Many of us use Instagram to keep up with friends and family and to post about our lives. What many people don’t realize is that you can use Instagram to start a business and make money, either as a side hustle or even a full-time gig.
Instagram business ideas aren’t the same as marketing an existing business on Instagram. Rather, Instagram businesses are operated largely (or, in some cases, solely) on Instagram. The business is dependent upon the social media platform for its success.
You might be surprised just how many businesses you can start on Instagram—we’ve got 30 ideas for you.
Instagram Business Ideas
If you’re an Instagram expert and are leaning toward your own entrepreneurial endeavor, you might be ready to try out one of these Instagram business ideas.
One of the first Instagram business ideas that comes to your mind may very well be to become an influencer. To become an Instagram influencer, you first need a large, active following. Most Instagram influencers choose a niche that they’re passionate about and tailor the content they post to this niche.
An Instagram influencer makes money by advertising products to their followers. Many companies now pay influencers to post about their products or offer influencers a certain percentage of any sales that are made using a personalized code they give their followers.
The most successful Instagram influencers craft the perfect small business Instagram profile by posting content that resonates with their audience in order to build a large, active community of followers. While the number of followers is important for influencers, you also want engaged followers that are actively engaging with your posts—whether to comment, share, or more.
2. Instagram Manager or Consultant
Another Instagram business idea for those who are experts at using the platform is to become an Instagram manager or consultant. While there’s a lot of overlap between the tasks done by an Instagram manager and an Instagram consultant, these are slightly different roles and businesses.
An Instagram manager is someone who is hired to manage someone else’s Instagram account. An Instagram manager can work with multiple clients and companies, creating and posting content on Instagram to gain them more business.
An Instagram consultant, on the other hand, operates their business as a consultant offering strategic plans and recommendations to businesses on how to use their Instagram. A consultant generally creates a plan but rarely is the one to put that plan into action.
3. Affiliate Marketing
Another way to use Instagram for business and make money is through affiliate marketing. On Instagram, you can create posts or a story about certain products that you like and use. You can then share those links in your Instagram bio or through the shopping feature on Instagram.
When followers click on the link and purchase something, a small percentage of that purchase is given to you. Affiliate marketing is a great way to monetize your Instagram business.
4. Product Reviewer
For those who love to try new products or new technology, you can become a product reviewer on Instagram. When it comes to Instagram business ideas, this can be a very fun business.
An Instagram product reviewer typically works within a niche trying the newest products within that niche and providing honest reviews to their followers. Product reviewers gain a following by sharing honest, interesting opinions that can be trusted by others. Combine these product reviews with affiliate marketing and you’ve got a money-making Instagram business idea.
One of the reasons Instagram has been so successful as a social media channel is that it offers something unique: visuals. Instagram is all about beautiful images, photos, and videos.
Because of the visual aspect of Instagram, it’s a great place to start a photography business. There are a few directions you can take this Instagram business idea:
Social Media Photographer
One of the best Instagram business ideas for photographers is to become a social media photographer. With skills in social media marketing and photography, you can create a business as a social media photographer.
Social media photographers get together with other business owners for photoshoots that provide those business owners with content for their own Instagram channels.
Photographers can also start an Instagram business by taking product photos. Product photos are then used by the business selling the product to market it on their website and social media.
Photographers can also specialize in taking photos of events. Organizations or even individuals will hire you to document their events, whether official, staged photos, candids throughout the event, or a combination.
Business owners need headshots to use on their websites and social media, families need family photos, and people need pictures to celebrate big life events. For the savvy photographer, it’s possible to operate a portrait photography business solely on Instagram.
What’s better than an Instagram business idea that you can operate from anywhere? Getting to travel and make money. As a stock photographer, you can travel and take photos that are sold to marketing agencies and stock photography websites for profit.
6. Photoshoot Stylist
If you have a talent for styling people and products, you just might want to become a photoshoot stylist. When a business needs photos of their product, a business owner wants to look great in their photoshoot, or an influencer needs some help with their image, you can provide the styling. The best part is, all you need is an Instagram account to showcase your talent and start your business. You can also target other Instagram businesses as potential clients.
While Instagram has been all about the photos for a long time, the world’s attention is moving toward videos. Instagram stories are getting a lot of attention right now and are a great addition to any successful social media strategy. If you have an eye for capturing moving images, an Instagram business that focuses on video is timely right now.
8. Ecommerce Seller on Instagram
When it comes to Instagram business ideas, there are few more direct money-making ventures than ecommerce. Instagram recently added a “buy” button which allows product sellers to sell directly on the ‘gram. If you’re interested in selling products online, you can launch your store on Instagram and find customers directly through the app.
9. Digital Product Salesperson
While most people think of selling physical products on Instagram, you can also sell digital products. You can sell digital downloads of ebooks, printable worksheets, checklists, or images through your Instagram.
One of the many popular niches on Instagram is food. Start snapping eye-catching photos of your meals around town, accompany them with brief reviews and recommendations, and before you know it, you’ll have built a loyal following of fellow foodies who want your opinion. From there, you’ll likely attract sponsorships and affiliate relationships with various restaurants or related industry businesses.
11. Personal Stylist
For the fashion lovers, Instagram is a great way to show off your sense of style to potential customers. By curating a grid of your best styles, you’ll garner an audience who looks to you for inspiration—and could be willing to pay you to style their own looks. A personal stylist shops for clothes for others, curating their closet and saving them the time.
12. Professional Organizer
As our lives become busier and more cluttered, there’s a demand for those who can help us tidy up and organize. Professional organizers come into people’s homes and help them to get rid of what they don’t need and organize the rest. Showcase your skills with before and after images of your work and watch your client list grow.
13. Baking or Cooking Expert
With the rise of popular cooking shows like The Great British Baking Show, another phenomenon has followed suit: stress baking. Take your anxiety-reducing leisure activity and put it on the ‘gram. Instagram can be a great place to share with followers how to bake and cook. As your followers grow, you’ll likely make money through sponsored content and affiliate marketing.
14. DIY and Craft Expert
If you enjoy crafting or DIY projects, you can put that expertise into Instagram posts and videos to share with followers who may also be working on projects. Build a following and the affiliate links from advertisers are sure to follow.
15. Slime or ASMR Maker
Yes, this is a real niche on Instagram. Many people scroll social media looking for stress-relief and relaxation. One thing they love is slime-making and ASMR sounds. You’ll have to check it out to believe us, but if it resonates with you or capitalizes on some of your own skills, this could be a fun and beneficial Instagram business idea.
16. Travel Ambassador
Another major niche within Instagram is all about wanderlust. Travel brands and even tourism agencies work with influencers to attract customers and travelers. Become a travel ambassador on Instagram and make money while traveling.
17. Makeup Artist
Another visual medium that makes for a great Instagram business idea is to become a makeup artist. You can provide tutorials for various looks, from natural-looking makeup to Halloween special effects makeup, as well as provide your services for bridal parties or other special events.
18. Cosplay Designer
Many Instagram-famous people make their money by recreating famous characters’ costumes—whether from movies, TV shows, comic books, games, and more—and sharing the images online. If you have a knack for design and are an avid cosplayer yourself, this could be the perfect business for you.
19. Hair Stylist
Similar to makeup artists, hair stylists can use Instagram to leverage their business by posting pictures of their best styles. As you’re starting out, you can post the styles you create for yourself, and then as you gain clients, post their images as well.
Whether you’re an illustrator, animator, sketch artist, potter, ceramicist, portraitist, painter, clay artist, or work in any other artistic medium, Instagram is the perfect place to launch your business.
21. Graphic Designer
An Instagram business idea for graphic designers is to build your portfolio on Instagram. Showcasing a portfolio with a traditional website can be overwhelming—you don’t want your prospective clients to have to scroll forever. But with Instagram, they can more easily see your work and reach out to you directly for more information.
For those who love to perform, Instagram is a great way to showcase your talents while bringing people joy in their everyday lives.
Instagram entertainment business ideas include:
While a dropshipping business looks the same as any ecommerce business to your customers, the behind-the-scenes operations are actually pretty different. When someone buys an item listed on your ecommerce Instagram page, the order is routed to your manufacturer, who will package and ship the item. You can list however many products you want but only pay for what sells. This means you can experiment to find what sells best, and you don’t have to worry about unsold inventory or storage costs.
24. Data Analyst and Infographic Designer
A visual design job that’s relatively new is infographic designer. In the age of big data, there’s no better way to understand the numbers than with a graphic. Data analysts and infographic designers can enhance understanding through visuals.
25. Online Educator
If you’re knowledgeable about a specific topic, you can turn that knowledge into an Instagram business. As an online educator, you can offer short lessons and tutorials through your Instagram channel.
26. Pet Personality
This one might sound a little far-fetched, but you’ve likely come across (or even follow) an Instagram-famous pet. If you have a pet of your own, not only is there a never-ending fountain of adorable picture opportunities, but you can also personify your pet’s thoughts into funny posts that attract shares and followers. With enough followers, companies in the pet care industry will be eager to partner with you to promote their products.
Coaching is a great way to help people achieve the goals they’re striving for. Instagram is a medium where you can advertise your services and also stay in contact with people.
Instagram business ideas for coaches include:
- Business coaching
- Life coaching
- Fitness coaching
From wedding invitations to signs and silly sayings, calligraphers can use Instagram to show off their work and find even more paying customers.
29. Meme Maker
With an eye for topical subjects and an ear for irreverent humor, you can become a popular meme maker. As a visual channel, Instagram is the perfect place to share memes and gain a following through well-curated hashtags.
30. Topic Expert
No matter what your topic of expertise, you can start an Instagram-based business. Instagram business ideas are dependent upon your previous experience and crafting image-worthy posts. Wherever your expertise lies, chances are good there’s a way to leverage it into an Instagram business.
What Makes an Instagram Business Idea Successful
While there is an endless number of Instagram business ideas, it’s important to also consider what makes an Instagram business successful or not. Study the most influential companies on social media and use these tips for success.
1. Use Hashtags
If there’s one thing you need to do to make sure that your Instagram business idea is successful, it’s to use the right hashtags. The easiest way to find new followers is to use hashtags that people will search for. When they look through the hashtag feed, they can click on your post. If they like what they see, they’ll follow your account.
2. Keep It Professional
There are a number of ways to hack your way to a lot of followers on Instagram. While follower counts are important, a loyal, active following is more important. Keep your Instagram profile honest and professional. While it’s “just” social media, it’s still a business.
3. Offer Giveaways
One way to build followers fast is to offer a giveaway or contest. Publish a post offering something a free item, experience, or discount. To be entered into the drawing, require people to follow your account and tag a friend or two in the comments. Those friends will see the post and may also enter the giveaway by following your account.
Everyone loves free stuff. This makes giveaways a great way to increase interaction and to build your followers. You may have to get creative with what you’re giving away before you have too many brand partnerships, but as your followers grow, you’ll be able to offer even more enticing items.
4. Provide Inspiration
People come to Instagram to be inspired, to feel good, to see something they’ve never seen before. No matter what your business is, you want your Instagram feed to feel inspirational and aspirational.
5. Share Your Expertise
If you’re picking an Instagram business idea, it should be something that you have expertise in. People follow channels that provide them with expert advice and inspirational posts. No matter what your field or skills, your Instagram channel should be focused on sharing that with your followers.
6. Make Posts Shoppable
Instagram made making money easier than ever by adding their shopping feature. If you’re selling physical or digital products, you’ll want to make your posts shoppable. The fewer steps there are between clicking on the item and purchasing, the more likely your customers are to buy the product. Make it easy for them and you’ll see success.
7. Create Opportunities for Interaction
Many channels on Instagram place a high priority on the number of followers their account has. This is important, but there’s an even more important number: engagement rate.
To show followers that you’re not just being followed by bots or other wannabe influencers, you want to have interactions and comments on your posts. Provide people with opportunities to answer questions and to interact with you. Encourage comments, shares, and saves, not just likes.
8. Be Personable
In the era of big brands, many shoppers are moving away from buying from corporations to buying from real people. You’ll want to make your Instagram channel feel personal and to share your personality with followers. Exhibit your uniqueness to attract more followers.
9. Give Advice
When starting a business on Instagram, you’re channeling your expertise into your posts. As part of that, people are coming to you for advice. While you don’t want to give it all away for free, it’s important to share your advice and wisdom with your followers. When you share something that people find useful, you’ll build your brand authority and keep people coming back, tagging their friends, and talking about your account. From there, your audience will easily grow.
10. Let Your Customer Speak
People like to interact with others on Instagram, but even more so, they like to be recognized. As you build your following on Instagram, don’t forget to let others speak. Feature comments or images from your followers and thank them in posts. Everyone likes to be recognized.
The Bottom Line
Social media has made starting a business as simple as signing up for an account. As long as you can turn your expertise into inspiring images, you’ve got an Instagram business idea ready to go.
Sally Lauckner is the editor-in-chief of JustBusiness and the editorial director at Fundera.
Sally joined Fundera in 2018 and has almost 15 years of experience in print and online journalism. Previously she was the senior editor at SmartAsset—a Y Combinator-backed fintech startup that provides personal finance advice. There, she edited articles and data reports on topics including taxes, mortgages, banking, credit cards, investing, insurance, and retirement planning. She has also held various editorial roles at AOL.com, Huffington Post, and Glamour magazine. Her work has also appeared in Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and ColoradoBiz magazines, as well as Yelp, SmallBizClub, and BizCrat.