Influencers have taken the digital marketing world by storm, and now everybody wants a piece of the pie. People either want to work with influencers or become one. We’ve talked about leveraging the power of influencer marketing in the past, but what if you want to take on that role yourself? In this blog, we’re going to talk about how to become an influencer and take your first steps in this industry (branding, strategy, and content creation).
How to Become an Influencer
Here are the 9 steps you need to take to become an Instagram influencer.
- Pick a Niche
- Be Authentic and Genuine in Your Approach
- Develop a Unique (and Consistent) Aesthetic
- Pay Attention to the Metrics That Really Matter
- Focus on the Social Media Channel Where You Have the Biggest Impact
- Combine Forces With Other Influencers and Collaborate
- Host Contests and Giveaways
- Engage With Your Fans by Responding to Comments — Every Single One
- Be Consistent and Be Everywhere
1. Pick a Niche
Have you ever noticed that there are different types of influencers? Cosmetics, travel, tech, fashion, fitness—they all focus on something specific.
Here’s just one of countless examples: Katie Crewe, fitness and nutrition expert.
They’re doing this for a good reason.
You need to have a loyal following that’s going to trust you, if you want to be an influencer. When you try to reach everyone, you end up reaching knowing. You have to pick a target audience and focus on them specifically. This is what keeps them coming back for more.
If you focus on makeup, you’re going to grow a following of people who are obsessed with makeup. The same goes for other niches, like fitness and fashion. Target the people who are hooked on that specific subject, and they’re going to look to you for guidance. Become the expert on that one specific thing.
We know what you might be thinking: By picking a niche, you’re limiting yourself. This simply isn’t the case. Quite the opposite happens. By making one industry your focal point, you’re positioning yourself as an authority of that topic, and people are going to listen to you.
One final note about picking a niche: Pick something that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, or something that you’re willing to learn a lot about. You’re going to be putting a lot of time and effort into this content. Make it something you actually care about. People like Crewe aren’t faking it. She genuinely loves fitness and food.
2. Be Authentic and Genuine in Your Approach
If you want to learn how to become an influencer, remember this: You better stay true to yourself, because people will see right through any act you try to put on.
As an influencer, you’re going to partner and do business with brands. Money and free product are being exchanged for your services and engagement on your platform. As a result, sometimes, people lose sight of being real with their following. They’re so focused on growing a business that they forget about the most important people: the followers who make it all possible.
To be very clear, followers don’t stay loyal to an influencer because they want to be sold to. It’s actually quite the opposite. They feel like the influencer “gets” them, like it’s a trusted friend whom they can believe.
If you ever communicate with an influencer, you’ll quickly see that they’re picky about the brands they work with. They’ll only promote brands that they can personally get behind. This is because they don’t want to mess with the trust they’ve built with their followers.
Here’s a good example from Carli Bybel, who posted about a sunless tanner that she personally loves — and her followers could get a discount using her code.
They have a very large, very powerful platform, and influencers take that seriously.
Authenticity is of utmost importance.
3. Develop a Unique (and Consistent) Aesthetic
Influencer marketing indeed has a few things in common with general brand marketing. One of those things is the need for having a consistent aesthetic that’s true to your brand.
We earlier mentioned that your followers will look at you as a friend. This means they need to be comfortable with you. In order for that to happen, you need to be familiar and recognizable.
Many, if not most, influencers edit their photos — sometimes very heavily. If you choose to do so, be consistent in how you do it! Stick with the same brightness, filters, and other editing settings. When people land on your main profile page and see a grid of photos, they need to make sense and flow together in uniformity, just like Hummingbird High.
4. Pay Attention to the Metrics That Really Matter
Yes, influencers are “famous” on social media. But fame alone won’t be enough to make you desirable in brands’ eyes. This is a business move for them, which means they need to see an ROI. Otherwise, they’ll have no reason to invest in your services.
We all know that you want to have a large number of followers. And of course, the number of post likes you get matters (although, on that note, Instagram is testing hiding post likes!).
However, write this down: These numbers are not a reflection of sales! This won’t be enough to get you making money as a social media influencer.
Brands are going to want to know more about engagement and conversions—in other words:
- How many people are commenting on or sharing your content?
- How many people are taking some sort of action after seeing your content?
They likely want to know one thing: Can this person help us get more sales?
Being able to track and measure the activity on your pages is crucial. You need to be able to prove that you can influence people to take action. That’s why they call you an influencer!
Take a look at “ASMRtist” Ppomo on YouTube. These stats are from TubeBuddy. They’re probably just a few of the metrics she’s keeping a close eye on.
5. Focus on the Social Media Channel Where You Have the Biggest Impact
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: More isn’t always better.
Having a social media profile on every platform in existence doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be more visible. In fact, you’ll more than likely completely shoot yourself in the foot. Focus on where you can move the needle the most.
For most influencers, this will be Instagram. In fact, research from 2018 found that almost all influencers—a whopping 93% — say IG is there go-to network. Another 12% reported their top pick was YouTube, and that number had actually gone up 3% from the year prior.
It makes sense why Instagram is so big for influencer marketing. It’s a highly visual platform, and humans are visual creatures. Images and videos are significantly more powerful in convincing people to take action, compared to something like text. This would help explain why influencers don’t seem to be focusing their energy on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
YouTube is likely a similar story. Video content is a game-changer. People love it. In fact, some experts will tell you that YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world, coming only after Google. It gets more than three billion searches a month. You can’t afford to ignore YouTube.
Determining which platform will work best for you as an influencer might take some trial and error, and that’s okay. Or, there’s always the possibility that you can utilize both platforms, although it’s likely that one will take priority over the other.
For example, you might focus on being an Instagram influencer. However, if you produce a lot of long-form video content, you can also use your IG account to send traffic to your YouTube page, which you can monetize.
Two birds, one stone.
6. Combine Forces With Other Influencers and Collaborate
You know what they say: Two heads are better than one. Working with other social media influencers can boost your credibility and massively expand your audience reach.
You don’t necessarily need to work with someone whose audience is way bigger than yours — although that certainly wouldn’t hurt. You just need someone who has an audience you don’t, but one that’s still relevant.
For instance, if you’re a makeup influencer, you might consider collaborating with a skincare influencer. If you’re a fitness influencer, work with someone who focuses on healthy nutrition.
The most important thing is that their audience will be interested in and care about what you have to say. Otherwise, there’s really no point. They’re not going to follow you over to your own page.
7. Host Contests and Giveaways
Many brands pay not only monetarily but also in product. Even if they don’t, you should work with them to get extra product to give away to your followers.
People love winning free stuff — but it needs to be relevant free stuff, free stuff that matters.
Don’t be one of those people that give away free iPads — unless, of course, you’re a tech influencer or something of the like. You don’t want to attract social media followers who are looking for freebies and nothing else. You want loyal fans who will love freebies related to your niche, and will continue to visit your page.
If you’re a makeup influencer, give away makeup. If you’re a fitness influencer, give away a yoga mat or a set of dumbbells. You get the picture. CrossFit athlete Camille Leblanc-Bazinet had a contest to give away PowerDot 2.0s.
Contests and giveaways are such an incredible way to drum up excitement and engagement. It’s the perfect opportunity to get people commenting on your post or, even better, sharing their own content that you tag you in — also known as user-generated content. UGC for the win!
8. Engage With Your Fans by Responding to Comments — Every Single One
Comments are so important. The platforms are really paying attention to how many you receive and whether or not you engage with them. If you want to work with the algorithms and get on their good side, you’ll make time to respond to your comments.
And not just the “important” ones. We mean all of them.
Even if someone comments with “Nice pic,” respond with something like, “Thank you for the nice words!”
This isn’t just about algorithms, either. Again, we’re going to mention that you’re their friend — not some stranger behind a phone trying to sell things. When you respond to people, you’ll really connect to them. This can only help you.
On a similar note, you should also make time to leave comments on other people’s pages — both influencers and otherwise. Not only do the platforms love this, but it also makes you more visible, particularly to other people commenting on the same posts, who might very well spot you doing the same.
9. Be Consistent and Be Everywhere
Posting consistently is crucial for any business or brand, and that goes for influencers.
You’re going want to build a healthy library of images and videos, because as you gain followers, they’ll want plenty of material to look back on. This is hard to do, if possible at all, when you’re posting once a week.
You should be refreshing your profile at least once a day, if not more. The frequency of your posts is something you’ll need to test out. A tool like eClincher will tell you the best times to post, so you can get on a schedule.
Furthermore, be sure to take full advantage of everything your platform has to offer. For instance, if you’re on IG, don’t merely stick to regular feed posts. Utilize Instagram Stories and IGTV to really expand your reach. Stories in particular make you extra visible because they put you at the top of people’s news feeds. This is prime real estate!
Frequently Asked Questions
How important is it to have a specific niche as an influencer?
Having a specific niche helps you establish expertise, attract a dedicated audience, and differentiate yourself from others in the crowded influencer space.
How can I grow my follower count on social media?
Post engaging and valuable content, use relevant hashtags, interact with your audience, collaborate with other influencers, and promote your social media accounts through various channels.
Can I become an influencer without a large following?
Yes, it’s possible to be an influencer with a smaller but highly engaged and loyal following. Focus on building a genuine connection with your audience and delivering quality content.
How can I monetize my influence as an influencer?
Explore collaborations with brands for sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, brand partnerships, creating and selling products or services, and leveraging your platform to generate income through advertisements or endorsements.
Being an influencer is hard work — harder than most people realize. So much time, effort, money, and planning go into the beautiful images that influencers manage to make look so effortless. If you’re ready to really commit, follow the above tips to begin building your own profile.