How to Make Money on Instagram

JD Hancock/Flickr

It may seem strange, but regular Joe and Joannes are out there making money off of their selfies. How, you ask? Instagram, I say. Just when you thought you should cut back on your screen time, here are a few reasons why you’ll want to up the posts and the clicks to make a little cash.

To get paid on Instagram, you’re essentially looking for two things: Followers and Sponsors. First, you need followers like crazy to make yourself into someone worth a brand’s time. Second, you’ll need an agreement with a brand of some kind who thinks you’re a tastemaker worth a paycheck.

Step 1: Post Something Great Every Day

While your cat may be adorable, unless you’ve got the next Maru, nobody (not even Friskies) is likely to be interested in it if that’s all you post. Most successful Instagrammers are beautiful, interesting people who lead beautiful and interesting lives. Post the best pictures you can, and post them every day. You’ll want to make sure your images are not only pristine, but that they’re also unique. Definitely don’t go stealing anyone else’s content (that’s a BIG no-no), but take inspiration from others who post beautiful things. Hashtag if you must, but don’t be a cliche. Rolling Stone recently came out with a list of 100 Instagram accounts to follow (a list also sponsored by Fiat, so….).

Step 2: Get More Eyes on Your Selfies

In order to be a good candidate to brands, you’ll need followers (and not just your Aunt June and her cat). There’s a wide variety of opinions for how many followers you need in order to be viable as a money-making Instagrammer, but the minimum to use services like Popular Pays is 5,000. Most of the more notable fabulous Instagrammers have in the tens of thousands of followers, or more. Getting more followers increases your value to brands. Bloggers who charge thousands per post typically have a million followers or more.

Step 3: Find Brands to Work For/With

With companies like Popular Pays, you’re getting product samples or experiences in exchange for Instagramming about them to your pool of followers. What some fabulous types have found, however, is brands are also willing to work with the most followed of ‘grammers in order to create a buzz about their latest hoopajoop. Some, like Australian model Gabrielle Epstein, noted she can make more on Instagram in one day than she did over nearly a week of modelling. She often uses her agency to set up brand connections and posts images of herself with products to her over 100,000 followers.

Step 4: Profit!

So by now you’re a big internet sensation! Congrats! No really, even if you’re not up to a million followers yet, you can still find ways to work with companies to make a little extra cash. You just have to follow the steps above, and you’ll be making new friends in no time. That is, until the next social media platform comes along and we all need new accounts, friends and followers all over again.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you making money off of your social media accounts? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

This post was updated from an earlier version previously published on PayScale.