Today, we’re going to bust one of the biggest Instagram myths.
The Big Myth: You need tens of thousands—or even millions—of followers, a big content team, and perfect photos to make any real money on Instagram.
The Truth: All you need is a simple physical product and the three-step plan below to turn a relatively small number of die-hard fans into real income, generated online.
In the video below, Foundr CEO Nathan Chan will prove it with a real case study of the Instagram account he built from scratch.
You probably know by now that Nathan built the Foundr Instagram account from zero to 1.9 million followers (and generated millions in sales to match). But he also built another brand, Healthish, to over $10,000 per month—solely through Instagram.
Here, Nathan will unpack the three-step process he used to generate this significant income solely using this powerful social media platform. After the video, we’ll outline the plan in detail.
Step 1: Create a Powerful Influencer Marketing Plan
One of the biggest misunderstandings Nathan sees among newcomers to Instagram is the belief that they need to have tens of thousands of followers before they can make any real money.
It’s simply not true.
The truth is you can leverage Instagram influencers to promote your product and generate a decent number of followers and sales, relatively quickly.
Many times, all it boils down to is reaching out to talk with them about what a promotion could look like and shipping them your product to share on their Instagram.
But if you’re going to go this route, Nathan says you need to be aware of a couple things.
First, you have to be able to ship your product to people and still make a profit. Because if it costs you a lot of money to ship your product and you don’t make many sales, you’ll be on the fast track to closing your doors.
Remember, you’re not running a charity!
To ensure you almost always make money when sending your product to influencers, Nathan recommends using Gretta van Riel’s “Golden Trifecta” test.
This simple product litmus test allows you to make sure that your physical product is:
- Relatively inexpensive so you’re not spending a lot of money on inventory
- Valuable in the eyes of the consumer so you can charge a premium
- And light/easy to ship so you’re not spending much to send it to influencers
If your product meets all these criteria, it’s unlikely you’ll get into a financial bind while sending your product to influencers for promotions. And there’s no reason you couldn’t send to dozens of influencers every month with little downside, in case they don’t all work out.
A good example of a product that meets these criteria is the water bottle that Nathan sells through his company, Healthish.
One that would not work is something like a custom-printed kettlebell. Even if it’s a good product that people want, it’s expensive to produce and really heavy, so expensive to ship.
Stick to products that meet Gretta’s “Golden Trifecta” test and you’re set.
The next big thing that Nathan stresses is the importance of choosing the influencers you work with very carefully.
Remember, just because someone has a lot of followers doesn’t mean they will generate a lot of sales. Followers can be bought. Engagement can be faked. Accounts that push a lot of products don’t always have loyal fans. So be cautious.
Don’t only think about big accounts. Sometimes tiny influencers with 2,000 to 10,000 followers can have better relationships with their fans. And because of that, they can sometimes outsell big accounts with lots of fake or disinterested followers.
But most importantly, don’t think only about the sales. If an influencer you work with only generates a couple sales, not all is lost. In fact, if they posted a cool photo with your product, it could be worth all the effort. As you stack these posts over time, it provides a wall of social proof that can push people over the line and help them buy.
Step 2: Use Giveaways to Blow Up Your Account
A lot of people jump into posting content on Instagram and get overwhelmed fast because they think they need to be doing everything themselves.
They need to be the one taking photos and posting stories.
They need to be replying to comments and liking other posts.
They need to gain each and every follower one by one.
But the reality is, they are not thinking about a very important word when it comes to success on Instagram: Leverage.
Nathan says one of the biggest keys to getting real results and eventually generating significant income from Instagram is leveraging other brands’ followers and fans with giveaways. This is how you to rack up lots of fans and sales, fast.
One simple way to do this is to do a giveaway involving multiple brands’ products.
For example, look how Healthish put together a package of “healthy goodies,” including their water bottle and products from 12 other brands.
View this post on Instagram
INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY TIME! NO AGE LIMIT! WIN EVERYTHING IN THIS PHOTO! We have teamed up with some of the best brands to give you the ultimate giveaway valued at over $2500! All you need to do is follow the below accounts, shower their last post with comments and likes and tag 3 friends below! Extra entry if you repost the giveaway and tag all businesses involved. @girlgangjewelz @bellabronzetans @alyaskinaus @ecococoaustralia @sundaysthelabel @healthishco @kotomi_swim @luxefitness @mellowcosmetics @jadorehairsupplies @lust__minerals @summer__salt Your profile must be public and you must do the above to be entered into winning the prize. Winner announced 6th September 2019! This giveaway is in no way endorsed, sponsored or administrated by instagram nor is instagram associated with our giveaway. #giveaway #internationalgiveaway
If each of those brands also posts about this giveaway, that would increase the reach Healthish has with its own followers by a factor of more than 10.
Imagine what you could do with 10 times the reach you currently have on Instagram. Imagine putting your product in front of hundreds of thousands of people, not just a few thousand.
Nathan says if you want to hit $10,000 in sales per month on Instagram, giveaways can be a powerful shortcut to getting there faster than you might expect. For more in-depth training on structuring giveaways, check out this tutorial by our resident email expert Stuart McKeown.
Step 3: Keep Them Coming Back (or Risk Losing Them for Good!)
If you’re going to make money on Instagram, it can’t just be something you do when you “feel like it.”
You have to commit to showing up every day and posting regularly or you risk burning the bridges you have built with your audience. Nathan says posting too infrequently or inconsistently is the biggest mistake he sees people make. You’ve got to stick with it.
Even big brands like Foundr didn’t immediately take off. In fact, it took months of working, posting, and sharing before any results started to pay off in a big way and really compound.
The point isn’t just to post for the sake of posting. It’s to continue building and strengthening your relationship with your followers. Because before they can buy from you, they have to trust you. And before they can trust you, they have to notice you!
The key takeaway: When you don’t post enough, you will see slower growth. A good rule of thumb is to post a couple times a day on stories and once per day in your feed, at a minimum. Foundr saw its amazing growth by posting 8-10 times a day consistently.
Getting to $10K/Month Isn’t Easy, but Can Be Done Systematically
Say you follow these three simple steps Nathan outlines for getting followers, fans, and sales. You work with a few influencers, your do a couple giveaways, and you reach your first big milestone: 10,000 followers.
What would it take to reach your first $10,000 month? Let’s look at the math.
To keep things as simple as possible, let’s say you sell a simple tote that you design.
Don’t worry! You don’t need to figure out inventory and logistics. There are lots of sites like Printful that handle all of the printing, shipping, and logistics for you. All you have to do is come up with a cool graphic idea or a saying you love and share a link with your followers on Instagram.
What kind of numbers could you expect? If 1 in 20 of your hardcore fans buy, that’s 500 orders. If you charge $20 for the tote that’s $10,000.
To earn $10,000, you only need 500 people to buy a $20 tote:
$20/tote X 500 customers = $10,000
Not bad for a relatively small account. And once you’ve got that reach, you can start multiplying these numbers by increasing your number of buyers, offering new products, doing additional promotions.
You can start small and get to 10,000 followers relatively quickly if you’re consistent. And if you can make it to that level, you can begin generating significant revenue from your Instagram account.
And we’ve barely scratched the surface of the kinds of opportunities that open up once you hit that 10,000 follower threshold. At that level, other brands start reaching out to you to promote their stuff so you can get free product—and even get paid to post.
You also enter a whole new level of legitimacy in the eyes of people. So those big accounts that used to seem so out of reach all the sudden start reading and replying to your DMs.
It’s possible. Especially if you take a systematic approach. And this is exactly how Nathan got his water bottle company Healthish to a steady $10,000 per month. It’s entirely attainable to make a decent amount of money with Instagram—even with a relatively small amount of followers.
You Can Hit Your First $10K—Sooner Than You Think
Many people think you need to have a huge number of followers to make any real money on Instagram. But that’s simply not true.
The truth is, there are simple yet powerful techniques you can use to boost your followers and fans quickly so you have plenty of people to sell to. And if you pick the right strategies, you can even bring in substantial sales before you have many followers at all.
There has never been a better time to get started on Instagram. As Gary V recently said, “Instagram is in its prime.”
Nathan echoes that belief and says anyone who gets started now has the chance to build significant income before the competition gets too fierce a few years down the road. To get started, just take it one day and one step at a time.
Now, go out there and start taking action!
If you’ve found these tips helpful or have another piece of advice to getting followers and sales, we’d love to hear from you, too.
Let us know in the comments below!