By the end of this year, experts estimate that the influencer marketing industry will be worth $13.8 billion.
Clearly, businesses are willing to invest to work with social media influencers. How do you get on their radar?
If you’ve been curious about what it takes to become an influencer and get paid to use social media, keep reading. Outlined below is everything you need to know.
What Are Social Media Influencers?
Before we get into the “how,” let’s start with the what and give you a basic “influencers” definition.
Put simply, social media influencers are people who are known for being particularly knowledgeable about a specific topic. It could be beauty, fashion, fitness, nutrition, housekeeping — you name it, there’s a social media influencer who’s built a brand around it.
Influencers have extensive knowledge, and they use their social media platform to share that knowledge and connect with people who want to learn from them.
When you first hear about the basic “influencers” meaning, it’s understandable to be a bit skeptical. Influencers have a lot of power, though, especially these days when 72 percent of the public uses some sort of social media platform.
Influencers can sway others’ purchasing decisions based on their authority and relationship with their followers. Many of them earn an impressive living from their posts and brand partnerships, and in 2021, influencer marketing is definitely a viable career path.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
This is how social media influencers get paid.
Influencer marketing relies on endorsements and product shout-outs from social media influencers.
Basically, brands reach out to people who have a significant presence online. Then, they pay them a fee in exchange for a sponsored post or a mention in their social media stories (Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, etc.).
Influencer marketing is most effective when social influencers have a strong connection to their following. Their followers will view their recommendations as social proof and will be more inclined to buy what the company is selling as a result.
Why Become an Influencer?
There are lots of benefits that come with making a career out of social media influencing. Here are some of the top reasons why people choose this path:
High Earning Potential
For influencers, there are a lot of earning opportunities. After all, sponsored posts can earn them anywhere from $50 to over $50,000, and influencers earn an average of $30,000 to $100,000 per year!
Of course, $50,000+ is on the high end of the spectrum. Not every influencer is making that much every time they talk about their favorite brand of eyeliner. However, you can still earn a decent living once you start building a following and partnering with brands.
In addition to substantial earnings, another reason people turn to social media influencing is the flexibility it provides.
As an influencer, you get to work for yourself and be your own boss. You set your own hours and create a schedule that works for you.
If the 9-5 life isn’t for you, influencing might be a better way to make a living.
Of course, you do need to be disciplined and able to meet deadlines set by brands. It’s not a free-for-all.
However, when you’re self-employed, you may find that you’re more motivated to do these things (especially when you’re receiving a nice paycheck in exchange).
When you establish a career for yourself as a social media influencer, you have a chance to build an awesome community and develop close connections with the people who follow you.
By sharing knowledge, engaging with those who comment on and share your posts, and teaming up with other influencers, you’re able to build a community of like-minded people who share your interests and values.
Gifts and Experiences
As you start to build a following and become known as an influencer, a lot of different brands will start reaching out to you to send you samples of their products or give you opportunities to try out their services.
It’s not recommended that you get into influencing solely for the free gifts and experiences. However, it is a nice perk, and it gives you an opportunity to try things that might not have been on your radar otherwise.
How to Become an Influencer
Now, that you understand more about what it means to be a social media influencer and the benefits of being one, let’s get into the meat of the matter. Here are some steps you can start taking today to become a successful influencer:
1. Choose a Niche
To start, identify what your niche will be as an influencer. Are you going to post about beauty? Fashion? Car detailing?
The options are endless, and there’s a niche for just about everything these days. If you’re not sure what to pick, consider choosing something that already interests you or an area in which you already have extensive knowledge.
If you never wear makeup, it might be kind of strange if you try and brand yourself as a beauty influencer. If you’re already a makeup fanatic, though, it’s a natural fit.
Choosing the right niche will make it easier for you to share authentic content and post consistently online (we’ll talk more about both of these in a minute).
2. Identify Your Target Audience
In addition to picking your niche, you also need to figure out who your target audience is. Get very specific with this step. Don’t just say something generic like “women” or “mums.”
Who, specifically, do you want to reach with your social media posts. Stay-at-home mums? Young, single, professional women? The more questions you can answer about your target audience, the better. Here are examples to get you started:
● How old are they?
● Where do they live?
● What are their interests/hobbies?
● What do they do for a living?
● What’s their income bracket?
● Are they married or single?
● Do they have kids?
The more you know about your audience, the easier it is to create content they’ll enjoy and want to consume regularly.
3. Choose Your Social Media Platforms
When you’re identifying your target audience, it’s also important to consider where they spend their time.
If you’re trying to reach young adults, Instagram is probably a good place to publish posts and try to build a following. If your target audience is a bit younger, though, TikTok might be a better choice.
In the beginning, it’s best to stick to just one or two social media platforms. Over time, you can add more and post in other places. However, if you try to share too many places at once, you might get overwhelmed and have a hard time being consistent.
4. Create Quality Content
Whether you’re recording a workout video or photos of your new shoes, make sure you’re always posting quality content. What does “quality” mean? In this case, it means that your photos and videos are crisp, clear, properly framed, and well-lit.
If you’re new to photography or videography, it might be worth it to take a couple of classes or at least watch some online tutorials before getting started. This will help you learn the basics and ensure you’re posting content that people want to see and engage with.
5. Be Authentic
No matter what kind of content you’re creating, it’s imperative that you be authentic.
These days, people (including people using social media) crave authenticity. They’re tired of overly curated, picture-perfect content. They want to know that their favorite influencers are like them.
If you can be open about your struggles and honest about the challenges you face, while also sharing your favorite products or offering tips to help others overcome these issues, you’ll be more likely to have a successful, lasting career as an influencer.
6. Invest in Good Equipment
It’s easier to share quality content if you have access to good equipment.
Don’t panic! This doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend several thousand dollars on a camera and lighting equipment.
However, a basic DSLR or mirrorless camera might be a worthy investment. Even upgrading your smartphone for a better camera can be a good way to start with quality photos and videos.
Whichever approach you take, make sure you have access to some lights (including the famous ring light) to brighten up your photos and videos. If you’re going to be taking lots of videos, a tripod or gimbal (a type of camera stabilizer) may be a good purchase as well.
7. Be Consistent
Social media algorithms will reward you for consistent posting. In other words, if you post regularly (at least once per day is typical for most influencers), the app will show your posts to more people. This, in turn, helps you to grow your audience and extend your reach.
8. Plan Ahead
It’s much easier to be a consistent poster on social media if you plan your posts ahead of time.
If you have a bank of posts scheduled and ready to go, you won’t have to scramble to figure out what to share on a specific day. You take much of the guesswork out of the process when you do this and make your career a lot more streamlined.
There are lots of apps that you can use to plan your social media posts, such as Planoly and Buffer.
9. Engage with Your Audience
In addition to posting consistently, you also need to be consistent when it comes to responding to your audience. Remember, one of the key benefits of social media influencing is the fact that you can build a strong, supportive community.
To do this, though, you have to actually talk to the people who comment on your posts. Promptly respond when you get a notification saying someone has left a comment. Leave an actual response, too, not just an emoji.
Focus on building genuine relationships and you’ll see your engagement rates (the number of people who like, comment on, and share your posts) go up. The higher your engagement rates are, the more likely brands are to want to work with you, which means more opportunities to earn money!
10. Always Be Networking
In addition to engaging with the people who engage with your posts, make sure you’re also using social media to network with other influencers in your niche (or in similar niches).
When you like, comment on, and share other people’s posts, it sends a signal to the algorithm and boosts your own social media presence. It also makes it easier for you to build relationships and connect with people who might be able to help you build your own influencing career later.
11. Monitor Your Analytics
Pay attention to your social media post analytics. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube offer robust analytics that will help you see which kinds of posts are the most popular.
Use this information to your advantage. For example, if you see that people love your product review videos, you can make a plan to create more of them in the future.
12. Reach Out to Brands the Right Way
As an influencer, you’ll likely have lots of brands that reach out to you about partnerships. However, there will also be times when you need to reach out to brands.
Here are some tips to help you do this and increase your chances of hearing a “yes” (and getting paid the way you want):
- Do your research and learn about the brand, the kinds of influencers they work with, and the overall tone of their social media posts
- Reach out to an actual person (don’t just send a message to the company’s general email address)
- Include information from your analytics (audience demographics, the average number of people you reach with your posts, etc.)
- Include information about your connection to the brand (have you used their products in the past? What do you like about them?)
There are also lots of email templates you can find online to help you draft a great email. Just be sure to add your own personal touch (brands can smell a basic copy-paste job from a mile away).
Get Your Skills on Track
Does being a social media influencer sound like a dream come true? Check out Monarch’s Diploma of Social Media Marketing as a starting point. It’ll give you the background knowledge to understand the marketing landscape. From there? It’s over to you!