Monetizing Your Instagram As A College Student

Carly Guggenheim

Carly Guggenheim, Marketing Intern

May 11, 2022

Believe it or not, your Instagram may be worth more than you think, and it's time to tap into the market that is… YOU. If you’re reading this, it probably means you’ve been asked to promote a product on your Instagram at least once. More than likely, it was an offer of a free product in exchange for posting on your feed and “potential commission through your own special code!”  You may be thinking, “But I don’t have 10,000 followers, why would they pay me?” The truth is, a smaller audience can give your page more value because you have a close-knit following of people who trust you. 

The main things you want to be aware of when negotiating payment for posting on your Instagram are knowing your audience and being able to speak to it. I started monetizing my personal Instagram page when I had 1,000 followers with a base rate of about $25-50 per post in addition to the product. Fast forward to now: I have 6,500 followers, have been able to work my way up to $250 per Instagram post, and am receiving designer products for FREE

Here are the main keys to keep in mind:

  • Make sure to not flood your feed with too many promotions too soon. Working them into your feed organically helps you to maintain your credibility with your audience. 
  • It is always okay to turn down collaborations when you know that it wouldn’t be organic for your feed. A 22-year-old female with an audience of 62% women in the Lexington area doing a campaign for a clothing brand will land well and will likely lead to the brand reaching out again for repeat campaigns, as opposed to promoting men’s clothing solely for the money. 
  • Don’t be afraid to make the first move. Lucky for us, there are many agencies that are designed around matching you with brands that are seeking college influencers. While it never hurts to slide into a brand’s DM’s, you will likely have more success formulating a lucrative deal through an email, via the brand’s influencer application, or contacting an agency. 

There are many companies that seek micro-influencer talent, so finding a brand that aligns with your values is only a matter of research. Once you’ve found the right fit and are feeling ready to reach out, it’s important to be sure that you have the facts on hand about why you are the best fit for a paid partnership and are the best possible representative of their company. In order to do this, you should be aware of the value your unique audience has and be well versed in the statistics of your own page. Your statistics will include knowing your engagement percentage per post (which should be about 8-10% of your followers), your audience’s demographics, how many page views per week you receive, and any previous partnerships you can sample.

Now it’s time to execute. Think of your favorite influencer… What makes their page so great? Chances are, you can’t identify their sponsored posts from their regular content.  A sponsored post should fit your page’s aesthetic or theme so that it doesn’t look too out of the ordinary.  This will allow for the content to integrate seamlessly and look organic. If done effectively, it will be clear to your sponsors that you spent quality time and effort to create the ad. Convince them that this is a product you would use yourself. Additionally, if you have the opportunity to create paid content often, it will all stay coherent with your personal content. 

Whether you have 1,000 or 100,000 followers, you too can earn money through Instagram. Happy Influencing!