How to Get Paid for Your Posts on Instagram

How to Get Paid for Your Posts on Instagram

Everyone wants to make money doing what they love. We love photography, and for many of us, getting paid to take photos is a dream. I never wanted to be a photographer; I liked it, but shooting full-time was never a goal I had early in my career and still isn't. That all changed when Instagram came along, and after a couple years of posting nearly every day and unknowingly honing my skills, people began coming to me specially for posts on Instagram to share about their brands. Here, I explain how that occurred, how you can find clients, know your value, and make money posting on Instagram. 

Be warned that the tips here are not foolproof and can't guarantee you paid gigs on Instagram. I do hope they can help guide you down a better path in getting paid for your work and also help educate those clients that you might pursue through social media that say they don't pay for Instagram work. In the end, you are selling your photography and for many companies, that is seen as a great asset in the longterm. 

Finding Clients Specifically for Instagram

An easy way to see whether a client finds value in Instagram is simply checking if use it? Is it regularly? How often? The more they post, the better. If the quality of content is lower than you think you can offer, then that drives value in your quest to help them. There are hard facts showing that great quality content with a strong message and cohesive look and feel will drive more followers, likes, and in turn, sales for companies on social media. 

Some fun ways to find clients that already see value in Instagram is by looking directly. There is an outrageous amount of brands using Instagram today, and even though many of them may not have a budget to begin with, it is your job to at least begin those conversations and get them aware of the market value of photography. To find new and interesting brands, you can start by finding local brands or smaller brands that don't have huge followings. Anything under 10,000 is perfect. Once you find one of those brands and have reached out via Instagram direct message, email, or phone there is a little secret to finding more like companies within the app. Below, you can see a brand's page and to the right of the "Following," there is usually a upside-down triangle icon. Clicking this will reveal like brands within that same umbrella of style and following. Obviously, DJI is a larger brand but you get the idea for smaller brands.

Yes, I have taken product in trade for a post on Instagram. Starting out, I took a gamble in reaching out to between 20 to 30 companies per week that I found on Instagram in hopes that they might see my work and find it appealing. Many of which of course did not have a budget, but I made sure my time was not wasted. I worked with watch companies, shoe brands, alcohol labels, and even local museums and organizations, all of which found value in photography and also in Instagram. Making sure my time was not wasted and that it was worth something, even for trade at the beginning, I would send my overall photography package pricing, and if they said they didn't have the budget, I would make sure we worked in trade for that exact amount or over what my cost was in product. The handful of brands I worked with in the end eventually paid me for my work as I continued to hit them with photography packages as their brand grew on the platform and as they needed more content. 

Another great way to get work specifically for Instagram is through social apps such as Popular Pays. These types of apps send you brand requests and allow you to pitch your work and value. The only downside is they are usually low paying, and there is not much back and forth with a brand for negotiations. This is why I find far more value in reaching out to brands directly through Instagram. 

What Your Posts Are Worth

For any negotiations with clients, you essentially want to show you have value and can provide a quality service that they will want to use and represent for a long period of time. Photography is a fantastic tool for many brands, small or large, to build a library of content they can use for print and web along with sharing on social media, though it's not as easy as asking them to pay and them immediately saying "yes." I almost always enter talks with new and even old clients on negotiations and payment structure for campaigns or single posts on Instagram. 

What should you charge? That all depends on a few things. Does the client have a budget? Do they find value in social media and photography in general to pay enough for you to be well compensated for your time? For many photographers on Instagram, if you have a following of 500-3,000, you are in a strong starting point to begin to pushing for paid posts on your page. Starting out, I did a simple thing in pitching to companies that I thought needed photography work, and at the bottom of my packaged deals, I would set a certain amount of social posts as a bonus. In some cases, I used them as a line item at the very bottom of the email, mentioning: "if you are interested in extra exposure on Instagram, I charge this much for each post." Give them a deal if it goes over 5 or 10. A good starting point if you have no clue what to charge is between $50 and $150 per post. If you think that is too small, look at pitching big and create a campaign or collection of images or posts to sweeten the deal for yourself and the client. 

For a more immediate search on hard numbers to charge for your Instagram shots, you can look at free sites like Whalar or even a pro service like Iconosquare to gauge a specific, algorithmically based cost to each of your posts. Now, these types of sites are strictly looking at your followers, likes, comments, and overall engagement stats to make up a number. Though these numbers may be mathematically correct, they may not account for examples like myself who have charged a wide variety of dollar amounts for each post. Also, be warned: outside of these two examples, many sites like these want you to sign up with basic information and then also verify they can use and also sometimes post or comment on your behalf via Instagram. 

How to Reach Out

Reaching out to clients via Instagram is incredibly easy. I do this a couple ways. I simply send them an Instagram direct message with a sample shot of my own that links straight to my page so it's easy for them to get to my work. Then I comment on their most recent post with something like "love to chat, just sent you a direct message." If they have an email or phone number available, I also send a quick message with my packages and social post costs either baked into the photography package or separate to see if they were interested in photography, Instagram, or even both. 


I still believe Instagram is the king when it comes to social media. The ease of use and the vast number of people and companies on there you can reach with a simple message or comment is incredible. Don't let your number of followers drive whether or not you can reach out to a brand. When I started working with brands, I had well under 3,000 followers, I started local and expanded from there. I always pitched my photography work first and social second or as a bonus line that they could add for a small fee, many of whom only used the social because they found value in a single photo and a share on my page that reached other local people. 

If you have any questions, be sure to hit me up in the comments below or directly on Instagram.

Andrew Griswold's picture

Andrew Griswold is a photographer and designer based in Indianapolis. Born and raised in Indy he has made a name for himself by staying very active in the creative community in both photography and design. He has also founded a community of photographers via Instagram connecting them with brands to work with and shoot locally.

Log in or register to post comments

Love it! Another great post about Instagram.

Appreciate that bud!

What number of followers would someone want to have when approaching a potential client? I'm assuming it depends but it's by far my biggest hump. Stuck in the 500-600 range since forever.

Everyone talks followers and % of engagement but when I started out I had Instagram but I pitched to companies on my photoraphy first and my Instagram shares second. ALWAYS! As hard as it is to reach out to brands and see what they say it will come down to what you can offer them in the end. If they find value in what you do and the quality of work you are pushing out they will go after you. If you are stuck at 500-600 that is still a damn good number. The average person only has 100 followers. Not know what your likes or comments are looking like I would say that you could start small, local. Grab at some brands that are around you that might find it beneficial to get some photos first. package that stuff out and add social shares to 500-600 local followers on your account as a bonus. Work in that they need to mention your name in all social usage to help bring awareness back to you as well. But yea look for brands that are in the same range 500-5,000. T shirt brands, bakeries, museums, record stores, restaurants etc. They all need photoraphy work.

I'm also in that place, stuck between 600-700 followers. But do you think it is still worth trying to reach out to companies and offer shooting some photos for them?

(My engement is like averaging 300 likes per image and 30 comments ish)

And what I'm most afraid of is keeping my acc clean from very obvious advertisment for companies. Like how to do it nice so people won't get "upset" and start to unfollow?

For sure! If you are rocking 300 likes per image and 30 comments. I am hovering around 600-700 likes per image with about 50+ comments per so that is well up there with my page. The only difference in the overlal stats is I am reaching a wider audience and those likes come from lots of various poeple. Be warned many of your likes may come from the same 300 people. So whether you disclose that to the brand you work with or not its still a damn good number. Use it to your advantage. Talk about the average 300 likes per image and also the overall weekly numbers too, just add them up. That way if you do a week long posting series with them then they can get more for what they pay for.

Now where are all the people from the last article, saying Instagram is dead to photography.

Ha! Agreed!

I would whore myself out on IG in a heartbeat if it didn't require buying followers first.

At no point have I ever wanted or needed to buy followers. I have never understood the concept. I see a handful of people here in the city doing it and they have 30,000 followers and they get 20-30 likes per photos. Brands are fairly new to the idea of social media but they are morons. Ha! Keep to smashing popular hashtags, liking others work, and comment on others pages to get your name out there. Post every single day. Over time it will work.

I find it a lot of work to grow a following, but its better to have a genuine one than buying followes imo. Just comment on images and be social and talk to people in comments on popular tags (not to popular because those are mainly full of bots sadly) and so.

But I do agree its hard work to grow a following and there are a lot of people just trying to buy likes/follows, but I doubt they get too far

You don't have to buy followers on Instagram.... I have nearly 20k followers, and am not a particularly good photographer. What helped me along was to network within a very niche interest group; In my case, overland travel. While this has not netted us any payed posts or gigs yet, it has resulted in partnerships within that particular industry that have provided us tens of thousands of dollars in vehicle modifications.

How come none of your posts show that you were paid or compensated for your image? I thought the FTC made it clear that sponsored social media posts had to clearly state there was some sort of compensation by either a hashtag #ad or #sponsored or "This post sponsored by..." Aren't you affraid that it will come bite you in the arse later down the road?

I'm not sure which posts you are mentioning but all my posts either mention "Excited to work with" or "I am teaming up with" that way I can ignore the obvious tags of #ad and #sponored. Just as long as you are telling people are working with or partnering with then you are still within the regulations.

Hey Andrew - very insightful article. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience! Question on this part though.. Are you 100% sure that's legally accurate or is that just what you feel is good enough? I used to work for a big brand that had many sponsors and every social post that was sponsored had to specifically say "sponsored" or "ad" in it... not just teaming up with or alluding to the fact that money was involved.

Thanks for the comment and great question. I have done extensive research on this subject and if you want you can check out this page or any page on the FTC's website about social media and endorcement campaigns in paid or gifted projects.

In some cases it is super vauge depending on someones following but then it also gets into specifics on how to interact with your audience in specific tags or captions. It mentions saying #ad or #sponsored is best but you can also, and in some cases is better, mention it directly taht you are getting paid or working with so and so.

Another great IG article Gris! I want to take a stab and write one, but I'm not sure I can bring it like this. Thanks for the great tips. As you know I'm grumpy about no multi-image posting yet on my account. Uninstalled/re-installed more than I'd like to admit at this point :)

Ha, I'm not the only one using IG so there is plenty of room to hear more folks input on the platform. I've thought about doing a negative side of Instagram and going through the things people hate and possible ways to counteract them.

That would be an interesting perspective. My feed @edo_photo is primarily focus on fashion week and style/portraits. I used to grow organically by 100 or so followers every few months, but it has come to a dead stop about a year ago when the timeline changes were implemented. For the last 6 months, I've been going +10/-10 followers EVERY's maddening. I have also tried your tags, and the pods, which haven't worked ;/

So hey, you can use me as a test case on how to 'fix' challenged growth. Quality of images are certainly not the driver it shoudl be

Fantastic article Gris!
How long have you been doing this?

Thanks! I want to say I grabbed my first brand deal about 4 years ago.

Thats awesome! It's not my full time job or paying as much as the day job as an Art Director but I know plenty of friends that are devoting their careers to social media and photography related projects like this. Takes time in communication and commitment to the process.

Your Instagram posts are always insightful, appreciate the articles. I'm still stumped by Instagram personally but always happy to read helpful tips.

Thanks so much!

Do you have to follow a lot of people to get return follows? I don't like filling up my instagram feed with too many accounts necessarily.

I'm not sure there is a rule to follow for this type of thing. I have seen some people go and follow someone and then like a bunch of their photos and then unfollow them a week later. I have never done it but see it all the time on my own page. I have also seen people follow 50,000 people and have 65,000 followers. Ha! Then I would assume over time they would drop down that following 50,000 to make their numbers look better.

Just keep at liking and commenting and interacting with folks on the platform and they will begin to come around to follow you for your work if you post great work consistently.

This is a great post about what i love the most!!!Thanks my dear friend.When you will have the time i would love to chat for more information regarding this...

Hey Andrew,
Very enlightening article and inspiring. After I read this article I was inspired to search brands etc. in my area. The things I found were pretty cool and inspiring :) Even though I only have 358 followers I am motivated to put myself out there. Thanks!

Hey Andrew, thanks for the article. It's an area that I have never really thought about before but is something I'd like to get more active in. I've been trying to build my product portfolio of brands that I use on a regular basis but I don't want to sell myself short and post them w/o some sort of incentive for the effort I've put into them. If that makes sense. Any thoughts on how I could reach out to companies, show them what I have and not get burned by "giving away" any of my work so far? My initial thought was to post them on IG using hashtags to get their attention but that seems like it would be defeating the purpose.

I found on several blogs an excellent post (English & French) from @bernard jomard published in several countries, Canada, France , Switzerland, and so on… giving most of the details needed to become an influencers and to make $ 3.000-5.000 a month or more – go check it out on