How to Become an Influencer: Tips and Free Graphics Tools
No one can deny the allure of pursuing a career as a successful social media influencer. After all, who doesn’t want to earn a living in front of a camera, perhaps even without getting out of their bed or pajamas?
There’s good reason to consider taking the plunge into the social media influencer profession. If you have a smartphone with a high-quality camera, you can sign up for any of the free social media platforms and get to work building your empire without paying a penny.
But that doesn’t mean being a successful influencer comes easily. What you’ll save in money, you’ll spend in hard work. Read on to see what it takes to become an influencer.
Find and Cater to Your Niche
As a social media influencer, you’re nothing without an audience. Even if you’re always the most entertaining person in the room, you still need an angle that quickly gives people an idea of what you’re about and hooks them into following you.
So, what’s your special sauce or particular niche? Slapstick comedy, makeup tutorials (will there ever be too many?!), fashionista advice, the greatest curator of cute cat videos ever?
Do you see yourself more as a blogger, where writing is your life, or vlogger, where video blogging rules? Perhaps your sweet spot is as an Instagram influencer, where eye-candy photos and quick Instagram stories (and reels) inspire likes and follows. Or maybe you’re more of a YouTuber, crafting long-form videos on your pro chess or roller-skating maneuvers.
There is no end to the angles you can take to reach an audience that shares your passion. The most important thing is to decide the topic you want to share with your followers, identify the corresponding audience that goes with it, and engage them on the social media channels they frequent.
If you need a primer on building your personal brand or defining your audience, read this Step-by-Step Guide To Defining a Winning Online Identity.
Now let’s move on to engaging your target audience on various social media channels.
Build Social Media Profiles That Underscore Your Brand
Pretty much every social media site, including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, provides opportunities to show your brand personality through your logo or profile pic and banner. And for influencers, image is everything. Literally.
So, once you’ve scoped out which social media channels your target audience is frequenting, take some steps to ensure your social media profiles are doing their best to market your personal brand.
Use free tools to design vibrant banners that promote who you are and what you’re about. They should feature images, graphics, text, or all three.
If you’re using Instagram, use free Instagram stories post templates to create some highlights for your Instagram account.
Grow an Engaged Audience
Here are some ideas for cultivating an audience who likes, shares, and saves your content.
Post Quality Content
There’s a fundamental content strategy for influencer success: Post quality content regularly.
“Quality content” means different things on different platforms. Since Instagram is a highly visual medium, for Instagram posts, the image or video is most critical. Use Instagram’s photo editing functions or other free editing tools to make sure your images look their best.
On a blog, gorgeous photos are still essential, especially if you’re focused on the cooking, makeup, home improvement, or travel space. But the written content, be it a recipe or a travel story, is the anchor.
For video, editing and adding titles and other text becomes important. There are free video editing tools to help with that.
Regardless of your platform or content preference, posting content regularly also keeps you top of mind for your loyal followers and allows platform algorithms to recognize that you’re doing your part to feed the endlessly hungry beast that is social media. So wherever you do, keep posting.
But as you post, don’t miss the opportunity to bait for new followers. Fresh content is your vehicle for getting more visibility to a new audience if you tag your content with hashtags for optimal SEO marketing.
When you tag, you’re sending your latest content creation out from your already-engaged user pond and into the vast ocean of content consumers who follow or browse tags. Tag wisely, using words that are directly related to the content you’re posting. You’ll reach people interested in what you’re doing and hopefully encourage them to follow you, or at least like your post.
Engage With Your Audience
Once you start building your content library, you can begin to gain more followers by being an active member of your social media community. If your social media channels focus on nail art, for example, become part of the online nail artist community. Follow #nailart and other relevant hashtags so you see who’s doing great work on your social media platform. Then comment on their posts and tag them so they see your content and hopefully return the social media love.
On the occasion you want a quick shot in the arm of new followers, consider hosting a giveaway. You can give away anything that makes sense for your brand (for our nail artist, it could be a free private nail art tutorial, nail polish, or nail care tools). Then outline the rules for entry, most importantly that entrants should follow your social media account and tag a friend or two so you get more exposure to potential followers.
If you have some money to throw toward growing your following, you can always boost posts, too. Boosting, or paying the social media platform to put your post in front of a wider audience, is a low-cost way to broaden your following as long as you boost the right type of post. Generally speaking, images perform better than words. If you want to try boosting a post, promote one that has performed well organically with your audience.
Once you’ve grown your audience to a health size, it’s time to bring in the cash.
Here’s a simple rule: The more followers or viewers you have, the more money you can charge for sponsored posts, sponsored giveaways, and acting as a brand ambassador. Ditto for the ad revenue you’ll get if you sign up for YouTube Ads to accompany your YouTube account.
So, once you’ve got the crowd, you need to attract the advertisers and then get them to hand some of their money to you. Here’s how:
Make potential sponsors aware of you by tagging them in posts, commenting on their posts, and tagging them if you happen to use any of their products.
Create a one-sheet (using a cool free online flyer template) that describes who you are, what the affinities are between your audience and theirs (e.g., you have a baking channel and the potential advertiser is a flour brand).
Include important statistics, such as your number of followers/demographics (if available) on your social media accounts, the average minutes of video consumed, or anything else that makes your reach compelling.
Then contact their marketing department with ideas of how to partner and how much you would charge for each post. Rates vary dramatically based on niche, engagement rate, and more. Try connecting with influencers similar to you and ask them what they charge. Many are happy to share tricks of the trade.
Join an Influencer Network
If you’re just starting out, are not great at sales, or you don’t have the desire to promote yourself, an influencer network can be the perfect solution. Influencer networks do a good job of partnering up companies running digital marketing campaigns with content creators who can help execute the marketing vision to their follower base. You receive payment for participation, should you decide the opportunity is a good one.
When you’re just starting out, you might want to barter for free products instead of payment. This way you can score stuff you want and feature it on your account to show possible sponsors how your audience engages with it.
Almost no one becomes a social media sensation overnight, and even those that do have to put in the same level of sweat equity to keep and build a loyal, revenue-generating following. As you work towards social media influencer domination, remind yourself that this is a marathon, not a sprint. So pace yourself, and don’t quit your day job…yet.