The initial stages of becoming an influencer are really exciting – growing your following, creating content and figuring out what makes you stand out. But what happens when it’s time to earn money on Instagram and start charging brands for access to your following and social influence?

How to Know If You're Ready to Earn Money on Instagram

There Are Some Things You NEED To Know Before Starting to Earn Money On Instagram.

Sometimes it’s tough to tell when you’re ready to take your online brand to the next level and start earning money in return for all the hard work you’ve been putting into your blog and social accounts.

Because we are often responsible for deciding which influencers get chosen for certain press trips or projects, we frequently get asked the question, “how many followers does someone need to be considered for an influencer campaign.”

If you’re expecting a magic number, we unfortunately won’t be much help because it’s not as easy as it seems. Of course, we could pull numbers out of a hat and and say for example “If you have 50,000 – 250,000 followers with 2% – 5% engagement, you are in the running to become America’s Next Top Influencer,” but we all know life isn’t always black and white and often when working in a space that is continuously evolving, a frequent response to tough questions is, “it depends.”

The secret to effective influencer marketing is not really how many followers someone has, it’s how many engaged and loyal followers they have, i.e. the question of “how strong is their social influence?”

Yes, you have a lot of followers, but do you have influence over them? Do they listen to what you have to say and follow your recommendations? If you’re not sure then you definitely need to test your influence and understand the ins and outs of your following before starting to charge brands to work with you.

Don’t get us wrong, if you’re an amazing content creator, the number of followers you have may not matter to brands or they may not care how strong your social influence is because your work speaks for itself. They may be looking to work with you more for your content creation abilities, not necessarily because of your social influence. But, that’s a different conversation altogether.

Remember, if you’re not pitching yourself on the production side (photo or video), and you’re positioning yourself as an influencer – we hate to break it to you baby girl, but you better have some influence.

So before we get down to business and help you figure out if your social influence is strong enough to start earning money on Instagram, let’s discuss how influencers are categorized by marketing professionals. Just FYI, everyone has their own internal system but we’ll give you a broad overview of the three main categories we use when defining influencers:

  • Micro Influencer: Less than 30,000 followers
  • Power Middle Influencer: Between 30,000 – 250,000 followers
  • Social Media Celeb: Over 250,000+ followers

Then of course there are traditional celebrities with large followings who are considered influencers in their own right and are technically competition, but for the sake of this article we’re only going to discuss the three categories mentioned above. 

“Micro Influencers” and “Power Middle Influencers” are starting to earn money on Instagram because their social influence is considered to be the most engaged and authentic.

We’re huge fans of Micro Influencers and Power Middle Influencers because their social influence feels trustworthy and authentic. Their audience is often very engaged and loyal which is a huge benefit for brands looking for sales, new customers and fans.

Based on our experience, most influencers with less than 250,000 followers are still using Instagram as a side hustle and haven’t yet ditched their 9-5 to pursue travel blogging full-time, or have multiple “hustles” to stay afloat. That means they often have less pressure to earn money on Instagram so they keep their sponsored posts to a minimum. As a result, they typically have more organic and authentic content for their followers to consume.

They also feel more relatable because they haven’t crossed over to Social Media Celeb status yet. Being able to connect brands with followers who engage with your content is a great sign you’re on track to start charging for posts and earning money on Instagram.

Worksheet To Test Social Influence

It seems that once influencers cross over into the “Social Media Celeb” status their level of engagement tends to drop. We believe that having so many followers can make once engaged followers feel that you don’t need their “like” anymore or that you won’t even read their comment anyway because you don’t have time so what’s the point? Yes, brands will get visibility when working with Social Media Celebs but they may not get the engagement or results they need to consider the campaign or project a success.

Micro Influencers and Power Middles are starting to earn money on Instagram because brands are beginning to realize they can spread their influencer marketing budget across a multitude of influencers in these categories instead of workin