How to Make Money as a Content Creator with Less Than 10k Followers on Instagram - Start Today!


First off, it’s hard to build an audience of 1k, let alone 5k, and especially 10k+. Then add in the stress of trying to earn money (because we could all use a side hustle in 2020) and it can be pretty overwhelming.

Well, luckily you don’t have to wait to start monetizing your platform if you’re a content creator or influencer, or even if you’re an aspiring one. The beauty of social media today is that you don’t need to hit a certain benchmark or cross a threshold to make some extra cash.

In this blog, we’ll cover three options you have to start monetizing your Instagram (and really any social platform) while you grow your audience.

Sponsored Content and Brand Deals

When we think making money from Instagram or social media, this is usually the first thing that comes to mind, right? Typically, that picture includes famous celebrities or influencers flaunting a product that they got paid big money to post.

Well, the funny thing is that you have access to sponsored content and branded deals as well. It’s not exclusive to the famous!

Obviously, as you grow an audience and a platform your deals will be scaled differently, but it is possible.

Here’s why this works: brands take on risk to work with any influencer or creator. That risk is the time, effort and money that goes into a deal that could potentially flop.

However, a deal with a smaller creator involves less risk than one with 1 Million followers. That’s because if a huge influencer or celebrity’s post flops or doesn’t meet expectations, that’s a bigger loss of resources for the brand.

Additionally, your smaller audience is most likely more engaged in your content. This is typically true for micro and nano influencers because you’ve built a niche audience that pays attention to what you do. That results in more value to a brand.

That value is monetizable. A brand is looking to get its products in front of people who are interested and are potential buyers. If you can offer that, then you have something that brands want and you can provide a service.

It’s also good to point out here that even though a micro or nano influencer fee may not be as big as macro influencer or celebrity, 84% of sponsored posts in 2018 were created by micro influencers according to That means that a piece of the pie can be yours.

So How Do You Land A Sponsored Deal?

You really just have to go for it. But I have some tips:

Step 1: Target brands that fit into your niche and that you would actually like to work with (meaning you’d use their products/services or already use them). Make sure it makes sense for you.

Step 2: Determine how you would create content for them. This means researching what they’ve done in the past, who they’ve worked with, and what you could bring to it. Use your unique perspective.

Step 3: Research if it is something that your audience would be interested in. Remember, the value you bring is having a connected community that cares about what you say. So if you know this brand would be loved by your audience, then you have something that brand wants.

Step 4: Put it in an email. Introduce yourself, include the information above, be short and sweet.

Repeat this process. Once you get into negotiation with a targeted brand, then hit them with that fee. You’re providing a service and you can certainly charge for it, especially if your service outweighs the value of their product or service.

Make sure you follow me here because I will be releasing more articles on how to price yourself!

Affiliate Marketing

If you’ve been googling how to make money online at all lately then you’ve probably already come across this term.

And lucky for you, you don’t need to have a large audience to start (that’s the theme here) and I’m going to break it down for you.

Basically, affiliate marketing means you become an affiliate for a brand, service, or platform. So when you post or share products or services from that brand (aka market it) you earn a cut of the sale.

Typically, you’ll get an affiliate link that tracks the traffic you bring to a brand and that’s how they measure it.

The good news is that the barrier to entry is very low. You can sign up with brands individually on their sites (you can find these by just Googling the brand “+ affiliate”) or sign up on larger platforms like Amazon Associates, RewardStyle, and MagicLinks to name a few.

Some of these platforms do have requirements to qualify, but most approve you regardless of audience size.

Once you are signed up, you can start creating links and sharing them with your audience. Success with this once again comes from an engaged audience and sharing products you love and know that they’ll love too.

Here’s the catch: sharing affiliate links on social platforms where content has a shorter shelf life means that you’ll have to share those links consistently and more frequently. This is doable, but you want to be careful not to overwhelm your audience by just pushing a bunch of your links.

You can also create evergreen content, like blog posts or YouTube videos where those links live and get clicked over time. If you’re covering a popular topic and have links associated with it, you have great potential.

Monetize your Services

This one isn’t as straightforward, but it’s something I encourage all creators and influencers to do especially while they’re starting out and sharpening their skills.

You can monetize your skill set outside of the content you create for your own platforms. As you develop your photography, videography, editing, copywriting, and overall content creation skills, you can put them to work for other businesses or brands.

You can offer content to brands that you are targeting in your deals. Creating content for their platforms, websites, email campaigns, etc. adds more value to them and also results in more service provided by you. That means more money in your pocket.

I personally just applied my skills to creating photo content for a brand’s website. Nothing gets posted on my platform, but I made a deal with the brand and made some extra money that way.

As you continue to refine your skills, you can also freelance them. Many creators and influencers freelance as they build their own brand and platform to create additional income. You can even sign up on sites like Fiverr and Upwork to start.

Monetize your Audience

For some reason, this gets a weird negative connotation. But you can certainly also turn your attention to how you can provide service to your audience. That’s what monetizing your audience actually means.

Think about what you can provide to them. Many creators and influencers turn to coaching, providing downloadable content, or creating their own merchandise.

Again, this hinges on having an engaged audience that gets value from your content and wants more!

And the ultimate strategy to make money on/through Instagram in general is to combo these strategies. Diversifying your income streams with these options gives you a much more stable income.

Is it Worth Trying to Make Money Before you Hit 10K?

That’s probably your next question. Because, how much money can you even make with 10k followers or less?

I said it before, but yes with a smaller audience you will take in a smaller fee than your macro influencer counterpart. But, the amount of money you can make is not solely dependent on your follower count.

Your fee is dependent on more than just followers. Your quality of work, the project, the timeline and more play into it. So you have potential to make good money.

On top of that, brands have continued to shift priority to micro influencers because of the higher return on investment and higher engagement from their respective audiences, according to HuffPost.

Like I mentioned before, a majority of sponsored content is produced by micro influencers. There is less risk for brands and more value for you.

According to the same article at Later and Influencer Marketing Hub, the influencer marketing industry was set to grow to an $8 billion in 2020. If more than half of those sponsored deals are going to smaller creators… Well, let’s just say there’s room for you even before you hit a major audience milestone.

Not to mention that every business and brand need photo, video, and web content in some form in today’s day and age.

What’s more critical is building an engaged audience rather than a large one. This will create more opportunities for you.

I hope you’re encouraged and feel empowered to chase your goals with your content on your platforms. Make sure to follow along here for more influencer, content creations, and social media breakdowns, tips and news!

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I am a freelance men's fashion and lifestyle digital content creator, social media coach and consultant, and brand strategist. Follow along for articles related to style how-to's, fashion trends, and content creation business behind the scenes and strategy tips.

Denver, CO

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