How to Monetize Your Instagram with Online Courses

So you’ve built a loyal Instagram following, you’ve learned how to craft your Instagram aesthetic, and you’re using Instagram Stories to grow your audience.

Now it’s time to monetize your Instagram account! 

After you’ve built a following, there are a few ways you can make money from Instagram. You can run sponsored posts, share affiliate links to products, or you can sell e-commerce products.

But of all your options, creating an online course is one of the best ways to engage your followers and build a deeper connection with them, all while generating revenue!

Watch our free video with Emily Weiss from Thinkific for tips on creating your first online course, building your sales funnel, and promoting your course to your followers! 

How to Monetize Your Instagram Tip #1: Know Your “Why”

Before you go out and buy and video production equipment to create your first online course, you need to spend some time thinking about what your course will be about and, most importantly, why

One of the best ways to this is to explore the intersection between your passion, your skills, and what the market is demanding.

monetize your Instagram

Your passion is what really excites you. Think of it this way: If you had to wake up tomorrow and spend the entire day doing what you love, what would that be?

Take note of that. The things that excite you — that make you smile — those are your passions and you should centre your course around those topics.

Next, you want to look at your talents. What are you really good at? What do you have a lot of experience in? If someone were to call you up and ask for help, what’s something that you could help them with?

In other words, what skills do you have that you can teach to somebody?

The final thing you want to look at is market demand. What are people asking for? What do people want to learn more about? What does the world need more of? And most importantly, what are people willing to pay to learn?

If you can get this final part to line up with your passion and your talents, it’s going to create an incredible opportunity for you to begin sharing your message with the world.

So how do you go about finding market demand?

Perhaps your followers keep asking you the same kinds of questions — like how to stretch properly after a workout or how you stage your Instagram shots? You need to tune into what your customers are asking.

A great example comes from @minimalistbaker, an ultra-popular Instagram account that shares simple plant-based recipes.

If you look at Minimalist Baker’s feed, you might think that an appropriate course would be on plant-based nutrition, cooking, or something along those lines.

In reality, Minimalist Baker created a course on food photography.

How did she land on that topic? She listened to her community. She noticed that a lot of comments on her posts were asking how she took such great photos of her food creations — that’s what her audience really wanted to learn about.

Looking to learn more about how you can make money through online courses? Check out Thinkific, the #1 online course platform, for your free guide to creating and selling your own online course!  

How to Monetize Your Instagram Tip #2: Listen to Your Followers

Once you have an idea of what you want your course to be about, it’s time to do some more listening and find out what your followers are most interested in learning about.

You also want to tune into things that are happening in the market, so do a little research, get into Google, and find out what are those questions that are being regularly asked.

Do you have a blog and every single time you post you’re getting the same 20 questions? Those are probably a really great starting point for you to start determining your course content.

And if you’re not getting these questions and you don’t really know what your followers want to learn, here’s an insider tip: Ask them!

This is the easiest way to find out what your followers want to know. And Instagram has made this super easy with the addition of features like Instagram Stories, poll stickers, and the new questions sticker.

Need some help coming up with questions for your community? Here are two great ones to get you started:

1. What’s your biggest challenge with XYZ?

This is a great question to ask when you know what you want to teach but you’re looking for specific topics to focus on.

For example, you could ask your community “What’s your biggest challenge with plant-based nutrition?” And you can then build your course around the topics and challenges that people bring up.

TIP: Packing as much information into your course as you can doesn’t mean it’s going to be super effective. You want to get the most important content to your users in a simple form.

2. I’m planning to create a course on XYZ topic. What questions do you have that you’d like me to cover?

This is another great question to ask your community because it can help you better organize the content within your course.

Use the answers you get to plot the chapters of your course and plug-up any topic areas that you might be missing. That way, you’ll cover all the topics that your community’s interested in learning about.

How to Monetize Your Instagram Tip #3: Get it Out There

Once you know what you’re teaching and you’ve talked to your followers and found out what they want to know, it’s important to test and validate your course content.

This is super important. It’s going to allow you to get your content out there quicker and also start generating revenue quicker.

Here are three simple ways that you can do this:

1. Host a Mini-Course or Free Challenge

The first way to get your course out there is to host a mini-course or a free challenge. And one of the best examples of this comes from Jen Esquer of @docjenfit.

In order to drive better results on her course, Jen started a mobility challenge and offered it to her followers for free.

monetize instagram

Hosting a free challenge like Jen did is a great way to prep your community and kickstart your sales funnel by collecting email addresses before your main course goes live.

2. Pre-sell Your Course

The next way is to pre-sell your course. Matt Kohn of @differenthunger did this and pre-sold his course for $3,000 to 10 students, meaning he made $30,000 in revenue before his course was even created!

Matt tested and proved that people were willing to pay for what he wanted to teach. And as a result, he was able to monetize his Instagram even before he stepped in front of the camera.

monetize your Instagram

3. Beta Launch Your Course

The third strategy is to beta launch your course. The reason you should beta launch your course is because it allows you to catch great user feedback and start building testimonials in preparation for your full launch.

With a beta launch, you’re going to offer your minimum viable product course (or your MVP) at a discounted rate in exchange for feedback.

That’s the key here. You need to make sure that your customers understand why they’re getting such a discount. By creating that open line of communication you can continue to iterate on your course concepts and make sure that you’re improving your course while getting social proof for your launch.

monetize your Instagram

How to Monetize Your Instagram Tip #4: Understand Your Sales Funnel

Let’s talk a little bit about the sales funnel — a concept you’ve probably heard before.

When you’re trying to monetize your Instagram account with online courses, it helps to think of your followers and where they are in the funnel.

At the top of the funnel is where you build awareness. These are your Instagram followers who have a problem and they’re aware of it. So your goal here is education.

Moving down to the middle part of your funnel, these are your followers who realize they have a problem and now they’re looking for solutions.

Finally, at the bottom of your funnel, you have your followers who realize they have a problem, they’re looking for solutions, and they’re ready to take action.

Now, imagine that all of your Instagram followers at the top of the funnel. How can you get them to take the plunge and purchase your online course?

The answer: By creating really valuable content that builds trust, nurtures your relationship, and really considers where your followers are in their journey.

You need to be thinking about what your followers want or need, what they’re unsure of, and what kinds of content they would find most valuable.

Once you understand those things, you can start creating amazing content that builds your email list.

That way, when you launch your full course, you’ll already have a legion of fans who trust you and are ready to buy from you.

And the great thing about this is once you’ve started creating an online course, all of this content can be unpacked from your course. So you can always be leading up to that one course and really help your followers engage with you on a deeper level.

How to Monetize Your Instagram Tip #5: Be Consistent in Your Promotion

When you’re able to connect with your followers on a deeper level, your sales will almost certainly go up. And that’s why it’s so important to be consistent in your promotion — it helps you build and nurture those connections.

Of course, this isn’t always easy. A lot of people feel uncomfortable posting that extra Instagram Live video. They don’t want to come across as too sales-y and scare their followers off.

View this post on Instagram

This week, I challenge you to Go LIVE! There are so many benefits to going LIVE. From experience, with running LIVE Sessions on Instagram and Facebook on a regular basis, as well as starting LIVE Sessions on Youtube, and testing Twitter LIVES – here are some of the things I've learned from it. 💥 1. Feedback is a gift – meaning, you're able to get feedback on your content in real time from your audience. You can easily test how your content is received by your audience. Is a particular topic something that resonates with your viewers, share it LIVE, get immediate feedback and response, before your spend time writing blogs or Linkedin/Medium articles, filming a produced video for Youtube, #IGTV, and so on. 💥 2. Public Speaking Practice – on a personal note, I've learned a lot about my own presentation and public speaking quirks and shortcomings, and though I'm definitely not where I would love to be as a public speaker, I've definitely improved on it since starting to do more LIVEstreams. Learn everyday! 💥 3. Connect with other leaders in your space – you can have a remote guest on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube, which makes it an awesome way to easily collabo with other leaders in your space. Ask them to join you on your channel so you can share their expertise with your audience, and plan to be a guest on their channel as well, so you can share what you know with their audience. It's a win-win because you'll both be exposed to a new audience. There's no competition when it comes to this – when content creators collaborate, everyone wins, not only do the content creators get exposed new audiences, but the audiences are also exposed to new knowledge! Win-Win-Win! 💥 So my challenge for you is go LIVE on either @Instagram LIVE, @Facebook LIVE, or @Youtube LIVE this week! Do it today if you can. Check the comments for some easy ideas for going LIVE…. 👇👇

A post shared by Rob Balasabas | @THINKIFIC (@robsotheraccount) on

There definitely needs to be a balance, but as Jen Esquer says, when your promotion comes from a place of passion, your followers will feel it.

It’s not just about making more sales, it’s about delivering on your passion, and creating content that you truly believe is valuable.

That’s why it’s so important to start from the beginning, to go through your the true calling diagram, tune into your passion, and use that to guide the rest of what you do.

These are just a few ways that you can use to monetize your Instagram with online courses.

If you’re looking for more tips on how to monetize your Instagram, including tips on creating your first online course, don’t forget to check out our full video above! You can also download Thinkific’s free guide to creating and selling online courses here.

Looking to grow your business with Instagram? Later can help you plan your feed, schedule posts, optimize your analytics, and make sales. Sign up for free!

Written By

Emily Weiss