Can you make a living off of Instagram? Yes. You can.
In this day and age, conventional careers are not the only way to build a strong professional path. Whether you are just starting or adding value to your existing professional journey, more and more people each day find their way through social media as a good avenue for introduction, marketing, sales, and audience engagement.
In particular, Instagram has been considered the place to go for incipient photographers to promote their portfolios or boost their creative skills.
But through the years, Instagram has evolved from just providing a platform for beautiful pictures to a social media site for marketing and sales.
Instagram reported that it had surpassed the 1 billion user milestone in 2020. Online data hub Statista said the United States has the biggest Instagram audience of over 130 million and is expected to grow exponentially to 1.2 billion by 2023.
- The 5 Pros of Building a Career on Instagram
- The 5 Cons of Building a Career on Instagram
- 10 Examples of People Who Have Built Successful Instagram Careers
- Instagram Careers That You Can Try
- What are the Requirements to Start Your Instagram Career?
- Jobs at Facebook or Instagram
- 10 Key Pointers and Tips for A Strong Instagram Profile
- Resources to Grow Your Instagram Career
The 5 Pros of Building a Career on Instagram
1. No Resume and Job Application Needed
One of the benefits of an Instagram career is the lack of resume and job application needed to make a living. For people with apprehensions toward job interviews or coming to work in an office, a good alternative is to make a living on Instagram.
An Instagram career is also perfect for people who are still in the process of making their resume, updating it, or building it up.
2. You Are Your Own Boss
The modern world can be hyper-competitive, and your peers’ competencies are slowly increasing, and competition during job applications is becoming more intense. Likewise, your boss would also be expecting way more than what was needed a decade ago.
If you have a problem with this kind of setup or you are just not used to having somebody bark orders at you for eight hours a day, five days a week, then an Instagram career is perfect for you.
Much like having your business, you can also choose to manage your Instagram page (although some established have a dedicated team of their own). It would be hard work because you will be in charge of tracking your analytics and making adjustments to hopefully increase your reach on Instagram. Although it is difficult, it is also fulfilling especially when your efforts lead to success.
3. The Potential Is Endless Since Your Reach Is Worldwide
Gone are the days where your business is geographically restricted. The advent of the internet has increased the reach of a regular individual. This means that the ceiling or the potential to become successful has become endless.
Anything can happen: one moment, you are just making strategies on which content is more popular, then next, you go viral, and your fame skyrockets overnight. If you want this kind of exciting lifestyle, then an Instagram career could be the best for you.
4. You Can Talk Directly to Your Market
One of the best features of Instagram is that you can communicate directly with your market, and there is a sense of familiarity involved.
For businesses, models, photographers, and other professions, the process of getting feedback may take a while.
However, Instagram provides you the platform to address your audience directly, and the interface makes it easy for them to communicate with you as well.
5. You Can Readily Gauge Your Performance Through Instagram Metrics
Instagram metrics allow you to monitor and evaluate your performance regularly. This tool is all you need to properly strategize what works and what doesn’t for your target market.
You can use many tools, such as the Reach metric, where you can monitor how many people engage with your content. Other metrics include follower growth and engagements per follower.
The 5 Cons of Building a Career on Instagram
1. Unstable income
Having a career on Instagram is not always fun and games. Unlike a regular job where you are pretty much assured that you would have money biweekly, a career on Instagram, much like any business, is unstable, especially if you are just starting.
2. May Take Trial and Error to Succeed
No one market is identical. There will always be differences in what you have to do versus what you are taught to do. The same is especially true for people with Instagram careers.
Instagram careers are fairly new. Trial and error is your path to achieve what you need in this endeavor.
Hence, if you want to have a career on Instagram, then you should surely expect that the path to success may be a bumpy one.
3. Trends Are Fast-Paced and Quickly Changing
Like the internet, trends on Instagram are ever-changing and seemingly random. This means it is difficult to predict. One moment your page is doing just fine, and then the next moment, you are suddenly super famous because you went viral.
Of course, the other end is true. Your products may be doing fine now, then suddenly another product goes viral and gets all the customers. You will have to guard yourself against this by keeping up to date with the latest trends and knowing how to adapt.
4. It Is Hard Cannot Take Time Off Since Social Media Is 24/7
Even though you are in control of your time and how much you work, you have to work long hours if you want to be successful. Due to the nature of Instagram careers, your best course of action to success is fast decision-making and quick reactions.
Thus, you have to monitor the site for any changes and act accordingly constantly.
5. Criticism Online Is Harsher Than in Real Life
With an Instagram career, you always have to be careful or have the risk of being canceled. Anything is harsher online because of the anonymity, and your words can easily be misunderstood.
For some, avoiding misunderstandings is a laborious task. If you want to have an Instagram career, you should be prepared, and you should know the appropriate language to use.
10 Examples of People Who Have Built Successful Instagram Careers
If you want to know how to make a living on Instagram, it will do you good to look at some people who have built successful Instagram careers. You could pick up a thing or two on how to make a living on Instagram.
Here are some of the people who leveraged Instagram to their advantage:
1. Brandon Stanton
Brandon Stanton is the author behind the Humans of New York Page on Instagram. He’s very successful, with a whopping 11 million followers. He provides his followers with consistent and relatable content about the human condition. He has since released an Amazon bestselling book titled “Humans”.
2. Caitlyn Turner
Caitlyn Turner is an Instagram influencer, entrepreneur, and innovator, currently with 313,000 followers on the site. Her content consists of messages of positivity and yoga. She has a co-founder, @youralignedpurpose, and they both earn through online sessions.
3. Negin Mirsalehi
Negin Mirsalehi is another Instagram influencer who has successfully marketed her lifestyle and looks. She currently has 6.2 million followers on Instagram and is the founder of Gisou Hair, a haircare line that offers honey-infused hair products.
She offers glamour to her Instagram followers in the hopes that they can also become like her.
4. Jack Morris
Jack Morris is an Instagram influencer and entrepreneur with 2.6 million followers on Instagram. His page is filled with posts of him enjoying the time of his life in several dream destinations around the globe.
He has many partnerships with other business lines, such as the clothing brand alorthelabel on Instagram. Much like Negin, he provides his followers with an intimate look at a lifestyle of luxury.
5. Talitha Girnus
Talitha Girnus manages the Instagram page of Mr. Pokee, the adorable hedgehog. He is famous with 1.9 million followers on Instagram. Mr. Pokee provides his followers with smiles by just being an adorable hedgehog. They also started a business selling calendars and plushies.
6. David Michigan
David Michigan is the CEO of @michigan.academy. His personal Instagram page has 11.5 million followers, and his content consists of himself on magazine covers, photoshoots with attractive women, and the like. With his Instagram page curated to mostly be photoshoots, he knows what his followers want to see with copious amounts of beautiful scenery, beautiful women, and topless shots.
7. Jules Sarinana
Julie Sarinana is an online influencer with 5.7 million followers on Instagram. Her content mostly consists of her wearing luxurious clothes in beautiful locations with some occasional support and positivity messages. She gives her followers a sneak peek at the rich and attractive lives and has an Instagram page that is aesthetically pleasing as well.
8. Lily Maymac
Lily Maymac, much like the others in this list, is also an online influencer with 4.1 million followers on her Instagram page. Her content consists of her in several different outfits, a lot of which is a clothing line. She also has a Youtube account.
9. Minimalist Baker
Minimalist Baker is a Health and Wellness website with an Instagram account with 2 million followers. The content consists of aesthetic food shots, with simple recipes ranging from smoothies and salads to last-minute desserts ideas.
10. Louis Cole
Louis Cole is a travel blogger with 1.1 million followers on his Instagram. His content consists of various travel destinations and his experiences while traveling. He is also the founder of @livetheadventure and @thesocialgoodclub.
Instagram Careers That You Can Try
- Photographers / Videographers – Photographers and Videographers are excellent Instagram Careers because there is a platform ready to display your work with the camera.
- Bloggers / Product Endorsers – Bloggers or Product Endorsers also thrive on Instagram because the visual appeal required to market products is easily achieved using this platform.
- Artists/Performers – The video format made it easier for performers and artists to market their services on Instagram. Not only is there a ready market, but there are also a ton of tools to use to improve your page.
- Designers – Instagram is the perfect site for Designers to market their products, especially since Instagram can bring out the best when it comes to photos.
- Entrepreneurs – With Instagram metrics and data analytics, Entrepreneurs thrive on the site. Since the market and your customers are readily available, you only need to react to changes displayed by the analytics properly.
While these five typically dominate Instagram careers, you can discover how you can make your Instagram career as long as you have these three important prerequisites to making money on this social media platform.
What are the Requirements to Start Your Instagram Career?
Building your follower base may be the hardest hurdle to go through if you are starting from scratch. However, it is also the most rewarding. Your followers will determine your importance, influence, and power in the social media world.
While many people think that just having a high number of followers is enough to build a career, the number will be meaningless if it does not translate to engagement, return, views, or sales, depending on what type of Instagram career you chose.
Many Instagram users hire the services of “fake followers” or “bogus accounts” to raise the number of followers quickly. However, this spells trouble in the long-run as fake followers and bogus accounts create no buzz or hype in the social media world. They don’t create sales and, at the end of the day, could hurt your credibility.
Instead, build your follower base by knowing your target market creating genuine content that resonates with your audience. You can also make use of Instagram’s tools such as hashtags, filters, and geotags to entice the right followers to visit your profile.
Aside from the number of followers, a good gauge of quality and credible Instagram account is the number of engagements per post. In simplified terms, engagement is gauged through the number of views, comments, likes, and interactions of your followers in and of each post.
Engagement metrics are usually more reliable in looking at the quality, popularity, or credibility of an Instagram user than the number of followers because it shows how involved the community is to the Instagram user’s content.
For Instagram, the usual rule of thumb in measuring engagement rate is adding the number of likes and comments on a post and dividing that by the number of followers the account has, then multiplying by 100. A good engagement rate is around 1 to 5%, but that depends on the industry you are in, and you can always aim for higher.
To increase engagement, post content that is relatable or in line with current events. You can also directly talk to your followers by posting a question and starting conversations in the app.
Because social media, particularly Instagram, is a vast place, you are not expected to reach all types of people in the app. If you spend a lot of effort getting your posts out here but do not know your niche, chances are you will be wasting precious time and energy.
To organize and direct your efforts toward one direction, know the niche you will post about or enter before anything else. This will set the mood for your posts, stories, and audience.
According to Sellfy, the most profitable Instagram niches for 2021 are travel, beauty, fashion, health and fitness, lifestyle, parenting, business, music, photography, food, and animals.
Jobs at Facebook or Instagram
While you can use Instagram to make a name for yourself and create a unique and unconventional career path, you can also build a career within the company behind one of the most powerful social media apps.
Instagram, which Facebook acquired in 2012, is always on the lookout for fresh talent and recruits. Since Instagram is expanding, they are also hiring in other satellite offices outside their headquarters.
According to their LinkedIn profile, Instagram’s community has grown rapidly, and their teams are growing fast, too.
“We’re looking for talent across engineering, product management, design, research, analytics, technical program management, operations, and more. In addition to our headquarters in Menlo Park, we have thriving offices in New York City and San Francisco where teams are doing impactful work every day,” Instagram says.
Here are some of the careers:
1. Marketing Manager
Marketing Manager – “We are looking for an experienced individual to develop and manage multi-phase programs in support of helping creators grow and monetize on Instagram.”
- Develop and manage full-funnel creator education programs.
- Lead go-to-market execution for global campaigns.
- Analyze, determine and optimize the most effective channels for acquisition and retention of our partners.
- BA/BS degree.
- 6+ years of experience in marketing or program management at a tech, media, entertainment company, or social/media agency.
- Experience in or knowledge of the creator economy and digital creator ecosystem.
2. 3. Data Scientist
Data Scientist – “We are looking for an individual contributor who can work across the different areas within Stories and jump into any problem and drive clarity and cohesion. This person will be tackling highly ambiguous problems and taking on projects that are cross-functional and strategic, by nature.”
- Set north star metric goals for Instagram Stories.
- Present results and recommendations to Instagram leadership.
- Develop a framework to understand the impact on both producers and consumers of Instagram Stories.
- MS, Ph.D. or advanced degree in Computer Science, Engineering, Math, Statistics, Physics, Economics, or equivalent practical experience.
- 2+ years of experience working in the analytics field.
- Understanding of statistics (hypothesis testing, regressions, etc.)
3. Communication Designer
Communication Designer – “The ideal candidate has the ability to execute in a variety of visual styles, can articulate design decisions, and iterate quickly. The designer has the ability to work independently but is deeply collaborative with creative leads, art directors, and content designers.”
- Ideating visual concepts/themes/directions and refining design work based on creative direction.
- Keeping project timelines on track and showing the process.
- Clearly articulating design decisions to a variety of partners.
- 5+ years of experience with communication or branding design.
- Experience developing branding systems.
- Experience with environmental design.
4. Art Director
“Art Director will be responsible for contributing to the overall design process through concept, design development, and delivery of visually compelling AR experiences that will resonate with an external global audience.”
- Create sketches, storyboards, prototypes, and/or design specs necessary to guide product experience development.
- Work closely with the Creative Director and Content Strategist to implement a cohesive visual style.
- Deliver compelling visuals in various styles and mediums such as illustration, photography, video, animation, or other media.
- 6+ years of experience as Art Director at a creative agency or an in-house team.
- A link to an online portfolio showcasing relevant work.
- Experience coordinating, directing, and guiding the work of other designers.
5. Software Engineering Manager
Software Engineering Managers are clearly characterized by progressive technical experience and demonstrated progression in management responsibility.
- Set clear goals for the team and guide them through execution.
- Support a team of diverse technical talent to achieve their best.
- Hold your own in technical discussions, guiding technical specialists in the team to the conclusion.
- 3 or more years of experience with engineering management.
- Exposure to the field of programming language virtual machines.
- 5+ years of coding experience in one of the following languages: C++, Java, and/or Python.
10 Key Pointers and Tips for A Strong Instagram Profile
1. Image Quality Is the Core Element to Consider
Most people tend to neglect the fact that Instagram is a social network of its own. Popular Instagrammers have been offered promos that rank as high as discounts in exclusive hotels – and by popular we mean users with over 1 million followers, insane indeed but not uncommon if you look closely. So, you may ask: what do they offer that I don’t?
The simple answer is photography. Professional Installers have taken their business seriously and developed their photography skills as they know it’s not just adding tonnes of filters and vignetting effects to make the images stand out – quite the opposite.
You need to find your voice to create a unique style that can surely catch a broad audience’s attention, avoiding common mistakes such as overdoing post-production effects, pixelated images, or ignoring composition rules altogether.
2. Develop Your Passion Through Images
It’s all about building your niche, so if you love to travel, then use Instagram as a way to broadcast your adventures. By this, you shouldn’t take the fact that you need to photograph every aspect of each place you visit – that’s annoying for most users. Use your creativity to show unique places or unforgettable moments you experience, like writing a diary but with images.
If you feel somewhat overwhelmed by the challenge, look for trendy users at your desired niche: that’s the best way to learn from seeing what professionals do.
3. Don’t Forget Your Audience
People are eager to interact with other users, but to do so, you must keep two factors in mind:
- Use hashtags: for the photos you post, engage on relevant hashtags to make them available for other users. No one is going to interact with you if they don’t know what you have to offer.
- Like, repost and comment are valid ways to boost your presence: Everybody likes a rub on their back if they do a good job. A nice comment like “superb job!” / “nice shot” / “really gorgeous, where did you take it?” are ice-breakers and can certainly help build your audience.
Keep a steady routine for doing your publications: by doing so, users will get the habit that your posts are done at a certain time(s) of the day and become expectant. If you can’t commit to the daily post basis, then one post every two days will suffice – but don’t go further than that.
Live feeds, and Instagram Stories are becoming ‘the thing’ to follow lately, even stealing users from other social media networks that provided similar services, like Snapchat.
4. Keep Track of Your Followers
After all that effort to build an audience for your Instagram career, you should take your time to direct them to the most profitable way you can find. For example, if you own a brand, you should make them buy your products/visiting your store.
In case you happen to be a travel photographer, then perhaps you may want to direct users to watch your YouTube videos of the trips you made since, as you probably may know, YouTube pays for several views reached.
There are many valid methods for keeping tabs on how your profile is doing and the exact amount of followers you have (Instagram can be very vague after you go over 10k followers). Tools like Gramblast are a fantastic resource to add to our Instagram toolkit.
5. Learn to Automate
Remember to automate the most tasks you can — it’s the faster and most reliable method for not forgetting anything, especially when you have several things to handle at the same time. For example, Buffer can help us schedule posts up for a month if we desire, even shortening URLs added to posts to make them look more friendly.
Also, keep an eye on hashtags: 30 hashtags per post is the max amount Instagram allows. If you go over it, the photo won’t be posted, or, in case it does, the text won’t show up since you exceeded the limit of hashtags allowed. Tools like Hashtagify are handy for finding related hashtags for your post.
6. Do Your Research
Before you can even consider making a living on Instagram, you first need to do the appropriate amount of research necessary when starting a successful Instagram career. This includes market research and studying other successful Instagram business models, and emulating which ones work.
It is also important to research your chosen niche. Know what clicks in the market and what engages your audience most.
7. Be Consistent with Your Branding
Instagram is a very visual platform. As such, consistent branding is vital to the success of an Instagram Career. Not only does your message need consistency, but the visual element also needs the same consistency.
This means having your brand of vibe or aesthetic. Achieving this is possible through the layout of the posts themselves or having a consistent and go-to set of colors and filters. Again, research is needed to settle for an excellent one.
8. Tell Your Story
If you want to have stability in this career, you should also tell your story. Be true to yourself and find a way to tell your story that will relate to other people: beauty concerns, travel stories, and fitness journeys.
While Instagram may be known for trying to portray a “perfect image” of account users, most followers see through the person, so it pays to be genuine and honest about your story to tell.
9. Time Your Posts
Data analytics and Instagram metrics would come in handy to determine what time of the day you should post. This could very well decide if your post goes viral or if it gets covered by all other posts on the site.
According to SproutSocial.com, the most consistent engagement on Instagram can be found Monday through Friday, 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. Engagement becomes lower every day before 6 in the morning and after 9 in the evening.
10. Have Fun
Most importantly, you should have fun. With all the work you need to put in to become successful on Instagram, not having fun doing this could quickly lead to burnout. Having fun is not only lighter, but it could also lead to positive changes for your Instagram career.
Resources to Grow Your Instagram Career
Before starting any career, it is important to do your research to achieve your goals. Here are some resources you can check on to increase your knowledge of building up and maintaining a career based on social media, particularly on Instagram.
- Instagram Training Course: Learn How to Use Instagram for Marketing
- Instagram Marketing 2021: Complete Guide To Instagram Growth Instagram Growth
- Social Media Management
- Instagram Marketing Full Course In 2 Hours: Instagram Marketing Tutorial For Beginners
- Sue Zimmerman
- Social Media Examiner
Instagram is undeniably growing steadily and quickly and is expected to expand further in the coming years. It has grown from just being an online gallery to share photos to be a go-to app for e-commerce and other careers.
If you are interested in starting your Instagram career, do your research, know the pros and cons, the requirements, and the details to know if the social media path suits your skills and interests. Above all, remember to enjoy crafting your career path and keep on learning, as continuous adaptation is needed in the ever-evolving career path of social media.