How To Turn Your Instagram Into A Cash Money Making Machine

Photo by  Christina Piombetti  

This question. If I had a $1 for every single time someone asked me how to make money on social media, I'd buy every single one of Trump's Hotels and name them after Michelle Obama.

It's been officially official for awhile now - Instagram is so addictive that it's become a part of all of our daily lives. The more time we spend scrolling through those #foodie and #fashion posts, the more brands are paying major money to people who know how to do a thing or to with their smartphones.

The truth is - Instagram is a completely free marketing platform, open to literally every single person. You have all the tools you need to increase your cash flow and leverage your influence right at your fingertips. So, how do you make it happen? I've got 10 tips to help you get started. 


While I could literally write a book (ok, maybe a few), here are some actionable tips, compliments of my many years of a/b testing. So, let's do this...Influencer Marketing 101.


Hah. This one sounds like a silly and easy question, but test yourself right now by articulating this in 3 minutes or in a paragraph. You'll be surprised that the answer isn't always as clear as you thought it would be. It's taken me a long time to figure this out. I'm the type of person who has 7 business ideas a day and seems to always want to pick up a new hobby. It took time (and lots of failed projects) to figure out who I am, what I stand for and who I wanna do it with + for. 

A simple way to determine the most authentic self you want to "be" online is to think about what you are selling and what the "message" behind that is. What does it say about you? Is it personal advice, mindfulness tips, beautiful photography, travel advice, your killer iridescent highlighter game, your abs, knowledge on a certain topic, your sense of wanderlust or sharing products you're obsessing over with the world? 


Find that out, and the give them what they want. Inspire them with your personal story, engage them with questions, entice them with giveaways (I used to think this was cheesy as an outsider, but making people feel included is so key. Your success is their success. Make them feel that they're part of a community you're building together). Treat them with respect, and that’s what you’ll get back. Connect with your audience by engaging with them; research who they are; check out their interests and again; give them what they want.

Utilize Instagram Insights (you can do this by connecting your Facebook page to your account and making it a business account). Instagram Insights gives you free (yes, that's right, FREE) and smart information on which posts perform the best, what your audience replies to and a breakdown of who your followers are. Knowing who they are, and what performs, will help you sell and develop better content. 


I get asked about how and when I learned HTML (shoutout to my computer scientist of a dad who made me learn javascript at 9 and go to computer lab in the 2nd grade), graphic design (albeit super basic), photography (4 years in high school tyvm), video editing and other random skills I've learned along the way pretty often. Besides the high school and college electives, I have always been a big fan of teaching yourself things. A trusty ol' Google search can go a long way, but there's a wealth of knowledge that can be gained simply by checking out YouTube, Coursera, Lynda, Udemy and Skillshare - the Internet is your oyster. It's never too late to learn how to do something new. 

Learn to be self-sufficient. Learn to shoot a camera, start a podcast, launch a blog and nail that email marketing campaign to make money.  Then, my friend, keep it solid and consistent, and you’ve got yourself a business. Brands are looking for individuals who have a voice, who can manage all sides of content: production, photography, writing, directing, social, engagement and more. 


You'd be surprised at how far that $1.99 app download will take you. The amount of time that can be saved utilizing resources like Lightroom, VSCO or Snapseed is invaluable. Take online courses or in-person workshops that are available to you and learn how to expand your photography skillset (you're gonna need good content to get them to double tap, after all). 



Look to your personal experiences, your stories, your life's purpose. Many of us think that we should look around for more content, or perhaps, we think we should be posting more content. When actually, we should be focused within for meaningful content. What do I mean by that? Your story and your natural gifts usually make for the best content.

It took me losing my friend to depression to realize that the world needs to feel less alone. The world needs more honesty, more transparency and more meaningful content. Because of this deep conviction, I find myself asking myself if something is honest and if it helps somebody in some way, shape or form before I hit post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or this Blog. Every single thing I post is inspired by her in someway - whether it's noticeable to the human eye or not. 

Remember that in order to gain loyal followers, you need to be inclusive. It's less about you and more about what they need.

Dig deep into what would make you wanna double tap - emotionally, visually, etc - and create content like that. People are moved by authenticity...and believe me, they can smell something inauthentic a newsfeed away.


Are you being asked to do partnerships? Congratulations! That paycheck is just a few posts away. Remember that professionalism is essential to building a reputable brand. Turn in your copy on time, make sure it's done right, stick to deadlines. Always do your best.

Respond and reply, with clean and concise emails, in a timely manner. Adhere to deadlines. The digital world is smaller than you think, you don't want brands to talk about how long you take to ship back product or post about it. 


Put your best work forward. Don't ever cut corners (this will always come back to haunt you). Invest in quality work. When you are ready to turn in your content, ensure it’s done right the first time. View your Instagram account as an extension of your personal brand, blog, product, etc. Curate your content beautifully, spend time on your captions.

Consistency is also key. I often hear people say they don't want to post more than once a day, but did you know posting 3x a day is proven to give you more exposure and gain the highest return on engagement? Think about what you're posting. Sure 3 selfies of you in a row would likely be obnoxious, but if you're posting meaningful comment - why wouldn't someone want to follow along?

Be confident and proud of your work. What goes on the Internet, doesn't easily disappear. Put in that extra time and heart...especially if you want to be seen as a professional who can be trusted to represent a brand. 


Does your dream require you to go to culinary school, get marketing or PR experience, attend design school? Dreams don't work unless you do. Putting in that time is so very important.

The most powerful women I work with—top executives, boss babes, self-sufficient women—we all did one thing in common: we put in the time. Experience and education will get you so far in this life, and beyond any app. Go enroll in a class, go get that degree, go intern at your dream job - put in time. You will forever be grateful you did. 

It’s important to invest time into your dream career, before giving yourself a title. The more real experience you gain, the more brands will want to shower you with that paper.


Don’t forget that what you say on social matters, even if you go back and tap that trusty little edit button. Like, I always say...the internet doesn't forgive or forget very easily. Stay honest. Stay transparent. You'll be so much less stressed when you're always true to yourself and your followers. 


How do you possibly think someone would want to follow and interact with you on social media when you show no love in return? It's common sense, right? Nobody wants to feel like they're in a one-sided romance with you. Lay down your pride - holding back on the likes and comments will only hurt you. You must give love on Instagram to receive it. Don't cut corners on this one - authentic engagement is everything. Don't use social aggregators who like and comment on your behalf. Sincerity must show through each and every comment. 

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meet @girlandthebay

i am a digital marketer, brand strategist, tech nerd and pop culture enthusiast who is passionate about harnessing the power of technology to make the world a more connected, smaller and better place.

when i'm not busy disrupting the skincare world at my day job, i find time to fuel my passion for creativity and social commerce through public speaking, social media and advising silicon valley start-ups on how to grow their influence.  i've been lucky enough to have my work featured in publications such as huffington post, GQ magazine, vogue, popsugar, entrepreneur, fast company and a few others.

10 tips for turning your instagram into a cash money machine