Instagram is a force of nature. The perfect spot for thrill-sharing adventure lovers.
What was merely a photo-sharing app initially has become one of the top social media platforms in less than a decade.
With 600 million monthly active users and 400 million daily active users, it ranks higher than Tumblr, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
What does this tell us? People love visuals.
The Opportunity to get Paid as an Adventure Lover
For many adventure enthusiasts, their first instinct is to find ways to connect and share their adventures...then comes the thought..."Could I make money from it? Other's do it...why can't I?"
In this post, we would like to discuss a few different techniques and ways to go about making the leap from hobbyest to paid professional. It can be done.
Some success stories are on the smaller scale- where you get free swag.
Others are on the larger scale where you could potentially earn thousands a month.
Your earning potential is basically contingent upon the size of your following and how much time you’re willing to put in.
Most run-of-the-mill articles you read about making money on Instagram will tell you something obvious: Run ads! Announce products! Cultivate a following.
But we give you something more to chew on...and some real leads.
Tactic #1- Buy a good camera
Full Stop. Buy a good camera. Full Stop again.
We can't stress this enough. You cannot be an adventure guru on Instagram and get paid without high quality shots...
It just won't happen.
So what's a good Camera at a relatively low cost? A used one.
Photo guru's are constantly upgrading their equipment and often looking to sell relatively newer cameras and lenses to fund their next purchase.
Do some research and find the camera and lens you like. Then look for it online, second hand. There are TONS of articles to read about what to ask when buying a second hand camera.
We use a D7000 Nikon and Sigma Lens. We love it! But many of our influencers use different types. We recommend it be mid-to-high professional grade...no entry-level cameras can compare to the next step up.
Take an online course...learn more...so you can get paid more.
We love this Photography Masterclass course. Straightforward and excellent video content...all under $50.
It gives you all the knowledge you need to take amazing photos, but will require a time investment and a good camera to work with...but well worth it.
If you can't afford a good camera right now...hold off on trying to become a paid guru unless a friend has a good camera and knows how to use it. It is THAT important.
Tactic #2- Cultivate your look and style
You need to go to Instagram and check out @kjp for this tactic. Nobody does it better. Both him and his wife understand the importance of establishing a look or 'brand'. Her with the Jackie-O style, him with his cute AF dog. All while color co-ordinated.
The photos are amazing...but the staging and dogged adherence to a style and 'feel' make this couple worth a million bucks. They even ship their station wagon to certain locations to get the right photo.
Do we think you should do that?...no. That would cost a ba-zillion dollars.
Instead, develop and commit to an image. Don't sway...ever. Even for free swag or paid posts. Your image is everything.
If you are an amazing camper who builds awesome campsites and enjoys adding 'fun and flavour' to your trip...then show that.
If you're a hardcore mountain climber..stick to that and cultivate amazing photo opportunities.
You WILL NOT succeed in becoming a paid adventure guru with just good photos of nature and your running shoes. You need a story.
Find who you are, show who you are, enjoy who you are.
Tactic #3- Sell your photos
Stock photo sites are huge these days.
You've probably gone looking for photos yourself for presentations, flyers or your own website.
A while back we came across a website called Foap, which has dubbed itself "the next wave of stock photography"
Rather than brands paying big money for photos from professionals or settling for those mediocre (and often cheesy) stock photo sites, Foap is becoming a popular alternative.
Here’s how it works.
- You sign up
- You build a profile
- You create a portfolio of your best images that you’d like to sell
- You earn $5 for each image you sell (you can sell the same image an unlimited number of times)
Here’s the thing about Foap.
You definitely need to have some solid “photography chops” to really make any money.
You can’t slap up some completely amateurish content and expect to make a killing.
It’s just not going to happen, and quality is essential.
So I really recommend that you develop your photography skills before attempting to sell anything on Foap.
But if you’ve got the skills, there’s most definitely money to be made.
One feature that you’ll want to check out is called “Missions.”
This is where you can connect with some of the world’s biggest brands and attempt to sell them your photos.
You don’t need to have a huge Instagram following to make money. In fact, it’s one of the few techniques that’s totally plausible even if you have only a minimal following.
Being successful really just boils down to how skilled you are at photography. Once you’ve taken your picture and uploaded it, it has the potential to keep bringing in cash.
Tactic #4 - Consider creating a blog (written or photo/video)
If you have any writing chops or make great photo stories, creating a separate blog outside of Instagram can help increase your credibility and broaden your exposure.
Don't assume that once you start writing that people will automatically come, because they won't. Your blog won't even show on Google search most likely...so people can't find you.
Reddit can be a great place to contribute to authentic sub-reddits like r/camping, r/adventure and r/hiking, but be careful...the crowd is tough and you should expect to get trolled frequently.
However, there will be people who enjoy reading your content, make great comments and share your ideas. These are the people you want to cultivate a relationship with.
The key is relationships...creating a blog or story that makes people want to connect to you and your adventures. Keep it simple, keep it fun and keep it helpful.
If you don't have time to post regularly and sustain a relationship through commenting, answering questions and posting regularly...don't do it. It will not do you any good and put A LOT of guilt/stress on your plate.
Tatic #5- Sign up for Google Adsense
Once your blog/website is up and running, with good content and a small readership, sign up for Google Adsense. Earn money by placing ads on your website and build another revenue stream. AdSense is free, and easy to navigate and track.
Whether it's a couple bucks or $1000 depends on your website popularity and followership. But it is a great place to start and can be tailored to only show ads that align with your message and style.
You have to apply to the program and your website will be critiqued for quality, correct coding and value...so make sure your site is where you want it to be before applying.
Tactic #6 - Reach out to smaller companies
Don't email Adidas, Patagonia or North Face...unless you have a connection...deep...deep...deep in the administration. They won't answer and why should they?
Start small and respect those who are trying to do the same thing as you. Small apparel and gear companies are often looking for ways to organically grow their customer base using influencers.
If you have less than 5K followers, they may not even respond to your email...but email anyways.
Offer other things...like if you really like their product, ask for a discount code so that you can purchase from them at wholesale and then promote free. This builds good will and shows you are willing to invest in them.
Make sure YOU CAN DELIVER with high quality photos and posts. You want repeat customers...
Take the time to look at their products and know which product fits your niche best. Send a quick and brief Instagram or Facebook message letting them know your name, contact information and product you love...then wait.
If they don't respond...don't worry, it happens. Keep at it.
If they respond, RESPOND IMMEDIATELY and ensure they know you are interested. Stay committed and stay in contact, even if they go long periods without communicating.
Find a point person and ask how you can help deliver their goals.
Just because they don't want to pay you or send free merchandise doesn't mean you should disregard their interest. You can do test posts with them to determine your audience's interest and continue to work towards free merchandise and ultimately $$$.
Don't forget, your advertising is likely unproven and you yourself don't know how responsive your audience will be to promotion. Don't over-value your endorsement...until you and others have proof of it.
Tactic #7 - Don't expect Free Swag or $$$... in the beginning
We honestly receive 10 emails a day requesting free swag or money to collaborate with adventure influencers who have less than 2000 followers.
While we pride ourselves on trying to work with each influencer regardless of number of followers, we are still surprised at the number of people who forget that we expect results.
It's a two-way street.
Stores understand the monetary value of their product, shipping costs and labour time. What they don't know is whether you have any clout or persuasion with the audience they are selling to.
They can't put a dollar value on your post or photo without evidence.
So...what do you do?
You want to make mone...they want exposure and sales.
Find common ground...it's all about negotiation. Find things to offer them they don't have. Like great Music.ly videos, or content for Youtube. Offer to Blog Post or run a giveaway. Get a group of people together and do a stunt...
They may have an area you see as not well represented, like mountain climbing.
Do you mountain climb and get amazing shots?
Well, offer them climbing shots (provide examples), plus offer to post to your IG/FB and Twitter accounts in return for a free shirt. Suggest this can assist them in opening up their market in this category...
And finally remember...take some risks...spend some money...be a partner...not an entitled kid.
Tactic #8 - Price Yourself Right $$$
Start small in the beginning. Here is an over-simplified list of what is reasonable to expect based upon your follower numbers:
1-250 ~ Don't expect anything. Focus on increasing the quality of your profile. You likely only have family and friends supporting you.
250-1000~ Don't expect anything. Focus on increasing the quality and focus of your profile. Encourage others to tag friends, start hash tagging appropriately.
1000-2000~ Don't expect anything. Hash tag like a professional, figure out when your best posting times are and what type of content gets the best results. Reach out to small companies and offer to do free posts of their content that fits your 'style'. Prepare your audience for promotional materials and assess their response.
2000-5000~ Start honing your hash tags and following accounts that will do shoutouts and reposting of material they like. Tag them in every photo. For example #adventurevisuals #peoplescreative #adventurelife. You'll get lucky every so often. Respond to all comments, positively...be grateful and loving.
5000-10 000~ The biggest jump...the hardest. Ask people to tag friends..run an ad with your best photo. Offer a giveaway with one of your photo's...make it into a poster or canvas for the winner. Make sure they have to tag a friend and follow you to enter. Always put a $ value in the post ( $350 value). Start thinking of creative ideas to encourage people to check you out. To make really low-cost but high quality prints under $15, delivered right to the winner check out Printful. It couldn't be simpler.
At this stage offer to do a test post using other's content.
If it goes well, ask for free swag. If they say no, ask for a wholesale discount and a discount code in your name to share with your audience. You can then ask for results of your posts (likes, tags, sales, etc).
Continue to work with them until you hit their threshold for free swag (find out what this is at some point).
10 K+ Followers~Once you have a following over 10K, you can start charging a fee or requesting free swag as a minimum. * keep in mind, if this is your first promotion it's more important to get one under your belt to build credibility then worrying about fees*
Under 12k, you should charge between $10-$25 for a permanent post or shoutout using their photos or product shots. A permanent post should remain on your account indefinitely and a link in the bio for 24 hours.
If you've used a robot to buy followers, you won't get very much engagement from your followers. Potential buyers will see this and steer clear. Each of your posts should have a minimum of 500 likes to be considered valuable and those without comments are highly suspect.
Between 12k-18k you should consider raising your fees to $30-$50 a post with free swag. Keep in mind, you want repeat customers...so if your audience isn't responding with likes, tags, website visits or sales....then you have a lot of work to do.
Finding new customers is harder than keeping customers...so it's your job to encourage engagement by writing good copy, knowing great hashtags, responding to all comements and sharing to other influencers in your circle.
Over 20k Your ultimate goal is to get paid between $100-$200 per post with free merchandise...but this will only happen with customers who trust you and are getting a good return on their money. That means taking amazing photos, responding to comments/likes, creating connections with other great influencers and cultivating a style image others want to emulate.
Think Shark Tank...would they value you at $150 a post? If so, why hasn't somebody asked you yet?
Price fairly, price humbly...until they are desperate to have you.
Tactic #9 -Buying or Selling Shoutouts with Help
If you feel like you're ready to take things to the next level or can't gain traction organically and you have some great photography/images already in your profile then move onto Shoutouts.
Two options here...
1) If you're are looking for followers...buy a Shoutout (under 5K)
2) If you're looking to start making $$$...sell a Shoutout (over 5K)
Go to Shoutcart.com
This is a marketplace where you can find quality influencers who have large followings and “buy shoutouts” from them or sell your own.
It’s an incredibly effective way to get the word out on an affiliate product in a short period of time without having to do a lot of heavy lifting or purchase your own shout out your latest adventure for as little as $2.
Here’s how it works.
You browse through Shoutcart’s list of featured Instagram influencers/sellers to find someone who’s in the right niche that matches you and your audience.
Advertising a giveaway or contest is a great way to encourage your audience to 'Tag' or Share on Facebook, leading more people to follow you and discover your content.
*Beware* If you have used a 'cheat programs' or 'bought followers'...you may have a huge percentage of 'robots' in your following. ShoutCart will know and give you a lower "score", meaning your profile is less attractive. If you are buying a shoutout...look for accounts with over a 10+ rating.
Tactic #10- Offer Excellent Customer Service
This is a difficult transition for many adventure lovers who live and breathe on the freedom and independence their adventures give them.
Then suddenly, they have a boss. The customer.
You must commit to being a business.
You must be available by email and messaging. Try to respond within 24 hours 90% of the time. They will keep coming back if you offer a good service. Don't let them down.
If your customer is not happy, find out why and fix it if you can. Negotiate.
We've had several encounters where paid ambassadors forgot to post when they promised or incorrectly linked our product. This is wasted ad dollars and unacceptable.
If they send you free product, make sure you post it in a timely fashion. Waiting 4 months for a post does not promote repeat purchases.
Remember, somebody thinks you're special...don't convince them otherwise.
If you think you'd make a good ambassador, there is nothing stopping you. These tactics will help you get started and outline a path to success. If you have any challenges with these tactics or would like to be a brand ambassador for Campton, just sign up to our Wanderer Program and comment below!
Social Marketing Guru