Exclusive: Inside the business of Instagram

For most of us, Instagram is a fun way to filter and share pictures with friends and family. For others, however, its a way of making a lucrative living.

NYU graduate Skyler Bouchard works full time to create content for her Instagram page @DiningwithSkyler. Bouchard started the account in 2012 while still in college, posting pictures of food from restaurants around the city.

Her content caught on, and grew into an entire brand and business. It even attracted the attention of The Food Network, which gave Bouchard three digital shows, as well as cable segments on The Cooking Channel.

"I have a show with them now called 'Treat Yourself with Skyler,' and we actually find different beauty benefits in food," said Bouchard.

She says the biggest bloggers pull in a very lucrative living.

"If you have a million followers, you could make $50,000 on a post," said Bouchard.

Bouchard said Instagram accounts are legitimate ways to crafts brands and businesses.

"Think about an Instagram profile as a digital magazine," said Bouchard. "It's a portfolio— You're producing content and stories on a daily basis; its not a monthly issue."

New York City fashion blogger Katie Sands has also built her career around Instagram and her @HonestlyKate account.

"I never really thought you could monetize this and it could eventually become a job," said Sands.

Her straightforward reviews and Photoshop-free pictures have garnered partnerships with Macy's, David's Bridal and Olay, among other big brands.

"Anytime someone buys an item or clicks on an item through my affiliates, I make a percentage," said Sands.

Sands tells us that an Urban Outfitters jacket she wore in a picture began flying off the shelves in stores, attracting the company to reach out about a partnership.

"Next thing I know, Urban Outfitters and I are signing a six-month campaign because it was selling out," said Sands.

Dogs also have a high earning potential on Instagram.

Katie Sturino began posting pictures of her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Toast, on Instagram.

Toast, a rescue Cavalier with a signature floppy tongue, became an international advocate for puppy mill adoption and an Instagram celebrity.

"She got married on 'Real Housewives of New York," said Sturino. "She wrote a book called 'ToastHampton' with Harper Collins. She was a fashion model for Karen Walker Eyewear."

Toast and her adopted sister, Pants, both passed away in the last year. Their siblings, Muppet and Cheese, carry on the legacy and the business.

"There are agencies that specialize in dogs," explained Sturino. "They were actually with a top human agency, though, but no one can do it like the Kris Jenner of the dog world, so I took it back in house and I'm handling them now."

Toast's brand was so strong that Sturino launched her own successful fashion Instagram, @the12ishstyle, and a line of personal care products called Mega Babe that sell in stores including Ulta.

"So much of my business and my life is on Instagram," said Sturino.

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