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How to Earn Money on Instagram During a Recession

Published: May 26, 2020 Updated: May 31, 2020

When you’ve been hustling along, growing your list of followers and nailing down your offer, life can feel pretty good. The economy is looking great and you’re well on your way to living the life of an Instagram influencer when you boom. Something completely unexpected happens like the coronavirus pandemic and suddenly you’re facing the challenge of continuing to earn money on Instagram during a worldwide recession.

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Or maybe you’re forced to start at the beginning and learn how to start making money on Instagram. Don’t worry, if history has anything to teach us it is of the resilience of individuals even in the midst of a catastrophe. In fact, many of the individuals who made a fortune during the Great Depression did so as entertainers. While you might wonder how you could be in a league with Gene Autrey and James Cagney, it’s not as far fetched as it may seem. You seem the film industry was only in its infancy during the 1920s, much as Instagram is today. While it may seem like that everyone who is going to make it big is already at the top of the heap, in reality Instagram is only slightly more than 10 years old. It is the new frontier in entertainment in much the same way movies were in the 1920s. Now is perhaps the best time in the history of the platform to earn money as more users than ever will be looking for ways to escape and be entertained that doesn’t strain their wallets.

Increase Your Value

The first question to ask yourself shouldn’t be how you can earn more money. Instead, you should be thinking about what you can do to add even more value to your subscribers and to any offers you’re currently making and then how to gain more followers on Instagram that you can sell to.

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As part of your content marketing strategy this might look like creating more Instagram Stories or IGTV that teach your subscribers something new, offer them a mental health break by making them laugh, or relax them with mindfulness practices.

As you examine your offerings, look to see if there’s anything you’ve already created that isn’t being leveraged as effectively as it could be that could be combined with something you love offering to make it even more valuable. Since there are so many ways to make money on Instagram how you do this make look substantially different from what another top influencer might do.

If you’re promoting your brand-new deck, you could create videos that showcase each card and go into the meaning of the card and symbolism in the artwork. If you’re a fitness coach, you could create content that gives people a free exercise to practice several times a week targeting different problem areas. If you’re a lifestyle and beauty influencer you could create individual tutorials for how to get the most out of the product you’re recommending. The options are as abundant as the niches served by Instagram.

Invest in Instagram Ads

Organic growth is wonderful, but it will only take you so far. Hashtags and giveaways that encourage people to mention and follow you may not help you find your ideal subscriber, which is to say one who wants to buy something from you. It’s important to remember that just because most people are experiencing financial constraints doesn’t mean everyone is. Invest in an Instagram ad expert or a course to  increase your reach and sales.


Whether you decide to go with a done for you package by a respected expert or you want to dive in and learn how to master the ad machine on your own, do your research before you make a purchase. Look for those who can back up their claims of expertise with client testimonials and even referrals. There are a lot of unscrupulous advertising ‘experts’ who will promise you the moon without understanding how space travel works. Make sure they are able to optimize images, text, and hashtags and that they know how to run comparison campaigns within the ads manager. They should also have a plan for reporting your numbers to you on a weekly basis and be willing to make adjustments to the ad set as needed.

Budget Boss

Just because investing in some areas of your business is a good idea doesn’t mean you should keep spending in all areas in the same way as before the recession.

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Take the time to understand exactly where all of your money is going. This means personal spending and any spending you may do as you build your business on Instagram. This isn’t always a creative individual’s favorite activity, but trust that knowing where your money is going is the first step to making more of it.

Once you have a clear picture of where every penny is going, it’s time to make a budget for your personal expenses and costs associated with building your empire. If you’re spending money on services that you aren’t using, you can cut them to invest more in creating content or advertising. If you realize that your discretionary spending on lattes far exceeds what you expected, consider how you could reduce the cost without feeling deprived. Think about what you truly need and what you want enough to pay for it even during a recession because it brings you joy.

As you work through this process be aware that the majority of your audience is having to do a similar evaluation, even if they aren’t doing it as consciously as you are. Notice where you are willing to spend more and what makes the product or experience worth your money during a financial downturn. Use those lessons to make your offerings even more essential for your subscribers. How do you go from a nice to have to something people will eat ramen to keep.

Be Flexible

Just like you will be watching your budget be mindful that other people will be doing the same. If you offer business coaching, acupuncture, or any other type of service is there a way you could offer potential customers a discount, payment plan, or way to work with you that is less expensive than your usual offering? If you have products that you sell you can offer repeat customers special coupons, free shipping, or set up a process for your buyers to utilize point of sale loans.

Tweak Your Messaging

There is usually a clear line in people’s minds that occurs between the before and the after of a recession. The content marketing strategy you used before the economy took a nosedive will need to be reevaluated as you move through a growing recession.

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The way to do this is to be crystal clear in who you are marketing to, which likely isn’t all of your subscribers. There is a difference between building your subscriber list to gain credibility and attracting subscribers who are also your ideal client willing to spend money with you. The person you are really talking to with every single post is the person who wants to buy. Everyone else may benefit from what you post but you don’t need to convince Mandy to purchase a luxury item if she’s just there for the free tips. You will need to convince Samantha who is looking to you to find what to try next. Once you understand her (or him!), you can move your messaging to something that will draw them in and help them make the decision to buy from you.

The biggest difference between making money on Instagram during a recession or during a booming economy is the thoughtfulness with which you will need to approach your content creation. When people aren’t worried about money they are more likely to make impulse or luxury purchases. During a recession they need to be convinced more or inspired. If you’re willing to prove your worth and make them feel better about the world, you can still earn money on Instagram during a recession.

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