Becoming a Paid Influencer: How Many Instagram Followers Do You Need?

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Becoming an Instagram influencer can be a game changer. Getting paid to post about the things that drive you sounds awesome. At PodSquad we work with brands that hire influencers on Instagram every day, which gives us access to follower data.

So today we're going to answer one simple question:

How many followers do you need to get paid to post on Instagram?

OK, let's break this down. When you are starting out as an influencer you'll likely be offered free product, coupons, or discount codes in exchange for content. That nice and all, but the real fun starts when you start making cold, hard cash. It means you can upgrade your gear, hire a photographer, or get more iconic and interesting Instagram shots while traveling.

It seems like the top influencers are growing their following by leaps and bounds every day. That makes it really hard to pinpoint where they got their start. When was the first deal offered and how much was it for?

To answer the question, we surveyed over 300 paid Instagram influencers. But we took it one step further. We also surveyed over 50 brands as a cross check to the Instagram influencer research. The results are broken out by industry in the table below and rounded for comparison purposes:

Industry Avg. Instagram follower count for first paid offer Avg. $USD per post fee paid to influencer
Casual Fashion/Clothing 15,500 $59.00
Fitness 23,200 $128.00
Electronics/Tech 34,100 $102.00
Food/Beverage 8,700 $23.00
High Fashion/Clothing 55,100 $375.00
Jewelry/Watches 39,500 $410.00
Makeup/Cosmetics 84,200 $493.00
Outdoor/Adventure 29,000 $201.00
Travel/Hotels 73,900 $623.00


Wow! This data was as fun for us to collect as it was revealing. We have been wondering what the Instagram influencer landscape looks like, and here it is staring us in the face. Let's take a look at our key takeaways from the survey data.

Surprise (not): Follower count matters.

We had our suspicions, and the data confirms. Follower count is one of the key ways brands are screening influencers. Across all industries and no matter who we surveyed, it seems that there are certain levels that brands want to see before they open up their wallets. Generally speaking, nobody paid or got paid until they had about 15,000 followers. That varied greatly by industry, reaching an astonishing 84,200 followers in the makeup and cosmetics category.

Unfortunately, this is one of the most frustrating parts about Instagram right now. The algorithm that lets new people find your content and follow you has been changed. That means fewer new people see your posts. Even if your content is awesome, you get no new followers and it takes forever to grow a following worthy of brand payment. At PodSquad, we've got a few solutions to help aspiring influencers reach their potential.

There is an influencer gender pay gap that nearly mirrors salary and wage gaps.

Incredibly, and despite stereotypes that influencer marketing and blogging are female-dominated sports, men are paid nearly 23% more on average per sponsored Instagram post. This fact varied by industry, but held true across the board - even in female-dominated content arenas like makeup and cosmetics!

It's too easy to draw false correlations in this area, and there are a lot of variables. Influencer marketing on Instagram is still new, and we hope that over time these numbers begin to even up between the genders.

It pays to be in a competitive category.

Ever wonder why you see so many fitness, jewelry, and makeup sponsored posts on IG? It's because those are some of the best paying content categories on a per follower basis. While it may seem counterintuitive to be in a hyper-competitive space, it's actually a great way to become an influencer.

Brands and their marketing teams are searching for new influencers every day. The people with the right follower counts show up first, and if you're using the right category hashtags and content you'll be included in those lists.

Brand has a big impact on dollars paid per post.

While casual clothing may seem more approachable, it turns out it's also less lucrative. If fashion is your thing, consider looking at high end designers like Gucci, Chanel, and lesser known up and comers. Throwing on fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M, and Forever21 can be easier due to cost and wearability, but that also means more people are able to do the same thing!

If you can find a way to borrow or afford the right look, you may find that your content is rewarded!

Highly paid Instagram influencers take the most interesting shots.

We're all jealous of travel and lifestyle influencers that get paid to go to exotic destinations and take beautiful photos. But they had to start somewhere! Hotel and travel brands love dramatic visual experiences and stories. The next time you're on vacation, think about and plan how you can add some strategic shooting into the mix. You may find that it helps you 

That's a wrap on our data share! We hope it helps you figure out what to focus on next. Remember, follower count is important, but it's only one piece of the puzzle. To be a successful Instagram influencer you've got to have great content, too. Need help boosting your Instagram following while you work toward that first paid gig? Check out our Instagram follower boost products for ideas on how to get things moving!

Let's get visual... We turned this post into an infographic! See below for a visualization of critical information from this article.

How much do Instagram influencers get paid

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