In this episode Ryan Maher shares how to make money with Instagram using these new strategies to drive free traffic to your blog, ecommerce site, product or affiliate program…
…using nothing more than a smartphone, images and your winning personality (and sometimes you don’t even need that.. haha)
Have you installed Instagram on your smartphone but quit using it because you didn’t figure out a way to use it to grow your business?
Wondering how come other people have thousands or millions of followers while you only have 10?
To help you make the most of this new, innovative way to reach and engage consumers, I’ve sat down with an Indianapolis-based social media strategist, entrepreneur, app developer, and blogger who owns and makes money off popular Instagram accounts – Ryan Maher.
If you think that there must be a way to make money with Instagram, you’re totally right, and you should stick around to read (or listen to) what Ryan has to share about what and when to post, how to drive traffic to your own website, why so many marketers fail and how you can protect yourself from any wrong steps, what free tools and resources you should use to create “like” magnets, and getting paid for curating content.
Things to Know about this 7 Figure Furnace Episode
If this is your first time on the 7 Figure Furnace website, know you’re in good hands. I’m the host of an actionable advice-packed podcast, rapidly gaining new listeners from all over the World, all thanks to our esteemed guests.
Each person I interview has made a name for themselves in social media marketing, MMO, affiliate management, product creation and development, content marketing, and entrepreneurship.
In this episode, I interview Ryan Maher, whose Instagram accounts might already be on your following list inside the app because his combined accounts count over half a million followers – more people than there are in Atlanta or Miami.
If you’d like to dive deeper into the subject of making money with Instagram, you should check out Ryan’s online course – Instagram Academy.
Now, buckle up, we’ll speed through the most efficient strategies for growing your business with Instagram.
If you’re on the move and don’t want to wait until you have the time to sit down to read this article, you can just listen to the episode, bookmark this page, and come back for the notes later.
Instagram 101: Getting to Know the Basics
Instagram is one of the most important social media platforms people use around the world. There are more than 400 million monthly active users. People upload 80 million photos each day. The numbers are astronomical, and it’s a big thing for a platform that started out as an app. Last year, 27.6% of the entire US population used Instagram at least once.
Everybody loves Instagram, and this is because a picture is worth a thousand words, and visual communication is increasingly becoming more present and more important in our lives. It’s also super focused – it’s about photos and short videos that people upload, write captions for, interact with, so it’s not about too many services bundled into one, but just a simple, straightforward service that doesn’t make people’s head spin.
Facebook bought Instagram some time ago, and they’re making small changes. You can see Facebookís influence on Instagram at this point, but Ryan still thinks itís definitely the platform to be on if youíre trying to drive traffic or build an audience.
What It Means to Be an Account Worth Following
If you’re stopping for a second to think about what makes an Instagram account a valuable one, you realize is the number of followers. So you next have to think about how are people managing to grow an audience; and many did it without realizing they were building a tiny media empire. The answer is this: to build a massive following you need to add value on a regular basis.
You’ll follow the accounts that show you things you’re interested in, but you don’t follow all the accounts on that topic, you follow the ones that deliver the best value to you. People don’t care if those images are yours or curated, they see your account as a delivery system. By following your account, they get the same great content every time.
By delivering the same high-quality every time, and posting frequently, people start considering your account worth following. If there aren’t any people to think that, there’s no point in pushing your products, because people won’t see what you’re offering. Add value on a daily basis, grow your audience, and then start selling products.
Harnessing the Power of Instagram Traffic
Ryan talks about how often he gets asked for a “shout out.” Because his accounts have hundreds of thousands of followers, many other entrepreneurs want to be mentioned on his accounts (getting a shout out) and thus, get some of the Instagram traffic he’s generating.
Most of the people asking for a shout-out on popular Instagram pages get turned down because they aren’t really offering anything in return. Others pay to get their shout-outs on those popular accounts. As you can see, once you build your audience, you can make money with Instagram, even if you don’t have a product, just by offering paid shout-out to entrepreneurs.
Another way of harnessing the power of Instagram traffic is by building relationships with other Instagram users. Ryan posts messages for some of his Instagram friends, and they do the same for him; they don’t even need to discuss this, they just do it, because it’s beneficial for all parties involved.
The Post-for-Post Tactic
On Instagram, when marketers do cross promoting, they call it a post-for-post. This is basically a shout out between two accounts. You do it by giving credit after you post someone else’s image on your account. And they do the same, giving you credit. This way you’re sending traffic back and forth.
New marketers make the mistake of contacting the biggest accounts in their niche. They’ll either ignore you or ask for a lot of money to give you a shout out. It’s a better strategy to reach out to Instagram pages in your niche that have around the same number of followers or even fewer than you do. You can even build strong relationships by starting to post for them without asking for something in return; they’ll be grateful for that, and they’ll want to help you out when you’ll ask them later.
So go ahead, use the caption to give credit to another account by tagging them, and also tag them on the picture. They’ll be notified that you tagged them on the picture so your good deed won’t go unnoticed.
The Easiest Way to Getting Noticed
Everybody is curious, so when you get a new follower, you need to check out to see who that person is as soon as the notification pops up. Luckily, that also means that when you follow someone, they’ll check you out, and when you have an account worth following, that means you’ll also get a new follower.
What Ryan recommends is to follow bigger accounts and also follow the people that are following those pages. They’re already presold on what you’re selling; they’re already following someone in your niche.
The Right Frequency for Creating Opportunities
When people complain that they’re not getting any new followers, Ryan already knows what the problem is – they don’t post frequently enough, and they don’t add value. If you’re posting great content only once per week, there’s no surprise your audience isn’t growing. Very few people see your content.
When you post something on Instagram, you create an opportunity. You are giving people the chance to like your post, to add a comment, to start a discussion in the comments. It’s just like in sports – you miss every chance you don’t take; you have to throw the ball more than once to score more than once. That is why you should post at least a few times each day, and add value.
Leveraging Instagram Engagement Posts
People do something on Instagram that they’ve learned to do on Facebook – to make sure someone they know sees a post, they tag that person. Each “@” in front of a username in your comments represents a new person that will come to see your content.
If you content isn’t good, nobody will tag their friends to see it. So create valuable content, and encourage people to tag their friends. People won’t tag their friends to see promotions, that’s why you shouldn’t run any in the first few month, while you’re growing your account.
Effective Call-to-Action Examples for Instagram
Sometimes the image is all you need to get people to tag their friends, but you should always have a call-to-action in place. You can add it in the caption of the photo or on top of the picture. When you use the top of the picture, you actually use the space designed for announcing the location where the photo was taken. By using that area to write a CTA there, you’re doing what it’s called location hack.
Some simple and efficient CTA are:
- Tag a friend who might like this!
- Tap the link in my bio.
- Double tap and tag a friend who thinks this!
- Tag someone you love.
- Tag your significant other.
- Tag your best friend.
- Double tap if you agree.
- Double tap if you’d like to receive this as a gift.
The CTAs are super effective when they’re coming as something completing the message of the photo. E.g. Using a picture on which it says ìI thank God for you.î and then, in the caption, saying ìTag your significant other.î
“Tap the link in my bio” is the most used CTA on Instagram. It became a code people use to let users know they should go to the publisher’s profile and click the link to a website added there. This happens because the links added in captions aren’t clickable. The link in a profile’s bio section is the only one that is clickable in the app.
Why You Should Take Down Your Promotions
Because you need to keep the account worth following and because people won’t follow accounts that publish promotions because they feel they’ll be spammed, it’s better to leave a promotion up for 24 hours and then just take the picture down. That way, your promotions are seen while they’re relevant, and you keep your account squeaky clean, just like new followers like it.
Taking Advantage of People’s Wind Down Time
Instagram posts have a very different life cycle in comparison to Facebook posts. An Instagram post has a life cycle of around 5 hours. After the 5th hour, you’ll see how engagement drops; people have moved on to something else.
This is why you need to plan for capturing people’s attention when they’re actually checking out Instagram. They can open the app in the morning while they sip their coffee or during their lunch break; they can check out what’s happening there during the evening when they wind down and have some time to kill.
If you’re posting 4 times per day, you’re covering most of these wind-down moments when people open the app.
The Graphic Resources You’ll Need to Succeed
These tools and resources will help you create beautiful images for your Instagram account:
- Use Canva if you’re using a desktop PC or a Mac. Canva provides templates for social media images, and you can just drag and drop and click things to change the text to whatever you want.
- Use Unsplash and Pixabay for free pictures.
- Use Adobe Post and Over to edit the pictures on your iPhone.
- Use Phonto to edit the pictures on your Android
Sticking to the Official API
Don’t try to use unofficial apps to post or schedule pictures for Instagram; that might get your account suspended. You can switch between multiple accounts directly on Instagram.
How Even Curators Make Money with Instagram
If you have enough followers, you don’t even need to sell your own products to make money with Instagram. You can become an affiliate marketer and sell other people’s products.
The best part about building an audience on Instagram is that you can do it even as a curator. You can create an account like Dogs of Instagram or Cats of Instagram or Hot Guys Reading for your own niche and repost pictures from people submitting proposals using your hashtag. You’ll feature their content, they’ll get the attention of your followers, and you can even monetize your audience.
Remember, to be successful on Instagram you need to be an account worth following, to add value every day, with every single post you’re sharing.