Can You Make Money on Instagram? A Guy’s Guide to Getting Sponsored in 2023

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There are plenty of ways out there to make money.

Whether it’s working with your hands or in an office, straight-up employment is the most obvious route to getting paid.

But if you’re reading this, you’re probably the type of guy who loves the idea of ‘the hustle’.

You’d rather make out with a power tool than sit in a cubicle from 9-5.

We can relate.

There are more entrepreneurial ways to make money. And yes, we’re going to ignore the GTA style armed robbery route for now.

The other, more realistic way is to work for yourself. But doing what?

Well, you’d be surprised by the options you have in the Internet Age.

Have you ever considered that you can make money on Instagram? Bear with us…

Whether you’re a male model, photographer, freelance something-or-other, or you’re just looking for a new revenue stream, Instagram could well turn out to be a great option for you.


What do You Need Up Front?

You should bear in mind that if you hope to earn money using a social media platform like Instagram, then you’ll need creativity, consistency, and above all, patience.

Oh, and let’s not forget dedication.

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
Martin Luther King Jr.

You need to be realistic though.

It may take more than a year for you to build a following large enough to sustain a full-time income.

But with the right approach, you could certainly earn yourself a decent side income in a short amount of time. At the very least, it could become a fun hobby for you.

To have a genuine chance of success though, you’ll need a solid starting strategy.

You’ll also need time to devote to your budding online business (yes, it’s a business).

And of course, a willingness to work (yeah, sorry—you gotta work at it…).

Please note – we’re not social media experts by any stretch. We’ve learned the below through our own research, as well as some trial and error using Instagram for our business and personal accounts (Instagram hasn’t been a focus so far for The Adult Man).

Here’s how to get started:

Step 1: Set up your profile

For you to get the most out of this article, we’re going to assume two things:

  1. Your goal is to become what’s known as an “influencer” on Instagram. If you’re a brand or commercial business, check out this article;
  2. You are male (however a lot of these points really are gender-neutral).

If you don’t have a personal account already, you’ll want to set up a profile. We’re not going to step you through the basic steps of doing that as Instagram makes it fairly simple.

You do however want to ensure that your profile description, picture, and ideally your profile name (if it’s your real name that’s fine), all align with the niche that you want to build a following in.

Which leads us nicely to…

Step 2: Understand Your Target Audience

Audience - colorful at festival

Before getting into the details of actually making a profit, it’s important to think about who you’re aiming at.

If you hope to see any cash, you’ll need to build a targeted audience. The bigger your targeted audience, the better revenue potential (obviously).

Target a specific demographic and learn what they’re all about, what they dig.

If you have a great physique and know your way around a gym, there’s a huge audience of fitness buffs on Instagram waiting for you and your pectorals.

If you’re into fashion and style and have a solid wardrobe to boot, suit up and get snappin’.

Get the idea?

It’s important for you to learn everything you can about the demographic you’re targeting.

One of the ways to earn via Instagram is by representing a brand, and if it isn’t a product your audience would use, it’ll be pointless and you’ll make zero cash.

Those teenage girls won’t care that you’re promoting protein shakes to bulk up your muscles, will they?

However, that product would be perfect if you are targeting fellow bodybuilders and fitness buffs.

This post isn’t about how to grow your following as that’s an entire topic in itself. This post will definitely get you started.

 Step 3: Post high-quality pictures

Good lucking guy taking a photograph into the camera

Above all else, make sure you’re taking great pictures. Get a smartphone with a good camera, or even better, an actual camera. Remember those?

Learn about filters and composition by reading posts like this. Instagram is all about uploading and sharing photos, so it’s essential that you know a little bit about photography.

A little bit is fine, though. You don’t need to go and get a degree or anything.

Higher quality images will always garner more attention than grainy or blurry pics. Just think about it – what catches your eye online? But not only that – what do others like?

Popularity is key if you hope to succeed. You don’t have to be a professional photographer or a prodigy, but your images need to be worth looking at.

Taking a great photo doesn’t need to be difficult or require expensive equipment or special skills (although if you’ve got those – lucky you!).

All you need is a little intuition, a good camera, and some useful editing apps. Photo editing apps such as Photoshop and GIMP (free) are solid options for professional-looking editing.

Practice by taking lots of photos and editing them to look their very best. Very few photos are perfect the moment they’re taken. Even the best photographers refine their pictures after taking them.

So don’t be afraid to fiddle about a bit, including with Instagram filters. Check out this great research piece by Bustle about the Instagram filters that generate the most engagement.

Step 4: Promoting Products and Brands

So, then. You’re taking fantastic photos and building an audience. Now it’s time to put that work to use and start earning some dollars.

Re-post pictures that are trending, and keep an eye out for any interesting opportunities. For example, if you like to take beach photos, learn what environmentalists, tourists, surfers, and other beach lovers enjoy and are discussing.

Then, start posting relevant photos. You’ve gotta be relevant at all times. Don’t get left behind. Relevant, relevant, relevant!

Look for brands in line with you and your now well-established personal brand. Reach out to them with a direct message or email.

From someone who’s been on the other end of that message, take it from me guys, flattery goes a long way. You could be direct messaging the founder of the business who has poured his or her heart and soul into the business.

Tell them why you want to work with them. Come armed with insights (ie. numbers and statistics) on your Instagram and other social engagement levels and tell the brand what you could do for them if you were to partner up.

You could also reach out to marketing agencies. These guys connect Instagram posters with companies they represent who are looking for people to endorse their brand. They do take a cut though so while you will get the connection, it will likely come at the cost of some profit margin.

And, finally. Know what you’re worth. Instagram posters who have representation and gather 100,000 or more followers can earn up to $800 for each photo.

See? We told you can earn some serious coin on Instagram…

So what’s next? Don’t rely on just one brand or any single source of income.

If they fall through, you’re screwed, buster. You’ve gotta generate several income streams to really cash in.

Leverage other social media channels

Promoting someone else’s brand isn’t always easy. It takes something special for a brand to get attention on social media, so you need an audience that views you as someone with influence.

It takes something special for a brand to get attention on social media, so you need an audience that views you as someone with influence.

You can do this by signing up for a business Facebook account. You can then link it to your Instagram account, along with your Twitter, Pinterest, Trello, Snapchat, Tumblr or photography website. This allows your audience to connect with you and grows your overall personal brand following.

By having a way to connect with your audience on multiple sites, you will have multiple opportunities to monetize them. Plus it makes you look legit.

However, having a large following doesn’t always mean a brand will consider you an influence. They’ll also consider things such as how many likes and comments you’re getting on your posts.

Post likes and comments are key measures of how engaged your audience is with you.

Your own website

As you grow your audience, you can start pointing them from Instagram and send them to your own website or blog.

If you can generate enough traffic, you’ll have another income stream through ad revenue or affiliate/product sales via your website.

Sell Photos As A Freelancer

Now, you should have a couple of methods of bringing in money online.

You’ve hopefully become influential on social media, you represent a couple of brands, and advertising on your site or sites is starting to generate ad income.

Now you can start selling photos directly for cash…

If you’ve gained a reputation as an up-to-date photographer who understands trends and takes snaps people care about – trust us – people will take notice.

Some independent Instagram photographers such as Daniel Arnold are able to pull in thousands per day with their sales on Instagram.

Using Instagram’s Archive

At the time of posting, Arnold has chosen to sell his photos directly using the ‘Archive’ at Instagram.

You can do this as well, but you might be able to bring in more money by placing your Instagram photos on another channel as well.

Some dudes on Instagram who are raking in the cash take requests via email, then have a print made which they are able to sell for up to $150 each.

When you’ve taken the time building up a big audience of potential consumers, you’ll then be able to earn even more money.

Imagine finding 100 requests for prints in your inbox every day. Or even a thousand.

Alright, let’s not get carried away. But it’s possible if you do things right.

Raise The Bar!

Once the money starts coming in, the smart guy invests it back into the business. You’re a smart guy, right?

Set aside a fund that will help further your career on Instagram, and use the money you earn on buying in some better equipment.

Pictures that look more professional will earn even more, especially if you target travel audiences.

And if you manage to capture a rare moment, you could generate big money.

In order to stand out from the crowd, find out what top influencers in the niche are doing, and do something similar (as there’s evidence it works) yet unique (you don’t want to copy anyone).

If you use the money you earn on Instagram to travel, you can take pictures in captivating locations. You might even do well to start a travel series.

Travel and photography have been closely linked for as long as photographs have existed. Travelling is not only highly enjoyable, it’s a great way to make your photos worth more.

Memorable pictures in exotic locales like the above will generate the most revenue.

Engage Your Audience

Never forget your audience. On any platform. Keep updating, keep it light and conversational. Hold contests.

Be someone your followers want to hear from. Someone they’d miss if you left.

It’s important to get feedback whenever you can. Not only is feedback important when you are just getting started on Instagram and learning what works and doesn’t work, it’s essential to succeed in the long term.

Your photos will quickly lose their value if you miss a shift in trends or your fans become disinterested and move on.

Keep on top of your audience reactions, and gather the info you need using tools to analyse your engagement.

Wrapping it all up

To succeed at earning an income on Instagram, you’ve gotta be consistent.

Being successful on that site is more than just being a good-looking guy who takes selfies.

People have devoted a great deal of money, equipment, and cell phone data just trying to make it on Instagram, and most fail simply because they aren’t motivated enough.

You’ve got to want it. And work hard. Real hard. But it’s not just a dream.

You can do it.

If you make it, let us know. And then buy us a drink!

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