Business ideas for 2016: Instapreneur

As the popularity of social media sites like Instagram continues to snowball, find out how you can turn your selfies and foodie pics into cash

Bigger than Twitter and with over 400 million users, Instagram is most definitely a force to be reckoned with. But as more businesses begin to use the image sharing site to promote their brands and push new products, does Instagram actually offer a business opportunity you can pounce on?

There’s no denying big money can be made if you’re a household name celebrity (Kendall Jenner can charge up to $100,000 for just one product shot endorsing a brand according to The Telegraph) but is there sufficient revenue for the everyday Joe?

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New app Takumi certainly thinks so. The start-up launched in November last year to a whole heap of PR coverage for its offering that matches Instagram users with brands. The app promised potential earnings from £40 a post for Instagrammers with more than 1,000 followers to a whopping £156,000 a year for those with over 100,000 followers.

As the power and reach of ‘digital influencers’ continues to escalate, if you’re a selfie queen, gym buff or stylish foodie – 2016 could represent the perfect opportunity to turn your love for posting pictures into a fully-fledged business.

Becoming an instapreneur: Why it’s a good business idea

While the term instapreneur used to refer to individuals who sold via eBay or Amazon (and as such became instant entrepreneurs), the expression is now gaining traction for a very different meaning.

It wasn’t long ago that the notion of taking a picture of your meals or even a selfie would have been scoffed at, but in the last couple of years the popularity of hashtags such as #foodporn, #cleaneating and #instafashion have turned everyday individuals into social media megastars. And these digital influencers are exactly who brands want to reach.

With the average Brit spending an hour and 20 minutes browsing social media each day, brands are all too aware of the power of reaching audiences via social platforms. 70% of marketers said they would spend more on social media in 2015 – and more importantly, Influencer Relationship Management is set to be a key part of 2016 marketing budget plans.

As consumers becoming increasingly averse to direct brand advertising, the power of authentic, digital, personalities recommending or reviewing certain products carries considerable weight, far more so than un-relatable, celebrity endorsements. And as it’s still a fairly new concept, brands are actively looking for influencers to create partnerships with – right now.

Of course, to be deemed influential you’ll need a considerable audience. Building an Instagram following won’t happen overnight – so if you don’t have a decent following at the moment I wouldn’t quit your day job just yet.

However, there are a number of (almost foolproof) ways to build a following, and you can do it part-time around other work commitments. As with most social platforms, primarily the easiest way to attract followers is via engagement. Hashtags, filters and the times of day you post are all crucial and there’s plenty of apps that can help you boost your following.

Instapreneur business opportunities

A key way to build a following is to create a niche for yourself. And this will be a crucial move if you want to turn your Instagram profile into a business because it will make it easier for brands to identify you as a fit for their products.

According to mediakix the most popular verticals are beauty and fashion, travel and hospitality, home and design, health and fitness and food. The men’s sphere is also growing (while the majority of digital influencers on Instagram are female, the gender split of users is actually fairly equal and there’s a burgeoning niche for male influencers).

Once you’ve built a following in your particular vertical, the most straightforward way to make money from Instagram is to become a brand ambassador. While you’re still building your profile, you may need to reach out to brands and contact them directly to offer your services. This could mean starting with some unpaid brand promotion in return for freebies, but as your profile builds and your relationships with particular brands develop, it could become increasingly lucrative. In the US, there are a number of Instagram ambassador agencies you can join that will arrange this for you. This hasn’t quite caught on in the UK yet but we’re betting it won’t be long before it does.

Additionally, a lot of people with big Instagram followings become personal brands in themselves – and use their popularity as a leg-up for other opportunities. Whether that’s turning their food posts into a cook book deal like Michael Zee of symmetrybreakfast or becoming YouTube stars by linking their social accounts with a vlog like Fleur De Force, ‘normal’ people are developing a fanbase akin to a celebrity’s. Adam Wickenden started his Instagram adamjamesfitness as a way to build up interest for his personal training business. He told “I thought it would be a good way to get my name out there and to reach prospective clients. In just a few weeks I’ve managed to build up over a 1,000 followers so it’s been great to see such a positive response so quickly.”

Insider opinion

Holly Hathaway, social media manager at The Internet Works, commented:

“Owned by Facebook, Instagram is an integral part of the web giant’s ‘democratisation of marketing’ – anyone can be an Instagram star!

“The photo sharing app possesses all the right ingredients to get you going. It’s easily accessible, it’s integrated with other key social media channels (making your image omni-present) and the results always look great.

“Instagram provides a golden opportunity to make quick cash. Being paid ‘by the image’ with a quick one-liner and call to action (“click link in bio”) could be the start to flexible working for the social media star and for the brand they get to reach an even vaster audience on Instagram, using the trusted image of the influencer. Win, win!”


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