Want to boost your Instagram income? Start selling products through affiliate marketing. You don’t even need a website to get started.
Affiliate marketing is one of the top sources of income for influencers and creators. Why? There’s no limit to how much income you can generate.
If you’re new to affiliate marketing on social media, our guide will help you get started.
Why Sell on Instagram?
Instagram has more than 2.3 billion active users. That’s a huge audience. If you’re selling products, the platform gives you a massive reach.
But having a large user base isn’t the only reason to sell on Instagram.
Let’s say that you’ve built a large following. You engage with your audience all the time, and you’ve built a tight-knit community.
Your followers trust you and your opinion. If you recommend a product, there’s a good chance they’re going to at least consider buying it.
In other words, you have an influence on your audience. That influence will help you generate more sales and earn more commissions.
If you don’t have a website, affiliate marketing allows you to sell products without the overhead. You get paid a commission every time someone makes a purchase with your unique affiliate link, which you can add to your:
Create or Convert Your Instagram Account to a Business Account
Before you can start selling affiliate products on Instagram, you need to convert your personal account to a business or creator account.
Creator accounts are designed for influencers, bloggers and content creators. If you’re building a brand (like an e-commerce brand), you’ll probably want to open a business account and not a creator account.
Both business and creator accounts are considered “professional accounts,” and they give similar insights.
Once you’ve made the switch to a professional account, you can move on to the next step, which is optimizing your bio.
Optimize Your Bio
If you’re serious about affiliate marketing on Instagram, one of the first things you need to do is optimize your Instagram bio.
Your bio will tell visitors who you are and what you’re all about. An optimized bio should have:
- Keywords related to your niche (e.g., fitness tips or how to make money online, etc.)
- Contact information (if relevant)
- Emojis to make your info stand out
Links are one of the most important things you can add to your bio because they give you a chance to share more affiliate links. With a link in bio tool, like Linktree, you can add multiple links to affiliate products or other online shops that you own.
Make sure that you’re updating your bio regularly to keep the content fresh.
Find the Right Affiliate Products to Sell
If you want to start selling on Instagram and make money with affiliate marketing, then you need to choose the right products. You can’t just choose a random product to promote and expect to make money overnight.
How do you find affiliate offers to promote?
- Sign up for affiliate marketing programs like Amazon Associates or even Shopify Affiliates. These programs will allow you to promote a huge range of products that are relevant to your audience and niche.
- Look for affiliate networks, like Awin or ShareASale. These networks act as affiliate program aggregates that will connect you with offers that your audience will love.
- Do your own research. Where does your audience shop? Visit those sites and see if they have an affiliate program. Links to these programs are usually in the site’s footer.
Keep in mind that some affiliate programs do require you to have a website and may have other requirements that you’ll need to meet. They may need to review your Instagram account before approving your application.
Feature Products on Your Profile
You’ve optimized your bio and found affiliate programs to promote. The next step is to actually start promoting them on your Instagram account.
1. Label Affiliate Products as Paid Partnerships
Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money on Instagram, but you need to follow the rules. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires marketers to disclose their relationship for endorsements on Instagram and other social platforms – and that includes affiliate marketing.
Instagram has made it a little easier to disclose this relationship with their paid partnerships label. Make sure that you’re using it. Let your followers know that you may earn commissions if they purchase the products you promote. You can also reassure them that you only promote products you believe in.
Consider consulting with a legal professional to make sure you understand how to properly disclose affiliate relationships.
2. Start Using Instagram Stories to Promote Discounts
Shoppers love a good discount. Special promotions are a great way to get more sales for affiliate products, and you can promote them in your Instagram Stories.
Stories help you connect with your followers in a more intimate way, and they’re still one of Instagram’s most popular formats. The link sticker allows you to add affiliate links quickly and easily to any Story you post.
Stories only last 24 hours, but you can make them a permanent part of your profile by turning them into a Story Highlight.
3. Record Product Demos
Product demos are something 72% of consumers want in video format. People want to visualize products and see how they work to solve their pain points. If you’re promoting a product of any kind, be sure to:
- Test it out yourself
- Create a product demo
- Add the demo to your Instagram and pin it
Offering product demos allows you to show off products and increase sales. Real proof of the product in action and how it works may be enough to turn a would-be buyer into an immediate sale.
Affiliates who actually use the products they’re promoting get more sales because they know the ins and outs of it that non-users do not.
4. Use Insights to Get to Know Your Audience and Boost Sales
We talk a lot about Instagram Insights, and it’s because they’re often invaluable. You’ll need a Creator or Business account to access them. Access requires you to open the app and:
- Tap on your Profile picture
- Tap hamburger icon > Insights
Now, you’ll have data to show how the content you share has performed. You’ll be able to view important metrics, such as total views and engagement.
You want to use this data to forge your posting strategy going forward.
If you create carousels and they perform well, keep creating them. You may also notice that people don’t prefer the explainer videos that you add, so you can stop adding them.
How To Market Your Products and Get Sales on Instagram
You have your affiliate products that you want to promote, you’ve added posts about the products and even have your social proof in place. And while you may have done everything just right, guess what? Unless you’re already a big brand or have a massive following, you need to market your offers.
We’re going to share time-tested methods that work well for promoting anything – on Instagram or not.
1. Connect With Influencers
Businesses love influencers. Why? They know that an influencer’s audience is highly engaged and responsive. If you follow any of the top influencers, you know that if they promote a product, people are going to buy it.
Oprah is a prime example of this, although she uses television in addition to social media.
She’s single-handedly responsible for people’s careers and some books becoming best-sellers just through her recommendations. Connecting with influencers will offer you the opportunity to make a lot of sales, but you need to be strategic in your approach.
Selecting the Right Influencers
Influencer selection is very tricky. You might say, “this person has 1 million followers,” and you think that numbers alone will equate to more sales. We’ve seen campaigns where a 50,000-follower account outperforms some of the larger accounts because they have the right:
- Niche: If you’re selling dog beds, you likely don’t want to promote products on an influencer’s beauty account. You want to narrow down your niche so that the influencer’s audience closely resembles your ideal customers. A dog training influencer shoutout will help push more sales than the beauty account, even if the follower count is much lower.
- Activity: When you look at the influencer’s recent activity, what have they been posting? If an influencer is only pushing products or hasn’t been posting often, they likely have lower engagement and may not be a good option for a shoutout.
- Influencer level: Is the person a nano or micro influencer? Smaller influencers are often willing to sell shoutouts for less and have a very engaged audience. Brands may even sell more through these shoutouts and pay far less than if they worked with a larger influencer.
If you don’t vet the influencer properly, it can be disastrous for your sales and brand. You don’t want to have a shoutout from an influential person who is known for all the wrong reasons.
Pay special attention to the person’s posts and voice to learn if receiving a shoutout from them would be on-brand for you or not.
Connecting via Social Media
Once you identify an influencer that you’re confident resonates with the products you promote, you need to reach out to them. You’ll be surprised to learn that a lot of influencers don’t respond back, so you’ll want to have a list of 15-20 potential influencers you can pay for a shoutout.
If you go to an account like “Joey Swoll,” you’ll see he lists his email, which is where you’ll want to contact him. You can also try other avenues, such as leaving a comment on the account’s most recent post or DMing the account.
Finding contact information can be challenging, and if you do find the person’s info off of their profile, be sure that they have a way to verify that you’re speaking to the influencer and not a scammer.
Make Your Offer
If you’ve done your due diligence, you can now pitch your offer to the person. You’ll want to be clear on:
- If a payment is exchanged
- If the influencer receives the product or not
- What you expect the influencer to do
Consumer protection laws in the United States (read them here) do not allow deceptive advertising. You don’t want to encourage the influencer to bash or praise the product. Instead, the person should offer you an honest review in return for the shoutout.
Also, if you’re an affiliate, the company is unlikely to allow any form of false advertising.
If you’ve done your outreach and no one is responding to you, buying shoutouts may work better for you. Shoutouts are paid, but they offer direct access to multiple levels of influencers – many of which will fit into small budgets.
2. Buy Shoutouts
Some influencers are 100% content with you offering a product for free. You provide a free product, and they offer a shoutout. It’s a win-win for both parties, but as followers become more in demand, they’ll want money, too.
You can structure the way you pay this individual any way you like:
- Flat fee
- Commission + flat fee
- Commission only
If you’re not sure where to buy shoutouts, we have an entire guide dedicated to how to buy shoutouts.
Who do we recommend?
We don’t have an affiliation with any of these sites, and we share a lot of additional insight into each of them in the guide listed.
3. Pay to Advertise
If you want to make sales, you might need to pay for them. You’ll need to measure your ROI to be sure that your ad spending is profitable, but you can promote on:
- Google Ads
- Meta Ads
Instagram will require you to have a non-personal account to begin boosting your posts. You can boost your posts by:
Instagram will walk you through the entire boosting process step-by-step. Boosting a post will help you get your products in front of a very large audience, but you need to be sure that you maintain healthy profit margins.
It makes no sense to spend $20 for each sale if your profit margins without advertising are $15.
Selling products on Instagram without a website is a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort when sales come rolling in. If you do create a website in the future, you’ll be able to add your shop to your account and begin selling directly.
Connecting a website is a powerful way to make sales and cuts out the middleman, so you’ll make more money.