If you’re a creator or familiar with the creator economy, you probably understand the challenges of making an income on social media platforms like Instagram. For micro-influencers, sustaining a livelihood on the platform can be tough, especially when Meta frequently introduces changes to the algorithm that negatively impacts reach.
However, in 2022, Meta showed its commitment to supporting creators by piloting Instagram Subscriptions to 10 creators, a feature that allows creators to offer exclusive content to their subscribers for a fixed monthly fee. This year, Meta has taken it a step further by globally launching the Instagram Subscriptions to all creators on the platform with a professional account.
Think of Instagram’s subscription feature like a membership site - similar to OnlyFans, Substack, and Patreon. With this move from Meta, creators get a real incentive to stick around on the platform and actually earn money straight from their followers.
The feature has gotten various reviews from users on TikTok: “It sucks that the app store takes about 30% of purchases,” says a user. “Although this is a great opportunity, creators will need to figure out what value they’re going to offer people in return for their money,” adds another creator.
Through the different reviews, one thing is clear: Instagram Subscriptions has opened up an entirely new avenue for creators to make money directly from their audience on the platform. Given all the amazing talent on social platforms, social media companies are looking for ways to attract and retain these talents by providing creators with opportunities to monetize directly on the platform. This recent move by Meta mirrors those of platforms like YouTube's creator fund and TikTok’s creator fund.
In this article, we’ll outline the pros and cons of Instagram Subscriptions, how to optimize your exclusive content with it, and help you spark some inspo for the types of content you can create!
What are Instagram Subscriptions?
Instagram Subscriptions offers subscribers exclusive content such as lives, stories, posts, reels, subscriber chats, and subscriber broadcast channels. Followers can subscribe to exclusive content from creators through in-app purchases on their phones.
When users subscribe to a creator’s exclusive content, they get a purple crown badge next to their name. This purple crown badge is also visible to creators in their inbox when a subscriber messages them directly, allowing creators to quickly identify subscribers from non-subscribers.
Subscriber stories are marked by a purple ring around them and remain visible for 24 hours where creators can save stories along with live content under the subscriber tab. Creators can also create broadcast channels for all their followers or choose to broadcast exclusive content such as live Q&As and interviews on their channels to their paying followers.
Another exciting feature is subscriber chats, which enables up to 30 subscribers to engage with creators and other community subscribers. Creators can choose to end the chat at any time, and the chat remains accessible for 24 hours, after which it becomes read-only. Features like blocking, restricting, and reporting can help creators maintain a secure, harassment-free community.
There are so many ways creators can choose to engage with their subscribers through subscriber chat. For example, creators can discuss topics of interest, get to know their audience by asking questions, and share business tips.
Who is eligible for Instagram Subscriptions?
To offer Instagram Subscriptions to your followers, you must have a professional account, be at least 18 years old, and have an account with a minimum of 10,000 followers.
The Instagram subscription feature is available to users who live in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.
What are the benefits of Instagram Subscriptions for creators?
You might be wondering, what’s in it for me? There are plenty of benefits to adding Instagram Subscriptions to your list of ways to make money online. Here’s how:
It creates a consistent monthly stream of recurring revenue.
The subscription economy is projected to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025 without any signs of slowing down. This presents creators with an opportunity to take advantage of a thriving market.
Maintaining a steady monthly income not only keeps your finances secure but also helps ensure your business is sustainable in the long run. One great thing about creating content through a subscription model is that it isn’t tied to unpredictable factors like social media algorithms. You can create content confidently, knowing that you’ll have a recurring monthly revenue regardless of any uncertainties.
Of course, it goes without saying that financial security through Instagram Subscriptions only works well when you’re actually providing valuable content to your followers.Take it from Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, where he discusses the financial advantages the Instagram feature offers to creators:
It fosters strong and meaningful relationships with your followers.
We know as a creator, you care deeply about your followers - you know they’re real people who follow you because they are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Instead of thinking of subscriptions as a way for you to use your followers as another source of income, think of it as a chance for you to get to know your biggest fans on a deeper level.
Some content creators and online business owners have such a large following that they barely get to interact with the same followers over and over again. With the Instagram subscription feature, overtime, you’ll start recognizing paid subscribers through badges, which is a great way to be intentional about nurturing each relationship.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should neglect your non-subscribers, but keep in mind followers that are subscribed to your content are there for the benefits, so interacting directly with them should be a top priority.
Engaging your community in conversation about their interests, goals, and ambitions can help you truly understand them on a deeper level. This approach will make your subscribers feel appreciated, which can build loyalty over time.
As you maintain meaningful relationships with your community, you can regularly connect with your subscribers about their journeys, provide personalized feedback to help them overcome challenges, and showcase success stories among your subscribers.
Potential downsides of Instagram Subscriptions for creators
Keep in mind you’re going to be competing with other creators for subscribers, so at first it might not provide the results you were hoping for. In a sea of options to choose from, your unique selling proposition (USP) is what will set you apart from the competition.
Since Instagram Subscriptions operate on a month-to-month basis, subscribers can choose to unsubscribe from your content at any time. This can lead to sustainability concerns in the long run. For example, subscribers canceling can present challenges for building lasting relationships and ensuring a consistent income stream for creators.
Another downside is if you’re seeking a more hands-on interactive learning platform for your community, the Instagram Subscription portal can be restrictive and doesn’t necessarily make it easy to sell other digital products you offer. If you have a membership site outside of social media, you’re in a good spot to offer extras like coaching programs or courses. Plus, you’ll be able to gather much more info about your audience like their email address, which is super important for creators to stay connected with their audience beyond just social media.
Another important tidbit is that in 2022, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Meta will delay revenue sharing until 2024, extending his previous commitment to not charge a commission on Instagram Subscription fees until by one year.
While this is good news for creators right now, it puts a damper on using Instagram Subscriptions knowing that Meta will take a cut of your revenue in the future significantly impacting your earnings. This is why diversifying your revenue streams is essential to building a sustainable livelihood as a creator.
Another drawback to Instagram Subscriptions is that you lack ownership of your audience, unlike having a membership site through a platform like Kajabi. This is especially important because algorithms affect how many people follow you or view your content, something you can’t control.
Remember the Facebook outage in 2021? In case you forgot, here’s a little refresher: all Meta products like Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp stopped working for a total of six to seven hours, causing the platform to lose over $65 million in advertising revenue. To make matters worse, small business owners were hit hard, experiencing losses that ranged anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $5,000 in revenue.
Needless to say, it’s important to remember that social media can be an unpredictable place for making income. Always have a backup plan in place for monetization in case things take an unexpected turn.
How to set up Instagram Subscriptions
To set up Instagram Subscriptions, you’ll need your name, address, tax information, and banking or payment details.
If you meet the criteria for Instagram Subscriptions, you can kickstart your journey to monetizing on the platform by following these steps outlined by Instagram:
- Go to your professional dashboard and click “Set up subscriptions.”
- Click Next.
- Click next
- You’ll then be prompted to select your monthly price. Once you’ve done that, tap Next.
- Select Publish > Create.
Once you’ve enabled Instagram Subscriptions, your followers will be notified about your subscription on their activity feed. They’ll also have the option to directly subscribe to your content on your profile.
How to create content using Instagram Subscription features
Following Instagram's guidelines, here’s a straightforward process for creating content using Instagram Subscription’s features. We’ve made it easy for you by breaking down the instructions from Instagram’s Help Center.
How to create exclusive stories
- First, you’ll walk through the process of creating an Instagram story.
- Tap on the arrow in the bottom menu to open up the sharing options.
- Pick Subscribers from the list of audience options.
- Click Done.
How to create exclusive Live videos
- Start a Live broadcast on Instagram.
- When setting your Live, you can select Audience for live broadcasts or you can select Audience on the Live Video screen for scheduled Live broadcasts.
- Select Subscribers.
- Tap Set Audience.
How to create exclusive posts
- Walk through the process of creating an Instagram post.
- On the Share screen, toggle on Share with subscribers only.
- Tap Share.
How to create exclusive reels
- Start by creating an Instagram reel.
- On the share screen, toggle on Share with subscribers only.
- Tap Share.
Setting your price for Instagram Subscriptions
The pricing options for Instagram Subscriptions are $0.99, $1.99, $2.99, $4.99, $9.99, $19.99, $49.99, and $99.99.
Although subscription fees start at a low rate, you don’t want to sell yourself short. If you’re a creator with a large following, benefits can add up. For example, let’s say you have 100,000 followers. If 10% of your audience subscribes to your channel and you have a membership fee of $2.99 a month, that’s a healthy $30K a month!
Keep in mind that having a lot of followers doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get subscribers. Remember, there are thousands of other creators offering the same feature to their followers, and the key is to offer something of value so they keep coming back.
Think of your value as the secret sauce that will make your subscribers choose to spend their hard-earned money on your content.
What will you offer them that they can't find elsewhere? Will they receive content like 1:1 training or exclusive behind-the-scenes snapshots? Be prepared to explain how your content will benefit your audience.
Once you have identified your USP, consider the time spent creating content that you will offer to your subscribers.
You can always decide to change your monthly subscription fee later, but note that once you change it, it will only apply to new members and not your existing subscribers.
Additionally, you can encourage your followers to gift your subscriptions to others.
Instagram Subscriptions offers a “Gifting IG Subscription” feature, that enables both subscribers and followers to grant friends and family access to exclusive content for durations of 1, 3, 6, and 12 months.
Let’s use creator Jack Jerry as an example.
Step 1: Followers can navigate to a creator’s profile and click on the “subscribe” feature displayed on the creator’s profile.
Step 2: Followers will then have the opportunity to view various offerings offered by the creator:
Step 3. Upon clicking“Gift a subscription” users will be directed to the following page:
Step 4. After clicking “next” users will be prompted to a page where they can choose a specific subscription plan they wish to gift.
How to promote your Instagram Subscription on your feed
Congratulations! Now that you've set up your Instagram Subscription account and set a monthly fee, it's time to let everyone know about the awesome exclusive content you're going to offer.
You can encourage more people to subscribe to your content through subscription previews on your Instagram profile grid. Anyone who visits your page will be prompted to subscribe to gain further access to exclusive content through an “unlock” button.
You can add up to three exclusive posts or reels to your subscription previews, and make changes from your profile grid if you need to.
Let’s take a look at content creator Don Allen’s Instagram Subscription grid for instance. Here, he features exclusive posts that are for subscribers only where users are encouraged to subscribe for access to additional exclusive content.
According to Instagram, here’s how to set up an Instagram Subscription preview from settings:
- Tap the menu at the top right on your Instagram profile.
- Select Settings, then Click Subscriptions.
- Under Manage, select Subscription preview.
- Once you select up to 3 exclusive posts or reels for your preview, tap Save.
You can also get your followers excited about subscribing to your Instagram content through reels in your regular feed. When you put together these reels, make sure you’re clear about the benefits your exclusive content will bring to your followers. Draw them in just enough to spark their curiosity and get them wanting more of what you’ve got.
In this example, creator and athlete Sedona gives a sneak peek into the kind of content she’ll be sharing with her subscribers, which includes in-depth videos and a behind-the-scenes look into her day-in-the-life as a basketball player.
You can also encourage your subscribers to hop into your subscriber chat via your stories by using the “join chat” sticker.
Types of exclusive content to offer to your IG subscribers
There’s a ton of awesome, exciting content creators can serve up to their subscribers. With users spending an average of 12 hours a month on Instagram, there’s no reason why yours shouldn’t be the content they dive into!
Here are a few ideas for types of exclusive content to engage with your subscribers:
Behind-the-scenes allows you to build a deeper connection with your audience. Think of it as an open invitation for your followers to sit alongside you on your creator journey with an up-close look at your experiences. This type of content is a powerful way to build trust and loyalty with your audience.
For example, if you’re a business owner, you might share a sneak peek of your morning routine. Similarly, if you’re attending a noteworthy event, you can grant your audience “VIP” access. There are so many creators with large audiences taking their followers on exciting adventures along with them. Remember, your followers are itching for a behind-the-scenes peak of something completely different from what they’re used to. For example, if you’re a creator with a large following, you can give your audience a glimpse into your get-ready-with-me routine, or if you’re a traveler, you can take your audience with you on your journey from anywhere in the world!
We love this behind-the-scenes reel by the photographer @joe.howat on his shooting and editing process for a cover art music video:
Your followers probably have industry-related questions where your insights would be incredibly helpful to them.
Hosting regular Q&A sessions where you share tips, tricks, and advice on becoming a creator or business owner in your niche is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
Remember to always deliver in-depth actionable, practical advice that your audience can apply to their own journeys.
Approach your Q&A sessions with purpose. Outline a clear strategy for the topics you’ll address, and ensure your followers can ask questions and contribute their thoughts when relevant. Frame your Q&A chats as interactive, collaborative sessions where your followers can gain insights not only from you but also from other creators in their niche.
In this Q&A example, @huntertalentagency takes questions from his audience on all things talent agent-related.
Your followers might already enjoy your content, but offering them access to other creators and business owners in your niche can take their appreciation to a whole new level.
Don’t gate keep your followers – introduce them to other experts in your industry. This is a great way to create a culture of collaboration in your community and expand your reach. It even serves somewhat as a podcast episode!
You can use the Instagram Live feature to stream your interviews and make the experience engaging by inviting your followers to participate with their questions. Remember the Q&A idea? This is an excellent opportunity to incorporate that format into your interviews!
We love this promo example by creator @JoyTaylorTalks encouraging her subscribers to subscribe to exclusive content like Q&As and interviews. No doubt Taylor is offering her audience the good stuff!
4. Perks and resources
Providing perks and resources to your paid subscribers is a fantastic approach to making your followers feel valued and special.
After all, who doesn’t like discounts, freebies, and educational resources?
You could host a giveaway for a new course or hook up your paid subscribers with links and exclusive promotion codes to perks outside of your Instagram Subscription.
Offering discounts and extra educational resources is a great strategy for expanding your audience beyond Instagram. Let’s say you’re a creator coach, for instance. You could share links through your subscriber chat to websites where your courses are hosted.
We love this example from astrologist @Alizakelly. In her video, Aliza promotes additional content to her followers outside of her Instagram platform. She promises her followers a lifetime access to a self-guided video lecture, a thorough PDF workbook, and exclusive invites to live office hours.
5. Interactive coaching sessions.
Many up-and-coming creators and online business owners are on the hunt for professional growth. If your followers see you as an expert in a particular niche, this is an opportunity for you to share your expertise to your audience– and even better, make money while doing it.
Consider offering both individual and group coaching sessions. You could guide others on scaling their online businesses, or lead a class outlining best practices for creating engaging content online.
The key with coaching sessions is to offer your subscribers practical tools they can use to scale successfully in their niche.
Along with your exclusive coaching sessions, consider offering membership opportunities with access to resources like online courses, ebooks, and more. Think of your exclusive Instagram sessions as a platform for you to go in-depth and discuss topics covered in your membership.
6. Product demos
Followers are constantly seeking out user-generated content (UGC) related to a specific product or service. Hosting a product demo is a great way for you to show your audience an authentic perspective on how you work.
Maybe you’re a photographer who uses certain apps for photo edits, or you’re a coach who uses AI tools to generate course content ideas. You can create lives or videos showcasing demos of your workflow using tools that help you in your workflow process.
Best practices for growing your business with Instagram Subscriptions
As mentioned earlier, the main thing is to ensure you’re giving your subscribers value that matches what they’re paying for. This way, they’ll feel recognized and your content will feel more personal.
For example, you can encourage your subscribers to gift your Instagram Subscriptions to friends and family by covering the cost.
You’ll also want to give your equal attention to all of your followers, even your non-paying users. Avoid getting into a situation where you’re only offering your best content to your subscribers – fans will notice when your content starts to decline. Remember, non-subscribers have the potential to turn into customers, so make sure you’re constantly incentivizing them in ways that are beneficial to them too.
For instance, hosting a one-month subscription giveaway can be a fantastic method to give potential subscribers a taste of the type of exclusive content you can offer. Who knows, they might end up loving your exclusive content enough to keep their subscription going!
Additionally, consider using your Instagram Subscription as a market research tool, which is a fantastic strategy to grow your brand.
You can leverage subscriber chats or live videos to directly ask your audience about the content they’d like to see from you. This approach will eliminate any uncertainty about what type of content to create, ensuring that you're producing content your subscribers want to see.
Sourcing ideas from your most dedicated fans shows you care about their input. Plus, your subscribers will feel like they’re getting real bang for their buck.
Last but not least, have a back up plan for monetization – we can’t emphasize this enough!
Instagram is always evolving, and you never know when a new update might significantly impact how your audience engages with you. That’s why we suggest exploring options like selling your own subscription through a membership site where you can offer exclusive content all in one place outside of social media.
The long term impact of Instagram Subscriptions for creators
Instagram Subscriptions offer a means for creators and online business owners to expand their income avenues by directly monetizing their followers, and the added bonus of recurring revenue provides creators with some financial peace of mind. Sharing exclusive content allows creators to connect more closely with their audience, which in turn boosts their brand’s authenticity. While Instagram Subscriptions offer an enticing route for online business owners and creators to make money, more sustainable paths like starting a membership site can empower you to monetize your audience on your own terms. If you’re ready to diversify your income, see how Kajabi’s tools can help you grow your online creator business with not only membership sites, but coaching, courses, podcasts, and online communities.
Is there a minimum commitment period for subscribers?
There’s no minimum time commitment. Instagram Subscriptions run month-to-month and subscribers can cancel at any time.
How do I track and analyze performance for Instagram Subscriptions?
Instagram insights enables creators to access engagement insights for exclusive content like posts, stories, videos, reels, and live videos.
You can use Instagram insights to learn more about your account's followers and performance. You can also view insights on your audience's engagement on specific posts, stories, videos, reels and live videos.
Can a subscriber cancel their subscription?
Subscribers have the flexibility to cancel their subscription any time. Instagram Subscriptions are billed to subscribers on a monthly basis, starting from the date of their initial purchase.
How often should I post new content for my subscribers?
Remember, your subscribers are investing their hard-earned money in your exclusive content, so it’s crucial to deliver value. While there’s no strict rule, a good target is to provide 3-4 content pieces per month. The more frequent, the better.