Instagram Will Let Some Creators Offer Subscriptions

Plus, how you can make money on Instagram now.

by Kaitlyn Wylde
Originally Published: 
Influencer does make up  to make money on Instagram. Instagram announced a test of subscriptions for...
Anastasiia Krivenok/Moment/Getty Images

While slinging #ads to thousands of followers used to be the way to make money on social media, some new features could make getting paid on Instagram a little bit less #spon. In June 2021, the platform announced that it was working on a prototype of a creator monetization feature. The idea was a private feed that your followers would be able to subscribe to, a little like Twitter’s Super Follows, where users could offer a free feed and a subscription feed.

On Jan. 20, Instagram formally launched a test of the program, simply called subscriptions. In a video announcement, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri announced that the test involved a “small number” of Creators, whose followers will be able to subscribe to see exclusive content. Creators will be able to post subscriber-only Instagram stories and Instagram Lives, which will be marked with a purple ring (the way Close Friends stories are marked with green rings). The other change coming is that subscribers will be able to show off their status with a purple badge.

Mosseri did not share any specifics about whether creators could set their own subscription prices or whether the platform would do so, nor was it confirmed if Instagram would be taking a percentage of subscription revenue, as other creator monetization platforms do.

When Instagram tests a new feature, it typically is only available to a small number of people, who will get a notification or pop-up that says they have access. Usually, Instagram will roll out the feature more widely once all the kinks of the test have been ironed out, and Mosseri said he was hopeful that it would roll out more widely over the coming months.

While you might need to wait a while until you can subscribe to your fave creators — or let your followers subscribe to your exclusive content — there are plenty of other ways to make money on Instagram already. Read on for five ways to get paid on Instagram.

Sell Stuff On Instagram Shop

While you can’t offload your old IKEA furniture on Instagram Shop — that’s what Facebook Marketplace is for, obv — you can sell goods on Instagram through the Shop feature. To qualify, you must be an established merchant with a website, selling legal products. If this is you, you can turn on the Instagram shopping feature and submit your account for review. If you’re approved, people can shop your posts or Stories directly.

Partner With A Brand

You don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of followers to get a brand to notice you. Microinfluencers are users with between 1,000 and 100,000 followers, who partner with brands to get paid for posting their products. So if you have interest in posting branded content, switch over to a business or creator account and email or DM companies you care about to see if they’re interested in working together.

Microinfluencer Austen Tosone reported for Bustle in 2018 about various ways to DIY your influencer efforts. She suggested engaging with your audience, no matter the size, to build trust and connections. “Brands are more likely to work with someone who has an engaged following than someone who has thousands of followers who don’t interact with them,” Tosone wrote.

Set Up Affiliate Links

If you post about your favorite things on the reg, you can set up affiliate links so that you get a cut of the profits when your followers buy things you post about. In June, Instagram announced they would be gradually making affiliate tools readily available for creators (aka, people who use creator accounts). Until then, you can sign up with an external affiliate marketer program that speaks to you — Amazon Associates, for example, give users up to 10% of every referral sale.

Go Live With Badges

While subscriber badges aren’t live yet, Creators have already had access to a badge program. Essentially, it allows select influencers and artists to put out a tip jar for their followers during a Live session. Fans can buy Badges, (aka hearts), which will appear on the screen to show support. One heart costs $0.99, two for $1.99, and three for $4.99. Creators with Badges enabled can keep 100% of their earnings.

Who Can Get Paid On Instagram?

Some of these programs are only available to a select group of creators — that is, people who’ve upgraded their Instagram from an individual account (which is free to do). A spokesperson at Instagram says you must have an “authentic, established presence on Instagram which includes maintaining a sufficient follower base,” to qualify for Badges and affiliate links. Analytics, Checkout, messaging, and brand partnerships can all be managed in the app so long as you have a creator or business account, regardless of how many followers you have. If you’d rather stay a regular Instagram user and still want to make money off your account, though, there’s no shame in throwing up a Venmo link in your bio.

This article was originally published on