I think it’s safe to say that we live in a golden age of memes.
After all, memes are really a part of everyday culture these days.
Social media, TV and movies, and general popular culture are influenced by memes. If you browse the internet a fair bit, you’re probably hardpressed to spend a day without encountering a meme.
Memes provide a humorous and easy way to relate to ongoing world events or to communicate with others. After all, why go through the intricacies of explaining things like your feelings when you can just tag your friends in memes that accurately depict your everyday despair?
However, while memes are a fun and simple way to package or process information, they’re also a modern form of communication.
And, like anything that can captivate an audience, memes are potentially lucrative.
If you’re a self-proclaimed memer and love a good laugh, this is the post for you.
Time to break down the 10 different ways to make money with memes.
Let’s get to it.
How To Sell Memes – A Quick Note.
Memes are really a way to capture an audience or to monetize an existing following. The following business ideas will take time, as well as luck. Don’t turn to memes if you’re in need of fast cash.
Plus, many meme-businesses don’t scale unless they go viral. This means making money with memes can be a fun side hustle idea or nifty source of passive income, but going full-time might be tough.
That being said, let’s break down some of the different ways to earn money from memes.
1. Open A Meme Etsy Shop
By far, one of the simplest ways to start selling memes is to open an Etsy shop.
Etsy has millions of monthly visitors, and it’s one of the most popular marketplaces for online crafts, homemade goods, and printable art.
Additionally, Etsy lets you sell handmade or third-party merchandise on your own online marketplace. In fact, I’ve even tried selling meme merchandise on Etsy before in a custom mug shop I made:
Now, Etsy is a competitive marketplace, and this holds true for the world of memes.
To become a top seller on Etsy, you’ll need to spend time building your reviews and store reputation. Additionally, you’ll have to optimize your store’s SEO to help grow organic visibility.
But, the top meme pages on Etsy are making a killing. I mean, just check out stores like Wall to Wall Memes:
They have more than 2,500 sales on Etsy…and it’s all from meme merchandise!
Now, don’t be discouraged or think that it’s too late to get into the meme game. After all, I generated 2 sales on my store with a bit of manual Instagram marketing (following and DM`ing people), so it is possible.
If you’re a creative person and good with design, I strongly recommend using Etsy as a way to make money with memes.
Plus, you can use a service like Printify to create print-on-demand meme merchandise to sell, so you don’t have to manufacturer the merchandise yourself!
This is how I started selling meme mugs on Etsy, and I definitely recommend using Printify to power your print on demand efforts.
Extra Reading – How To Start An Etsy Sticker Business.
2. Build An Instagram Meme Page
Aright, now this idea is definitely incredibly competitive.
However, there is still money to be made on Instagram by using memes. Typically, there are 2 different routes to creating a profitable Instagram meme account:
- Option 1 – Create a meme Instagram account to gain a following, then sell sponsored posts or ads.
- Option 2 – Monetize an Instagram following by selling meme merchandise.
I’ll break down the two different options quickly, as well as my take on their feasibility.
Option 1 basically involves creating a meme account in order to rapidly gain followers. There are plenty of examples, and I’m sure you’ve stumbled across an account like this before.
These accounts primarily post memes. However, they also drop sponsored posts or promote various companies on their story from time to time in exchange for payment.
As I explain in my post on how to make money on Pinterest, influencer marketing is still a thing. If you have a following, companies are willing to pay for you to promote their products or services.
Now, there is big money in major Instagram meme accounts. However, there is also risk.
Instagram controls everything on their platform, and if you violate rules in any way, you’re gone. Just checkout how this $4,000 a month meme account got the ban hammer to see for yourself.
As this Reddit thread explains, the process also takes a tonne of time and dedication to get the ball rolling:
Honestly, competition and risk are why I prefer option #2, which involves monetizing a Instagram fan page or business page with meme content.
Here’s another example from a page I follow, called Holy Land Memes (I love history, what can I say).
Running an account like this has a few benefits.
Firstly, your followers are theoretically bigger fans of your niche content than a general meme-page, so you can probably monetize much faster.
Secondly, you also sell off of Instagram by driving traffic to an online store, so you aren’t completely chained to the platform.
In this example, Holy Land Memes sells some pretty nifty swag, and I imagine this is a decent (and fun) side hustle for the owner at the end of the day. Not a bad way to make money off of memes!
3. Sell On Zazzle, RedBubble, & Other POD Stores
This is a similar way to sell memes online as selling on Etsy.
However, on Etsy, you run your own store, and you’re free to manufacture your own products or even create an independent shop with a paid Etsy plan.
In contrast, selling on POD marketplaces like Redbubble is completely hands off. Here’s why:
Print on demand stores take the manufacturing and logistics responsibilities off of your shoulders.
With these sorts of platforms, all you have to worry about is designing products and marketing; manufacturing and shipping is off your plate entirely.
Popular POD products include things like mugs, clothing, wall art, stickers, bags, and more.
POD marketplaces are competitive, and you’ll need to work on optimizing your listings and driving traffic through social media to your site, just like Etsy. However, if you can get it rolling, it’s not a bad passive income play.
Just note, websites like Zazzle or Redbubble charge fees for their service. Here is how the royalty fees break down:
- Zazzle – 5% to 99%, artists set their own royalty rates.
- RedBubble – 20% is the recommended royalty rate.
So, for example, let’s say a POD mug costs $9 to manufacture and ship.
The base fee on both sites might be something like $11 (to cover production costs and to leave a profit for the website). As the artist, you then get to decide how to price your item in terms of a royalty to ensure you get paid.
Just note, POD margins are slim. There’s a tonne of competition, and it’s a bit of a race to the bottom.
However, for a passive income idea and way to make money with meme merchandise, it’s not a bad play.
Extra Reading – How To Make Money On Redbubble.
4. Social Media Management
Alright, time to share my favorite Instagram meme page of all time: Slim Jim.
Slim Jim, or those meat sticks you can buy at convenience stores or gas stations, actually rock at marketing.
Their Instagram page has nearly 1 million followers, and the page is dedicated to promoting Slim Jim and members of the ‘Long Boi Gang,’ which is basically anyone who buys a Slim Jim and sends in a picture.
Now, you’re never going to guess how this meme page got it’s start on Instagram.
Basically, the catalyst for the account came when Slim Jim hired a super fan who was running a meme page about Slim Jim. The guy got the job, and rocketed Slim Jim’s Instagram account into meme-stardom.
This isn’t the first time brands have turned to memes. Just look at Wendy’s, who in many ways actually started the trend of roasting other companies online or using comedy to build their brand image.
Obviously, this is a pretty exclusive way to make money through memes. However, if you’re in marketing, takes notes!
5. Fiverr Meme Gigs
I swear you can make money with Fiverr is a ridiculous number of ways.
A quick search for ‘meme’ on Fiverrs shows just how creative sellers are getting…there’s meme creation gigs, social media management gigs, or even people who just sell bulk files of thousands of memes (lol).
This isn’t an incredibly lucrative market, but hey, it also isn’t that competitive.
Just know that it might take some time to attract clients on Fiverr and to get positive reviews for your seller profile.
This is one of the main downsides of selling on Fiverr, but again, this is a niche offering so you might be able to find clients more easily than competitive services.
6. Make YouTube Meme Compilations
In terms of making money on YouTube, this is honestly a pretty strange niche.
There’s quite a few accounts out there making meme compilations, which are similar to vine compilations or random funny video reels.
I’m honestly shocked by some of the view counts, but if you have a knack for video editing and want to dabble with YouTube, this could be a niche to explore!
I’ve recently gotten into YouTube myself, and let me tell you, it’s pretty fun and rewarding to learn how to shoot and edit videos. I definitely recommend trying YouTube at some point if you’re looking to develop a valuable skill set.
Just remember: you need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time to monetize your YouTube channel, so it will take time before you can earn money by making memes with your compilations.
7. Make A Meme-Based Game
Obviously, the chances of creating the next What Do You Meme, the most successful meme game ever made, is pretty slim.
However, taking a concept that is popular on social media and turning it into a game, or even an app, is an interesting one. Plus, it seems like a fair number of sellers are trying their hand at the meme-inspired game market:
Again, this is a bit of a long shot in terms of making money. But, if you want a side project to work on, this isn’t a bad option!
8. Try PicturePunches.com
Alright, let me start by saying I have zero idea how this website even came to be or how people make money with memes on this platform.
Anyway, the idea behind PicturePunches is that you get paid when people view the memes you post.
PicturePunches places an advertisement under every meme on their website. To pay contributors, they pay a percentage of ad revenue based on how many views your content generate.
In this Reddit thread, one PicturePunches user explains (and proves) how he made over $500 by sharing memes on the platform. This is his account:
I imagine a lot of PicturePunch users spam forums or Reddit to get eyeballs on their content. There is a news feed and discover tab on PicturePuncher that would help as well, but I’m honestly still baffled by how this platform works.
In any case, if you want a low-effort way to make money from memes, this could be worth looking into. You can cash out to PayPal once you have $1.
9. Funnel Traffic To A Blog
As a blogger, this is definitely my favorite possible method behind making money with memes.
Again, memes are just a form of communication and a way to catch people’s attention. If you can use memes to grow an audience and then funnel traffic to a money making blog, you’re golden.
My friend Charlie from College Life Made Easy runs a great Instagram account that is the perfect example of what I’m talking about:
Charlie’s Instagram page has a mixture of college dorm room pics, student tips, and useful resources for students. However, it also has some hilarious meme material.
Since College Life Made Easy runs Mediavine ads, the site earns income every time someone visits from Instagram. Not a bad way to make an online income if you ask me!
I also run Mediavine ads on my blog, and I made $22,000 blogging in 2020, so this is probably one of the more lucrative options on this list.
Memes are just one traffic source, but it’s a great medium to provide engaging, humorous content if you run an Instagram page or Facebook group for your blog.
Extra Reading – Young Money Interview – Charlie From College Life Made Easy.
10. Sell Meme NFTs
NFTs, which stands for non-fungible tokens, have been all the rage alongside the crypto boom over the last few years.
But did you know some people have actually made money selling memes by minting and selling NFTs of the most popular memes?
According to Mashable, people have sold memes like Bad Luck Brian, Disaster Girl, and Success Kid for tens of thousands of dollars worth of Ethereum on OpenSea.
You can take this concept and try to mint your own meme NFTs and list them on various marketplaces.
The most popular memes have probably already been minted, and it’s a bit of a gray area, but you could try some meme-inspired NFT artwork at the very least.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re still wondering how to earn money by making memes or if this side hustle idea is even legit, this list of answers to frequent questions people have will help clarify things.
1. Are Memes Copyrighted?
One important quick note on making money with memes before wrapping this post up…let’s talk copyright laws.
In a nutshell, memes aren’t very well protected by copyright law due to the concept of Fair Use. Here are the 4 factors that Fair Use considers:
- Purpose – Is it for commercial purposes or educational purposes?
- Nature – Is it factual or creative? In the case of memes, things are generally considered to be creative.
- Amount & Substantiality – Basically, how much of the original content are you using. For memes, you basically use everything.
- Effect On Market Value – What impact does your use of the material have on the original content’s value?
Memes are a tricky subject in this regard because, sometimes, the lines get blurry on who owns content and how much that content is worth.
For example, if you own a dog and that dog gets turned into a meme, can you sue people over the rights of any photo that’s spun off of the meme? I’m not so certain.
There are, of course, more clear-cut examples of meme copyright infringement. For example, when I was making my Spongebob meme mugs, my POD manufacturer refused to make them as I was obviously violating the Spongebob copyright.
To play it safe for making money from memes, I’d advise you to stay away from heavily commercialized images or brands. Stick with original content or meme formats that won’t step on any toes.
This is especially important if you run social media accounts, and copyrighted images can get your account banned.
2. How Much Do Meme Page Admins Make?
If you want to run an Instagram meme page but don’t want to make all of the memes yourself, you might still be able to earn some extra cash.
The problem is that only massive accounts or media organizations that make a lot of money are the ones hiring page admins.
And, typically, these pages are for more general brands or media organizations and not meme pages.
So, if you want to make money as a meme page admin, the most viable route is to grow your own page and sell sponsored posts and merchandise yourself.
But, if you want a more “regular” job, you can still look for social media manager jobs on websites like Indeed and try to find a company that has some humor!
Besides, according to Payscale, social media managers earn approximately $52,000 per year on average.
Extra Reading – Jobs That Make $5,000+ Each Month.
3. How Do Meme Accounts Make Money?
Meme pages that make money are usually Instagram ones, but you can also find Facebook meme pages that make money.
The main way meme accounts make money is by:
- Selling shout outs to other accounts
- Selling sponsored posts/advertisement posts for other companies
- Selling its own merchandise
- Getting people to visit a blog, YouTube channel, or another property the meme page owns
- Selling to other companies
This last point is actually a massive one. Some very large companies are actually in the business of buying Instagram meme pages.
For example, in 2020, Warner Music Group bought IMGN Media, a company that basically ran a bunch of massive Instagram meme pages like Daquan, for an astonishing $85 million.
The bottom line is that running a meme page is like running a small media company. You have a lot of options to make money, and if you grow to a certain size, you can probably sell!
4. Can I Earn Passive Income With Memes
In my opinion, the best way to earn passive income by selling memes is to use the Etsy plus Printify combo.
Print on demand is the most passive model because you don’t have to worry about manufacturing or shipping. Instead, you can focus on making unique meme designs and promoting your store.
And, with Etsy, you can get organic traffic from the massive marketplace if you write robust product descriptions and do some keyword research.
So, my advice is to try out Printify and to open your Etsy shop today!
Growing an Etsy shop still takes time, but with print on demand, you can keep things simple and focus on making the best meme merchandise possible to sell.
At the end of the day, it is very unrealistic to make a full-time income from memes.
However, if you get creative, there’s no reason why you can’t turn your love of memes into a small passive side hustle or hobby.
My recommendation is to create a niche Instagram account or try the POD route, but the world is full of possibilities…I think Slim Jim boy taught us that, if anything.
Best of luck with your adventure, whatever you decide to do. I wish you nothing but success in your quest to sell memes online!
Catch you guys in the next one.
Looking for more money-making ideas? Checkout:
Tom is a full-time blogger and freelance writer with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and the gig economy. His work has appeared on dozens of personal finance websites like Money Crashers, The College Investor, Investor Junkie, and more. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
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