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Monday, July 11, 2016

Instagram Marketing: Turn Social Media Into Your Side Hustle

Yeah, it's cool to use social media just for fun, to post your beautiful vacation photos, to check out what your friends are doing or to spy on your ex (lol), but what if you could monetize your platform and get paid to post?

Instagram has become an effective platform for brands to market themselves through influencers (bloggers like YOU!)
It has recently been confirmed that the Instagram community has grown to more than 500 million Instagrammers - more than 300 million of whom use Instagram every single day!
Woah! The advertising possibilities on Instagram are endless!

Selling My First Instagram Ad 
I sold my first Instagram ad for $45 and I had under 7,000 Instagram followers.

I've heard some bloggers say they're going to wait to build their following up to around 50,000 followers until they start accepting ads and I always think: they're just missing out on extra money. 

I used to think you needed to be a celebrity or one of those popular, cool, funny people who have hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers in order to promote advertisements on your page... and boy was I wrong!

Let me tell you something, you don't need a huge following to start monetizing your Instagram page. Granted, some brands look at the amount of followers you have ... then there are some who are more concerned about your engagement: are people commenting and liking your photos a lot? ... Does your blog look like it has potential? ... Or, maybe a small business would rather work with a more personable and smaller blog. All companies are different and you never know unless you try to promote yourself.

I posted my very first promo ad for a clothing boutique. They reached out to me in a Direct Message on Instagram with a simple Hello message, they told me how they loved my IG page and then they asked ... how much do you charge for promo?

I didn't event know at first! I didn't know about promo, how much I should charge ... no one told me these things.

I reached out to fellow bloggers and one of those Instagram comedians to ask how much they charged. Not everyone responded to my messages (typical) and one person even thought I wanted to promote myself on their page (umm, no!)

Finally, one blogger who had around 80,000 followers at the time said he charges $100 per post. 

Wow, I thought! 

Do you know what I could do with a quick $100 ... That's my cellphone bill right there! ... And all I have to do is post one photo or video with a little caption? 

But, I didn't have the same large following as him. I then went to Google for answers (like everyone does). I read that top Instagram sponsors can get paid up to $100k (wow, goals!)

Then, I read about CPM's (the cost to reach one thousand people) and all of these calculations... I felt like I was back in that dreaded math class in college. 

So, I came up with my own pricing. Although I didn't have a huge following, I based the price off of audience engagement (how many comments / likes I would get) and I also considered the fact of how much time I spent on crafting a really good entertainment Instagram page. 

I told the company $45 for two Instagram posts ... and they bought it! 

Afterwards, I wondered if I should have charged more ... but, I was happy that I made my first Instagram ad sell and as my followers grew so did my prices. 

You can always adjust your prices as your demand increases. 

Define Your Niche, Know Your Audience

A couple of steps to follow in order to land potential customers:

- The main question to ask yourself is this: What are you sharing about, and why do people want to follow you? Why should people care to know what you're posting?

- You need to define who you are and what you're looking to do. Are you a lifestyle blogger? ... a relationship blogger? ... Want to blog about the latest celebrity gossip & entertainment? 

- Once finding your niche, start building: Post great content daily, engage with your followers and other fellow bloggers, share other people's content, use hashtags related to your posts, and also create content that sets you apart from the crowd. *I'll post more about building up your Instagram following in a future post. 

RELATED: Check Out The New Instagram Analytics! Use This To Reel In Potential Customers

Create A Set Of Ad Prices

- Once your Instagram page starts creating some buzz, create an advertisement page on your blog website (or, if you don't have a website yet, create a set list or promo prices). 

- Establish a set of rules: Will the ad stay up for 1 hour, for 2 hours or forever? Will you offer package deals, including sharing the ad on your website and/or other social media accounts? Are you into writing sponsored posts on your blog? What will your return polices be? (I have written: ALL SALES ARE FINAL). 

- Choose an online payment system that accepts all major credit cards. My payment choice is the popular PayPal which most people are already familiar about. 

Check out my advertisement page here which I created myself and a screenshot of my ad and price options below so you can get an idea:

Accepting Freebies Instead Of Money

- Sometimes companies like to send freebies in place of a paid ad. I've had companies offering to send me free weave, sunglasses, handbags, t-shirts, etc ... I've had a couple of authors send me their books for free. IF you decide to go this route, just make sure you communicate with the business in knowing what they want in return for the free products. Usually one post on your Instagram page with their product will do in exchange for a freebie. 

I've been sent a couple of books from authors. I haven't gotten around to reading them all, but I've posted the books on my Instagram to give the author some exposure in exchange for the free book. I even posted one photo of myself with their book so the picture didn't come off too much like an ad. 

Sharing Your Ad Prices, Finding Brands

- Make sure it's known you offer promo. Include a line in your Instagram bio saying something like, "For ad inquiries, email: ____" & post 'Advertise Here' type of pics on your Instagram page once in awhile just so your followers and/or potential customers know they have that option with you. (Just don't be super spammy and constantly post the 'Advertise Here' ads several times a day, that can potentially be annoying and drive some of your followers away.)

- Reach out to brands through apps like Popular Pay OR you can monitor other bloggers who post ads and peep their customers and browse Instagram for potential clients and draft a paragraph explaining who you are, your blog and sell yourself. Tell the business why they should work with you. And, if they decide not to, no biggie. Not everyone will want to business with you and that's okay. But, you don't know until you try and put yourself out there. 

- Sit back and let customers come to you. Many consumers are looking for their favorite Instagram personalities and/or blogger to market their products. I receive emails/Direct Messages everyday asking how much I charge for promo (which doesn't mean I land these customers everyday) but, the majority of customers come to me. 

Do Your Research!

Before sharing your ad/price options, make sure to do your research on the company! I can't tell you how many times I shake my head at the amount of junk I see on my timeline from bloggers who are willing to post any and everything just to make some quick dollars. 

I personally like to google the company. I check out their website and their Instagram page and I skim through their comments just to see if there are any bad complaints. But, most importantly, I make sure it's a product that vibes with my blog ... do you get what I'm saying?

For example, if you've been following me on @OooLaLaBlog for awhile, then you would know, I'm not into the whole Skinny Tea movement. In fact, I've written posts joking about that. So, it wouldn't look right for me to turn around and post an ad promoting any of that type of product, now would it? My followers would think I sold out and they wouldn't trust me because it looks like I'm just posting anything for money. 

How I Like To Advertise & What Works

The less the content feels like an ad, the more likely your followers will engage with it in the same way they do with your regular photos / videos. 

Like I said before, I've posted a picture of myself with someone else's book before as promo in exchange to receiving the free book, and it didn't come off as an ad but more like I was shouting out a friend. 

I once had a model reach out to me because they wanted some exposure. He paid for promo and specifically told me he didn't want the post to come off as an ad. So, the caption to his photo came off as if I randomly came across his photo online, liked it and decided to share the eye candy for the women ... and, it worked! 

I noticed his photo received more likes than the normal "follow so and so and click the link in their bio" generic type of ads AND I noticed women engaging in the comment section + his followers went up. Mission accomplished. 

Thank Your Customers!

You have to let your customers know they are appreciated!

After making the sale, make sure to follow up and thank them for their business. Let them know their payment has been received and that their ad is now posted. Thanking clients for their business takes like a minute but can have an overall impact on rather they will be returning customers or not. 

You can also take it a step further and ask clients for feedback about their ad experience with your blog. This will make for great testimonials to attract future customers. 

Offer Discounts / Special Deals

I like to encourage past clients to come back again and again. How do I do that? I now offer discounts to returning customers which I have printed on my advertisement page. This serves as a type of reward for their continued support. 

Sell Your Photos

There are lots of apps that make it easy to upload and sell your photos. You'll be surprised how many people are looking for stock photography. 

A couple of apps are: FOAP, where you'll make $5 for every photo sold: Twenty20, where you earn a full or partial commission for each photo; and Snapwire, where you can earn money through photo challenges and direct sales (via: Yahoo).

I hope these tips can help you as they helped me through my Instagram ad journey. 

Now, check you out! You're on your way to owning Instagram and making some extra cash. Just remember to have fun with your page, be real and be consistent. You will soon grow a loyal following and in turn can market your awesome page.

I believe in you! 

And, who knows, this side hustle could possibly turn into a full-time job one day!

Drop a comment below and tell me how you're doing on Instagram. Do you have any other ways on marketing your page and earning extra cash? 

12:45:00 PM / by / 3 Comments


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