The Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Instagram Influencers

affiliate marketing on instagram

Pair a social platform boasting more than 1 billion monthly users with affiliate links and you have yourself a revenue opportunity with a lot of potential. Affiliate marketing is an effective way to add another income stream; with the right strategies in place, you can easily start earning affiliate income through Instagram Stories, links, and posts. 

If you’re interested in getting paid to recommend products on Instagram, this guide will provide all the tools and knowledge you need to succeed, as an Instagram influencer and content creator.

We’ll walk through:

You’ll want to bookmark this one. 

What are the benefits of affiliate marketing? 

One of the biggest perks of affiliate marketing? You don’t have to go through the trouble of creating your own products from scratch. Instead, you market third-party products and earn a (sometimes handsome) commission from every sale you make. 

How you market your affiliate links will depend on the platform you’re on. Here are some of the pros and cons of marketing your affiliate links on a platform like Instagram. 

Instagram affiliate marketing pros

  • Access to a primed audience that knows and likes you
  • Instagram’s users generally possess high shopper intent
  • More traffic potential for your affiliate links than other platforms offer
  • It’s easy to set up and execute
  • Chat in real time with your audience and answer their questions about links (you can even automate the process with ManyChat

Instagram affiliate marketing cons

  • Highly dependent on profile traffic and engagement
  • You still need to disclose your affiliate links as per FTC guidelines
  • Can be time-consuming work for little return in the beginning

Once you have an established and engaged audience on Instagram that trusts you, the pros of executing an affiliate marketing strategy on Instagram outweigh the cons. First though, you need to learn how and where you can start promoting affiliate partnerships. 

How does Instagram affiliate marketing work? 

As you market and share your best affiliate links on Instagram, you can take advantage of all the ways to post them so they reach your audience. 

Story highlights

One of the best places to store your affiliate links—especially after you’ve shared them with your audience in your Stories—is in your Instagram Story highlights. It’s a more permanent space that can act as an archive for your bestselling links. 

You can also direct your audience there when they inquire about past links. Here’s an example of link highlights from mom influencer Bethany Ciotola.

One of the more common places to share your affiliate links is through the lone link Instagram lets you include in your bio. While some brands opt for tools like Linktree to create a roundup of their best links—which can include affiliate links—other brands and influencers prefer direct links to product landing pages or even Amazon affiliate stores. 

Caffeine and Conquer uses an affiliate link that leads to a social media tool she uses for her business as her Instagram bio link. 

link in bio affiliate link placement

Other influencers have gotten a little more creative with their affiliate links in their Instagram accounts and how they funnel Instagram traffic to them. Curly hair influencer Sarah Hangius has a link in her bio that leads to a YouTube hair tutorial with affiliate links to the products she uses included in the video description. Talk about creative! 

affiliate links on youtube

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is one of the best ways to share all your best affiliate links when you’re using Instagram to grow your affiliate income.

Heads up: Instagram expanded the ability to share links within your Stories to profiles with fewer than 10k followers in 2021. Even if you’re a smaller brand, you can now freely share your affiliate links in your Stories regardless of the size of your following.

Brands like A Beautiful Mess constantly share their favorite products to their Stories using affiliate links leading to the shop page. 

affiliate links in stories

Static posts

While not the most popular place to insert affiliate links, especially compared to Instagram stories, individual Instagram posts can host them and your audience can easily copy and paste the link into their browser. Sharing coupon codes for specific affiliates through your sponsored posts is also a way to encourage purchases. 

Microinfluencer Renukamudaliyar Janauti perfectly executes this Instagram post strategy with a coupon code to encourage purchases, 

affiliate links in post

Paid ads

Did you know you can create paid ads on Instagram to promote your affiliate links? While this might be a strategy that makes more sense for larger accounts, it’s still a legitimate way to grow your affiliate revenue with this type of influencer marketing. 

You can manage paid Instagram ads through the Facebook Ads Manager, but they have to be approved by Facebook (now Meta) before they can run. The good thing is that you get to decide how much you want to spend on ads daily—just ensure the costs don’t outweigh your earning potential for Instagram marketing. 

How much money can you make with affiliate marketing on Instagram?

This is the million-dollar question for business owners building a presence on Instagram. However, there is no one “right” answer. How much a brand earns on Instagram, including through Instagram affiliate marketing, depends on factors like:

  • Their following’s size and engagement
  • Commission size the affiliates are paying out
  • The earning potential of the industry you operate in

For example, if you’re a social media manager and you teach an audience how to create content for Instagram, you could be an affiliate for software brands like Canva or Tailwind. 

If you’re a brand in the home improvement industry, you might partner with Amazon affiliates or Home Depot. Each partnership can come with different earning potential. 

Typically, affiliate commissions range anywhere from 5 – 20%. Though they can sometimes be more if you strike a special deal with a direct partnership or the brand is especially generous. One of the best ways to learn about earning potential is by researching what other brands and influencers have reported earning in the past. 

Influencer JaLisa Vaughn-Jefferson earnings

Instagram lifestyle influencers like JaLisa Vaughn-Jefferson reported earnings of over $800,000 in 2021 from collaborations with brands like Macy’s and Amazon. 

About 10-15% of her revenue comes from affiliate links and partner programs. Just like JaLisa, affiliate income can be one piece of the pie when you break down your Instagram revenue into multiple income streams. 

affiliate marketing on instagram earnings

Bryan Maniotakis, creator of Minimal Goods, loves earning affiliate income by creating direct relationships with brands. “My best affiliate marketing campaign is the result of working with a company that I fostered a direct relationship with. They supplied me with product samples to create content with and coupon codes for my audience.”

example of brand earning affiliate income on instagram

Bryan earns a flat $20 commission in exchange for every sale he generates by promoting his product reviews and roundups on Instagram. He says, “ I prefer these one-to-one relationships with brands, as they give me more opportunity to create compelling content, rather than sticking with a mass-market tool like Amazon.”

creator earning money on instagram

While you can follow Bryan’s lead and seek out affiliate partnerships via the platform route, you can also take a more straightforward approach to brand partnerships and reach out to brands directly for higher commission rates. If you opt for the former, know there are plenty of options to choose from.

List of accessible affiliates and their commission

If you’re familiar with the affiliate partnership process, you know that you need to go through a vetting process before you can start creating affiliate links with your Instagram account, and earning commissions. 

Heads Up: Instagram is testing in-app affiliate tools that will enable you to track and collect affiliate earnings information right inside the app as you work with select brands. The new release will allow you to create affiliate tags with partner brands. 

If you aren’t sure how to get started when it comes to finding possible brands to recommend, there are a few with a relatively low barriers to entry worth checking out. For example:

CJ Affiliates: This large affiliate marketing network has been around for years. Within it, you can find brands like Home Depot, Blue Apron, J.Crew, and even TurboTax to partner with. Once you sign up and get accepted, you can start applying for brand partnerships through your CJ dashboard. 

ShareASale: It’s easy to sign up with ShareASale to get started creating affiliate links. After you fill out a form and enter your details, you’ll wait for approval and soon get access to a personalized dashboard that tracks link clicks, earnings, and your list of affiliate partners. 

Awin: Awin is a global affiliate marketing network that tracks your link clicks, affiliate partnership applications, and earnings once you’re admitted into the platform. It’s an affiliate platform for brands that you might not get access to on other affiliate platforms, like Etsy. 

RewardStyle: This affiliate platform started in 2010 as a way for influencers to earn money for their recommendations. It’s a great avenue for affiliate earnings if you’re in the lifestyle space and looking to partner with retailers. 

Amazon Associates: Amazon Associates is one of the easiest affiliate networks to join—though it does offer lower commission rates. This is a great beginners affiliate platform that you can use to share links to your favorite Amazon products with minimal hassle. The Amazon Associate dashboard is easy to use and you can create your affiliate links in seconds. 

Rakuten: This affiliate platform lets you earn cash back for every referral you send their way, Though it isn’t a conventional affiliate program, it’s still a great way to earn income by sharing your favorite products. Signing up for Rakuten is straightforward and accessible regardless of your follower count. 

Pepperjam: D2C affiliate platform Pepperjam is another way to access a long list of potential affiliate partners. Its dashboard comes with built-in analytics you can leverage to increase revenue and do more of what works. 

Impact: As you navigate affiliate platforms, try signing up for Impact. Much like Awin or ShareASale, you’ll find a variety of different brands you can partner with to start earning commission, like Canva, Lenovo, or AppSumo. 

FlexOffers: FlexOffers is an affiliate platform that offers access to over 12,000 affiliate programs. You get access to content monetization tools, real-time reporting, and account management. 

7 examples of brands and influencers using affiliate marketing on Instagram

There are endless ways influencers and big brands creatively share their affiliate links to help earn Instagram followers. Here are a few to inspire you so you can start sharing your own links with a well-rounded strategy in place. 

Jenna Kutcher

Including affiliate links in bio is one of the easiest ways for your audience to find your product recommendations. Jenna Kutcher, a marketing and mom influencer on Instagram, includes a link to a skincare brand she’s partnered with through a link that leads to a landing page on her website. 

Once you click on it, you land on a beautifully designed promo page with a coupon code. With an audience of over 900k followers and counting, it’s safe to say her link’s landing page receives a decent amount of traffic. 

As you consider what affiliates you’ll partner with, also plan how best to promote them. If it’s a major partnership, try creating a landing page dedicated to the product that you can link to in your bio for easy access. 

Jenna Kutcher affiliate example

Cara Loren Van Brocklin

Cara Loren, an Instagram influencer with more than 1.4 million followers, promotes her affiliate links in a variety of ways. One of the most creative ways she showcases her affiliate picks is by creating roundups of her most requested links throughout the year.

Have audience members DM’ing you asking about a product in your Stories or your Instagram posts? Take note of what’s requested most, create a roundup, and then repackage that as part of your Instagram Stories to make sure you reach your audience. 

Don’t be afraid to promote a link more than once as not all your followers will see your post the first time. Once you post your affiliate links on your Stories, save them to your Instagram highlights and label them clearly so your audience can easily find them. 

affiliate links in stories

Get creative with how you display your affiliate links! Throwing up an image with a simple link might not be enough to grab your audience’s attention. spruces up its product recommendations with fun polls, colorful backgrounds, and eye-catching fonts. Play around with brand elements when you’re promoting your affiliate links on your Stories and you’ll see a real difference in how your audience reacts to them. 

What colorful elements or brand signifiers can you add to help grab your audience’s attention? Consider adding calls to action (CTAs) to influence your audience to take action. “See More” or “Shop Here” can net you better results than a simple “Link” CTA might. 

See more CTA on instagram stories

Deirdre’s Design

One great way to drive traffic to your affiliate products is through Amazon’s Shopping feature. Once you’ve signed up with Amazon Associates, you can create your own Amazon landing page showcasing your best product picks.

Any time your audience uses your links to purchase a product, you receive a commission. Deirdre’s Design, an influencer brand run by Deirdre Renee in the home and lifestyle industry, includes an Amazon Shopping link in its bio leading to a page where users can find home items it features.

linktree in instagram affiliate program

As you experiment with your affiliate strategy and figure out what works best for your audience, don’t be afraid to create roundups, a list of links people can access through your profile bio, and even product highlights. 

Over time, you’ll be able to gather more data to see what works most effectively for you. From there, you can do more of what’s already working to bring in additional affiliate revenue. 

affiliate marketing on instagram example


Finally, don’t be afraid to include your affiliate links in highlights, especially if you have an audience that’s constantly messaging you to ask where they can shop for your products. 

PureWow takes its highlight strategy one step further by adding video footage of the product in action and a strong CTA. Including the price can also be a helpful value add, depending on your products’ price point. 

instagram story example

Consider using a Click To Shop link feature if you constantly share new affiliate products on your page. The image below is a great example of PureWow’s approach to a Click To Shop setup that helps users easily find links to the products and recommendations they’re interested in. 

online store from instagram click

The Skimm

Experiment with adding descriptive text to a Story product recommendation and throw in a coupon code to entice more buyers. The Skimm’s approach to its link CTA illustrates a more creative way to encourage the click: incorporating the coupon code information within the link text. Genius! 

the skimm affiliate program on instagram example

Pinch Of Yum

Sometimes you can even include an affiliate link in your static posts, like Pinch Of Yum Did here. The link in its post description leads to an Aldi’s roundup of holiday products. Then Pinch Of Yum earns a commission from any time shoppers purchase items using the link, thanks to the Instagram post.

Directing users to links on a more permanent space like a blog post can be an effective way to continue to generate sales from the same affiliate links over time. You can always repromote old blog posts with your best affiliate links during the holidays or on special promo days. 


As you promote your affiliate links, don’t be afraid to experiment with video CTAs targeted towards Instagram users and Instagram followers, like food brand Tasty does in its recipe highlights. Remember, affiliate promotions don’t have to be static images. 

A dynamic video approach for promoting your affiliate products can be a much more engaging way to reel in your audience and capture their attention. This is true whether you’re building your highlight link promotions or you’re focusing on creating compelling Instagram stories that can be viewed by Instagram users. 

If you’re looking to create another income stream to increase your revenue, embrace affiliate marketing strategies you can execute on Instagram. Affiliate marketing is a solid way to reach a primed audience and share the products you love and can stand behind.

As your audience begins to trust you as a content creator, they’ll gain faith in your recommendations and be more willing to make initial and repeat purchases from you. However, Instagram affiliate marketing is not an instant path to success. It takes work, effort, and a lot of upfront investment to succeed. You’ll need to cultivate, grow, and nurture an audience before you can sell to them.

Grow your Instagram following and make sales with Instagram Automation by ManyChat. Start free today.

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