But don't you write off Instagram just about now. Its 130 million-plus users aren't entirely made up of fluff―that, in fact, is an amazing opportunity to market and publicize, or just put yourself out there. And make money while you're at it.
We've all been guilty of being bitten by the photography bug at some point in our lives. Now Instagram has managed to fan that urge even further, by creating this app that simply does not take bad pictures, what with those cool filters.
Therefore, the first tip is also the most obvious―you can sell your pictures to stock photography websites. Agreed, it's a long shot, but it's definitely worth a try. These days there's no telling what kind of shots sell, so if you're a diligent clicker, why not go ahead and put your work to test?
It always helps if you've been to some exotic locales or done some professional shoots, such pictures add weight to your chances. However, random, never-before-seen images are also known to strike gold. Be warned, though, that even in the rare instance that your work may get picked up, this is not a lucrative means of income by a long shot. Look at this as an opportunity to earn some money on the sidelines.
If you've been using Instagram for a while, you wouldn't have missed the obvious―that this app is basically an outlet for pet crazy people to flaunt their precious furries. There are hundreds of accounts dedicated solely to pets (cats in particular) going about their day, winning thousands of followers by the hour. So what, you ask? Well, here's what.
Nala, the cat's Instagram journey is nothing short of sensational. She has over a million followers who love her incessant pictures that spring up with well-intentioned accuracy, along with those quirky comments that accompany them. She has been around since 2012, being one of the app's earliest accounts. Sensing the trends, Nala's owner decided to cash in on her pet's popularity and started an e-commerce site to market exclusive Nala merchandise. Yes, there are loads of people willing to buy a T-shirt with this adorable furball's face on it. Counting yours truly as well.
If you're a pet parent reading this, I can sense your eyes lighting up, but hold that thought for a while. Again, Instagrammers are known to be pet-crazy, so you need to put in a lot of effort to make your account stand out and get a solid fan base. This will take time, until your pet can match the zaniness of that overnight sensation, Grumpy Cat.
Instagram's potential as a marketing tool is tremendous, and all the big names have realized that. In fact, with the advent of experiential marketing, companies have started to rely on social networking to promote their products, rather than run-of-the-mill advertisements. Established bloggers are paid handsomely to promote a particular product, since their followers are expected to trust the blogger's word rather than a 10-second spot on TV. The same goes for Instagram; if you are popular enough, the big companies will come to you, especially if you make your presence felt at product launches, seminars, and fashion shows and popularize their wares.
If you're new to this, start small. Build your account with a respectable number of followers. Once that's done, pick a small salon or boutique and offer to market their wares for free (at first). If it succeeds, you succeed, and you're now free to charge them for it.
If you're a budding entrepreneur, your Instagram account is as good a tool as any to promote your products and services. It doesn't matter if you're a startup or are established, extra customers are always welcome.
Get creative and make 15-second Instagram videos highlighting your wares, and upload them. If you have customer testimonials, ensure that you feature them prominently (only after you've taken their permission, of course). You can also create collages of photos from followers who share photos of them using your products with a particular hashtag.
Companies like Snapfluence act as a perfect channel between you and a means to earn money. Snapfluence is a site dedicated to influential Instagrammers, acting as a platform for people to market their own business, or those who do a fine job of promoting other businesses. Being a Snapfluence Ambassador comes with the benefits of interacting with the best in the business, you may get the chance of working for these top brands, shooting their campaign, and promoting their products. You may not always get paid in cash, but there are quite a few free products or sponsorships that might come your way.
Getting paid for using Instagram seems a lot like a hogwash of sorts. One can't really call it a safe and stable career, but more like a stepping stone to get on to bigger things. Use it well.