See the world, share photos of the amazing places you visit, and get paid for the pleasure. Though to many this sounds like an improbable career path, there’s a growing number of people out there doing just that and making it work. Instagram has become a veritable gold mine for thousands of enterprising travelers looking to cash in on their daily adventures. But how exactly do the people behind these successful pages manage to do what they do? Here’s how.
1. They have to grow an engaged following
To make money from Instagram, it’s essential for Instagrammers to have a large, engaged group of fans who like and comment on their content, and keep coming back for more. While some accounts explode overnight, the vast majority of successful Instagrammers have spent years cultivating this following through hard work and dedication.
The first step is to settle on a niche that you love, and while travel is a niche, it’s still too broad. You could use a gimmick like @muradosmann, whose hand-holding pictures created an entire genre, or @agirlandhervan, who shares all of her travel adventures in her van.
The next step is to post regularly, which means once a day or more and at similar intervals. This is so followers get accustomed to seeing your content and look out for it at times when they know it will appear. Many Instagrammers also create Instagram Stories, which are quick videos (similar to the Snapchat format) that allow them to reveal much more personality than the photos allow.
Since it’s a social media platform, it’s also essential to be social. Particularly when building their following, Instagrammers reply to comments, like and comment on other people’s stuff, and generally make themselves a visible presence on the platform.
Last but not least, the top Instagrammers place a huge focus on producing high quality images. Though this doesn’t necessarily mean using a fancy camera, as smartphone cameras are now high quality, it does mean posting well-composed photographs that tell a story, that represents their chosen niche, and are consistent in their look and feel.
Instagrammers with a large, interactive following are referred to as “influencers” and have become a key part of many marketers’ strategies. It’s at this stage that it becomes possible for Instagrammers to start leveraging their audience to make money. (See also: Earn Extra Income With Your Smartphone Camera)
2. They undertake sponsored campaigns
Creating sponsored campaigns with companies in the travel industry is a lucrative way for Instagrammers to monetize their accounts. Tourism boards, travel insurance providers, rental car companies, airlines, and more companies regularly organize marketing campaigns that rely on Instagram influencers.
Ordinarily the two parties will work out an agreed number of posts that relate to the company’s aims and services, and a theme or overall message they want to promote. The amount the Instagrammer is paid depends on the length of the campaign and the amount of work that goes into it, but can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Alternatively, some companies offer all-expenses-paid trips in exchange for this work. (See also: How to Turn Your Instagram Account Into a Paying Gig)
3. They create sponsored posts
These are far easier to set up than full campaigns and tend to require a single Instagram post. Often they can be a simple review with an accompanying photo featuring the product or service. When it’s a product, like a watch, or travel gear, the Instagrammer will typically keep the product in question and receive a fee on top of this for the review.
4. They become brand ambassadors
Brand ambassadorships are long-term partnerships between an influencer and a brand that fits well with their niche and that naturally lends itself to their audience. They’re more akin to the sponsorships that, for example, sports stars have with sporting goods manufacturers. In exchange, the influencer is bound to promote the brand regularly during that agreed upon time frame.
If it’s a clothing brand, for example, they will send the influencer their new collection or key pieces from it each season. The Instagrammer will then promote the new line by modeling the clothes and tagging the brand a certain number of times. Because brand ambassadorships are longer term, they’re a great way for Instagrammers to build a regular income.
5. They implement affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing can be done as part of a brand ambassadorship deal, or independently by the influencer through their own affiliate partnerships. Affiliate marketing programs allow them to receive a percentage of every item or service sold on their recommendation or referral. This works best with an extremely engaged and loyal following, as it depends entirely on followers immediately acting on the recommendations of the people they follow.
It also helps when the influencers are able to offer discounts to their followers to encourage them to purchase, like $20 off a weekly meal subscription box, for example. Referrals are calculated by using an individual tracking code that needs to be input at the point of purchase, or via a tracking link that does this automatically when someone clicks on it. (See also: 3 Online Affiliate Programs That Can Make You Extra Cash)
6. They teach others how to do the same
Many successful travel Instagrammers have turned their individual model of success into its own side business. By selling their knowledge of how to make money traveling the world, other people can follow in their footsteps and use those secrets to do the same thing. This can be in the form of workshops, online courses, or speaking at seminars and conferences.
They can also use their knowledge of the platform to help businesses grow their following and use Instagram to its full potential to maximize their reach, and ultimately sales through consulting. The profiles of Instagram stars act as their resumes and demonstrate their experience and expertise on the platform. (See also: 13 Ways to Make Money Teaching Your Skills to Others)