Of the five biggest social media networks, Instagram is growing at an unprecedented rate. In December 2016, it reached 600 million users, growing by 100 million in just six months. In 2012, it had the smallest market share of online adults, but today, it’s second only to Facebook.

More users mean more likes on cute puppy photos, but it can also mean a greater opportunity to monetize those puppy pictures with marketing and brand sponsorships for trendy dog food, artisanal treats, and bespoke wearables. You might be shocked to learn how much some influencers are making and surprised how little some are earning as well. If you’re looking to understand just how much you could be making on the social media marketing landscape, keep reading. We’ll explain the math in this article.

More and more influencers are starting to carve out their share of marketing on the social media platform. We examined more than 500 top influencers on the ’gram to determine their average earnings per post, which industries have the widest margins, and how many followers are needed to pull in the big bucks.

Influential Instagram Posts 101

Opportunities for business and marketing ventures are growing on Instagram. This creates a window for influencers with certain passions to show products and services to their followers.

While the rate you might earn with a popular Instagram page can vary significantly based on your number of followers and the quality of your content, there’s money on the table. Of the over 500 influencer accounts studied, the average price paid per post was $271. Brands paying for these posts can request everything from a picture of someone wearing a particular pair of designer jeans or shoes to mentioning a health supplement or specific home goods.

Influencers don’t need millions of followers to attract the attention of branded sponsors. The average follower count of an influencer is almost 63,000 people. We also found that close to 60 percent of influencers on Instagram are women, and the most popular category for paid content is lifestyle. Lifestyle accounts can include content that ranges from travel and food to beauty and fashion, which allows influencers to offer both branded products and unique content to keep their posts fresh and engaging.

If you’re creative with your image presentation, additional revenue streams may open up to you. This can include partnering with third-party Instagram tools (such as LIKEtoKNOW.it) to link back to retailers with advertising interests.

Instagram Influence, by the Numbers

While the average price per sponsored post is under $300, certain Instagram accounts can fetch a higher price with a larger fan base.

Modeling-related accounts are the most lucrative (charging over $430 per post) and popular (more than 141,000 followers on average). Unlike traditional modeling, these user-curated photos are meant to look organic and capture the air of style. A shot that’s too staged may not be as successful as one that appears natural and obtainable. However, photography-related accounts pull in an average of more than $385 per post. Food-, pet-, and fitness-related accounts also earn over $300 per post on average.

When it comes to popularity, fitness-related accounts average over 131,000 followers, while pet-related accounts have more than 117,000 followers on average. Beauty-, fashion-, and food-related accounts also accumulate between 59,000 and 84,000 followers, proving that whatever you’re passionate about, there may be several thousand people who share the same interests.

The Average Male and Female Influencer

Women make up nearly 60 percent of total influencers on Instagram, but when we look at the average cost of branded posts by men and women, it’s men who have the higher price tags. With more female influencers, it may be that they’ve created more competition among themselves that lowers their overall worth. As men make up a smaller percentage of influencers, the demand for their content may be higher – and worth more.

Men have an average of over 59,000 followers, while women average over 58,000. Men only have about 1,000 more followers, yet their asking price is much more than women’s. The average post by women earns $218, while men pull in about $140 more – averaging upward of $358 per post. Men earn just over half a cent for each of their followers, while women earn about one-third of a cent.

Instagram Followers Equal Money

The number of followers you have as an influencer for a particular brand or product category can mean higher earnings, regardless of which category your posts fall under.

For users with fewer than 1,000 followers, the price per post is far less than the average ($271) – these influencers charge roughly $83. They may also be keeping the product they’re advertising free of charge though, which can increase the value of the post or series. When influencers gain more followers, their price point increases. Users with somewhere between 1,000 and 9,999 followers earn just over 30 percent more for their posts (roughly $108). Influencers who have upward of 99,999 followers, though, see their earnings more than double ($240), while users with more than 100,000 followers see their price per post rise the highest – over $763.

Of course, creating content that goes viral means your posts have to stand out from the masses. Knowing which kinds of photos your niche followers are most receptive to and those that can help draw in and engage new audiences. Make sure that your content is original and inspires a certain kind of motivation in your followers. Think lifestyle inspiration: “fitspo” meets fast-acting supplements or body positivity meets brand name jeans.

Follow for Follow

One way to get followers on Instagram is to follow other accounts. For influencers with thousands of followers, how many do they follow back? It turns out, accounts with fewer than 1,000 followers follow the most people back (772 accounts on average). When influencers are starting out, they may practice the “follow for follow” rule. This means the user guarantees a mutual follow for every account that follows him or her, often accompanied with a hashtag like #followback. While this technique will help you gain an audience, it will also increase your number of followed accounts.

Influencers with over 100,000 followers follow nearly 9,000 people on average. This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually less than 10 percent of the accounts that follow them. Similarly, those with between 10,000 and 99,999 followers average just over 1,500 accounts they follow back, meaning they have between a 1 percent and 15 percent follow back rate.

Keeping Followers Engaged

Among the Instagram accounts studied, we found general engagement rates decreased as popularity grew. For those with less than 1,000 followers, our research showed an engagement rate of just over 15 percent. For those with fewer followers, a high engagement rate can help boost brand image and earn more followers. However, as that follower number increases, engagement falls off significantly. Those with 100,000 followers or more jumped down to a 2 percent engagement rate. With those followers, though, 2 percent still represents 2,000 users to interact with and can help maintain a sense of loyalty among followers.

We also found that a higher engagement rate doesn’t always mean a higher payout when it comes to Instagram advertising. Those with the highest engagement rates (9 percent) earned the least, and those with the lowest engagement rates (roughly 3 percent) pulled in the most money per post. For these accounts, engagement can be a tool to build a solid follower base and create brand recognition for your profile that helps transition your account into one of the top paid users.

Evolve Your Instagram Profile

If you’re looking to turn your high-profile Instagram account into a profitable marketing platform, there are several variables to consider. From your niche to your followers, what you choose to post about can be just as important as how many people see your content. More importantly, as an influencer, building a media kit that showcases how you’ve worked with other brands in the past and highlights to a potential new sponsor that you can coordinate successful collaborations and produce quality content says a lot about your potential as an investment.  

If you’re ready to start growing your online presence and your business as an infuencer, Influence.co has all the tools you need to get noticed. Build your professional resume and help brands and agencies discover you! Click here to join.


We contacted 500 of the top influencers on Instagram and asked how much they typically charge per sponsored post and what niche their account is. We then used their Instagram accounts to see how many followers they have and how many accounts they follow back. Follower and following numbers were obtained in late January, so these numbers may have changed since.


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