Is Creating Their Own Affiliate Program an Option?
As a freelancer, having multiple sources of income is essential for increased financial security. While there are several platforms to create such revenue streams, Instagram is one of the favourites among freelancers.
Converting a regular Instagram account into a powerful sales tool requires a little bit of creativity. Here’s a breakdown of the popular strategies most freelancers can use to earn serious money from this photo and video sharing platform:
Pitch to the right target audience to land high-paying clients
When it comes to making money from Instagram, pitching to the right target audience is one of the key considerations. Even if you have a service that you are selling, you can’t target everyone because when you try to sell to everyone, you sell to no one. The target audience should be as specific as possible so that the freelancer directly appeals to their persona.
Take, for instance, Emilina Lomas, who quit her full-time consulting job at a Fortune 500 company in 2017. After getting a degree in nutrition and a certification as a personal trainer, she started posting fitness-related photos on her IG account, along with diet and exercise tips in the captions.
Her target audience was everyone interested in fitness. Once her follower base grew, she was approached by a popular gym that hired her to write a few blog posts for their website. She leveraged that experience to advertise herself as a freelance health and nutrition writer and slowly bagged fitness influencers, gyms, athletes, and health brands as her clients.
Explore brand partnerships
Getting paying clients is not the only way of earning from Instagram. Bagging solid brand sponsorships is also extremely lucrative for certain niches. Take Dani Rodriguez for example. She’s a freelance photographer and adventure travel blogger from Arizona. Apart from offering her services for commercial shoots and image licensing as a photographer, Dani has also landed brand sponsorships from brands such as Marshall Headphones, thanks to her travel bug.
The key to landing brand sponsorships lies in establishing your brand as a freelancer on Instagram and sticking to your areas of expertise. More than the number of followers, brands are interested in the authentic engagement that independent creators can provide. That’s why every post should have something unique so that anyone scrolling through the feed can instantly recognize that the post is from a particular creator.
Given the fierce competition, pitching brands proactively is always recommended over waiting for the brands to approach you. So start tagging the brands in the post that would potentially benefit from a partnership
Selling your own products or services
Promoting their own brand on Instagram can also help freelancers make money. Instagram is the perfect marketplace that brings potential buyers and sellers under the same roof. Whether it is eBooks, courses, templates, masterclasses, or art prints and calendars — both physical and digital products can be sold
But make sure to set up a business account as it comes with useful features such as the shop button, in-app check-out, and product tags to provide a seamless experience to the shoppers. Also, spend time marketing the products/services well to arouse curiosity in the audience’s mind.
Instead of publishing static images, upload videos that talk about the pain points it addresses or have previous customers provide a video testimonial. Creating these videos does not require additional investment — a smartphone camera and a good online video editor can get the job done and help create professional-looking videos ready to be published.
What about affiliate marketing?
A lot of freelancers swear by affiliate marketing. This involves joining high-paying affiliate programs and adding affiliate links to relevant Instagram posts/ their bio. Every time a user clicks on the link and makes a purchase, the freelancer receives a commission.
All they need to do is identify the products they currently use or have used in the past that their audience can benefit from, check if those products are listed on online affiliate programs, sign up to the program, and promote the links. For products that are not on any affiliate program, freelancers can also consider approaching the brands directly to explore opportunities for collaboration.
This strategy can be used by freelancers from any niche with an active Instagram account. A lot of popular bookstagrammers (a book lover’s Instagram account that provides book reviews and recommendations) such as Jules Buono and Julia use affiliate links from popular retailers like Amazon to earn commissions when their followers buy a book using that link.
A freelancer who opts for an affiliate marketing route should pick products that complement the services they provide. For example, a freelance photographer should add affiliate links to different cameras and lenses, whereas a freelance makeup artist should add links to makeup products. It is also a good idea to provide an honest review of the product/service before sharing the affiliate link so that the audience doesn’t feel that it is purely a marketing gimmick to push sales.
But can freelancers start their own affiliate programs? Established freelancers who launch multiple courses, publish books, and various other physical or digital products can certainly look into tapping into affiliates to drive their sales. However, having affiliates promoting a brand comes with its share of risks. As a freelancer, you may no longer control the messaging your affiliates use, which can damage your brand value.
Take your freelance income to the next level
Instagram offers a world of opportunities, and freelancers can easily leverage their presence on Instagram and convert all the traffic coming their way into revenue. However, remember that there is no get-rich-quick scheme on social media–implementing the right strategies, as shared above, holds the key to success.