried to be Instagrammers for so many years and they failed, because they don't have that unique personality.
I said it was easy to be a successful Instagrammer, but it's a lot harder than you think because you've got to take good, quality pictures, you have to have your own personality that people like. It's all about people liking you.
If you can think about something unique that you can show to your audience, that's pretty cool. I feel like a lot of people nowadays do the same thing and that's why it's so cramped.
Another thing is consistency. You've got to post. If you want to be a successful Instagrammer, post at least once a day, because we all know the algorithm. Now it's not chronological. That's not how it works anymore.
Now it's the most engaged people. If people engage with you, they're going to see your picture more often. If you post more pictures, it's more likely that people will see it.
Always keep people engaged, and make stories too. Stories help you engage with people so much more and Instagram loves that.
The last thing on how to make more money with Instagram is like he said, sell courses. Maybe you have your own brand and affiliate.
[Ron]: Yeah, I didn't mention affiliate.
[Thalita]: People do a lot of affiliate on Instagram.
[Ron]: She's done it before with fashion stuff. She's had pieces, like a shirt or whatever in a picture, and then she said, “You guys can look,” and people will click and actually buy it. Y
ou can make other money in other ways, but you have to get creative, you can't just rely on the sponsorships.
[Thalita]: You have to try to make money in other ways because like I said, companies are not always going to be willing to contact you. It's a lot harder than you guys think. Like I said, not everything that you see on Instagram is true.