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Make money on Instagram

Make money on Instagram – travel Instagramers share tips


This week I had the opportunity to interview three of Australia’s leading travel Instagramers: laurenepbath, garry_norris and lovethywalrus (Paul Fleming).

Specifically, to ask them to share some of the learnings from their success including: increasing follower numbers, content strategy, monitoring tools and how they manage to make money on Instagram.



Instagram laurenepbath (360,713 followers)

Facebook piriebathphotography

Twitter @laurenepbath

Email  laurenEPbath@gmail.com 


Here is a selection of Lauren’s work.

1. Describe your business and how you use Instagram

Before I answer this straight up I would like to mention that my business has changed and evolved drastically since I first came out as “Australia’s first professional Instagrammer”. In the early days I was very much marketing myself as a solo/ freelance travel instagrammer. I was able to monetise through learning about destination marketing, providing value and obviously through my strong social media reach, most of which was coming from Instagram. (Now 360,000+)

These days you could call me many things – travel photographer, project manager, consultant, educator. I have continued to grow my skills and expand my services so that I am now more or less a one stop shop for destinations hoping to test the waters in this brave new world. Despite it all though I continue to utilise Instagram more than any other social media platform due to it’s highly engaged community and simple to use layout.


2. How have you been able to earn an income from your Instagram following?

I knew that I was getting close to the right amount of followers when I began to attract offers from here in Australia and also overseas. At first these were just offers of free goods and eventually a few small travel opportunities started to come through. This was just after a year after I started on Instagram with over 100,000 followers. When I decided to quit my job and try to make a living through social media I had nothing at all on the horizon but I had a very weird feeling that it was something I had to do. (And I’m generally not the sort of person who believes in “feelings”.)

I had a good long think about it, involved my family and tried to talk to lots of people before I collected my thoughts and quit. I knew that I wanted to travel, take photographs and use Instagram and I tailored my earlier services in a way that would see me doing these three things. Boxing myself up into such a small niche when Instagram still wasn’t huge in this country was risky but it has paid off.

The main ways that I have been able to make money have been to truly understand my market, provide valuable social media services and to have the confidence and respect for myself that I am doing something worthwhile that genuinely gets results for my clients.


3. 3 things that have had the most effect on increasing your follower numbers?

If I am to be completely honest here I would have to say it was being on board the platform early, going hard when the platform exploded and improving my photography.


4. What is your content strategy and what monitoring tools do you use?

I’m very reluctant to label it a strategy because I started using Instagram organically, fell into habits organically and never EVER expected to be a photographer/ social media expert/ leader in my field in a million years! Everything that I do now is more or less the same as before this was my job. I take my own photos, I shoot only what I want to shoot and share only the shots I am happy with, I post more or less exactly the same quantity of shots that I used to (maybe even slightly less) and I use hashtags to increase my exposure.

As for tools to monitor, I’m afraid I’m not that high tech. I love to take pictures and to travel and my followers trust and engage with that. I measure traffic using very simple methods and by counting likes and comments. I generally provide prospective clients with lists of KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) so that we have goals to try and reach in our campaigns. I also keep an eye on the sort of shots that get more engagement and the photo’s that people are less compelled to engage with.


5. Advice to others who are thinking of using Instagram in their business?

My advice to any business at all that involves travel and tourism is to definitely get on to Instagram. Travel is a major inspiration to a lot of people and granted that your content is good you will find it very easy to find an audience and grow your community. Don’t think of it as advertising or marketing, just let people dream.



Instagram garry_norris (122, 048 followers)

Facebook garrynorrisphotography

Twitter @garry_norris

Email garrynorrisphotography@gmail.com


Here is a selection of Garry’s work


1. Describe your business and how you use Instagram

The benefit from using Instagram and Photography together is that you can offer DMO (tourism organisations) not only the benefit of high res images but also promotion at the same time.


2. How have you been able to earn an income from your Instagram following?

When I had approx 50k followers I started getting some offers from Tourism Boards, Brands and social media agencies.

I had been using instagram for approx 1 year before I gained that many followers.

I dont do “paid posts” on my stream, meaning that I need to take the photo myself and use my own comments to promote a item. I gain most of my income from destination marketing.


3. 3 things that have had the most effect on increasing your follower numbers?

Its important that you be very active on instagram, like and comment on others work, follow streams that run ‘feature” competition and don’t just FOLLOW FOR FOLLOW.


4. What is your content strategy and what monitoring tools do you use?

its important that you post regularly, I generally post 3 times per day. Keep your content streamlined, if you have a food stream only post food, fashion, only post fashion etc. Use hashtags that are relevant to what you are posting i.e. #landscape #australia #queensland #water etc, a lot of big accounts will repost images that you have hash tagged with the appropriate tag i.e. @australia will post a image that represents Australia if you have used there tag #australia #seeaustralia


5. Advice to others who are thinking of using Instagram in their business?

DO IT, its free advertising, its instant and direct. A PICTURE SPEAKS A THOUSAND WORDS


lovethywalrus (Paul Fleming)

Instagram lovethywalrus (37,471  followers)

Website www.lovethywalrus.com

Twitter @lovethywalrus

Email LoveThyWalrus@gmail.com


Here is a selection of Paul’s work.

1. Describe your business and how you use Instagram

I am a freelance Instagrammer. I do currently maintain another ‘day job’, however that is in a rapidly decreasing capacity. I have developed working partnerships with organisations and operators within the tourism industry, in Australia and internationally, which enable me to provide a wider variety of beautiful locations and experiences for my followers to enjoy and learn more about. Of course, this is mutually beneficial to myself and the client. Instagram is 100% visual, lending itself perfectly for sharing and engaging about destinations to visit and explore. I also use Twitter to drive engagement with my website and blog (www.lovethywalrus.com).


2. How have you been able to earn an income from your Instagram following?

As much as people want one to exist, there is no magic number of followers that gets you paid work.  There is, however, a number that gets you noticed.  What it is it? No idea – but I would say a minimum 10k. I have over 37,000 followers on Instagram, and it is more than enough for me to be getting paid work – but, the number is just one small part that seals the deals.

It took me about 18 months to reach 20,000 followers, and have now been active on there just over two years. I have been building relationships within the tourism industry from within about the first six months, networking and getting myself known across the industry, outside of Instagram – focussing locally within Tasmania to begin with.

I focus on tourism as a way to utilise my Instagram following, purely because it is the industry I am interested in. I hold a Bachelor of Tourism with First Class Honours, and have worked across the private and public sectors on regional planning, research and development. I channel this knowledge into my Instagram account, providing content that people enjoy viewing, and use subtle tones and a voice that nurtures engagement with followers. My ‘likes to followers’ ratio isn’t as high as some others’ – but that’s because I’ve focussed on building a loyal, engaged community over a mass, disconnected audience.

I’m earning an income from Instagram through the tourism connections. As with traditional travel journalists and buyers, the industry frequently holds ‘famils’ – familiarisations – to destinations and travel experiences. It’s just the same as a vacuum cleaner salesman learning about a new vac from the rep before trying to sell one to the public. However, in this new age of socially and digitally connected media, famils are happening in real time – and that’s where Instagram plays its part.


3. 3 things that have had the most effect on increasing your follower numbers?

The factors that have had the most effect on my Instagram following are: Consistent quality content, being active in the community and luck.

Posting images to Instagram is easy. Snap and post. Consistently posting high quality content is not easy, but is absolutely doable. It all depends on what you want from it. Most people, millions in fact, are happy to post selfies and what they ate for breakfast. Those people won’t pick up a large following. Being smart about the content you share, and maintaining consistency of style, gets you noticed.

Being active in the community has an even more positive effect than just amazing content. Being visible, talking with people, encouraging others, complimenting, asking questions, replying to questions – this is how people who don’t yet follow you will find you. Try commenting and leaving a thoughtful note on one of the Instagram account (the actual Instagram) posts and you’ll see traffic almost instantly visit your account. Not necessarily the market you are wanting to target, but it is a way to see that being visible in comments works. Conversely, if a follower asks you a question, answer it – I’d even suggest offering a little more than they asked, as it shows that you’re a person and you’re interested in their input.

Luck. Yep, this plays a huge role in gathering a large following on Instagram. I doubt large accounts would admit to it, but it can come down to right place, right time. Early adopters who have stuck with the platform, even if their offerings are mediocre, will still have a large following that grows – when new people find their feeds and see hundreds of thousands of followers the assumption is that they are the person to follow (ie. following them due to them being ‘popular’, not because they are necessarily interested in what they post).


4. What is your content strategy and what monitoring tools do you use?

I don’t have a strategic written plan for Instagram, as I try to keep my posts and interactions organic. I may prepare some images to post over the coming day or so, but if there’s an amazing sunset or I come across a stunning or interesting location, then that’s what gets posted. I try not to post ‘latergrams’ too often, although as I do still have a day job, this is sometimes the only option. Why do I post just because I feel I have to? Consistency! I aim to post at least once a day, no more than four. There is a definite drop in traffic once you haven’t posted in a few hours.

The only strategy I vaguely have is I try and post about easily accessible, yet beautiful, locations. And, using methods that are accessible to most people too – on a mobile phone. Most of my images are in and around my home city of Hobart, which lucky for me sits at the base of a mountain on a deep and wide harbour with National Parks and beaches all within half an hour of the city. It’s not hard, here, to find significantly different locations to shoot at, whilst not going very far away.

Sunrise and sunset shots are always popular, and most of mine are taken whilst I am commuting to work. Just depends how dedicated you want to be to getting just the right image to share. When on famils, it’s more about the client, and what they are after – and I only take on clients that have a visual style or vision that suits mine too. My followers know the style and voice I post and engagement with, so doing something starkly differently won’t resonate with them. Having said that, it is still my personal account, and I’ve deliberately thrown in some unusual style posts on a regular basis so that there is a background expectation of not being afraid to experiment.

In terms of hashtags, the key really is to keep them relevant. A post can have up to 30 hashtags on it – but could you really find thirty directly applicable tags that relate to your image? Would you expect someone to read through them all? For Australian travel accounts, tagging your own content to the Tourism Australia page (#SeeAustralia – over 777k followers) is one of the best ways of getting noticed, as they feature anywhere from 3-6 people a day. Their Facebook page (over 5 million followers) is a good place to get on to as well. Same goes for all the States, and some regional tourism organisations. Internationally, most countries now have their own official Instagram accounts (such as @ExploreCanada for the Canadian Tourism Commission).

I loosely monitor my following using Totems, a paid service that provides a pretty good break down of details about those followers. Is it really something that adds a measurable value to my Instagramming? I’m not so sure.


5. Advice to others who are thinking of using Instagram in their business?

The best advice I could give, and this is so simple but often brushed aside, is to be visible on there. Post great, consistently engaging content (everyone loves travel pics, but you need to put your own style on it too!) and talk with your followers, often. Instagram is visual first, text a distant second. If you don’t grab someones attention with your image, they won’t be reading your captions – and they definitely won’t be engaging with you.


Some great insights from Lauren, Garry and Paul.


by Konrad Markham

Tips for Improving Digital Marketing





About Konrad Markham

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