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Social Media Tips

How to Land Money-Making Instagram Sponsorships

Are you a blogger or influencer wondering how you can use an Instagram sponsorship to make more money?  As a visual, millennial-friendly platform, Instagram is a prime spot for securing brand partnerships.

However, the Instagram world makes it seem like every influencer is making boatloads of cash on Instagram.  That’s just not true.  Most people struggle to make money as an influencer.

The good news?  It can totally be done; it just requires a little hard work and hustle!  Let’s walk through some tips for landing those money-making Instagram sponsorships.

Grow your following – and your engagement

There’s no hard and fast number of followers that you need to secure Instagram sponsorship from brands.  As an example, I scored my first sponsored paid Instagram post with just 2000 followers.

And micro-influencers – those with less than 50K followers – are huge right now.  I think a lot of brands are realizing that they may not have gotten a good return on investment with some super large accounts.  This can be due to the fact that engagement tends to drop a bit as accounts get larger – and more importantly, because purchased followers are a big concern (never purchase followers!).

All that said, the bigger your following and the higher your rate of engagement – the better the chances of securing Instagram sponsorship.  So of course, it makes sense to work on those two things.

With all the Instagram algorithm changes that happened in 2017 – especially the switch from chronological order to a curated feed – it’s certainly harder these days to grow and develop an engaged audience.  Here are a few tips that might help:

  • Utilize all methods of posting on Instagram – feed posts, stories, and TV.  It’s a way to get more eyeballs on your content and increase the likelihood that new followers will locate you.
  • Use hashtags in your posts and stories (I know, it sounds like a “duh” factor, but worth a reminder).
  • Respond to all real DMs (obviously, don’t respond to creepy dudes or spam) to help nurture relationships with your followers.
  • Post often, especially for stories.  Ideally, aim for at least one feed post a day, and a few stories a day. (I know, it won’t always happen – but just something to try to meet when you can).
  • Tag brands that you’re already featuring.  If there are products you use and share regularly, tagging those brands can put you on the company’s radar.  If you go on to pitch them later, you can also link to those shares showcasing that your audience already responds very well to their brand.
  • Consider creating a cohesive look.  This is something I wish I did a better job of!  There are many influencers that have an amazing cohesive look, either with a certain theme, color palate, or filter.  If you have an eye for that kind of branding, you can implement it in your own feed.

Woman taking a photo for Instagram sponsored post

Secure a solid niche

One of the best things you can do to make yourself stand out on Instagram is to create content in a specific niche.

Sure, lifestyle bloggers who post a smorgasbord of content can certainly do well, especially with some hustling.  But if you’re starting from scratch (or adjusting your strategy now), it’s easier for people to immediately identify you as someone they want to follow if you’re clearly showcasing the content they want to see.

Here are just a few examples off the top of my head of niches you might consider depending on your interests:

  • Weight lifting
  • Fitness model/competitor
  • Running
  • Triathlon
  • Sport-specific (soccer, tennis, etc)
  • Healthy food
  • Vegan food
  • Healing (reiki, crystals, etc)

You can certainly post across a few related realms – for example, I showcase both running/triathlon content and healthy food content.  Those naturally go together, as most athletes are going to be interested in food content as well as fitness content.

What you want to avoid is showcasing a million different things that don’t have a connection.  If your last few feed posts are your kids playing outside, a vegan dinner, and a piece of furniture you upcycled – it’s hard to find common ground.  Someone viewing your feed might not know what you are about.  Again, it can be done – lifestyle bloggers often have a big range – it’s just harder to grow that way.

Be proactive about pitching!

When it comes to sponsored posts on any platform – a blog, YouTube, Instagram – the best thing you can do is be proactive and do lots of pitching.  Most people fall into one of these two traps:

Mistake 1: Waiting for brands to find them

If you’re waiting for brands to find you, you might be sitting there for a long time.  Think about it – there are a billion monthly users on Instagram.  That’s a billion people for brands to sort through.  While yes, you will have some that reach out to you directly, you’ll get ahead faster by pitching yourself.

Mistake 2:  Pitching a brand, getting rejected, and deciding not to pitch any more

Rejection is completely normal in the blogging & influencer world.  It’s OK to get rejected!  The more it happens, the more you’ll get used to it.

The other day I was giving a presentation and I talked about how I pitched more than 80 companies so far in 2018 (for blog/Instagram/social opportunities), only to land about 13 opportunities.  I don’t focus on the 67 rejections; I focus on the 13 amazing partnerships that came out of it.

Instead of the above traps, start thinking about the brands you love and use daily – especially those that you may already be showing in your posts – and plan to reach out to one or two every week.  You can also look into influencer networks that aggregate opportunities, and apply for opportunities through them.  They often pay less but can be a good place to start.

Woman taking a photo for Instagram sponsorship

Craft a great pitch

You’ve got your list of brands that you want to work with – but struggling with what to actually say when you pitch them for Instagram sponsorship?  There are two ways to approach this:

The quick pitch

This works well on something like Instagram where you’re a bit limited in space due to the nature of DMs.  You can simply reach out to the company via their DMs and ask if they work with influencers.

Here’s an example, pretending I’m reaching out to a company called XYZ Almond Butter:

“Hi there!  I’m a huge fan of XYZ Almond Butter and use it all the time.  I was wondering if you worked with influencers on sponsored content?  I’d love to share an idea for a sponsored Instagram post if you’d be interested.”

The more detailed pitch

In this pitch, you’re going to outline specifically:

  1. why the brand is a good fit for your audience
  2. how a sponsored post/story/TV would benefit the brand
  3. a specific idea for the Instagram sponsorship

This can either be the follow up to your quick pitch if you get a yes – or, if you have the brand’s marketing contact info to start with, you can use this as your first pitch.

I honestly like using it as the first pitch when possible because it gives the brand a lot of context up front, and can make it easier for them to say yes.

Here’s an example of what this might look like:

“Hi Jane Doe,

Happy Wednesday!  I wanted to reach out as I am a huge fan of XYZ Almond Butter.  I seriously use it on everything – morning waffles, on an apple for a snack, and of course, just eating it straight up with a spoon. 😉

I was wondering if you currently work with influencers as part of your marketing campaign?  If so, I’m hoping you might be open to a potential partnership!

My Instagram profile is focused on running, triathlon, and healthy food – and my audience loves learning about brands that fit these categories.

Since most of my audience is comprised of active women, especially “fit moms”, I know XYZ Almond Butter would be a type of product they’d be interested in purchasing.  And since you just launched your new no-added-sugar variety, it would be a perfect time to get some additional brand exposure and momentum on this particular product.

My thought is to do two Instagram feed posts which would include:

1) a post showcasing a post-workout recovery shake that includes XYZ Almond Butter, highlighting the protein for recovery

2) a post showcasing a nutritious energy ball snack for active women, using the XYZ Almond Butter and noting how these are great for both active moms and kids, since they’re made with a nut butter with no added sugar.

To give you some background, my Instagram profile currently has 4000 followers and each post gets an average reach of 500.  In addition, as an RD I think I’m able to lend additional credibility to the post messaging for these followers.

Does this sound like something that might work?  If so, I’d love to discuss it further and send over my rates.  I’m also certainly open to any current campaign ideas that you have outside of this!”

Additional Pitching Tips:

When you’re crafting these emails to send to brands, here are a few additional tips to consider:

  • Think about the different ways you might help the brand – Is it exposure? Highlighting a new product (i.e. the example above)?  Sharing a coupon code for your audience?  Driving sales?  Bringing awareness about new regional distribution?  Etc.
  • Along the same lines, if a brand reaches out to you for collaboration, make sure you understand what they are expecting and what they will view as a successful Instagram sponsorship.
  • Play up any credentials you have!  If you’re an RD or a CPT or have a health coaching certification, explain how those credentials can lend additional credibility to your messaging.
  • Set a reminder to follow up after a week or two – it’s easy for pitches to get buried in an email box.

Instagram sponsorship apps and networks

As I mentioned earlier, there are also networks and apps that can be used to secure Instagram sponsorships.  There are pros and cons of using these:


  • It’s very convenient, as apps and networks have multiple opportunities aggregated in one spot.  You can apply for many all in one place.
  • You may find brands that you didn’t even realized worked with influencers – or new campaign ideas you may have never thought about.


  • The pay is generally less than working directly with a brand.  Because networks and apps often act as a middleman and brands often need to pay them to share opportunities, the rates are usually lower.
  • Many networks and apps specific that they will own or have exclusive rights to content created.  Whether this matters to you is a personal choice, and may depend on whether you’re making a living from being an influencer, or are just doing this for fun.  Definitely check out all the terms and conditions for each network that you join to make sure you understand them.

If you decide to check out networks and apps, here are a few specific Instagram sponsorship apps that you might consider:

(Note that I have not personally worked with all of these, so I can’t necessarily vouch for them all.)

The following are other networks that I believe currently require a blog along with your social channels (double check though – it might change!), but that do post Instagram-only opportunities:

Deliver on your deal

If you’ve reached out to brands – either directly or via networks/apps – and have secured a paid post, it’s time to do a little happy dance!  Then, make sure you deliver on your deal.

The number one piece of advice I can give is to follow through on what the brand asked for / what you promised.  Make sure you have a clear understanding of:

  • How many posts are you agreeing to do?
  • Should the posts be feed posts or stories?
  • Is there a branded hashtag you are supposed to use?
  • Does the post need to go up on a certain day/time?
  • Do you need to put a link in your bio, or in the swipe up feature on stories?
  • Are there certain talking points the brand is asking you to include?
  • Is there a certain type of photo that you agreed to?  (i.e. a shot of a product in package vs used in a recipe; a shot of fitness gear in a flat lay vs on your body)
  • Do you need brand approval on your photo and caption prior to posting?

Keep yourself organized and give yourself enough time to plan the photos and captions based on those questions.

Disclose Properly

Don’t forget the disclosure!  If you are offered compensation or free product in exchange for an Instagram post or story, the FTC requires that you disclose the business relationship.  On Instagram, they are specific in that it needs to be done in the first few lines.  This is because it needs to be clear for those scrolling through their feed – they need to see it before the “…more” that appears.

The easiest way to disclose properly is to place #ad or (ad) at the beginning of your sponsored Instagram post.  Here’s an example:

Example of FTC disclosure on Instagram sponsored post

In conclusion…

Hopefully this post helped give you a better understanding of Instagram sponsorship and ways to work with brands on Instagram.  It’s not quite as simple as some people make it seem – brands generally won’t be knocking down your door (at first) to throw money at you for posts.

But it’s certainly possible to get these money-making opportunities!  Focus on curating a good feed, being proactive about pitching, and delivering on your deal.  These will develop your relationships and have you landing more and more paid work!

Share with me:  What tips from this post will you start to implement?  What other questions do you have about Instagram sponsorship?  Have you developed any great brand relationships on Instagram? 

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