Instagram used to be an app for keeping up with your friends and posting selfies. However, in recent years, Instagram has become a source of revenue for those savvy enough. Models and bloggers are making extra cash by partnering with companies and promoting their products.

But here’s the catch – you can do it too.

Lizzie MacNeill, an instructor at Mount Royal University teaching the Social Media for Business Extension Certificate, calls these people influencers.

“The key to being an influencer on Instagram is having a really strong presence in sort of a niche market and then building a consistent aesthetic,” she said.

An Instagram “aesthetic” is the consistent and recognizable look a user’s account has. For example, some will have a light and airy feed while others choose an edgy, moody feed. It is typically associated with the brand they have curated.

Calgary blogger, Reese Nguyen, was first inspired to use Instagram as a source of revenue after seeing her friend receive free clothing from companies looking for promotions.

Nguyen geared her Instagram account towards fashion and beauty blogging and after only one year of taking Instagram seriously, she has gained over 50,000 followers. Nguyen has partnered with companies such as L’Oréal and Coach, while also attending New York Fashion week through an Aldo sponsorship.

“As soon as I hit my five thousand, companies started reaching out to me. I put my email in my bio… and you start getting emails. Companies then reach out to you and it started with jewelry, clothes and then it turned into shoes, hair products, makeup,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen can make hundreds of dollars per sponsored post, as well as receive free products. She says the reason companies are contacting influencers so often now is because it is a cheaper and more efficient marketing strategy.

“Everything you do is on your phone nowadays, I never put my phone down anymore. So many people are going paperless so it makes sense to have ads on Instagram. For brands, it’s cheaper for them to contact a blogger or five bloggers who have these big followings and pay us this small about of money, versus what they would pay for a big campaign and reach all of our followers.” and

Editor: Emily Thwaites |

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