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How many Instagram followers you need to start getting paid
Bethany Everett-Ratcliffe has 16,000 followers and makes some of her income through affiliate links.Screenshot/Instagram/@twentysomethingplus
When can a content creator start making money on Instagram with brand deals, or affiliate marketing? We spoke with doze...
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How many Instagram followers you need to start getting paid

When can a content creator start making money on Instagram with brand deals, or affiliate marketing? We spoke with doze...
  • A couple thousand followers on Instagram qualifies some users as "influencers."
  • But at what point — and with how many followers — can an influencer start making money?

With a few thousand followers on Instagram these days, it's easy to ask yourself: When can I start making money doing this?

The good news is, there's no strict minimum.

Three influencers Insider interviewed — all with under 3,000 Instagram followers — said they got paid by brands to post to their small audiences.

For instance, Kayla Compton became a brand ambassador for jewelry company PuraVida with less than 2,000 followers, she told Insider last year. She said her starting sponsored-content package at the time was $250, and that she also got paid by sharing affiliate links or codes with her followers and earning a small commission.

And now, it's easier than ever to share affiliate links on Instagram stories since the company rolled out access to link stickers to all accounts in October.

Instagram is also directly paying some influencers through incentive programs like "Bonuses" for Reels, which requires at least 1,000 views on Reels (rather than a follower minimum). On the other hand, other Instagram monetization features like "Badges," Instagram's tipping tool for IG Live, require that creators have at least 10,000 followers. Many of these programs also are limited to certain countries, have an age minimum of 18, and require accounts to be registered as business or creator accounts on the app.

While the doors have opened for many more creators on Instagram to start making a living, often they don't start making full-time incomes immediately (although a fair number of micro influencers with under 100,000 followers work full-time as influencers).

Read more: 19 content creators share how they turned their social-media side hustles into full-time jobs

Today, influencers no longer need hundreds of thousands of followers to start earning cash.

Here are a few reasons why:

  1. "Nano" and "micro" influencers (typically accounts with fewer than 100,000 followers) are being hired by many brands across industries. These smaller influencers have demonstrated the power of niche and engaged communities on Instagram, where fake followers and disproportional engagement have flooded the platform. Influencers can earn hundreds to thousands of dollars from these deals.
  2. Meta-owned Instagram is opening its multi-billion-dollar wallet and paying some influencers, which it announced last year with a flashy $1 billion investment into content creators through 2022.
  3. Affiliate links are easier to share now than ever. Some affiliate programs do have their own requirements, however, such as LTK or ShopStyle. Instagram also is testing its own affiliate marketing program, which is available to a select number of creators at the moment. Influencers can get paid a commission on sales driven directly through Instagram. Bethany Everett-Ratcliffe, who's already enrolled and had 16,000 followers when Insider first interviewed her, earned more than $500 in one month.

Check out: Leaked commission rates from September 2021 reveal how much brands in Instagram's affiliate marketing test like Sephora were paying influencers

So, how much money are these influencers making on Instagram?

Insider interviewed over two dozen Instagrammers about how much money they make, with follower counts between 2,000 and just over 100,000.

Here's a full breakdown of our coverage:

From brand deals:

From Meta Platforms, including Instagram:

From affiliate links:

Read more: Instagram is abruptly shutting down its affiliate marketing bonuses, which used to pay up to $400 a month