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Instagram for
Influencers

In this guide we’ll cover everything you need to know to become a social media influencer on Instagram.

instagram izea woman acoustic guitar

Every month, 1 billion people across the globe log onto Instagram. Every day, more than 500 million people around the world log on to the platform. But you might already have an idea about this immense reach. That’s why you’re making the decision to blend your expertise with Instagram’s power to potentially connect with audiences of unimaginably large sizes.

Whether you know it as IG, Insta or The Gram, the world of Instagram has its own rules and influencer hacks that shift as fast as the Internet itself. If your goal is to become an Instagram influencer, here’s all you need to get started. You’ll learn how and why Instagram became the frontrunner of platforms on which to influence audiences. You’ll discover how to craft your profile image and measure your success through analytics — and more. Here’s what you need to know to join in.

Every month, 1 billion people across the globe log onto Instagram. Every day, more than 500 million people around the world log on to the platform. But you might already have an idea about this immense reach. That’s why you’re making the decision to blend your expertise with Instagram’s power to potentially connect with audiences of unimaginably large sizes.

Whether you know it as IG, Insta or The Gram, the world of Instagram has its own rules and influencer hacks that shift as fast as the Internet itself. If your goal is to become an Instagram influencer, here’s all you need to get started. You’ll learn how and why Instagram became the frontrunner of platforms on which to influence audiences. You’ll discover how to craft your profile image and measure your success through analytics — and more. Here’s what you need to know to join in.

instagram izea woman acoustic guitar

How to Set Up Instagram

If you have a smartphone or other mobile device, you can likely have Instagram. It’s a free app you can download from the two main stores, Apple’s App Store for iPhones and Google Play for Androids. Though the app doesn’t take up a lot of storage on your phone or tablet, it’s the storage of photos you’ll want to manage.

Instagram is a lot like a digital scrapbook where you edit, upload and share photos and videos. But before you begin creating your living scrapbook, you’ll need to follow the prompts to set up your account and profile.

instagram homepage login sign up

Your Profile Name

If you’re reading this guide, your goal is to become an Instagram influencer. You probably have some idea of what you want to name your page so it’s memorable and easy to find. Keep in mind that the terms “Instagram username,” “Instagram name” and “Instagram handle” all mean the same thing.

Your Instagram handle creates the URL of your Instagram page when someone views it in a web browser. It’s also one way other users can search for you within in the app. It’s written with an “@” before the name you choose, like @username. Your username sets the stage for your messaging, even before you post your first image.

When you download the app and see the prompt that asks you to create a username, that’s your “handle” that’ll show up on your page. Go ahead and use your name or something creative and unique to represent your page. It’s not set in stone, so you can always tweak or change your username, especially as you begin to grow your influence.

To give you an idea of a good handle, here are examples of the usernames of three popular non-celebrity influencers:

the bucket list family instagram

The Gee Family

@thebucketlistfamily, 1.9m Instagram followers. The Gees post about their world adventures with three kids. They have a handle that immediately gives an idea to followers what they offer in their posts — lots of adventure.

hudabeauty instagram influencer

Huda Kattan

@hudabeauty, 39m Instagram followers. Huda Kattan began with makeup tutorials and reviews. She now runs a cosmetics empire, using a simple handle formula of her first name plus the category in which she posts.

Kayla Itsines

@kayla_itsines, 11.8m Instagram followers. Kayla Itsines simply uses her name for her handle to build a branded Instagram page that includes workout videos, inspirational messages and diet tips.

 

If you want to have an equally compelling handle, there are two loose formulas that’ll lead you to your ideal Instagram name. Remember, there are influencers who’ve been around a long time, and they began their journeys with personal Instagram pages and their names as their handles.

Kim Kardashian & Selena Gomez

Celebrity influencers, such as Kim Kardashian (@kimkardashian) and Selena Gomez (@selenagomez), tend to use their instantly recognizable names for their Instagram handles.

You can do this, too, if you feel your name sets the right tone for your goal as an influencer. If you prefer a more creative handle, use these two formulas to brainstorm ideas:

  • Formula #1: Your name, plus a one-word description of what you share. As an example, @johnnyjet is an influencer sharing photos of his travels.
instagram influencer profile johnnyjet
  • Formula #2: A catchy phrase or two to describe what you do and share, plus your name if you feel it fits. As an example, @biggalyoga is an inspirational plus-size yoga practitioner.
instagram influencer profile biggalyoga

If you have a nickname, consider that as your Instagram handle. Hannah Shaw, a professional kitten rescuer, became known as the Kitten Lady over the years. She named her Instagram page @kittenxlady, using the X in the middle to differentiate herself.

instagram influencer profile kittenxlady

Your Profile Photo

The profile photo in the upper left-hand corner of your Instagram page is one of the first things a viewer spots. That little image on your page should incorporate five tips all at once:

  1. Keep it timeless and evergreen: If your brand is about Christmas in July, then it’s fine to mix the seasons. If your image is out of season, a new visitor may think your page isn’t kept up to date. Keep your profile image timeless by keeping your background and props neutral and not time-sensitive. You also don’t want to take time away from creating content by constantly changing your profile image.
  2. Mind your background: Your background will be but a blur, but it counts. Your followers will see your background, and they may even study it a bit to grasp your entire brand and personality.
  3. Stay with a consistent aesthetic: Stay on brand while staying with the palette of your page. You want it to blend in well with the other images on the page.
  4. Size it correctly: IG profile photos should be square, measuring 110 by 110 pixels. Check to see if the image works well when placed in a circle by using the Edit Profile tool.
  5. Upload a portrait, not a selfie: A portrait shot, with a focus on your face so you’re recognizable, is perceived as more professional than a selfie. You’ll also have more control over the results of the image if you have someone else take the photo. As an influencer, you’re selling yourself as a brand in your profile image, so it pays to make it count.

Three Types of Profiles

As of this writing, there are three types of free profiles from which you can choose: personal, creator or business. Instagram also gives you the ability to switch back and forth from one profile to another, thought that can sometimes cause confusion and complicate matters. However, if you’re testing the waters, you might want to start basic and upgrade as your influencer status evolves. If you’re planning on becoming an influencer, it pays to know the benefits and drawbacks of each type of profile.

Personal: A personal Instagram account can be set to be private. It’s a simple way to keep up with family and friends. But, it won’t let you have access to special features, and it won’t let you see how your posts and Stories are doing in real time.

Creator: A creator account is designed for Instagram’s high-profile users, most notably celebrities and influencers. It’s similar to a business profile in that it gives you more control of your account.

You can access detailed follower insights and growth tools, such as simplified messaging services. These give you better ways to connect with your audience and increase your brand awareness. Your followers can also shop directly from your account when you tag products in your posts a certain way. If you don’t have a larger retail presence, this may be the ideal account for an up-and-coming influencer.

Business: With a business account, you have access to real-time Instagram Analytics. These data show you how your posts and Stories perform and how your followers interact with content. They include features that you can unlock so you can get noticed. You can also create a digital catalog where you can embed links to products directly in an image. You might start with a Creator account and move to Business as you emerge as a high-profile influencer.

What to Include in a Profile Bio

Your profile’s bio is the beginning of your branding and the first thing a follower sees on your Instagram page. You could always study your favorite influencer’s profile bio and figure out why it’s compelling. However, every profile bio is unique because each element that’s included is specific to each brand.

An Instagram bio has relatively few words, but every word has an important job. Here’s what we mean:

  • Name: Begin with your brand’s name.
  • Username: Next to your name, you can add in an abbreviation or variation of your name that you think may be searchable on Instagram. Or, instead of your username, add in an important keyword that helps viewers find your page.
  • Category: The Business and Creator accounts let you add a category under your name.
  • Contact: The Business account lets you add a web address under the bio, but it doesn’t count towards the character count.
  • Verification badge: This optional but coveted little blue checkmark means you’re a real Instagram account, not an imposter account. It’s a display of authenticity for well-known users. You’ll need to go through a process to get verified on Instagram. The badge is meant for pages that Instagram thinks are “in the public interest.”
  • Bio: In 150 characters or less, include a display of your expertise, one or two short hashtags and a swift call-to-action phrase. You can always add an emoji if it’s appropriate.
  • Call-to-action (CTA): This short phrase highlights your goal and coordinates with the clickable link in your bio. For example, it’ll compel a viewer to click on your link, plan to visit your store or follow your feed.
  • Website: Typically at the bottom of the bio, this field allows you to put in a clickable link, usually to your official website.

Connecting to Other Platforms

Most, if not all, Instagram influencers cross-post on other platforms. For example, there are plenty of influencers on Twitter, which sometimes offers more engagement between influencers and followers than Instagram. YouTube is extremely influential, with an estimated 1.9 billion active users per month.

The key today is to distribute content on all or at least two platforms to capture the maximum number of followers. One component of success in cross-posting on platforms is time management. Time management is a skill that you’ll need as an influencer juggling many balls in the air while running your business.

Become a Instagram creator

How Instagram Works

You’ll have endless fun creating content for your Instagram page. It’s why influencers love to do what they do. Instagram’s content tends to shift around in its overall focus.

Though each influencer is unique, the platform used to thrive on perfectly staged, curated and glamorous content. These days, it also seems to favor more unfiltered, realistic and authentic content.

Regardless of the direction you want to take your content in, there are various types of content you can create: photos, videos, live video, Stories, text and IGTV shows. There are key details and features that can make your content consistent and reliable, yet fresh and digestible, including everything from filters to hashtags.

Types of Content

Photos: The main feature of Instagram is photography, and lots of it. If you love taking photos and posting images, Instagram is the perfect platform for your work. There are plenty of independent photo-editing apps to help you create eye-popping visual content for Instagram.

Apps can help you sharpen or blur images, add text and effects to an image, resize images, put them in a collage and more. You can crop, size and edit right in the app. Always use high-resolution images to keep your visuals crisp and clear.

Videos: When you want to create a 60-second video for your Story or live, you can create and upload a video from your phone. (IGTV is different; scroll down to learn more below.) Just as you can with photos, you’ll be able to find video-editing apps for Instagram videos.

Live: Much like Facebook Live, this is Instagram’s live-streaming feature. You can instantaneously go live to your audience, chat, reply to comments and use split-screen views to engage with viewers/guests.

Stories: Instagram has evolved beyond just photos. Now, you need to put more behind those eye-catching images in the form of Stories. Through your real Stories, you’ll begin to engage with your audience and connect with your followers. The Stories feature, influenced by Snapchat’s functionality, lets you post a photo or 15-second video that’ll disappear from your feed in 24 hours. That makes it imperative for your followers to keep up with your postings so they don’t miss a thing.

Text: Text, including hashtags, is a minimal element that takes a backstage on an Instagram page or feed. Once in a while, you’ll see a long caption. It’s relatively rare because the star of your page and feed is visual content.

IGTV: There’s another emerging type of Instagram-related content, which debuted in 2018, called IGTV. It’s Instagram’s answer to YouTube, and it’s growing in popularity. It allows you to create livestreams between 10 minutes and an hour long. You can set up your own separate IGTV channel and preview it on your regular Instagram page. Check out three popular Instagram influencers and their IGTV channels:

zoesugg instagram profile

Zoë Sugg: @zoesugg, 9.7m Instagram followers and @zoella, 1.2m Instagram folllowers. Zoe is an influential beauty vlogger. She provides product reviews and beauty tips both on YouTube (with more than 12 million subscribers), and on her top IGTV channel, Zoella Beauty.

hannastocking instagram profile

Hannah Stocking: @hannahstocking, 17m Instagram followers. Hannah started out vlogging on Vine, then YouTube. She now creates custom content for her IGTV channel, which is called The Science of Beauty.

lelepons instagram profile

Lele Pons: @lelepons, 36.7m Instagram followers. Lele made a name uploading videos on the now-defunct Vine. She has millions of subscribers on YouTube and helped Instagram launch IGTV with her comedy cooking show, What’s Cooking with Lele Pons.

Featured Within Content

highlight stickers instagram andnancysays

Overlay Stickers

Popular with Instagram Stories, stickers have the potential to stop hurried scrollers in their tracks when used the right way. Art directors are familiar with the effect that overlays can have on a printed image to make it unexpected or fun to view. Influencers can do the same by using overlay stickers in creative ways. On images, they add color, personality and a playful or celebratory vibe that the camera alone can’t create. Below, these white stars are an example of an overlay sticker from @andnancysays:

instagram profile collages revolve

Collages

Creating a highly stylized collage on your page or on your Story is another creative, visual way to share with your followers. Collages are always popular in the print world, especially when it comes to creating holiday cards, and it’s now an Instagram trend for influencers.

Collages are popular because they show more in less space and they’re stylized to fit an influencer’s brand and aesthetic. Caution: an overly busy Instagram collage can turn off followers if they can’t see or focus on what’s in the image. Here’s an example of a collage used on @revolve:

instagram post filters room

Filters

Filters enhance your “Instagram aesthetic.” The consistent use of filters helps you create a cohesive feed of images that have similar color tones. It’s what many top influencers use to keep a consistent, on-brand look on their Instagram feeds.

When you’re starting out, it’s best to experiment with Instagram’s own filters; they’re quick and easy to use. After you’re more comfortable and established, branch out to use more sophisticated filtering apps to give your feed a more distinctive appearance.

Here’s an example of a warm filter from @aleksandrazee, who specializes in wood decor and design. This type of warm filter appears on all of her images throughout her feed.

hashtags building pool

Hashtags

Using a targeted, relevant and sometimes trending hashtag or two on posts and Stories is still important on Instagram. A hashtag opens up doors for you and helps new audiences discover your page.

Hashtags work on Instagram as well as they do on Twitter. A hashtag, indicated by a pound sign (#), places your post among a curated batch of feeds about a particular subject, theme or topic. You’ll even see some posts with captions entirely made up of a dozen or so hashtags, but it’s not recommended for every post.

Find hashtags on Instagram analytical tools, watch for popular hashtags on competitor pages or use other independent analytical tools to find what’s trending for your brand. For example, consider two of the most popular Instagram hashtags: #love and #photooftheday. Here’s an example of a hashtag from @remzinarman:

Instagram Influencer Best Practices

Platform Etiquette

Diplomacy is key to becoming a well-respected Instagram influencer. Remember to treat others as you’d like to be treated to reduce the amount of trolling and negative comments. Hateful comments may be inevitable on any platform, but that’s when you can show your strength of character as an influencer. To stay neutral yet professional, follow these etiquette musts when it comes to communicating with your audience and brand partners:

  • Encourage contact: Include an email in your bio or add a contact button feature to show viewers and prospective brand partners that you’re approachable.
  • Respond quickly: Respond to direct messages in a timely fashion. Both followers and brands prefer to hear from an influencer within a few days of initial contact.
  • Adhere to guidelines: When working with a brand, follow its posting guidelines. If there’s a guideline issue that you don’t agree with, discuss it with the brand, but never ignore it.
  • Document: When posting content for a brand, screenshot the post and share with the brand’s contact. It’s a professional way to document your work and your commitment to the partnership.
  • Follow up: After completing a campaign or sponsored post for a brand, follow up with the company with a short email. In the email, offer feedback about the product and about the process of working together. It’s a goodwill gesture that shows professionalism.

What to Avoid

It’s easy to make mistakes on any platform and equally easy to fix mistakes on Instagram. Quickly fix your mistakes to redeem your reputation. There are six significant missteps that can damage your journey as an Instagram influencer if you don’t catch them early on:

  1. Posting content that’s irrelevant to your niche
  2. Using wrong or inappropriate hashtags on your posts
  3. Posting inconsistently or infrequently
  4. Posting low-quality, non-value content that feels rushed and insignificant
  5. Avoiding replying to comments
  6. Faking your follower count

A Warning About Fake Followers

Let’s dive a bit deeper into #6 above regarding fake followers. These are follower accounts that actual people don’t run. Having them increases an account’s follower numbers, but it harms an influencer’s engagement rates because real people aren’t liking and commenting on posts using those fake accounts. If you’re found to have fake followers, it can damage your reputation among real followers because it degrades their trust. Brands may also be less likely to want to partner with someone who knowingly has fake followers.

It may be tempting to increase your audience number to make it appear like you’re more popular. But it’s one of the worst influencer practices to participate in. Fake followers are detectable not only to real followers, but also to potential brands that may want to work with you. Here’s how others spot fake Instagram followers:

  • Bad content: It’s suspect if you post low-quality content but you have a high number of followers.
  • Spikes: If your audience number spikes without a genuine reason, such as because of a viral post, the sudden increase may be all from fake followers.
  • Ratios: If the ratio of your audience members to your likes per post is vastly different, that’s a sign you have fake followers. In other words, if you have 200K followers but posts generally receive double-digit likes, that means few real people are seeing your posts.
  • Spam: A large percentage of spam comments may indicate fake followers.
  • Analytical tools: Brands seeking partnerships with influencers often use digital tools that analyze and uncover follower authenticity.

Popular Influencers on Instagram

Here are three examples of popular Instagram influencer pages with profiles and bios. Only one account has a verified badge; the influencer is also an investor involved in the tech industry. As you’ll see, each profile and bio is distinctive in its own merits.

sunndydayfamily instagram profile avatar

@sunnydayfamily

Name/username: Laura | Sunny Day Family

Bio: Organizing & life hacks from a homeschooling mom to twin boys, 2 dogs, & a cat.
Grab your planner and coffee (or 🍷) and let’s do this. 🙌

CTA: Freebies ↓↓

Website: linktr.ee/sunnydayfamily

sunndydayfamily instagram profile
weworethat instagram profile avatar

@weworewhat

Name/username: Danielle Bernstein

Creator @daniellebernstein
Founder @shopweworewhat
Giving @wegavewhat
Founder @moeassist
NY Times Best Selling Author

CTA: For inquiries: jen@jenniferpowell.com

Website: shopweworewhat.com

weworethat instagram profile
stellaandblaise instagram profile avatar

@stellaandblaise

Representation: The Osbrink Agency

Bio:Natural Blonde Curls w/ Big Personalities
Agent: @osbrinkagency
TikTok: StellaBlaise
YT: Stella & Blaise

Website: gf.me/u/za47ka

stellaandblaise instagram profile

How to Grow Followers

To attract followers, know your topic or be willing to learn about it with passion. Stay eager to share with others what you learn. Be honest and let your audience know you’re learning about your topic. Invite others to learn along with you.

Influencers Doing It Right

If you’re hoping to become an overnight influencer, it could happen. There are stories of influencers who took two months to become moneymaking brand ambassadors. More often, you’ll find influencers who’ve worked diligently to grow their presences and brands. Here are three stories of hardworking Instagram influencers who do the right things and learned from their mistakes.

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Learning to Focus, Focus, Focus

Heidi Ferguson of Honeybear Lane, @honeybearlane, 11.7k Instagram followers

A mom of five, Heidi is a DIY and home decor Instagram influencer with a presence on multiple platforms. Her advice on becoming a successful influencer is to ignore slow growth and stay consistent when posting. Don’t compare yourself to others in your niche. Study your analytics.

Using Instagram as a Launchpad

bestfriendsforfrosting instagram profile

Melissa Johnson of Best Friends for Frosting, @bestfriendsforfrosting, 103k Instagram followers

Melissa’s company focuses on sharing recipes, entertainment tips and other home ideas. She has a presence on other platforms, including 7m followers on Pinterest. She’s decided to use her Instagram influencer status as a way to gain press and access to projects at different levels.

Melissa shot a commercial for OxiClean and launched a podcast, and she’s currently exploring book deals and product lines. How did she do it? Offering content with genuine value to her audience and responding to as many comments as possible.

Working With Brands that Reflect Her Values

girllovesglam instagram profile

McKenzie Guymon, @girllovesglam, 11.1k Instagram followers

McKenzie’s tagline is “REAL beauty for REAL women.” She traded in salon work to become an influencer, also posting across multiple platforms. McKenzie recommends influencers learn from her mistake of taking on brands that didn’t fit her values, which resulted in failed campaigns. Today, she studies a brand before accepting a partnership, making absolutely certain it’s aligned with her values and lifestyle.

Connecting with Other Influencers

Once you’re comfortable as an influencer of any size, take steps to connect with other influencers in your niche or a complimentary niche. It’s important to begin this process even if you’re a nano-influencer. The benefit of connecting with other influencers is that you can share in the journey of building your businesses.

It takes five steps to grow and solidify engagement with other influencers. These steps progress organically when you keep your goals in mind:

Step 1: An influencer becomes aware of you as a colleague, becomes a follower, shares your content and likely responds to your content.

Step 2: An aware influencer colleague continues to come back if you comment on their posts and create useful content that links back to their content.

Step 3: Approach an influencer colleague to see if there’s interest in seeing your insights. Or, see if it’s possible to feature them in your content in a beneficial way. You’ll begin to pave the way for mutual mentions.

Step 4: Invite them to participate in an initiative with you, such as a content co-creation, podcast, livestream, webinar or public speaking engagement.

Step 5: Now that you’ve built rapport and created value for your colleague, you can promote their content more. Send them appropriate business and creatively let them impact your audience and vice-versa.

Congratulations! You’re now an Instagram influencer and businessperson living on the leading edge of one of today’s most important and vital communications platforms. It’s critical to keep up to date with the always-changing Instagram trends. Log onto IZEA for the latest on Instagram trends, breaking news, tips and tricks and other helpful insights into becoming one of the best influencers in your niche.

Types of Influencers

You no longer need to be designated as a mega-influencer to get noticed. Brands and audiences pay attention to nano-influencers (with fewer than 1k followers) and micro-influencers (with 1k to 100k followers).

Influencers with smaller audiences have hyper-dedicated captive audiences, which is ideal for brands. In fact, according to Forbes.com, marketers want to partner with smaller, edgier and more controversial influencers who have zealous followers. Here’s the breakdown of the four influencer types:

Celebrity and Mega-influencers

Celebrity and mega influencers have over a million followers, and they’re often considered famous rather than influential. Having such a large audience means the influencer may post quite a bit, but the relationships with followers are distant and at best superficial. They do, however, command high payments for greater reach. Super-celebrity Kim Kardashian can command between $250,000 to over $500,000 per post if a company wants her millions of followers to see one of their products.

Macro-influencers

If you have between 100,000 and a million followers, you’re considered a macro-influencer. A macro influencer still has a distant relationship with their audience. However, they can still command a high payment from a brand because of their large, broad audience reach.

Micro-influencers

Influencers with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers are called micro-influencers. They may have fewer followers than regular or mega-influencers, but they likely have more interactions with a highly devoted audience. Because a micro-influencer’s audience is smaller, it’s more targeted. That means the micro-influencer is also highly desirable to a company that has an influencer marketing program. If you have between 5,000 to 10,000 followers, you may be able to command a payment of between $100 to $500 per post.

Nano-influencers

Nano-influencers have fewer than 1,000 followers. They can be the most authentic, hyper-targeted Instagram influencers with the highest rates of engagement. Nano-influencers are ready to swap products for promotion because they may be just starting out. If you prefer payment, you may have to contend with less than $100 for a post unless you’re in an uncrowded but highly desirable niche for a brand.

Emerging Influencers

As the platform evolves, there’s always a next generation of Instagram influencers. For example, emerging influencers have shifted the Instagram landscape by favoring messy posts or videos rather than perfect posts. They’ve built their own brands rather than relying on brand deals. They’ve taken their content across multiple platforms to increase their social media numbers.

An emerging influencer doesn’t have to be a nano-influencer, however. For example, a new crop of beauty influencers has taken to the platform to offer honest reviews of products. Some emerging influencers won’t take sponsored posts or reviews, either, such as @gelcream with 120k followers. But, even celebrities can turn into emerging influencers. Take HGTV star Joanna Gaines, for example. As her television show became more popular, she emerged as an Instagram home decor influencer.

Measuring Your Success on Instagram

Analytics aside, most influencers quickly gauge their success by the number of likes received on a post. However, as of September 2019, that measure of success may be eliminated as Instagram tests the waters of removing likes from posts. This is happening in an effort to quell mental health issues and the stress of keeping up with other influencers. With likes removed, it’s even more important to understand and use Instagram’s analytics tools.

A Quick Glossary of Terms

It helps to understand the lingo of analytics and measuring success when it comes to Instagram. Here are four basic terms to learn:

Insights: These are important measurements to help you get an understanding of the effects your content has on audience activity and engagement. Clicking on the Insights button on your toolbar helps you to find out your followers’ ages and genders. You can see when they tune in and when it’s the best time to post to get maximum engagement on your content.

Outreach: This is the process an influencer goes through to form a relationship with a follower. Influencer outreach helps a follower understand why it’s beneficial to continue following and engaging with you.

Reach: Reach is a measure of your audience size, or the number of followers who value your content. However, a smaller reach isn’t necessarily anything to worry about. A smaller niche in a highly targeted market is valuable to a brand looking for awareness. Sometimes a brand’s message can get lost with an influencer who has a huge general audience.

ROI: “ROI” stands for “return on investment.” This essentially answers the question of whether a campaign paid off and was worth the cost. When a brand hires an influencer to partner with on a campaign, the brand’s marketing professional measures the ROI of the program. Marketers analyze ROI by tracking and measuring performance and goals reached before, during and after a campaign.

Finding Instagram's Analytics

Instagram has a set of analytics that can inspire your content strategy so you’re not left to post random content. It takes some time to become comfortable understanding Instagram’s analytics, so be patient with yourself and learn as you go. Rather than becoming bogged down with complicated analytics, knowing these three things helps you get started:

  1. Accessing analytics is possible with a business or creator account. There may be some subtle differences on what’s available depending on the status of your account. For either account, click the bars icon on the top of your profile page to access your analytics.
  2. The audience tab tells you a follower count. It shows where your followers are located along with their genders, ages and times they’re most active.
  3. The activity tab tells you how your audience members find your profile. It also reveals impressions (total number of time

How to Increase and Improve Engagement

Increasing engagement is a professional way of describing what you do to keep your viewers coming back to see more of your feed. Rising influencers often become popular because they promise their followers new content either daily or every other day. They may stay under the radar for a couple of years. Then they spike in popularity as they grow their numbers of authentic posts and videos for their equally authentic audience. Remember, fake followers don’t engage or offer high-quality comments that real followers notice, so it doesn’t pay to run that risk and damage your reputation.

There are countless studies and statistics to help you learn to increase engagement with your followers. We’ve gathered together the most important influencer posting trends to help you gain a foothold with your followers:

  • Use the same filter consistently for recognition and identification.
  • Post content at least five times a week.
  • Post Mondays and Thursdays for maximum views.
  • Avoid posting between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. when everyone’s busy finishing up work, school, commutes, school pickups, naps and other things keeping them engaged.
  • Include more than one hashtag per post.
  • Use a location tag on your posts.
  • Include hashtags and a location tag for maximum engagement.
  • Include faces in as many images as possible for a human touch.

You’ll find that the more passionate you are about your niche, the easier it’ll be to engage and grow followers. Find a niche that you’re interested in or have expertise in, and focus, focus, focus. It doesn’t matter how many other influencers are in the same niche. If you have a genuine love for the subject, it’ll come through in your posts.

How to Make Money on Instagram

You can make money as an Instagram influencer. As an influencer with an audience seeking your expertise, you’re much like a small business. You have something to offer others. Monetizing your value as an Instagram influencer is easier in some ways today than it was in the past. Here are a few ways to get started making money on Instagram.

IZEAx: Influencer Marketing Platform

IZEA streamlines the process of your influencer marketing efforts with its platform and software tools. It offers an efficient and effective way to connect you with brands for sponsored content on your Instagram page. And it gives you the tools you need to grow your influence. When you create a profile with IZEA as an influencer, you’re given the opportunity to work with leading brands, publishers and advertisers in your industry. Monetize your content and extend your influence on Instagram, as well as all of the major social media platforms.

Where can I sign up?!

If you have not already signed up, you can sign up as a Creator by following the instructions below:

  1. Head over to the IZEA Creator App
  2. Sign up by filling out the name, password, and the tell us more about you fields.
  3. Click Create Account.
  4. Once completed, you’ll need to verify your account so check your email!

Partner with industry-leading food, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands.

You could join an influencer marketplace.

Create a profile on an established platform that has relationships with top brands. The right platform, such as IZEA, has advanced influencer marketplace technology that matches brands with participating influencers. Joining an influencer marketplace platform takes your influence to the next level using campaigns and sponsored content.

You could become an affiliate. Earn money by linking and selling products that other people or other companies make. When followers shop using your unique link, you can earn commission on what they purchase.

You can sell your photos. There are plenty of sites that let you sell your images as stock photography if you’re willing to give up most or all of your rights to the photos.

Defining Sponsored Content

Sponsored content on Instagram is content you as an influencer create that includes a specific brand in some meaningful and authentic way. You’ll form a partnership with the brand before making sponsored posts. The growth of sponsored content on Instagram is well documented. It’s one of the best ways an influencer can make money. There are a few key points to learn about sponsored content before you start.

A company may create an influencer marketing campaign to introduce or build awareness about a product or the brand in general. Depending on the company’s goals, the campaign will likely include sponsored posts. If a company approaches you to help with a campaign, you’ll need to determine if the brand and the company’s practices are genuinely aligned with your values before agreeing to the project.

If you do go forward with the campaign, the brand’s marketer discusses content they want you to produce to promote the brand on your page. Images and videos easily promote brand awareness. Sponsored content can be both fun and lucrative to produce, as long as you’re passionate about the company, the brand and the product. In other words, the sponsored post has to make complete sense on your page and should resonate with your audience.

Most importantly, you must tell your audience when you’re making sponsored posts; failing to do so can cause legal troubles. The Federal Trade commission has specific rules that apply to social media and traditional media outlets. As a social media influencer, the FTC requires you to be transparent about sponsored content in post captions. This is part of the agency’s truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading. The FTC offers strict guidelines about alerting your followers in a clear and conspicuous way that you’re posting a sponsored content, specifically for Instagram influencers.

One way to adhere to the FTC’s guidelines is to simply add in a three-character hashtag, “#ad,” to the beginning of your caption. As you begin to take on sponsored content, it’s important to study the FTC guidelines for adherence. Review other influencer posts to see how they handle disclosures. Ultimately, it’s not ethical to let followers believe you don’t have a motive in posting content when a brand is actually compensating you to do so.

Examples of Sponsored Content

Here are three excellent examples of sponsored content. Take a look at the captions to see how the influencers disclose it:

influencer instagram fender guitar

Ashley Nicholson and Fender Guitar

Vancouver-based Instagram influencer Ashley Nicholson (@itsashnicholson) focuses on personal style and travel. She’s young and hip and loves to talk about “cozy moments.” Fender Guitars wanted to work with her to promote a product and online music lessons. Note that she’s completely relaxed using the product. The caption discloses the sponsorship using the hashtag “#ad.”

influencer instagram burt's bees

Frances Estrada and Burt’s Bees

New York City-based Latina fashion blogger and Instagram influencer Frances Estrada (@thepeckingorder) worked with Burt’s Bees. The goal was to bring brand awareness to an important audience for the company. Here, she’s using the product and describes it in her caption with a passionate tone. She uses the hashtag “#ad” right at the beginning of her caption.

whole foods influencer instagram

Eric Hinman and Whole Foods

Denver-based Instagram influencer Eric Hinman (@erichinman) is a young, successful entrepreneur focused on the world of health and wellness. His audience is younger, mostly married male and female followers in the 30–34 age range. This was a natural fit for Whole Foods. The sponsored piece of content includes a contest to win the cooler in the photo. To disclose the sponsorship, he used the hashtag “#Sponsored” in the top third of his caption.

As an influencer, you have valuable connections that marketers want to tap into because they trust your suggestions about products and services. They also know your audience trusts you. Brands hire influencers who are trustworthy sources of information. Surveys show that most marketers who’ve used influencers believe the strategy is effective for their brands. Here are a few more solid reasons why brands may choose to work with you as an influencer:

Your ability to create content: Building up a brand’s blog takes time and effort. An influencer has already built up a storehouse of consistent, creative and engaging content that captures the audience’s attention.

You’re an expert on your topic: Brands want to align with you if they feel you’re an influencer with passion for a topic that’s directly related to their marketing goals.

You know how to build relationships: Brands understand that, as an influencer, you’re more like a peer to your audience. You can authentically offer advice and recommendations for a brand. Brands like the high engagement rates and friendly tones influencers have with their audiences, which is even more important than your number of followers. This is good news for you if you’re starting out as a micro- or nano-influencer. According to surveys, smaller influencers often have more engagement with their followers than those with larger followings.

You know how to communicate: Though you can be an influencer at almost any age, most Instagram users fall into the age group between 18–34. That means many potential followers have grown up using social media and digital products and know what it takes to communicate well on digital platforms. You likely do, too.

You understand how to show off brands: Brands appreciate the way influencers creatively excel at building brand awareness. The way you’ll bring awareness to a product may be more exciting, relatable and relevant to the intended audience than a traditional print ad, television commercial or a press release.

You’ll organically drive traffic and sales: As an influencer, you know how to keep the momentum going about a brand once you’ve started the conversation. As a result, a brand trusts your efforts will result in traffic and sales. Brands want to work with influencers who know how to achieve the marketing benchmarks of organically funneling followers and converting them into leads or sales.

Brands will turn to you as an influencer to help bolster their marketing plans. Influencer marketing plans can be successful collaborations for both you and different brands.

Instagram was launched October 6, 2010 as a photography app. Within one week, it already had 100,000 users. After two months in existence, it had a million users. A mere two years later, Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion.

But, Instagram wasn’t a burning idea that took years to develop, according to the app’s creator and founder, Kevin Systrom. He says that Instagram began as more of an accident because his original idea for an app was already taken. Instead, he worked with another developer, Mike Krieger, and stripped the idea down to create an app focused on communicating through images. The app was sort of like sending a type of instant telegram, which is how it got its name, Instagram.

Instagram took about eight weeks to build, even though it was the afterthought of the original app that had a year of research and development behind it. Instagram has kept its original premise as a purely visual communications tool, though it continues to evolve. Its constant evolution requires the help of Instagram influencer manuals to sort through ongoing changes and trends.

What makes Instagram continue to remain such a popular platform should be helpful to future influencers. A picture is worth a thousand words, according to an old and often-quoted proverb. Science also tells us that humans process visual data better, which means we respond quickest to images, then to words and audio. In fact, it’s documented that captions are secondary to the Instagram experience. So, Instagram’s appeal will likely remain long-lasting.