More than two years ago, I woke up at 3:57 am and went about my day the same way I always do.
I took old Bally out for a walk, drank my 24 oz of water, and, per my “farm boy morning routine” immediately got to work.
I didn’t know it then, but something was going to happen on that day that would change the way I did business forever.
At the time, I was brand new to the world of Instagram. I had fewer than 500 followers and, with my rather technophobic and ludditian dispositions, still saw the platform as an over-hyped Pinterest. As a social media platform where the only way to make ‘real’ money was to spend an exorbitant amount of money on paid advertising.
However, several of my high level mentors had instructed me to jump on the platform and so, I’d begrudgingly obliged.
Later that day, I jumped in the back of an Uber and headed to the airport, planning to spend some time writing and going about my business as usual.
Until I saw a notification on my phone that someone on Instagram had sent me a direct message.
I opened it up and saw that one of my followers was interested in learning more about my business growth workshops and fired back with a quick response, thinking nothing of it.
We chatted back and forth for about five minutes and, before I knew what was happening, he told me, “I’m in…send me a payment link and let’s do this.”
I sent the link and, not two minutes later, saw another notification that a payment had been processed for $5,000.
That moment marked the day I went from “dabbling” with Instagram to going ALL IN and using it as one of the cornerstones of my marketing strategy.
Since then, I’ve gone on to build my following to nearly 50,000 people and generate more than $1.5 million in 24 months (spending almost no money on paid advertising).
And today, I’m going to show you how I did it .
More importantly, I’m going to show you how you can replicate my success and generate an extra 6-figures this year with organic Instagram marketing.
Interested? Then let’s dive in.
Why Use Instagram to Market Your Business?
I have personally used Instagram to generate more than $1.5 million in two years.
My friends, clients, and students have experienced similar results:
- My friend Zander Fryer used my Instagram system to generate an additional $45k/month using the platform.
- My client and coworker Ron Mourra used my system to go from $0 to $12,000/month in fitness coaching revenue.
- My friend Jason Capital generates more than $120,000/month from his following.
- My client Vince DelMonte generates multiple 6-figures every year from his following of 47k
And the list goes on and on.
Now, these are all admittedly impressive numbers, but you can make that kind of money with Facebook, YouTube, email, and even Twitter (well…maybe not Twitter).
So why Instagram?
Let me show you…
Now, Instagram boasts an impressive one billion total users, more than 500 million people from all over the world login to the app every single day. However, the real power of Instagram lies not in its size, but in the behavior and engagement of its users.
Just take a look at a few of these statistics to see what I mean:
- Brands on Instagram have regular engagement with nearly 4% of their followers compared to the 0.1% experienced on Facebook and Twitter (Source: Forrester)
- 62% of users follow a brand on Instagram (Source: Iconosquare)
- Instagram is expected to account for nearly 25% of Facebook’s revenue in 2019 (source)
- ⅓ of the most viewed stories are from businesses (source)
But, most importantly, only 36% of marketers use Instagram to promote their brand (source), compared to 93% on Facebook.
This means that Instagram is not only one of the best platforms to use in 2019, but it’s also one of the least competitive.
But Can I Use Instagram to Market My Business?
Invariably, as soon as I start talking about my love affair with Instagram, readers will fire back, saying:
Craig! I know Instagram is great for your business…But I sell, real estate, life insurance, feline probiotics, luxury toe nail clippers, [insert ridiculously niche brand]…Can I still make money with Instagram?
My answer is always the same.
Listen, I’ve helped people in every conceivable industry make money on Instagram. From real estate agents, to coffee entrepreneurs, to a rodeo star selling belt buckles, to your everyday business consultant.
All of them have used Instagram to grow their business, and all of them have been blown away by how effective the platform is.
But to achieve 6-figure results with Instagram, you need to have a 6-figure strategy in place.
Let’s dive into a few of the fundamentals you MUST follow to succeed on and profit from Instagram.
The Fundamentals of Instagram Marketing
There is no “one size fits all” approach to Instagram.
There are thousands of variables with regards to posting frequency, timing, videos vs. photos, etc.
However, there are proven strategies and principles that, if followed, can make you the next Instagram millionaire.
1. Understand Your Audience and Remember the 7 Magic Words
The first step to successfully marketing your brand or product on Instagram is to understand your audience and enter the conversation in your prospect’s minds.
The #1 key to success on Instagram, and any other marketing channel for that matter, is to understand your audience’s problems so deeply and profoundly that you’re able to diagnose their challenges better than they can themselves.
Because when you understand their problems more intimately than they do, they assume you must have the solution.
When creating your Instagram strategy, your goal should be to enter the internal conversation your ideal prospects are having in their mind’s each and every day.
I mean this literally.
Right now, pull out a piece of paper and a pen and write down every day of the week from Monday to Sunday.
Got it? Great. Here’s what you’re going to do next.
Next to each day of the week, I want you to write down three things.
- What’s happening in your average client’s life on that day?
- What emotion are they experiencing?
- What outcome do they desire?
Here’s an example using a health and nutrition coach:
- Monday: “Starting fresh” on their diet. Feeling motivated. Wants to stick to their diet 100% this week
- Tuesday: Still going strong. They feel resolved to stick to their diet but the stress from work is making it hard.
- Wednesday: Struggling. They’ve stuck to their diet, but they’re seconds from caving in.
- Thursday: Frustrated. They binged on junk food last night and feel defeated.
- Friday: Anxious. They want to go out with friends, but they’re worried they won’t be able to stick to their diet if they do.
- Saturday: Regretful. They didn’t just eat a chicken wing last night…they ate all of them. They feel disgusted with themselves and want to stop the cycle of failure
- Sunday: Resolute. They messed up but are ready to get back on track.
Using these events and emotions as a guide, you can now inform your content creation strategy to speak to the unique challenges and struggles your clients are facing each day of the week.
For example, you might create the following content mill to meet your clients needs.
- Monday: Motivational post encouraging them to eat healthy foods this week.
- Tuesday: Stress management post. Talk about the relationship between stress and food and how they can better manage stress to avoid binge eating.
- Wednesday: Give them permission to “cheat.” Provide healthy alternatives to their most tempting foods so they can have their cake and eat it too.
- Thursday: Pick me up post. Remind them that one bad meal doesn’t break their week. Encourage them to stick to their diet even if they messed up yesterday.
- Friday: How to post. Teach them how to eat the right foods when they go out with friends and engineer their meal so they can enjoy themselves without ruining their goals.
- Saturday: Redemption post. Remind them that, no matter what happened last night, they can still achieve the goals they desire.
- Sunday: “Why” post. Remind them that their goal to eat healthy isn’t just about looking good…it’s about being their best self.
Do you see how powerful this strategy can be when applied correctly?
When you gain deep and intimate knowledge of your customer base and can speak to their specific challenges as they are happening, they will start to send you messages saying:
“It’s like you can read my mind!”
Remember, when you can enter the conversation in your prospect’s mind and diagnose their problems better than they can themselves, not only will they know that you have the solution, but they will do everything in their power to get it from you.
2. What to Post on Instagram
Now that you have an understanding of the underlying framework behind your content strategy, the next question to answer is, “What the heck should I be posting in the first place?”
Pictures of my last meal at Chipotle? Photos with my wife and kids? Workout pictures? Videos of myself doing donuts in my new car?
Although there is no hard and fast rule stating that you should publish xyz number of quote posts, or how-to videos, or selfies, there is a simple formula to help you determine what type of content to share
The PVS Formula
I once saw a guy who posted a picture like THIS on his Instagram:
Now, the gentleman in question was a health and nutrition coach and was (attempting) to share the importance of proper hydration with his followers.
And, for whatever reason, he thought that posting a picture of an empty water glass on his page was the best way to do it.
Here’s a video where I break this down for you:
Now here’s the thing…
No one on Instagram cares about an empty water glass. I know, I know, the most ‘liked’ post of all time was a photo of an egg.
But you can’t take likes to the bank and posting purposeless content of your favorite meal or water vessel is not a strategy that will get you to 6-figures.
When you post content like this, you are using Instagram as social media instead of business media. You’re treating it like a hobby or personal pursuit instead of a proven business marketing strategy. But social media will never make you a dime.
Watch this short video where I explain the difference between social and business media:
Instead, you’re going to create business media and follow what I call the PVS Formula. Which stands for Purposeful, Valuable, and Shareable content.
Every post, video, and story that you share on Instagram must have a definite purpose.
Are you trying to motivate your followers? Convince them to click the link in your bio and share their email address? Sell them on your latest offer? Educate them about an important topic?
In this post, my purpose is to share powerful time management strategies to help my followers be more productive.
In this video, the purpose of my post is to 1) Share a powerful email marketing strategy and 2) Establish credibility and authority to encourage my followers to work with me.
And in this one, my only goal is to acquire new leads for my business growth workshops.
Before you click “publish” on ANYTHING, first ask yourself…
What is the purpose of this post?
Unless your posts have a clearly defined purpose inside of your strategy, you will never gain the traction you want and you will never monetize the followers you acquire.
In addition to serving a specific purpose, your content must be uniquely valuable to your audience.
It must catch people’s attention and help them gain a clearer understanding of a problem they are facing or reframe a specific challenge they might have on that day.
Think of Instagram the same way you would a blog post.
Anyone can create a quick article detailing their “7 tips for success” where they churn out tired old cliches that don’t make a real impact on the reader. But the best writers, guys like James Clear, Mark Manson, and James Altucher, all know how to provide uniquely valuable content that their readers can’t get anywhere else.
On Instagram, you must do the same thing.
Here’s an example from my page where I gave contrarian and valuable advice my followers won’t find in many other places.
And this one…
Always ask yourself… Is the content I’m about to share uniquely valuable to my audience? Will it stop them mid-scroll and give them the “aha” moment for which they’ve been searching all week.
If the answer is “no”, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Finally, your Instagram content must be shareable. It must be the type of content that people not only like but feel compelled to share with the people that they care about most.
Creating shareable content comes down to two main factors:
By now, you already have the message down. But it’s equally important that you create an aesthetically appealing design to all of your posts that encourage people to share it with their friends and followers.
Or this one…
Although these types of post might not drive immediate revenue, they expand the reach and following of your brand and attract new leads to your business whom you can later convert into paying customers.
Bonus: Use Carousel Posts
One of the easiest ways to drive your IG engagement through the roof and keep your followers on your account is to use the “Carousel Posts” to tell stories.
By filling all ten slots in a carousel post with pictures and text that tell a story, you’ll keep your audience engaged with your post for longer and appease the almighty IG algorithm.
As my friend Joshua Johnston put it:
“fill ALL 10 slots with pictures that tell a story. For example, check out @davetalas on IG. He is crushing the story telling game on IG right now using all 10 slots. The algorithm loves it because it keeps people engaged on the platform longer because how long it takes to get through all 10 photos.”
These posts are easy to create and will 2-3X your post engagement while driving more leads to your biggest offer.
Aim for 2-3 storyselling carousel posts each week and you’ll be amazed by how quickly you can grow your gram.
3. Use The 5×5 Grid for Endless Content
Now that you understand the type of content that will allow you to turn Instagram into a money printing machine, the question you’re probably asking yourself is, “Wow Craig, this sounds great…But I don’t have that much content to share! What do I do when I run out of new content ideas?”
And this is a valid concern.
However, I’ve developed a simple tool that has allowed me to crank out powerful content quickly and easily without needing to find a new angle or idea every single week.
It’s called the 5×5 Content Grid and it goes like this:
First, you’re going to draw a 5×5 grid on a piece of paper and brainstorm the five most important topics, lessons, or strategies that you’re always teaching or the five questions that you are asked most frequently.
For example, I recently helped one of my clients, a Naturopathic Doctor that specializes in skin care/acne reduction, with this process.
Her five were:
- Clearing your skin from the inside out
- Foods to eat for clearer skin
- Topical skin treatments
- Hormonal acne
- Stress related skin problems
Once you have determined your top five lessons, you’re going to brainstorm the five most impactful ways that you can teach this content.
Continuing the example from above, my client’s top five were:
- Her story
- Case studies/success stories
- Facts and statistics
- Overcoming myths
- Celebrity examples
Next, you’re going to plug your five hot topics across the top of the grid and the five best ways to share that content on the side of the grid and then insert a little note about your content into the remaining grid boxes.
For example: “A fun fact about how __% of people get breakouts when they eat xyz food… and here’s what to do instead”.
And there you have it!
If you complete this exercise at the beginning of every month (it should take less than 15 minutes) you’ll have 25 ideas for unique and highly valuable content that you can share with your audience to more effectively build your brand, manufacture celebrity, and grow your profits.
Then, once you’ve tested out different content topics and teaching styles, you can repost your highest performing content on a regular basis, streamlining the process and allowing you to pump out even more killer content every week.
4. Be Authentic and Consistent
So you’ve gained a deep and intimate understanding of your audience, implemented the ‘PVS Lens’ in your content creation strategy, and started using the 5X5 Grid to create an endless number of valuable posts to share with your audience.
But there are two more pieces to the puzzle that must be implemented before you can achieve 6 or 7-figure success with Instagram.
The first is authenticity.
I see so many entrepreneurs today who attempt to mimic and copy other successful influencers on Instagram. They’ll post the same infographics, record the same videos, share the same quotes and even emulate other people’s personalities in their Instagram stories.
But, in the long run, this strategy never works.
Your followers don’t want a toned down version of Gary Vaynerchuk. They want you to show up authentically.
For example, unlike most of the popular Instagrammers out there (think Bedros Keuilian, Gary V, Jason Capital, Grant Cardone, etc.) I don’t use profanity in my videos.
Sure, if the mood strikes me you might hear me utter a solitary “badass” or “no way in hell”, but I made a commitment long ago to be the type of person who doesn’t use excessive profanity to get their point across.
Not because I believe there’s anything wrong with an f-bomb barrage to wake your audience up…because excess profanity is inauthentic and misaligned with the man I want to be.
But what about you? What are the unique elements of your personality that make you, ‘you’? What does it mean for you to be authentic.
Do you love corny or dark jokes? Use them in your stories.
Are you a philosophy nut who could argue Kantian ethics for hours without getting bored? Weave that into your posts.
Do you love ridiculously overpriced coffee, zebra print snuggies, and keto pizza? Then talk about it!
Be authentic and go all in on yourself. Because at the end of the day, YOU are the reason people are following your Instagram.
But in addition to authenticity, you must also have a high degree of consistency inside of your Instagram strategy.
You can’t post one type of content this week and another type the next or post five days a week and then post only five days a month.
You must create and implement a consistent strategy where the messaging, frequency, and style of your content all follows the same general guidelines and rules.
When you look at my Instagram, you’ll see that I post specific posts on specific days at specific times and with a specific aesthetic.
By showing up consistently in your follower’s feeds, you will start to build more KLT (know love and trust factor) and that is when the money can be made.
5. Batch, Automate, Outsource to Add 10 Hours of Free Time to Your Week While Dominating IG
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Even though Instagram is one of the platforms that generates the most revenue for my business and even though I post dozens of photos, videos, and stories each week…
…I spend less than seven hours a week on Instagram.
Through the intentional use of software and team members, I’ve created a simple but highly effective system that allows me to dominate Instagram without Instagram dominating my life.
Here’s how it works.
Instead of attempting to create new Instagram content every single day, I set aside three to five hours each week to record 5-6 stories, a few IGTV videos, and write out ideas for specific quote and listicle posts.
By creating all of my content on a specific day, I’m able to get into flow and more double my productivity, and I recommend that you do the same.
Set a specific day and time on your calendar each week where you can devote 3-5 hours to recording stories and creating ideas for posts (which you will outsource). Then, throughout the week, use the next two steps to get that content published automatically so that you can focus on high level strategy and even bigger profit levers.
If you’re just getting started out in your business, you might not have the resources to hire a full time social media assistant like I have…and that’s fine.
There are dozens of tools and resources you can use to automate 80% of your Instagram content so that you can focus on other aspects of your business.
My team uses a tool called Later to schedule out every post and, at only $9/month for their most basic plan, it’s one of the most effective and affordable tools out there.
In a matter of minutes, you can take all of the content (except for your Instagram Stories and IGTV videos) you batched and set it to publish at specific times throughout the week.
Later also gives you access to a suite of tracking and analytics tools to help you determine the ideal time to post for your specific audience.
Whether you opt for Later or another tool like Buffer, HootSuite, or Agorapulse, using an automated tool to schedule and track the performance of your content will allow you to free up your schedule while dominating the gram.
For the first 18 months of my Instagram “career” I uploaded every story and video myself. Every morning, the first thing I would do was open my Instagram, post my story, and then…proceed to waste 30-45 minutes getting lost in the sea of content and new posts.
Now, not only was this a terrible way to begin my days, but it was an unnecessary distraction that prevented me from doing my most important work.
Today, however, I will rarely open my Instagram until after 10 am.
My new assistant uploads all of my stories, creates most of my new posts, and analyzes the performance of every piece of content to ensure we’re making positive progress.
And by doing so, she saves me 10-15 hours a week.
Although she works for me full time and is paid a competitive salary to handle all of my social media marketing, you don’t need a full time social media manager to quickly grow your Instagram following without selling your soul to do so.
For about $1,000 a month (potentially less) you can find an amazing assistant on Upwork, Freelancer, or even Craigslist.
And whether you pay someone simply to upload your stories or create post graphics or write your captions (or all three), the more you can effectively outsource, the faster you will be able to grow.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the overaching strategy behind your Instagram marketing, it’s time to talk about how to build a HUGE following…fast.
Bonus: Audit Yourself
Like any component of your business, succeeding on Instagram requires constant re-evaluation and optimization.
No matter how well you’re doing, there’s always room for improvement and there are plenty of ways to get better.
At least once every 2-3 months, I encourage you to do a “personal audit” of your Instagram where you ask yourself:
- What am I doing well?
- What can I do better?
- What am I missing?
For example, you can check out my audit of my own Instagram by clicking here.
To take this to the next level, I encourage you to hire an Instagram expert who can audit your account once every quarter.
Sometimes, it’s the simple things you don’t know that are holding you back from 6-figure iPhone income and by getting objective outside eyes on your social media and business, you can quickly shore up the gaps in your strategy and rapidly increase your profits.
How to Build a HUGE Following Fast
Pretty graphics, compelling stories, and captions that could make Hemmingway cry are all great.
But if you don’t have a substantial number of followers who are seeing and engaging with the content you’re creating, you will struggle to make the income you desire.
Luckily, growing your follower base on Instagram isn’t as hard as you might imagine.
You simply need the right strategy to scale quickly.
After growing from 500 to nearly 50,000 followers in under two years, I’ve identified a few key levers you can pull to grow your account and your income faster than you ever thought possible.
1. Use Instagram the Way Instagram Wants
Instagram, like every other major online platform, uses a specific algorithm to determine whose content gets seen and whose doesn’t.
Unlike Google, however, their algorithm isn’t quite as simple as “Post valuable content and get people to share it.”
Although they do place a premium on quality content–content that is valuable, purposeful, and shareable–the determining factors in the ‘algo’ go far beyond that.
I recently sat down with one of the top IG marketers on the planet (a gentleman who is regularly flown out to super-secret “Ig Influencer” conferences with top celebrities and executives from the company) and he told me this:
“Your content is important. You need to have plenty of shares, saves, and comments for Instagram to share your stuff…but they also want to see that you are using every feature on their platform–many of them daily.”
This means, to grow your following as quickly and easily as possible, you must be using every feature Instagram has to offer.
Specifically, you must:
- Post photos/videos daily
- Use IGTV 2-3 times a week
- Share stories daily
- Go live once or twice a week
- DM your followers
- And comment on your posts
Instagram promotes and encourages users who are fully engaged with their platform and penalizes those who appear to be “gaming” their social media channel for profits.
By showing up every single day, using every feature available, and staying actively engaged with your followers, you will find that your account grows much faster than you previously thought possible.
Note: It should go without saying but you should NEVER buy followers, likes, or engagement. Instagram will know and your account will get shut down. Just don’t do it.
2. Use Hashtags Wisely
One of the most common mistakes Instagram novices make is the irresponsible use of hashtags.
Hashtags matter and they matter a lot. But they are a double edged sword that can serve to damage your accounts standing as quickly as it can bolster it.
The most common way that new “grammers” get themselves into trouble is by reusing the same hashtags over and over and over again.
When you do this, you can become the recipient of what is commonly called a “Shadow Ban.” Which is simply a fancy and scary sounding way of saying that Instagram will penalize your account and reduce the organic reach your posts receive.
Luckily, there are a few simple rules that, if followed, will allow you to maximize the performance of your posts while avoiding potential shadow bans.
To execute this strategy effectively, you’ll want to use a tool like Flick, or another research tool that will allow you to find new hashtags without spending 20+ hours scouring Instagram.
1. Use Different but Relevant Hashtags Every Day
The first, and most important rule of hashtags, is to use new and relevant hashtags every time you post.
Put in the work (or outsource it) to identify hashtags that are genuinely relevant to the content you’re sharing and cycle through different tags on a weekly basis.
Avoid overusing the same hashtags (like #entrepreneur or #successmindset) and base your selection on their relevancy not only the size of their following..
2. Use 10 Or Fewer Hashtags Per Post With a Following Similar to Yours
Using too many hashtags will make your posts appear spammy and reduce the reach your content receives. A general rule of thumb to follow is to use 10 or fewer hashtags (in either the post caption or the comments–it doesn’t seem to make a difference).
In addition to using 8-10 relevant and different hashtags per post (and 2-3 hashtags per stories), you want to make sure that the type of hashtags you use are engineered for maximum reach.
Specifically, 80% of the hashtags you use should have a similar following size to your account.
For example, as of this writing, I have roughly 50,000 followers on Instagram. This means that 8/10 hashtags I use should have a following of between 35,000 and 65,000 people.
We’ll also try to incorporate at least 1-2 hashtags that have 10-20X the following I do (500k to 1,000,000 people). If a post performs exceptionally well, these “long shot” hashtags will allow you to maximize Instagram’s algorithm and have your content seen by hundreds of thousands more people than they otherwise would.
3. Make Sure Your Hashtags Are Recent
When my assistant first started using the aforementioned hashtag strategy (which was shared with us by one of the top Instagram agency owners on the planet), we found that our reach was, inexplicably, going down.
I called my friend for help and, after auditing our account for 2-3 minutes, he identified the mistake we were making.
Although it’s important to make sure that you use a sufficient number of hashtags that are relevant and appropriately sized for your account, it’s equally important that the hashtags you use have multiple recent posts. It doesn’t matter how targeted your hashtags are.
If people are not actively searching for and posting with that tag, your content will not get seen. Period.
Ideally, you want to ensure that any tag you use has been used by at least 3-5 people on Instagram in the past 24 hours.
By using hashtags that are new, relevant, appropriately sized, and recent, you will gain 10X more exposure to your posts and grow your following much faster.
3. Find Reciprocal Opportunities
And easy, and relatively simple way to quickly increase the exposure of your content and grow your brand is to identify other Instagrammers in your industry with a following size similar to your own and exchange reposts.
Much like guest blogging or sharing a link to someone else’s website in an email, this strategy allows you to organically grow your audience by piggy backing off someone else’s audience.
This simplest way to execute this tactic is to search for hashtags that you regularly use in your posts and find 15-20 other influencers who have a following size similar to your own.
Spark up a conversation in the direct message and ask them if they would be willing to do a repost for a repost. About 60% of the time, they will agree and you can gain 500+ new followers in a single day.
It’s important to note, however, that many Instagram “celebrities” buy followers from other countries or target demographics that are not congruent with your own.
To ensure that you’re getting the best results possible from this strategy, I suggest that you ask for a screenshot of the other ‘grammers’ demographics before agreeing to repost their content.
Although the data is fairly limited, a quick screenshot from their Instagram Insights will let you make sure that most of their followers are from the country in which you operate and match your target demographic.
4. Manufacture Celebrity
Whether you like it or not growing your business (not to mention you life) becomes easier once you’ve achieved some level of celebrity within your world and industry.
Sure, you might struggle to make it through the airport or your local Whole Foods unnoticed, but the positive elements of fame far outweigh the occasional run-in with the entrepreneurial paparazzi.
And by far the simplest method to increase your fame is to spend time with other famous people, and use their status to build your own.
Although this might sound “impossible” to many of you, it’s important to remember that in 2019, fame is relative.
If you have 1,000 followers on your Instagram profile, then spending time (and getting pictures) with someone who has 5,000 is more than enough to “borrow fame” and grow your following.
Whether you have to invest in a mastermind, like I did with Grant Cardone, or show up to a live event, or hire a coach, or volunteer to do work for free, find a way to get around the people who have your followers and leverage their audience to build your own.
For example, I recently pulled my mentee Jason Capital aside and filmed a testimonial for one of his programs knowing that his audience of more than 100,000 people would see me on video and that many of them would then follow me and become paying customers.
He received a killer endorsement and I “borrowed” some of his fame. It was a win/win for both of us and an easy tactic that you can use to increase your fame.
5. Engage with Your Followers
Finally, to grow and monetize your following, you must engage with your followers.
You can’t simply post great content and optimize the technical aspect of your account while ignoring the people who follow you.
Remember, all business is relationship.
And if you aren’t cultivating a relationship with your followers by engaging with them in the comments, Instagram lives, and DM’s, not only are you failing to nurture one of your most valuable assets, but you are inviting the wrath of the Instagram algorithm onto your account.
Does this mean you need to spend every waking hour responding to comments or writing long-winded direct messages? Not at all.
However, it does mean that you should follow two basic rules.
- Respond to every comment new posts receive during the first hour: You don’t need to respond to every comment, but you should respond to all comments that are published within the first hour of your post going live.
- Direct message daily: Whether you’re reaching out or responding to your followers, you should be using your direct messages daily. Even if it’s something as simple as following up on a comment inside your DM’s, this goes a long way in showing Instagram that you’re “serious” about their platform.
If you do this, not only will you gain Instagram’s favor, but the favor and respect of your followers.
Now that you have a basic strategy for content creation and understand the basics of growing your following, there’s only one final question to answer…
How the heck do you actually make money from this thing?
Luckily, the answer is a lot simpler than you might imagine.
1. Optimize Your Bio and Use Retargeting to Maximize Your Profits
Your bio is your opportunity to give your followers the “elevator pitch” of your brand and business.
Keep it simple but personal by sharing.
- A little bit about who you are
- The exact benefit you provide to customers
- A link where followers can learn more about you or buy a product
For example, here’s the bio that I’ve used for the past six months to consistently drive new leads into my Social Story Selling program:
Here’s another example from Lewis Howes:
And one more from Ramit Sethi:
Having a great bio is one piece of making money on Instagram. But in and of itself, it’s simply not enough.
To take this strategy to the next level, you’re going to call up your tech team (or pull up Google) and have them install a Facebook retargeting pixel on whatever page to which you send your followers from Instagram.
Then, you’re going to set up a low budget Facebook ad to retarget visitors and continue selling them on your offer or lead magnet.
This simple strategy has dramatically increased the number of leads my business generates and has allowed us to close several thousand dollars in new sales from a relatively nominal ad spend.
2. Story Sell Exclusive Offers
In addition to using your bio link to drive new leads and customers to your business, you’re going to leverage the Instagram Stories feature every single day to make exclusive offers to your followers.
There are a few different structures you can use to profit from your Instagram stories. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
1. The “How To” Story
In this story, you’re going to teach your followers how to do something related to your niche.
- A nutrition coach might make a video teaching meal prep
- A business coach might share a story teaching simple lead generation strategies
- An eCommerce business might share a video explaining how to do something related to their product (e.g. a coffee company that share a story explaining how to brew the perfect cup of Joe).
- A financial advisor could share a story about common personal finance mistakes.
And the list goes on.
When used in conjunction with the “conversation in your prospect’s minds” and the three step CTA I’ll teach you in just a minute, these stories can be powerful revenue generating assets that allow you to share your expertise, establish credibility, and close new clients.
2. The “Behind the Scenes” Story
Another great story style you can use to manufacture celebrity, build your authority, and make your offer is the “behind the scenes” story.
Much as the name might suggest, this is a story where you take your followers behind the scenes in your life.
For example, you could show them your morning routine, walk them through your typical breakfast, share your workouts, or record a quick clip during a coaching call or podcast interview.
Here’s an example of a YouTube video I recorded using this exact story style (bonus tip: repurpose YouTube videos into Instagram stories for even more content)
These stories further establish the KLT factor and build even more rapport with your audience. Of course, making it easier to close new clients in the future.
3. The “Rant Mode” Story
I love these.
Every niche and industry is filled with, for lack of a better term, b.s.
You have business consultants, fitness gurus, and life coaches giving terrible advice that actually impedes people’s progress and makes it harder for them to hit their goals.
And occasionally, a friendly rant on these topics will not only help your followers identify a better strategy for solving their problems, but it will make you seem like even more of an expert for your contrarian stance.
A great example of this is my “Anti morning routine rant” (you can read my essay on this topic here), where I point out how so many people waste the most valuable hours of their day in a perverse form of procrastination that does little to improve their lives.
I suggest, instead, that you follow the “Farm boy morning routine” where you wake up, drink some water or a green smoothie, shower, and immediately get to work.
Meditation, journalling, and affirmations are all great. But you can dive into these things more fully and benefit from them more profoundly when you engage in them after your most important work is completed.
Every time I post this story, I’ll receive dozens of direct messages over the following days from people who tried out my contrarian routine and LOVED it. And many of those people later become paying clients in my highest ticket offers.
Here’s another example from a YouTube video that I’ve repurposed onto my Instagram story:
Identify a topic or trend in your industry that pisses you off, and rant on it.
If you do it right, your audience will love you for it.
4. The Case Study
The final story type you’ll want to build into your Editorial calendar is the case study story where you either have a successful client share their story directly or you share their story with your followers.
Although these stories will typically get less engagement than the other types I shared with you, they’re often the determining factor in getting clients off the fence and convincing them to take action on your offer.
When they get a chance to see the specific results you helped someone else achieve in their lives, it will get the wheels of their subconscious spinning and they will think to themselves, “Man, I want to achieve results like that.”
However, to turn this story into cash money, you must structure it correctly.
Specifically, you or your client must share:
- Where they were before they started working with you: Paint a picture of all the pain they were experiencing in their life. Share the solutions they tried unsuccessfully and the problems they were facing that drove them to work with you.
- Why they were skeptical: Have your client point out the reasons they did not believe working with you was a good decision. This will not only add a level of “realness” to your story, but it will help potential prospects identify even further with the “hero” of your case study.
- What results they achieved/where they are today: Have your client share the results they have achieved from working with you. What problems have they solved in their lives? How are they better today because of your product or service than they were before implementing it?
- To whom they recommend your services/product: Listen, what you offer is not a good fit for everyone who follows you. And that’s ok. By having your successful client share the specific type of person that should take advantage of your offer, you will weed out bad clients and ensure you’re attracting only the people you really want to work with.
Here’s an example of the case study in action:
Now that you’re creating engaging and highly watchable stories, the next step is to finish them off with the three step call to action to convert followers into paying customers.
3. Use the Three Step CTA
THE most common mistake I see people making on Instagram is that they don’t give their followers a chance to buy.
They don’t tell them what they offer, how they can get it, or why they need to get it now.
But YOU are not going to make this mistake because you have this guide.
At the end of every post, video, IGTV, and story you publish, you’re going to finish it with a three-step call to action that tells people.
- What they’re getting: What problem can you solve for them? What offer or solution do you have that will take away their biggest pains?
- How to get it: Do they need to swipe up? Click the link in your bio? Go to your website? Send a DM? Where do they need to go to take advantage of the offer.
- Why they MUST get it now: Do you only have a few spots left? Are you closing enrollment on your course? Running out of inventory? Build scarcity into your offer and tell your followers why they MUST take action today.
Here’s a video where I dive into the three step call to action even deeper.
With your call to action in place, you are now well on your way to your first 6 or 7-figures on Instagram.
4. The Blunt Post
One of THE easiest ways to get an immediate cash injection into your business is by using something I call the “Blunt Post” and it goes like this…
- Create an Instagram post
- Tell people exactly what you’re offering in the post image
- Tell people how to get it in the post description
Simple, I know. Almost too simple to work.
But here’s the thing…the people who are following you on Instagram want to work with you. They want to have the lifestyle you have and enjoy the results you enjoy.
But YOU need to make the offer.
I’ve had clients use this post style to make $4,000 in 24 hours and I’ve personally used it to close more than $15,000 in new coaching clients in less than 2 days.
Cut the fluff and get to the point. I promise, your audience will thank you.
Instagram is, by far, one of the most under-utilized and over powered marketing strategies in 2019.
But you need to take action NOW and start building your following while the competition is relatively small.
To help you on this journey, I’ve put together an intensive course called the Instagram Social Story Selling System where I’ll teach you EVERYTHING that I’ve learned going from 500 followers to nearly 50,000 and more than $1.5 million in revenue.
Click this link to learn more and take your first step to generating iPhone income TODAY.