Quick note: This is not a guide that shows you step-by-step methods in order to make money on Instagram. I will not delve into my actual methods of producing income. Imagine you want to learn how to fish. I am not going to tell you where to fish and how to fish - all I'm doing is giving you fishing bait. This guide is meant to give you my personal ideas behind proper Instagram marketing. If you don't agree with my ideas, that's fine. Go ahead and post below and tell me I'm wrong; however, I have used these basic principles for my own success in Instagram and am looking to help those out who are struggling or just starting their internet marketing journey. Numerous people have contacted me recently in an attempt to pick my brain, but I thought this would be more beneficial. I did not proofread this. Let me start off by saying this - I started working into the world of Instagram in July of 2015. By no means am I some hipster who has been cashing Benjamins since 2011 on IG. Through numerous failed internet marketing attempts in early summer of 2015, I was led to Instagram as somewhat of a last resort. I've had my own personal Instagram account for a couple years, and I knew the app well enough so I thought to myself, "Why not? What's the worst that can happen?" Luckily enough for me, it all turned out pretty well. I learned a lot. Some of them were through mistakes, but some of them were through successes too. I have compiled a list of neat, little tidbits and thoughts that hopefully will help you succeed in Instagram and internet marketing as a whole. 1. Pick Your Friends Wisely I'm going to start off with this one. Through my journey, I have met many great minds on BlackHatWorld. I have also met some really, really shitty people. I've had friends who have helped me expand my business exponentially, and I have had "friends" who steal and cheat things away from me. Don't get me wrong, BlackHatWorld is great, but we have a shitlist for a reason. Some select people get it in their heads that since this is "BlackHat" it's okay to be scumbags. To put it simply, don't give your secrets out to just anyone. You never know who is at the other end of a computer screen. This is a given, but it is most important. 2. Bookmark the BHW Instagram Section There has been several times when consistently checking the Instagram section on BlackHatWorld has saved my accounts. There is a reason to why this is one of the most popular pages on the forum - people post great information here on a daily basis. When Instagram goes through algorithm changes, the Instagram section on BHW is absolutely clutch. People will post their findings from the algorithm change, share their account settings, and so forth. Being up to date with some of the mad blackhatters is a must if you want to be successful in Instagram. I think it was in late September when Instagram went through one of the biggest algorithm changes it's ever had. People were losing thousands of accounts, but updated bot settings continued to surface throughout the mayhem. Not only will you stay up to date with Instagram algorithm changes, but you will also discover great methods, ideologies, and theories about Instagram that are a must for any social media nerd. 3. Create Accounts That Interest You I see this all the time. People give up on accounts, and I just don't get it. Whether you are creating your first Instagram account or your 1,000[SUP]th[/SUP], create accounts that you will always be engaged with. Create accounts that you will be passionate about. Create accounts that you will care for on a daily basis. Your accounts are your babies. If you love soccer, create soccer accounts. If you love making money, create luxury accounts. If you love working out, create fitness accounts. It's so simple. If you are a vegetarian, don't create accounts about eating meat. It doesn't make sense. If you don't care enough about it in real life, then you won't care enough about it in social media. 4. Create Accounts That You Have a Vision For To follow up on number 3, you have to create accounts that you will know how to monetize. I'm not saying that when you start an account you have to have a 10 page business plan, but you have to know in general how you could make money from it. If you are trying to make money, don't set up a non-profit charity page on Instagram. You are a nice person for doing that, but understand you won't make a dime from that. (... unless you are selling shout-outs from it... but that's not the point I'm trying to make here.) Also understand this - just because you love a niche doesn't mean it's necessarily profitable. Just because you are highly interested and engaged with African aardvarks, doesn't mean there is an audience for African aardvark enthusiasts on Instagram (but don't let me kill your dreams). 5. Think Outside The Box This little tidbit is pretty similar to the previous two, but let's say you still love African aardvarks. While there only might be a handful of people on Instagram that would follow your page and give you love, you can still be creative with the niche and make money. Suppose you create a little fan page for your aardvarks, you can perhaps get some connection with a Zoo and maybe you can workout a deal so you can visit the aardvarks whenever you like. You might not be making money, but you are saving a couple bucks by not having to buy a one-day zoo pass. Back on topic, if you have skimmed BHW for a couple minutes, you probably have noticed the two big ways people are making money here: selling shoutouts and cost-per-action offers (CPA). There are still more ways you can make money, you just might have to do some digging (like a aardvark. Get it? Because burrows...). Contacting companies, creating your own company, selling clothes, apps, etc, etc the list goes on and on. Nothing works unless you do. Think outside the box and figure out ways to put money in your pocket. 6. There Is No Such Thing as Saturation It pains me to say it, but... Instagram is not saturated at all. A lot of whitehat people write-off Instagram as "unmarketable" because advertising on Instagram seems to be pretty dull. There isn't really much of a call-to-action on Instagram because you can't place links in posts, and Instagram ads is about 3 years away from being profitable; however, even the annoying niches like fashion, fitness, and luxury are still wide open for opportunities if you know what you are getting yourself into. Sure, there might be a lot of accounts out there in those niches, but if you figure out ways to make your account(s) better, it won't take long before you start taking their followers and their profits (and their women, probably). If you are familiar with the Pareto principle (if not, Google it quick), Instagram is a lot like the 80/20 rule; however, it might be a tad different. It's probably close to 90/10 or even 95/5. Sure, let's stick with 95/5. 95% of the money being earning on Instagram is being made by 5% of the marketers. Most people probably think, "Damn, I can't make any money then. I'll just do Clickbank marketing instead with miniblogs." But if you were smart you would think like this, "What can I do to get in that 5%?" Generally speaking, saturation exists to some extent in Instagram and internet marketing. I am aware that contradicts what I just bolded. Sometimes there are too many people doing something, but that shouldn't stop you from doing it if you have the proper vision for success. Most of the niches I am engaged in (fitness, fashion, etc) are pretty saturated, but that didn't stop me from turning a profit. It's kind of like the old saying, "If everyone is jumping off a cliff, would you do it?" If you got a cool parachute that no one else has then go jump off that cliff. 7. Post Original Content Posting original content is always going to be your best bet. Sure, if you are uncreative this might not be your strong suit, but posting original content is a major key to success for several reasons. You will stand out from your competition You will more than likely stay away from IG's violation squad (especially if you are botting) You will be unique and memorable You will be happy Aardvarks shouldn't live in zoos all their life Posting original content can be as simple as watermarking images or videos (content you have the right to watermark...maybe). There was a great thread earlier that showed increased engagement rates (comments and likes per photo/video) from simply watermarking their content. Posting original content often is important. All accounts should be posting everyday, if you ask me. Too many times I see accounts that post the same reposted pictures again and again. Always assume your audience is half-way educated, at least. They will know bullshit when they see it. If you are going to go with the reposting route, try and find lesser-known people to repost. You can't just go around posting Katy Perry pictures all day and expect your account to blow up (like a firework). 8. Always Expand Your Empire Too often in internet marketing and life you will be struck with complacency. But as the old proverb goes - complacency is the enemy of progress. I'm not saying you should have thousands of accounts you can't run effectively or with care, but always look for ways to grow your Instagram empire. You should always have more than one cared-for Instagram account. You can always find the time to work on one more account. QUICK TIDBITS 9. I would advise against buying accounts. It's too easy to recover accounts. If they can't monetize it, you probably won't be able to either. There is probably a good reason why they are selling it. Better safe than sorry. That being said, I have bought accounts before with success; however, I've had more bad experiences with it than good experiences. 10. FollowLiker is the best thing we got right now for Instagram account automation. It's not amazing, but it's not terrible. For the price, it's the best you can get. Buy the extended version (with unlimited licenses). It's a good investment. I believe you can buy it here in the marketplace. 11. Never fake followers. Under rare conditions is it allowed to fake likes and comments, but never fake followers. There is no use for it. They are deadweight. Also, be aware that some shoutout providers fake their engagement rate with fake likes and comments. I know most people go to IGERSLike for their Instagram panel, but there are also many quality dealers here in the BHW marketplace for followers, likes, comments, etc. 12. Aged accounts will always perform better under stress. Accounts that are at least 6 months old do better in automated activities than other accounts will. Instagram will see older accounts and give them some leeway. Instagram will see newer accounts and give them the banhammer. 13. Accounts also need to be warmed up. Don't go full-blast right away with liking, commenting, following, etc. Start small and build bigger. I post a good example of this here. 14. Always keep a couple tester accounts on hand to test limits, engagement, etc. Make sure these are the same age as your main accounts. Be bold with these accounts. Be crazy with these accounts. They are meant to test and push the limit for a reason. 15. Make your own accounts if you can. You will just feel more at home when you do. Buy SIM cards. I think you can currently create around 5 accounts per phone. It could be much more than that but it's not much less. You are very safe if you have a personal account and a business account on the same phone/proxy right away. Make sure you use 3G/4G if you log into your phone with an account that usually is on a different proxy. Also, most phones you can add proxy settings if you prefer to use WiFi. 16. Buy a VPS if you are using FollowLiker. I like it better than keeping my computer online all day. I use GreenCloudVPS but you can use whatever suits you. 17. Typically you will always be safe with 1 proxy per 1 account initially. When your accounts get older it becomes more and more okay to push that limit. I would never go above 3 accounts per proxy, but there is always some crazy person on BHW saying he's got like 7 accounts on one proxy. It's your call. I use SSLPrivateProxy but they are sometimes unreliable with support. 18. I've never seen the point of doing "giveaways" but I could be wrong. I've never experimented with it. My theory is people who sign up for "giveaways" usually don't want to buy anything. But if you can find a way around that, kudos to you. 19. You don't need big accounts to be successful with Instagram. You don't need thousands of accounts. Across all of my accounts I'm not deep into the 6 figure following range. That's really only a small loan of a million dollars when you think about it (political humor). My audience; however, is laser targeted, and that's all that matters. Good engagement rate and a following with an open checkbook is all it takes to make money in Instagram. 20. Be aware that doing shout-for-shouts (S4S) devalues the credibility of your account. When I see an account doing a "shout-out" I almost always unfollow or ignore that account. Shout-for-shouts are great for gaining followers, but understand that comes at a price. Buying shout-outs instead of trading shout-outs is preferred if you can afford it, just make sure you are doing it from a credible account. 21. If you aren't having success with Instagram, don't stress about it. I've bounced around from niche to niche, from offline marketing to Craigslist - when you know, you know. Building a broad awareness and becoming a jack-of-all-trades isn't such a bad thing in Internet Marketing. Using what you know from Instagram and applying it to other things can be very beneficial. The more you know, the better. You need to be laser-focused on a niche to be successful, and if you know from the start that you won't ever be laser-focused in on Instagram, then you might be wasting your time. That's the honest truth.