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What Creators Need To Know About The Instagram Affiliate Marketplace

Drew Gula

Jul 19, 2021

The new Instagram affiliate marketplace has one job: to connect creators with ways to monetize their channel. More importantly, it’s a clear path for content creators to find partnerships and start getting some of that sweet, sweet paid promotion money.

This initiative is positioned as “new ways for creators to make a living.” And any tool that helps more people turn their passion into a legitimate source of revenue is something worth talking about.

But before we dive into the ins and outs of affiliate marketing and how you can benefit from it, let’s step back and break down what the Instagram affiliate marketplace actually is. That should help you figure out whether or not it’ll affect you, or what you can do to get involved.


Introducing the new affiliate tool

“Affiliate” is all about offering people an authentic way to promote things they love. You won’t have to partner with brands to plug random hydration packs or hair curlers. Instead, you’ll get to choose things you already enjoy, tag them in your posts, and start earning commission.

Sure, you can still track down brands to sponsor posts in the traditional “influencer marketing” style that we’re all familiar with. But Instagram’s new Affiliate tool takes the guesswork and haggling out of that process. 


Social media affiliate link image

Source: Social Media Today


Now you’ll be able to go to a shop of your choice, select the products you want to promote, and then tag those products in your Feed or Story. You’ll get paid after the return period of those products, and you can use Insights to see how you’re doing with these new promotional posts.

In short, the Instagram Affiliate marketplace lets you authentically promote your favorite products and get paid for sharing what you love.

Getting into the Instagram Affiliate Marketplace

For the time being, Affiliate is still in the testing phase. That means it’s a sort of “invite-only” program while Instagram works out the kinks and makes sure it will work on a global scale.

The only specifications on who is eligible is that you need to comply with the Instagram Partner Monetization Policies and the platform’s Community Guidelines. (Both of those are fairly straightforward rules.)

You can bookmark the Affiliate page and check back often to see when the program will move out of its early testing phase.

Generating revenue with paid promotions

It’s easy to think that you can’t make money on Instagram unless you’ve got 100k+ followers and that nifty blue checkmark. But the real starting point for making money on social media is having engaged followers, even if you don’t have a small army of them.

(For what it’s worth, getting verified on Instagram isn’t particularly difficult. The problem is that there’s no specific process to take, and it can be easier if you’ve got a boat-load of followers.)

YouTube and Twitch pretty much demand a specific number of subscribers before you can start to make money from advertising. But Instagram — as a more traditional social media platform — puts more stock on engagement than on a particular number goal.

Pretty much any creator on Instagram can start to take advantage of affiliate or influencer marketing. This usually takes the form of sponsorships, which could be branded content or a paid promotion.

Either way, the brand is paying you to showcase their products to your followers because it’s clear that your audience trusts your opinion and engages with your content.



There are some key differences between “affiliate” and “influencer,” however. As a rule, companies think of influencer marketing as a casual partnership. In most cases, a brand will pay a creator for a single post that introduces a product or service to that creator’s audience.

An affiliate, however, is much more of an investment. When you become an affiliate, your focus is less introducing your audience to a product and more trying to generate sales for that product.

You aren’t getting paid to show the thing — you’re getting a commission based on sales from your audience. There’s no trial and error, or trying to find brands to sponsor you, or frustrating your audience by forcing paid promotions into their feed.

Being an affiliate is like playing the long game. Sure, you’ll sacrifice the nice payout of a paid sponsorship. But with the Instagram Affiliate marketplace, you can tag things you already use and possibly turn that into sales without having to plug or advertise anything.

It’s less money, but also less work. And when you imagine using this Affiliate tool across all of your content, that “less money” starts to add up. 

Taking advantage of affiliate marketing

Companies could spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing in the next few years. And with Instagram becoming a go-to destination for advertising and product sponsorships, it’s safe to assume that a big chunk of that money will be up for grabs.

Businesses have come to rely on affiliate marketing in a major way. In 2020, affiliates generated 16% of all online orders — that’s around $6.8 billion. So brands are more willing than ever to partner with content creators and take advantage of their social media reach.

Word-of-mouth advertising is a priceless resource. A study by Adweek revealed that 74% of people rely on word-of-mouth recommendations for everything from food to fashion. And upwards of 80% of Americans won’t make a purchase until they’ve gotten a recommendation.

As a content creator, you can use all of that to your advantage. It shows that businesses are looking for creators to partner with, and Instagram is clearly hoping to streamline that process with its new Affiliate tool. 

With all of that said, it’s easy to see how the Instagram Affiliate marketplace helps both brands and creators. And when the program comes out of its testing period and opens up for all users, we can only imagine the sort of benefits this will bring to anyone who is interested in monetizing their Instagram account and further growing their social media presence.