How To Become an Influencer on Instagram

Instagram's worldwide growth and popularity are unstoppable, which is why many people are considering turning this social media platform into their primary source of income. The potential benefits of making such a move are great: you get to work from home or travel all over the world on a brand's expense, you become famous ("Instafamous" is a real thing!), and it doesn't seem like too much work - all you need is a smartphone and an Instagram account, right? Wrong.

Instagram's worldwide growth and popularity are unstoppable, which is why many people are considering turning this social media platform into their primary source of income. The potential benefits of making such a move are great: you get to work from home or travel all over the world on a brand's expense, you become famous ("Instafamous" is a real thing!), and it doesn't seem like too much work - all you need is a smartphone and an Instagram account, right? Wrong

Becoming an Instagram Influencer is hard work. Being born beautiful or rich doesn't instantly put you at an advantage point - you need to captivate an audience, you need to create compelling content that will compete with those who are already bigger than you, and you have to be present, 24/7, 365

Some people don't fathom the level of commitment that is required and fail miserably. Others seem to just "become" Influencers overnight because they have that natural quality about them (whether that indeed is the case or not is debatable). Then there are those who work day and night to get to where they are; these are the people that are going to last - they know what it takes, and they don't take their newfound success for granted. 

To become an Influencer, you ought to make sure that you truly understand the business. You have to make sure that your self-worth and confidence won't shatter if some people won’t like and appreciate your content, you have to make sure you have the stamina to keep pushing even when it seems like nothing is happening, and you need a reliable support system outside of the platform (meaning: in real life). Once you have these established, you're good to go with the rest of the process. In this post, we will go over the basics of starting your journey to becoming an Instagram Influencer.

  • Open a business account. It sounds a little strange if you're not a business owner. However, business accounts on Instagram come with a feature called "Insights," which tells you everything you need to know about your audience: demographics, location, time spent, or content most liked when the majority of your followers are logged in to the platform. These are all crucial, and you can utilize this information to your advantage and growth. 

  • Start a blog or a YouTube channel. As much as people love visuals, they always want to know what the story behind the picture is, and the captions are a good place for that as well - but it is limited. That said, if you want people to stay interested in your content for more than 10 seconds on average, you need to give them something to consume - which your blog or YouTube channel can produce. Decide what it is you want to say, find your niche (travel, cooking, beauty, fashion, gaming - the possibilities are endless!) and get creative. Post on your blog/channel the very same day you post on Instagram and don’t forget to link from Instagram to your blog post/new video and vice-versa. Don't be afraid to be your total authentic self. Some people will like it, some won't - and that's just how life is. 

  • Work on your skills. Take photography, writing, and public speaking courses, if you can. Work on producing the best content you possibly can by learning how to create content in the first place. Writing, photography, and speaking to large audiences or in front of a camera don't come naturally to everyone, let alone those whose native language isn't English and they're trying to be known worldwide. If you aren’t interested in learning these skills - you can hire people who do have these skills and pay them to work for you in those aspects but keep in mind that it means you will have to pay them lots of money that you don't necessarily have. 

  • Know your competition. It's important to know who you're up against and what they're doing because that's the only way for you to understand what you need to do and how you can do it differently. Don't try to copy others because people will see right through it and it won't hold in the long term - they'll see you doing the same thing as “Influencer-X” does, and they'll think you can't come up with an original thought so they won't bother following you. There are plenty of tools and guides on how to conduct the most effective research on your competition, both locally and globally. We recommend looking at hashtags and “trending topics” first in order to find what it is people are talking about right now and carrying on from there. One of the best things you can do is befriend your competitors or follow them, that way you will always be “in the loop” and know what they’re doing (and maybe you can even ask for some advice from them or “pick their brains” and learn from their experience). 

  • Increase your Social Proof. A theory derived from the social psychology domain, social proof is the foundation for any business venture. Imagine you're standing outside of two clothing stores - one is a well-known brand that all your friends keep talking about lately, and the other is a small store, owned by no one special, that might offer some great deals and items, but there's no one going in there. Which will you choose? Probably the one people know and talk about, because if huge groups of people shop there and talk about it - it must be worthwhile. It's the same for movies - if you hear great reviews on one film but absolutely no reviews (good or bad) on another movie, you'll choose to see the one more talked about by people around you. You'll get that new iPhone because it's been talked about everywhere, you'll watch the TV show everyone online can't stop going on about, you'll eat at that sushi place you've seen people stand in line for 45 minutes at a time because it must be great if they're all waiting just for that. Social proof is even more significant when it comes to social media influencing. People will always try to imitate celebrities, who are essentially people with a large and loyal following. You won't hear about that fresh-out-of-acting-school actor until he's starred in a few big projects and had a buzz created around him. 

  • Make the algorithm work for you. On Instagram, you won't be followed if there's no one following you at all. Your posts won't be liked or commented on if no one else had done it first. It means that when you're first starting in becoming an Influencer, you need to build your buzz (somewhat artificially) before you can do it naturally. The algorithm changed recently and is now more focused on engagement than it is on the number of followers a person has. Meaning that if you've just created an account and didn’t post a single thing on it, yet went ahead and bought 1000 followers - it's going to smell fishy. Similarly, it’ll look odd if you’ve posted three times, got no engagement on any of the three posts and bought the same amount of followers - because it's not possible that none of these 1000 followers commented on your posts or liked them. When you are building your buzz, you need to think strategically and pay close attention to your proportions. Upload a few posts first, ask your friends and family to follow you (instant 20-30 followers right there), and then try to find a company that will sell you some followers as well. Keep your quantities small and keep posting - 10 posts and 10k followers is weird; however, ten posts and 60 followers seems about right. Don’t forget to buy IG likes for your posts as well - since Instagram is now all about engagement, the algorithm will look at the number of likes your posts are getting to decide if your content deserves to go on the “Explore” page and thus expose it to a bigger audience. 

  • Be mindful of your public “image” and reputation. On social media platforms, social intelligence is vital. You need to be cordial and pleasant even to the people you don't like, and you can't ever bad-mouth anyone if you don't want to get sucked into a drama tornado - although some influencers chose to make a living off of presenting a dramatic personality and getting into fights with anyone willing to engage further with them. You need to know how to gracefully accept criticism - whether you agree with it or not - and how to stand up for yourself when someone decides to come after you. Being in the public eye means everyone can see what you're doing and hear what you're saying and on social media, they can also document your every word and every step and bring it up when you least expect it and even long after you’ve deleted your mistakes and mishaps. Manage your reputation wisely, your actions on social media can indeed make or break you.

  • Be spontaneous. Although well thought out content and high quality are essential, you can always share your day-to-day life with your audience through using Instagram Stories. Instagram stories are short clips/timed pictures that will appear for 24 hours since posting and then will vanish into thin air. If you’re traveling, have a great story to tell, want to interact with your followers in real time or if you’re just feeling silly while trying out different filters and effects (the bunny ears are my personal favorite), let the world see it. Don’t be shy about being normal and goofy, it’s a common denominator that all humans share: we all love a bit of silliness (and some more so than others).

  • Be available. As your following will grow, brands and other influencers will start noticing you and might reach out with sponsorship or collaboration offers from other aspiring influencers. You should always read behind the brand and learn more about the person asking to collaborate with you, but if you follow the same ideology and values or really love the brand and can honestly recommend it to your followers, go for it! With new products and brands, don’t be afraid to test things out and give an honest opinion. You don’t have to accept every offer that comes your way and don’t be scared of saying ‘no’ or having your name written down in a ‘blacklist’ by a company you don’t really care for, anyway. 

  • Show gratitude. This might sound odd when you first think about it, but your followers like feeling appreciated and valued just as much as you do. It’s all about give-and-take in any social interaction, online or offline. Even the biggest stars don’t take their success for granted, because humility and gratitude are two undeniably relatable qualities that people appreciate, regardless of the culture they were raised in. Giving thanks is a universal concept and for a good reason. You can show gratitude in many ways: hosting contests and giveaways, going on a follow or like spree, offer collaborations with smaller accounts following you or just simply saying “thank you!” when you’ve reached a certain benchmark (a certain amount of followers, for example). 

We can’t stress enough how hard it is to become an Instagram influencer these days. The competition gets more and more intense and there are more and more accounts created every day. The bigger the platform grows, the more niches are created, thus the more complex the road to success becomes, and the more challenges you’ll face on your path. Ultimately, the right tools and services, determination and consistent, hard work are the three main factors in the making - or breaking - of an Instagram Influencer. 

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