Instagram has become one of the biggest social media websites on the Internet in a very short amount of time and it’s still growing strong. Hence, marketers see an opportunity in this and want to make some money using the audience of Instagram.
In the past few months, marketing on Instagram has been getting more and more popular and a lot more people jumping into it. As any other popular social network, growth is very hard and takes a lot of time. So many people look for automation. That’s where the “blackhat” comes in play.
Many people join BlackHatWorld, or other forums related to Internet Marketing and seek for help withÂ Instagram, or generally tips and tricks to help them accomplishÂ their goals. So, I decided to write a post on how to get started with Instagram and things I believe you need to know before getting in it.
I, myself, have gotten into Instagram about a year and half ago. Instagram was already a hitÂ then, but not as big as it is now. I missed theÂ “golden” era unfortunately, where you could follow as many people as you want or do whatever you want. I basically got into it as soon as they started introducingÂ limits on their platform and started working on it more actively.
A few weeks before I got into Instagram I was testing other social media platforms. Most notable, I was testing Facebook. I was doing some experiments with it and it did not work out unfortunately. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make profit off it (but I still got my investment back). I tried several times and I got the same result. So I thought I would try something new. I was doing research for a few days and came to conclusion that Instagram at that time was the best social media to work with.
And that’s how I got started with it. At the beginning, the platform was very new to me and it took me a few days to understand it. After I understood the basics, I already jumped on the train and started creating my own accounts and with that building my own empire of accounts, that I will later on use to make money with.
I have to admit that I have made many mistakes when I was getting started but I learned a lot off them. I will try to be as detailed as possible in this post and try to help you not make the same mistakes I did.
Before getting started with Instagram, you have to make a research and plan everything. You have to have an idea of what the Instagram audience is and how you’re gonna make money. That’s one of the things I did not think about when I was getting started.
Picking a Niche
When I first got into Instagram, I couldn’t decide which niche to go for and made an account for many niches I thought would be profitable one day. I wasn’t completely wrong, because in my situation I had no experience with Instagram and I couldn’t make a choice, but nowadays there are many examples of what a good niche is for Instagram. For example, selling tea on Instagram has been profitable to many companies, although it is not easy to make this type of business.
If I were to explain picking niche on Instagram to someone who’s new on the platform, I would probably advise him to pick a niche which he understands at least a little bit. Picking a niche you don’t know anything about can be a little hard to monetize later on. For example, picking the tattoo niche and you have absolutely no idea of tattoos will be hard. Surely you can sell shoutouts, but what else would you do?
My recommendation when picking a niche is to think of it in the long term, not just shoutouts. Originally, my idea was to make money off shoutouts as well, but as your accounts grow and the competition rises, you will see that shoutouts only is not the best way to make money on Instagram. You will have to think of something bigger and preferably original.
Creating And Profiling Your Account(s)
After you have picked your niche, you should begin creating your account(s). Before, you could only create accounts via their mobile application. Today, they also have introduced a new feature on their web version to register an account. They’ve been testing it for a few months and finally released it a while ago.
Many people ask the question whether to make their own accounts or buy them. I thought about it myself when I was getting started. But after some thinking, I decided to make everything by myself and be in total control of everything. That way I will be a lot more safe and I will know what I did wrong if something happens.
When you buy Instagram accounts, you don’t know what the seller have done with them. They might have over-used their proxies, hacked the accounts (bruteforcing), over-used a phone number and many other things which can have a negative effect on the account in the long term.
Hence, I recommend everyone make their own accounts. You can do it in the application or their website. I recommend doing it on their website, because there are less footprints you should take care of and probably easier to cover. If you want to create a lot of accounts, check out my Instagram Account Creator.
During your account creation, you should always try to pick easy to remember and unique usernames for your accounts. Something that people will be able to type in the search. Something that sounds good. And I highly recommend you avoid childish usernames like “fitness123”, “fashiongirls” or whatever. I think they are not very professional type of usernames.
Another thing during registration is your e-mail address. Do not use any disposable e-mails. Always use a real e-mail address that you have secured and won’t lose access to. If you lose access to your e-mail, you might lose access to your account as well. I recommend you stick with the popular e-mail providers such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and so on.
After you have registered your account, first think is to activate/confirm it. You will receive an e-mail with the link.
Now, you should start profiling your account. That means fill it with data. First name, bio, profile picture and so on.
You should use data which is relevant to the account and that would attract people’s attention. Always look for quality rather than quantity.
If you are a website owner, I would highly recommend you NOT add any type of links on your account after its creation. Whether it’s in the website field or in your biography, Instagram can detect links in both of them I think. You should do it after your account grows a little bit.
Adding a website link on your account is probably the number one reason people get their accounts banned. I know it sounds stupid and you probably ask yourself how would you make money off it, but that’s just how Instagram works unfortunately.
After you have filled all the necessary information for your account, upload a few pictures related to your niche (3-10) so it’s not an empty feed.
With that, I would say that you have created a high quality account that is ready to proceed to the next step.
In the above part I didn’t mention anything about proxies because I wanted to explain more about them. So I thought I’d write another part.
If you are an Instagrammer who runs one to three (1-3) accounts only, you don’t need proxies.
However, if you are a guy who runs a business or has a plan to make money on Instagram with a lot of accounts, I would say that proxies are essential. Proxies are basically IP addresses that you will use to hide your own and trick Instagram into believing that it’s not the same person that controls all the accounts.
There are obviously other factors that come into play for detecting multiple accounts, such as device ID and other stuff, but generally IP address is the main factor.
Normally, people buy their proxies rather than setting them up. Setting up proxies is definitely not a beginner-friendly step so I would recommend you to buy proxies unless you really know what you are doing.
When you’re looking to buy proxies for any purpose, I would highly recommend private proxies. Private proxies mean they’re not shared with others and you will be the only owner of those IP addresses.
I don’t really have any proof, but based on what I’ve read in the past from other people, there are companies which advertise their proxies as private, but they are actually shared with multiple people. That’s why I would highly recommend you go with reputable companies and ones with many positive reviews.
You will receive proxies in format “IP:PORT”. They are already set up for you. You just have to authorize the proxies for use on your computer. That can be done in two ways. Either via a username and password, that you will set in their website, or by IP authorization. You will have to add your IP address, or the IP address of the computer you’re going to useÂ on their website. If you have a dynamic IP address, you will have to do that every time you want to use the proxies.
After you have authorized the proxies, they are ready to use on your computer.
A very common question among new marketers on Instagram is how many accounts to create or manage per proxy. I, myself, have always worked with maximum 3 accounts per proxy. However, that doesn’t mean it is the best way.
If you have the budget and can afford paying for proxies, I would strong recommend keeping the limit to 1 account per proxy. However, if you can’t afford paying a lot for proxies, then using 3 accounts per proxy is also fine. I’ve seen people use even 5 accounts per proxy, but I didn’t want to go that far and wanted to keep my accounts on the safe side.
Remember to always use the same proxy for the same account(s). If you suddenly change your IP address, you put your account to risk.
I haven’t had an account that didn’t ask for it. So I would say it’s essential for an Instagram account.
It’s just another common question among new marketers on Instagram. Phone verification pops up “randomly” on your account. It’s not really “random”, but I don’t think anyone knows the algorithm of it.
Instagram can ask you to verify your account by phone multiple times. Not just once. It has happened to me before, but it’s nothing bad.
The first phone verification by Instagram usually happens in the early stages of your account. Either after creation when you start profiling your account or after you follow a bunch of people.
I found out that the best way to do phone verification is by using physical sim cards. They’re the safest and easiest way to do this. You will have access to them anytime. Even if Instagram asks for re-verification, you can use the same number and quickly do it.
Many people have asked me for other ways than physical sim cards to verify their accounts. The main reason is because they are hard to get and very expensive in their countries.
In the past, Google Voice used to be a good alternative. However, Instagram made an update one day that banned most of Google Voice numbers and since then I wouldn’t recommend it. You never know when you’re going to use a banned number. I don’t see any good reason to risk your account(s).
Another way to do phone verification is online services. They usually are cheap but I wouldn’t say trusted. They are over-using their numbers and causing bans on accounts due to over-usage. Surely there are good numbers, but you can’t really know whether it’s a good or bad number until you use it for your account.
So, if you’re really looking to be on the safe side, I would recommend you stay away from these services. If you’re into churn and burn type of accounts, I think these services are like heaven for you.
Another way to get phone verification done is by paying other people online to use their phone number. They have real physical sim card and number, so you can pay themÂ to give you the code for verification. It might be a slow process, but it can work. There are some people who have a lot of physical sim cards and you can make a deal with them. I’ve heard of people shipping physical sim cardsÂ as well, but if youÂ are lookingÂ to buy physical sim cards, make sure they will work in your country first.
The same as proxies, I wouldn’t recommend over-using a number. If you can afford to pay one number for each account, then it is surely the best way to do it. I, myself, used to do 2-4Â accounts per phone number. Mostly 3 though.
I have always used the same number when Instagram asked for re-verification and would say it’s the best way to do re-verification. However, I don’t think anything bad could happen if you use another number for re-verification, as long as it’s a good one.
Growing Your Account(s)
After you have profiled your accounts, your next goal is to grow your account(s). Obviously, there isn’t much you can do with a small account.
There are multiple ways of growing your Instagram account(s). All of them can be divided in two categories: free and paid.
The first and most used method to grow your account for free is manually. You log in the application and start interacting with other members of the network. That is one of the best ways to grow for free. You can easily make the difference between a real and fake account, determine whether a user would follow you back and so on.
Another free methods include doing follow for follow, which I highly disagree with and wouldn’t recommend you doing whatsoever. All the followers will be low quality and not interested in anything you will try to monetize later on. You’re looking to build legitimate fans that were not “forced” to follow you.
There are some other free methods to grow, but I will focus on the paid ones instead, as I believe they can increase the growth of your account(s) significantly.
The most common paid methods of growing Instagram account(s) are shoutouts and botting.
Shoutouts are paid posts on bigger profiles. Your goal will be to find big accounts in your niche and pay them to make a post on their account tagging your page. That way, their followers will be able to see your name in the caption of the image and maybe follow you as well. This method requires a very large budget and I personally wouldn’t recommend buying shoutouts, unless you really know what you’re doing. Also, be careful with fake profiles, there are many of them ready to scam you.
The most common method of growing Instagram account(s) is botting.
Botting is basically using a software (bot) that will automate all the tasks you should be doing manually. Basically, this is an automated version of doing it manually.Â You can set up the bot to do whatever you want and it will do its job until it’s finished without you having to do anything else. You just set the options and the rest is just maintenance and making sure everything’s going good.
Some of the most popular bots that people use for Instagram are the following:
- FollowLikerÂ (one- time payment, no trial)
- MassPlannerÂ (monthly payment, 5 day trial)
- InstagressÂ (monthly payment, 3 day trial)
After getting oneÂ of these bots, you can learn how to use them with some of my tutorials on my blog.
Finally, I would like to make a comparison between the free and paid methods of growing.
Growing on Instagram manually (free) is extremely painful process and will take you a lot of time and effort. Getting a bot that will automate all of that process is not expensive and I would recommend anyone invest into one.
Even if you’re just growing one account, it will still take you a lot of time everyday to interact with other users. You can get all that done everyday for less than $100.
Lastly, a quick talk about the safety of both methods. The risk of getting banned while doing this manually is very littleÂ to none.Â But if you ask me, there’s still a chance. Doing everything with a bot might have a bigger chance of getting banned compared to manually (still small though), but if you do everything correct, you won’t have any issues. There are many big accounts on Instagram that have made it to the top using bots. Obviously, once you get to a level where you can grow independently of bots, you should stop using them.
I’m sure many people have tried doing it manually before and gave up after a while. It’s just too much to do everyday. So, my final reecommendation is to use bots, but with caution. Do your research and learn how to use them. As long as everything is set up correctly, you will have no issues whatsoever with bans.
A VPS (virtual private server) is basically a server (computer) that is running somewhere in the world. Most of the times it’s running 24/7.
Dedicated server is pretty much the same as VPS except that VPS is just a portion of a dedicated server. Dedicated server is usually splitted into multiple VPS, because they have a large amount of resources and not everyone needs that many, so they split the resources into multiple VPS and sell them for a cheaper price.
The reason VPS or a dedicated server is very often used with bots is because of their uptime. They are online all the time allowing you to install the bot on the server and keep it running all the time, even when your computer is not running. Which is the reason why people buy these in the first place. Running a bot on your own computer will require you to run the computer for a longer time and not everyone can do that and also if your computer is not good enough, running the bot might cause your computer to run slower than normal.
A very common topicÂ about people getting into Instagram is monetization.Â They usually seek for methods to monetize their audience or ask when should they monetize their audience.
First of all, at the beginning of this post I mentioned that you should a pick a niche you have some knowledge about. That will surely help you get some ideas about monetization. Another thing is picking the niche, make sure you think about the monetization before you get into it.
For example, the pets niche is a niche that grows very fast and has very high engagement but hard to monetize. On the other side, fashion grows fast as well and is easier to monetize.
There is no perfect time to start monetizing your audience. You can start monetizing your audience whenever you want and you should do it as soon as possible. Don’t wait until you’re big. You might be losing sales. If you start when you’re smaller you can make a connection between you and your fans and that will help you expand even more.
Some of the most popular methods people use for monetization are:
- Affiliate marketing
Shoutouts are generally good for any kind of niche and they can earn you a decent amount of money if you get enough customers. The problem with shoutouts is that could have negative effect on your audience. Don’t be greedy for the money you get and never spam your audience with posts they don’t want to see. It’s not good for your account in the long term.
Ecommerce is one of the most profitable methods of making money on Instagram, if not the most profitable. This topic is pretty big and I can’t get in details, but there are many online websites that talk about it.
Affiliate marketing is pretty similar to CPA/PPD and you will be promoting other people’s products or services for a percent of their sales. It could be a good method if you find a good product or service that will sell on Instagram.
CPA/PPD is the method that most of newbies use to make quick money and lose their accounts after a few days (if not hours). This method is called “churn and burn”, basically you make quick money and your accounts get banned. You repeat the process everyday. It’s not easy at all, especially if you haven’t automated it. By automating, I don’t just mean a bot that will follow people. There’s a lot more to automate when you’re doing churn and burn.
Compared to other social networks, Instagram is the one that offers the most opportunities in my opinion. The competition has been rising for the past few months but there is still a room for everyone to make money.
For everyone who’s trying to get into Instagram I would highly recommend you to think about it in the long-term. Don’t see Instagram as an opportunity to make a few bucks and give it up. It could easily help you make a brand.
Many people have already made their own brands just by doing Instagram. Some notable examples are The Fifth Watches, Shredz, Daniel Wellington, SkinnyMeTea and many others.
It’s a slow process at the beginning, but as the time goes and you start getting sales, it gets more interesting.
I don’t know why, but I have a feeling that this post lacks something.Â I’ll do my best to keep it updated with new information. I hope you find it helpful and feel free to ask any question(s) you have in the comments.