Instagram is not just a selfie tool – it's a window to the world around us, and it's no secret this social network is connecting people’s lives through photos and videos.
With over 300 million users sharing more than 70 million photos and videos each and every day as of January 2015, for some users Instagram is generating more than appreciative likes and comments as they document their lives, travels and eating habits on their smartphones.
It’s no wonder celebrities like Beyonce, Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian boast millions of Instagram followers and are likely signing huge contracts for their Insta-endorsements. But it's not just celebrities making money online - anyone can make a few hundred dollars a month online.
But, there are also many Instagram models and influencers who live all around the world and have amazing lives and they are more than willing to share their experiences with everyone.
You've probably heard the saying "A photo is worth a thousand words"? Well, for this smartphone snappers, a photo is literally worth a thousand dollars (at least).
The most persistent users with posting and interacting on their accounts build up their followers over time and are raking in big bucks from brands and companies.
While some brands pay between $5 to $10 per thousand followers, others offer $100 per 100 followers and still others pay only in free swag.
If you have 500,000 followers, you could be charging $2,000 to $3,000 per snap that thrusts a brand in front of your followers’ eyes. Mobile Media Lab founder Brian DiFeo tells Yahoo Tech that some fashion-focused Instagrammers are able to command $8,000 for a single sponsored photo.
Even if you don't have thousands of followers, there are other easy ways to make money online.
Here are 10 of the highest-grossing and most successful Instagram accounts:
1. Liz Eswein @newyorkcity
Liz Eswein, 25, who joined Instagram just after it launched in 2010 and began posting pictures of her home city (NYC of course) under the account @NewYorkCity as a hobby. She now has more than 1.2 million followers and has been dubbed the “den mother of Instagram”. Last year, Eswein was commanding up to $15,000 per shot, and charging brands $1 per like for sponsored Instagrams. To put that into perspective, the Guardian reported some posts attracted more than 23,000 likes.
2. Jason Stein @jasonwstein
Jason Stein was an early user of Instagram. He quickly realized Instagram would be a valuable advertising tool for companies. To capitalize on it , Stein launched Laundry Service, a social media agency that matches brands with Instagram influencers. By 2014, Stein was on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in media, a list of industry game-changers. Laundry Service had 30 employees in Los Angeles and New York, and a division called Cycle with an army of about 1,000 Instagrammers who worked with brands like Amazon, Beats and the Oprah Winfrey Network.
3. Brian DiFeo @bridif
Brian DiFeo joined Instagram in 2010 as a hobby, as a 33-year-old with no professional photography experience. But after gaining popularity on the platform, in March 2011 he speculatively emailed the organisers of a New York music festival asking for a free ticket in exchange for taking photos of the event and putting them on to his feed.. That led to a gig with Puma in Abu Dhabi, and from there the work continued coming. DiFeo and Anthony were the co-founders who launched The Mobile Media Lab with Eswein.
4. Anthony Danielle @takinyerphoto
Anthony Danielle joined Instagram two weeks after it launched with no intention of becoming an Instagram influencer. He started out photographing random people with no regard for their clothing. Then, as his focus shifted to fashion, that’s when brands started reaching out, he told Fortune.
Danielle still runs The Mobile Media Lab with DiFeo. As of last year, he said the company was fielding five to 10 requests per month, and he gets two to three for his personal account — all of which they were vetting out to the agency’s Instagrammers.
5. Aimee Song @songofstyle
The proprietor of fashion and interior design blog Song of Style, Aimee Song has 950k followers on Instagram and her blog is viewed by 72,000 readers and when she is pictured wearing a certain outfit, that outfit sells out within a day!
Such a high social media presence means that Song can charge around $50,000 per big-brand collaboration, easily putting her amongst the upper echelons of Instagram’s highest earners.
6. Danielle Bernstein @weworewhat
22 year-old Danielle Bernstein runs the massively popular fashion blog We Wore What, and has almost 1 million followers on her Instagram account. Her social media influence has led her to become one of the most recognizable and successful figures in the fashion industry Companies send her free stuff, but she has reportedly turned down freebies that she know she won’t feature. However, a lot of her work is negotiated by an agent, and she’s worked with major names, including Lancôme and Virgin Hotels.
It has been estimated that Danielle charges between $5,000 and $15,000 for a post promoting the brand she is photographed promoting, but this figure can rise according to the amount of props she gives the brand in question, or the length of time she spends advertising them.
7. Nash Grier @nashgrier
Vine superstar Nash Grier has 8.4 million Instagram followers. By age 16, he has worked with Virgin Mobile and other major brands, which are reportedly paying him $25,000 to $100,000 His popularity apparently isn’t limited to online platforms. Grier also has celebrity-like status among his fans in real life, according to the Huffington Post, and the social media-driven fame is paying off handsomely.
8. Andreas Wijk @andreaswijk
The 22-year old Swedish model and singer, Andreas Wijk is instantly recognizable to many Instagrammers. Wijk’s Instagram following is currently almost 150k, which not only makes him an important figure in the modelling world, but also drastically increases his earning potential. Instagram users with a following of above 100k and a consistently popular photo stream can find themselves in the same bracket as Wijk.
9. Jen Selter @jenselter
Jen Selter joined Instagram in 2012 while working at a gym and started out posting workout pictures. From there, her fame has grown. She’s widely known for her fit physique, particularly her posterior. Given that she can reportedly earn 80,000 likes for a picture of herself sitting on a fitness ball, she is now earning an attractive living on product endorsements from companies such as Nike, Lululemon and New Balance.
10. Huda Kattan @hudabeauty
Born in the U.S. and based in Dubai, Huda Kattan is building a beauty empire. Her website, HudaBeauty, is one of the top 20 beauty blogs, according to Alexa website rankings. She also has a wildly popular Instagram account to accompany it. Recently, Kattan had more than 7.7 million followers and is gaining an average of 23,000 more per day, according to social media statistics tracker Social Blade.
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