How to Be an Influencer – More Than Fame But a Lucrative Career, Sometimes
In today’s social media-saturated world, we now have a job title that didn’t even exist a decade or so ago: social media influencer. Many millennials are becoming influencers and using their platform and clout to build their personal brand and work with brand partners on creating sponsored posts. The job can be incredibly lucrative, with some influencers making thousands or millions of dollars. But it takes hard work to become a successful influencer and the competition is fierce. Read on to learn how to become an influencer and get the lowdown on how much you can really earn this way.
Steps to become a successful influencer
To become a successful influencer, you’ll need to build your following and brand. Here are some steps to take.
Every successful influencer has a niche they work in. Some work in fitness, others in lifestyle. Some influencers work in fashion, others in travel. There are various niches to choose from and you want to select the one that best aligns with your personality and something you’re passionate about.
You want to choose a niche that you enjoy and that you can talk about a lot and create tons of relevant content.
To start, you can do your research on Instagram and YouTube to see what other successful influencers in those niches are doing. What kind of content are they posting? What type of photos do they share?
Deciding on your niche will be one of the most important things you can do when starting the process of becoming an influencer.
Identify your target audience
After selecting a niche, you want to identify your target audience. Influencers are aspirational and influence others. So, who do you want to influence? Who is most likely to follow you?
You want to be clear on who your target audience is to create a customer persona. What are the age range, gender, and location of your target audience? What types of things do they like? Why would they want to follow you? What are their values? You want to be as specific as possible and zero in on the demographic you want to serve.
Choose one major social media platform
There are tons of social media platforms on the market right now. While you might want to have a basic presence on all of them as part of your digital marketing, you want to choose one social media platform that will be the one you focus on.
For example, most social media influencers are on Instagram or YouTube in large part because they are visual platforms and you can easily connect with an audience.
TikTok is on the rise and the Next Big Thing in social media influencing. When considering your platform, consider which platforms you like as well as how you would engage with your followers. For example, if you focus on Instagram you’d want to post Instagram stories as well as Instagram posts.
For YouTube, you’d need to upload videos, which could be time-intensive and may need more editing skills.
Choose one social media platform that you’ll focus most of your energy on to build your audience.
Build your following
If you’re a social media influencer, your metrics, or numbers matter as it’s part of your job. That’s especially true when it comes to followers. Influencers are able to influence because they’ve amassed a large following, sometimes thousands or millions of followers.
Obviously building your following takes time. You’ll need to follow others in your niche, follow your target audience, your favorite brands, and get people to follow you back.
That means posting content regularly and using the right hashtags. You can do research for the most popular hashtags in your niche. You can share others’ work and start networking and collaborate with others.
Building an organic following is a lot of work and you need to be patient. But being consistent can help attract more followers over time.
Look at analytics
When you think of a social media influencer, you might just think it’s about pretty pictures. Take pretty photos, post on social media, voila. But it’s not that easy. To build and maintain a massive amount of followers you need to post content that is both shareable but also converts for the brands you work with.
That’s why looking at analytics is key. As an influencer, you’ll want to have a business account that gives you more access to analytics. For example, you can see how many people followed you versus unfollowed you, how many shares an Instagram post got or how many views an Instagram story got.
You’ll want to keep tabs on which types of content are working and which ones aren’t. Over time, you’ll start to notice trends and be able to see tangible numbers to show you what’s helping and what’s not landing.
Regardless of the platform, make sure that you’re tracking analytics like follower count, views, and shares. It can help inform your content strategy, the time of day you post, and more.
Create quality content
To become a successful influencer and get brand sponsorships, you need to have a huge following. However, to have a huge following you need to create quality content that people actually want to see and will share. That means posting content and mixing up your posts.
You can’t just flood your timeline with sponsored posts from brand partnerships. You need different types of content — like educational posts as well as entertaining ones. Plus, people want to know more about you so you want to keep reminding followers about who you are and what you do.
You can use Canva to create Instagram posts, use interesting Snapchat filters, and repurpose your content from TikTok to Instagram.
Show up every day
As noted above, becoming a successful influencer and building a following takes time and work. That means you need to show up every day and be consistent. You can use services like Buffer or Later to schedule social media posts so you personally don’t have to be “on” 24/7, but you’ll need to be dedicated.
If you think about it, social media influencers’ full-time job is to be on social media. So just like you’d show up to a 9 to 5, you need to show up online and create and share. Like and comment. Showing up and tracking your engagement rates can help you grow organically.
Connect and engage with your audience
On top of creating valuable content and showing up every day, you need to connect and engage with your audience. That means you can DM them and introduce yourself after they follow you. Respond to comments. Comment on other people’s posts. Share other people’s posts. You want to build relationships with your followers so connection and engagement are crucial.
Even though you think social media influencers rely solely on social media to make their money, it’s a good idea to have your own website or blog and collect emails. Why? If Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok were suddenly to disappear, you’d lose all of your following. Being a blogger and having emails is a way you can directly communicate with your followers no matter what’s happening with social media.
How influencers make money with influencer marketing
If you want to be an influencer, you might be curious and think “How do influencers really make money?” Various social networks utilize social media marketing when they work with influencers. For example, an Instagram influencer partnering with a company posts its marketing content on their social media profiles. By doing this, the followers of the influencer see the marketing materials in their Instagram feed. Influencers stay on top of marketing trends, learn about social algorithms, and utilize multiple social media channels to improve their outreach and influencer status.
Ways influencers earn money partnering with marketers include:
If you’ve ever seen “#AD” in an influencer’s post, that’s a sponsored post. Brands typically work with influencers on sponsored content so that the influencer can share the product or service with their massive following. That way their product or service gets in front of a lot more eyeballs and has the trust of the influencer to help the buying decision easier on the audience.
Another way influencers can make money is through affiliate marketing. When an influencer is sharing an affiliate link, and you purchase something using the link, the influencer gets a cut. Amazon has a large affiliate network so as an influencer you could share your favorite products using your affiliate links, so when people use them to shop, you can earn a commission.
If an influencer has their own website that also generates a lot of traffic, they might be getting ad revenue. There are various ad networks such as Mediavine or Google Adsense, and that can result in revenue from a website.
For this type of revenue, you want to have good SEO — or search engine optimization. In other words, when people Google a phrase, you want your site to get to the first page and get clicks. If you’re one of the YouTubers, you also might get ad revenue from there as well if you have a lot of subscribers.
Influencers can engage in brand partnerships with companies. The role they play could be as a spokesperson, doing a series of posts or content, and more. Influencers may work with brands directly or PR agencies that serve the client.
How much can influencers make?
So many influencers aren’t going to be the next Kylie Jenner, who reportedly can make a million dollars for a sponsored post.
According to Fox Business, influencers can earn between $30,000 and $100,000 each year for the work they do. If your follower count is above a million, you could command six figures for a sponsored post.
There are also “micro-influencers” who have around 50k to 100k followers. These micro-influencers can make several thousand dollars for a sponsored post and potentially up to six figures.
Plus, there are also “nano-influencers” who have several thousand followers. They can also make thousands of dollars, potentially between $30k to $60k.
The bottom line
If you’re thinking of becoming an influencer, it could be a side hustle or even a lucrative business. It’s important to realize though that it is harder than it looks and can take time to build. But with the right connections and brand, you could earn some money on social media.