Monetizing Instagram — Dolla Dolla Bills, Ya’ll

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Let me preface this post by saying, I am in no way an expert on monetizing on Instagram. I have friends that fully support themselves from their blogs and/or contracts they have with brands, that are willing to shell out a cool few thousand dollars in exchange for promotion on their Instagram accounts. I’m simply a mom in the mid-west that decided to use my branding and promo skills to start monetizing on social media. 

If this is something you’ve considered doing but don’t know how to start, what it consists of, or want to hear my two cents, read on. And if you don’t want to hear my two cents read on anyway because I spent a lot of time putting this together. 

I think it’s safe to generalize that any stay-at-home parent dreams of making money from home. While taking surveys and participating in focus groups may be OK for a little extra scrilla, you’re not likely to sustain a very meaningful day-to-day lifestyle. But I don’t know you, maybe you should take surveys for money. For me, I feel passionate about fitness and health and it just so happens fitness and mind + body is a $390 billion industry. Initially when I stepped into this space it was as a newbie to weightlifting and any organized exercise regiment in general. I started an Instagram profile to meet like-minded women for accountability. I had no idea I would build a  following or get to work with brands like Manduka, and be part of the #heretocreate campaign with Adidas — and more recently my collaboration with Volition Beauty for the mattifying mist that will be in Sephora stores this week. Like, WOW. Each new collab feels exciting, and honestly doesn’t feel like work because I love what I do. 

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Here are some ideas for those of you that have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. One misconception I hear a lot is, “I need to build more of a following“. While IG is definitely a numbers game, any brand worth working with also cares about authenticity and integrity. If you really want to work with a brand or love a product, approach the company. At the very least they may offer free product for promotion or review and you can begin to build a portfolio. Building a following and a niche takes time. Don’t expect for it to happen overnight. And quality engagement is invaluable.

Your content is worth something. Last year when I started my Instagram I honestly took a little from each feed I found inspiring. That made for a dry profile. I hadn’t found my voice yet, and now looking back in retrospect, that’s OK. I wish someone would have told me that. Like anything else in life, finding your voice takes time. Some amazing advice I received from a friend that owns a branding firm: find your niche and your perfect client. I have found this piece of advice to be incredibly helpful. I have, however, thrown in my own theory. While others may look at the advice as literally finding your niche and perfect client, I think of it this way: 

Speak and share authentically, your perfect client or target audience will be those that connect with your content. When you start sharing solely for others you lose your voice. 

Don’t let anyone tell you what your content is worth. There is no set salary for collaborations, promotions, or branding on Instagram. It’s a bitch. Brands will low-ball the naive, and the naive will work with said brands which really makes it difficult for others to set a precedence. Remember, even though it only takes five minutes to post a photo, you have to prep for the photo, edit it, come up with a witty and engaging caption, and then you spend time connecting with others to share your knowledge. 

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Perfect your media kit and stand behind your own brand and mission. The first paid gig I got on Instagram I was just excited someone wanted to give me money  to share my reviews of something I was already using. It took me a while to figure out I shouldn’t be thinking about promo in terms of an hourly figure, but more what my time, experience, content, and voice were worth. I never have a hard time figuring out if I want to work with someone because I know what my morals and mission are in pursuit of getting my own brand out there. The biggest contributor to whether or not I will work with someone is knowing anything that takes me away from my family, utilizes my skill-set, and is asking for my engagement with 20K of my friends should be willing to pay me what I think I’m worth. Period.

Stop thinking about it as selling. I don’t work with a single brand that I don’t 1. use myself and 2. believe in whole heartedly. These are two things I have promised to myself and my audience. I don’t share anything on IG that I wouldn’t share with one of my friends IRL.

I see a lot of people hating on others for promoting on Instagram and I don’t understand it. Isn’t it the dream to do what you’re passionate about while making a living doing it? There’s a percentage of IG profiles out there that make a bad name for honest influencers — but this isn’t different from any other platform in the world. You have honest, hardworking people and you have bloodsuckers that are willing to do anything for a dollar. The next time you see your favorite IGer promoting something, don’t jump to the conclusion that they are only in it for the money, and also consider that they have to find a way to sustain writing their blog for a living. 

So there it is. My two cents. 

Have questions? Email me: yo@fitbyal.com

Want to see some of the brands I have worked with? Take a looksie here

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