How to make money on Instagram with affiliate marketing 2021 + 11 tips for success

Make money on Instagram with affiliate marketinng

Many of us (myself included) spend countless hours scrolling through Instagram – even on a daily basis. Now, I’m not here today to say if that’s good or bad, everyone can judge for themselves… But, what I am here to do is how to make the most of that time. 

And what better way to make use of your time than making money?? What’s more, you can still be on Instagram the whole time doing it 😉 Getting into Instagram affiliate marketing has never been easier and 2021 is full of new opportunities.

Today, I’m here to tell you all about how to make this goldmine of a social media platform an income source through affiliate marketing 🤑

  1. First, the Instagram and affiliate marketing trends of 2021 – what direction is instagram influencing headed? How does this benefit you? What new features have arrived in 2020/2021?
  2. Second, we’ll go over how exactly to become an Instagram influencer, affiliate marketer extraordinaire & start making money
    1. How to get a bunch of followers
    2. How to get an offer suited for your profile
    3. And how to get that offer out there and start making money off commissions
  3. Lastly, I’ve got 11 tips for you on how to become the best affiliate marketer-influencer on Instagram today!

Instagram & Affiliate marketing 2021

The first thing that probably comes to mind when I mention making money on Instagram: Kylie Jenner and other mega-influencers. Their ultra-stylized, perfectly lit, and incredibly gorgeous celebrity photos that appear on your Instagram feed. Who even takes these pictures? 

When Kylie makes a post like this, she gets millions of likes, thousands of adoring comments, and gives priceless exposure to the brand she’s promoting (Daniel Wellington in this case). What’s more, she is getting paid up to $1 million per post and making even more on commissions from the sales. And it’s not just beauty/lifestyle moguls like Kylie and the rest of the Kardashians who are making tons of money as affiliate marketers on Instagram. 

But what’s in it for these companies? Posts from celebs and huge influencers cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and every sale made with their promo code or link takes a chunk from companies’ profits. 

The answer lies in Instagram’s unprecedented activity and engagement: the social media platform boasts over 1 billion monthly users, and more than 500 million of those check the app every single day. I’ll admit it, I’m one of them– in fact, way too many times a day. And that’s the point. Instagram offers a platform where users engage with products on a much more personal and regular level than traditional advertising methods like TV commercials. You can comment, dm, share, like, watch videos using the product, and so much more– all in one place. This is why Instagram is a perfect place for any affiliate marketing activity. 

And of course we can’t go without mentioning the omnipresent coronavirus; since the beginning of 2020, 80% of  influencers have noted an increase in user engagement. People are home, on their phones, and active online. The Instagram influencer marketing industry is on track to reach a $15 billion value by 2022. 💰

What does this mean for you?

Unfortunately, the majority of y’all reading this article aren’t celebrities with enormous, dedicated fan bases. 

The incredible news is: you don’t have to be a celebrity! Otherwise we wouldn’t even be writing this article! 😁 “Micro influencers” have entered the affiliate marketing industry as an unstoppable force for product promotion. They’re the Instagrammers who have as few as 5k followers (or more), situated in a particular niche and– despite their relatively small following– have high levels of engagement with users.  2020, 2021 and beyond is becoming the age of micro influencers. More and more brands are choosing to partner with micro influencers due to their small and very engaged communities. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s easier to maintain contact with 12k followers than it is with 1.2 million. Due to this more personal connection, followers are usually a lot more active and apt to buy products promoted by that given influencer. 

The next piece of good news: it’s not that hard to become a micro influencer! Sure, it takes some time and effort, but it’s practically free. Also, I’m here to provide you with a straightforward guide on how to do this. 

Ok, but how do you make money in all of this? It’s easy. 💸 Once you build up a decent following in a particular niche, you can start reaching out for affiliate offers to sell and promote products. When your followers purchase any of these products with your link or promo code, you’ll be getting a commission. And that’s basically all the magic there is to the Instagram affiliate marketing mystery. You probably won’t be seeing the kinds of numbers that Ariana Grande, Christian Ronaldo, or The Rock are getting, but you can expect around $250-$300 per post. But we’ll go over this in way more detail in Part 2 of our guide.

Insta & Affiliate Marketing are stronger than ever

Another 2021 trend welcomed by the affiliate marketers of the world: a bunch of new Instagram features that make online shopping easier for users. 🛒 Up until this year, accessing an ecommerce store was quite a hassle for Instagram users. Now though, we have shoppable posts, analytics and tracking, live shopping, shopping stickers, Instagram checkout, and shopping from creators. The affiliate business model has practically been reinvented this year with influencers now able to tag businesses in their posts.

2021 is the year of making money on Instagram. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of these new developments for the affiliate marketing community. So, let’s forge ahead!

Becoming an influencer and a successful affiliate marketing

Part I: How to build up an Instagram following

If you already have an Instagram following of around 10k or more and you’re ready to delve into affiliate marketing then skip to Part II.

  1. Choose a niche. Before you get started on your influencer journey, choose a niche. Don’t try to appeal to everyone and anyone – because you won’t. Pick something that you’re passionate about and can authentically make content about: beauty, lifestyle, health & fitness, parenting, food, business are some of the top niches.
  2. Start making quality content. 🤳 This is the time-consuming part. You probably won’t blow-up overnight, unless of course you go viral 😉 Utilize all of Instagram’s features: video, stories, reels, IGTV, live, tags and more. Try to be authentic and relatable – users are increasingly favoring influencers and brands that aren’t completely out-of-touch and perfectly curated. But always keep in mind an aesthetically-pleasing image. 
  3. Be active within your niche. Comment on posts related to your content to increase your account’s exposure. Interact with influencers within your niche through Instagram lives, IGTV and stories. Engage with your followers; DM and reply to their comments. 
  4. Use hashtags strategically. #️⃣ Hashtags in your description can help Insta users and brands find you. But be careful not to add hashtags that are unrelated to you; your account should be visible to the right audiences.
  5. Don’t buy followers. Resist the temptation to buy a ton of followers in the form of bots. 🤖 Bots aren’t people, they won’t interact with your account like people would, and they definitely won’t buy any products from you down the road. And companies can see this. As I’ve mentioned, the most important thing for companies is your engagement with followers; offer owners will check your stats and see the percentage of engaged users anyways, so don’t bother with bots.
  6. Run sponsored posts. One way to get visibility and consequently, followers, is paying for it. You can pay for your posts to appear on user feeds that may be interested in your niche. It’s essential though that you keep track of these posts and how much you spend vs how successful they are, and you can do that with a tracker like Voluum.
  7. Buy Insta shoutouts. 📣 Another way to buy visibility is paying for popular Instagrammers within your niche to give you a shoutout. These can range from $30 to $300 depending on the popularity of the given influencer. Go to sites like buysellshoutouts.com or shoutcart.com to purchase them.
  1. A clean reputation. We all know that being super controversial can gain you notoriety. However, you have to keep in mind the brands that you eventually want to work with; make sure they can trust you to represent their brand and products.
  2. Post consistently. ⏰ Post timing is essential. Don’t post all at once to flood timelines – it’s annoying. But if you post too rarely or irregularly, followers will forget about you. The time of day you post also factors into how many views and attention you’ll get.

Part II: Connecting with an affiliate network

Now that you’ve got a decent following in a given niche, brands want your platform; the next step is to find an offer to promote. This is where affiliate marketing meets Instagram.

This part is pretty easy – a lot easier and faster than Part 1. Register with an affiliate network. Just visit a site like ShareASale, Rakuten, AWIN, (or check our detailed ranking for 2021) fill out the info, and go ahead and choose an offer from the thousands available. 🚀

🤔 Some important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Look within your niche. If you start promoting a new set of bakeware on your cooking Instagram, I’m sure you’ll have the attention of lots of interested buyers. However, if you’re hawking everything from organic dog food to ebooks on affiliate marketing, your followers will not just be disinterested but also turned off by your inauthentic and irregular account. 
  • Aim for a long term commitment with a brand. Find brands/products you trust in and know that you’ll be selling quality goods to your followers. Also, look for a brand with an image that fits you and your account. Plan for a brand you can stick with in the long run.
  • Pick high ticket items. 💵 Or at least items with a decent commission rate. The truth is, even if you have a very dedicated following, not everyone is going to make a purchase. Make sure you choose worthwhile offers that will benefit you.

So you’ve chosen the offers that are right for you – now it’s time to get that link on your Instagram to start promoting it and make money off your commissions!

Make money with affiliate marketing commissions on Instagram

If you’re familiar with Instagram, you’re probably aware of how difficult it is to find any links and actually get to an outside site – ie. leave the platform to make your purchase at an ecommerce store. This is obviously intentional on the part of Instagram because they want to keep users there as long as possible. However, there are many ways to display your affiliate links on Instagram, especially with 2020/2021’s newest ecommerce-friendly features.

Here are some options:

  • Link in bio!” as we’ve read in Insta post descriptions countless times. This is a familiar technique and most users know where/how to go about making a purchase from there. However, this approach doesn’t really work if you’re promoting multiple products from different brands. Of course you could always update the link to match your most recent post, but then you run the risk of missing out on commissions from past posts.
  • Here’s where the link in bio + carousel saves the day. 🎠 With this method, you enter only one link in your bio and when users click on it an image gallery appears where followers can scroll through to the affiliate offer they’re interested in. You can build your own affiliate gallery app on a website builder like WordPress or pay for one on a platform like linkin.bio or like2buy.com.
  • While both of these methods are handy and easy, followers are usually too lazy to go to your bio when viewing a post. After all, they usually encounter your promotional content in their timeline – not when viewing your specific account.
  • Another method is including the shortened link in your photo/post using a tool like bitly.com. This way, users can easily memorize your link, type it into the search bar and go. However, we know that that can be waaaaay too hard. Seriously, not to be dramatic, but not many people are going to make the effort to memorize and type in a link. But it’s another easy route.
  • You could work with a promo code. These are usually shorter and more straightforward than links. You direct your users to a certain website or product and they can enter your promo code (usually for a discount) and get you a commission.
  • Use the swipe-up feature on Instagram Stories. This was one of this year’s game-changers for the affiliate industry and influencers. However, this feature is only available to business accounts with more than 10k followers or verified accounts. You simply add a link to your story (click the button indicated below) and viewers can swipe up to visit that ecommerce store or wherever you send them.
  • Add a link to your IGTV. Like we said before, use all of Instagram’s tools when producing content; this one is great because you can add a link without any of the swipe-up stipulations. An IGTV clip can be anywhere from at least one minute to an hour long and the link symbol for your users appears in the top right corner. 
  • Run some sponsored posts. The advantage with these is you can include a link; when your sponsored post shows up on users’ feed, they will see a “Shop now” call to action that will bring them to your ecommerce site or wherever. The drawback is obvious: you need to pay. But it’s not too hard with the help of our guide. 😉
  • Have some shopping on Insta posts. 🛒 This one is a little tricker to set up, but it’s one of the biggest blessings of 2021 for affiliate marketers on Instagram! I’ve even prepared a brief overview for you:
    • Make sure you qualify. You need to have an eligible product in a supported market, comply with Instagram’s Merchant Agreement and Commerce Policies, and own a website domain where you will sell your product.
    • Be or convert to a business/creator account.
    • Connect to a Facebook Page.
    • Upload your product catalogue with the Catalogue Manager or Ecommerce Platform Partner.
    • Wait a couple days for your account to be reviewed…
    • Turn on shopping and start tagging products 💸

Below are examples of what a business account on Instagram looks like and what it can do.

For more information, read Instagram’s manual on setting up shopping with Instagram.

🎉 Now you have an offer…. Here are the top 11 promotion strategies for Instagram affiliate marketing! 💰

If you’ve skipped over everything until now – stop skipping. These are the most important strategies for Instagram affiliate influencers in 2021. 

  1. Go for the most traditional route: make a post on Insta with a nice picture. But there’s a whole lot else to consider. First, always always include a CTA telling viewers where to access your link or save this post for later (that’s a nice benefit of the post format). Second, make sure to curate your feed. By this we mean, don’t over-clutter your feed with all sorts of posts (sponsored and not); users should be able to easily glance at your account and find the post with whatever promo they are interested in.
  2. Loooong descriptions. If you’ve ever read through a Humans of New York post then you know the power the text under an Insta post can have. 🥺 You may think this approach is kind of counterintuitive in today’s succinct world, but Insta captions are getting longer and longer. Lengthy descriptions spur more time and attention on your post, encourage more interaction, and spark a stronger personal connection between you and your followers. Remember to break it up with paragraphs and keep your language casual. 
  3. Use Insta Stories!! Okay, if you’ve been reading in detail up until now, you may have noticed we’ve mentioned this a couple times. However, Stories are essential to promoting products too – around 86.6% of users view Stories every day. Also, Stories have lots of fun features that encourage followers to interact with you and potentially motivate interest in an offer you promote: polls, emoji sliders, stickers, quizzes. 
  4. Use all video formats!!! 🎥 This may also seem overkill, but I can’t stress enough that Instagram is becoming exponentially increasingly video-oriented. Long gone are the days of  just individual pictures. You’ve got to step up your game. Check out IGTV, Instagram live, Insta reels.
Use all content formats on Instagram to optimize your account and sales channels
  1. We’ve mentioned this too, but use the ecommerce tools Instagram offers! Shoppable Instagram posts should become your best friend once you start affiliate marketing. Don’t forget about other features like live shopping and Instagram Checkout too! 🛍
  2. Get creative with your promotions. You don’t need to stick to the signature selfie + product + caption. Try a review, product comparison, discuss with another influencer, show some alternative uses – be imaginative!
  3. Another killer strategy for enhancing your Insta presence: make your own website. 🌐 If you’re blogging and posting on your own website alongside, you can increase your reach. Also, linking can be a lot easier because you’ll just put your website in your bio and set up the affiliate links on your website or have your own ecommerce site there. Your website will always be indispensable when it comes to running campaigns and gathering data on your buyers’ behaviour.
  4. Explore other online marketing options. For example, run some search ads for the products or niche you represent so Google searches can be brought to right to your post or to your website. But don’t just go throwing your money into the depths of Google… make sure you’re tracking your campaigns. 👩‍💻
  5. Diversify your traffic. Once you’ve got a decent following, every savvy entrepreneur knows that the next step to success is diversification. Obviously, being fully dependent on one source poses a pretty big risk; in this fast-paced digital world you never know when something could be “canceled”. Like I mentioned, test sources like Google, but also Outbrain and Taboola. Facebook ads are closely intertwined with Instagram so it’s a breeze to advertise there too. Just make sure you’re totally on top of where you’re spending money, where your traffic is coming from, and what they’re buying.
  6. And definitely, use a tracker! This is an essential part of any affiliate marketers toolkit – especially if you have multiple sources of traffic on different platforms, and running various campaigns. But even if you’re only on Instagram it will be useful, check out our guide! Without a tracker, you’ll have no idea how your campaigns are performing or what tactics are succeeding. 📈 As a truly professional affiliate marketer, you’ll know that it’s best to test traffic from different sources to really excel in the field and cover all your bases by tracking
  7. Stay authentic and balanced. 💜 And this is one of the most important points. Even if you’ve built a large follower base, they’re there for you – not necessarily the products you eventually start promoting. Make sure to preserve your image, keep your authenticity, and don’t overcrowd your content with sponsored ads. In the same vein, stay consistent with brands and products you promote; don’t one-off or randomly promote offers just for the quick profit. You risk losing followers. Instagram, unlike other platforms, is there for the personal connection. Make sure to stay true to who you are – not just on Instagram, but in the real world too 🤗

So now you’ve got all the know-how you need to become a successful Instagram influencer earning money with affiliate marketing. It’s time to get started! A campaign tracker is indispensable for any affiliate marketer.

Make sure you grab the best tool out there and

go with Voluum Tracker today

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