How Much Can You Really Make by Shilling on Instagram?

For most of us, social media (and, let's be honest, Instagram in particular) is a total time suck. You think, "Oh, I'll just scroll through the first few posts to clear my mind," but then 15 minutes and dozens of double-taps later, you've wasted your entire Uber ride and answered zero of the emails you planned to answer.

red mill
credit: Kim Hoban

For some people, though, Instagram isn't a waste of time at all. For social media "influencers" (people with large followings — 10,000 or more), it can be a lucrative use of their precious moments. Influencers rake in cash through sponsored posts. You've probably seen plenty of these, marked with #spon, #sponsored, or the simple and honest #ad. But how much are influencers making for these posts? The amount and can vary wildly, from "extra splurging on Amazon" money to "quit your day job and do Instagram full-time" money.

A photo posted by by Danielle (@weworewhat) on

As Bustle points out, not all influencers get paid in the form of cash money. Some, especially those who are starting out and growing their brand and follower base, start out with other perks, like free product in exchange for posts. High profile users can charge big money for sponsored content though. Harper's Bazaar reported in 2015 that Danielle Bernstein of @WeWoreWhat charged between $5,000 and $15,000 for a single sponsored post. That was when she had 992,000 followers and she told Harper's Bazaar that she planned to increase her rates at the coveted 1 million threshold, which she has since passed. And, according to Business Insider, the biggest names in social media can pull in as much as $100,000 for a single sponsored post.

The greatest wealth of influencer earnings knowledge comes from Amber Discko's Who Pays Influencers (inspired by the popular Who Pays Writers site), which compiles rates that companies pay social media influencers based on anonymous submissions from the influencers themselves. Based on the rates submitted to Who Pays Influencers and reported elsewhere, here's what some sponsored posts are (potentially) pulling in.

Free Product

$700

Who Pays Influencers notes that Cutty Sark Whiskey paid one influencer $700 plus a case of "various whiskey products" for 10 abstract Instagram posts.

$1,900

Who Pays Influencers reports that Payless Shoes has paid influencers $1,900 (plus a $75 gift card) for blog and social media posts promoting their brand.

$50,000

According to The Richest, Aimee Song makes up to $50,000 per sponsored post.

A photo posted by Aimee Song (@songofstyle) on

$100,000-$300,000

Jezebel reports that Kylie Jenner makes $100,000-$300,000 for a sponsored Instagram post.

A photo posted by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

Keep this in mind next time you like a sponsored post (or if you ever try to quit your job and become an Instagram influencer full-time).