One of the most coveted job titles in the modern world is of a social media influencer. Almost every millennial and Gen Z desires to be loved by thousands or millions of people but doesn't know how to be an influencer.
The reason behind the popularity of influencers is the fame and the ease of making money. Influencers don’t need to go to an office for a 9 to 5 job. Instead, they do what they love and make money out of it.
In this article, we’ll take you through the journey of becoming an influencer. Therefore, stick to us till the end.
If you’re wondering how many people want to be an influencer, here are some statistics.
86% of the US millennials and Gen Z are willing to be an influencer and post sponsored content for money. 66% of the US millennials and Gen Z would post sponsored content if they like the products/services, and 20% would do so even when they don’t support the claim.
Image via Influencer Report by Morning Consult
The popularity of influencers is at an all-time high, and there are no possibilities that it will fade soon.
Before we discuss how to be an influencer, there are several things you should know, such as what exactly an influencer is, how they make money, and why brands partner with them.
This article will cover them all. So buckle up and stick with us till the end.
Influencers are social media personalities having a huge following and a high engagement rate. Generally, influencers share a casual and friendly connection with their followers to generate more engagement and love.
Typically, people whose social media accounts have more than 1000 followers can be considered influencers.
Influencers possess excellent knowledge and expertise in their field. They start with building an audience on social media platforms, and with the help of exciting content, they continue to gain and retain followers.
The followers of social media influencers often consider the latter as their role models and are more likely to follow their recommendations.
The report by Morning Consult found that around 81% of the frequent social media shoppers in the US trust influencers for their buying decisions.
Image via Influencer Report by Morning Consult
What differentiates social media influencers from other celebrities is their connection with the audience. Unlike traditional celebrities, influencers' lives aren’t enveloped in the mystery air.
Instead, influencers regularly share a glimpse of their personal lives with their audience. And this is what exactly helps them build an emotional connection with their followers.
Based on the number of followers, influencers are categorized into four segments. Let’s know them all.
Previously, in this article, you might have been surprised when we stated that influencers can have as few as 1,000 followers. We’ll put more light on that claim here.
The general perception is that influencers have more than a hundred thousand followers. But, it's partially true.
While partnering with an influencer, brands prefer higher ROI, and this is why they pick the most suitable influencer as per their influencer marketing campaigns approach. Influencers with a lower followers count tend to have higher engagement and better connection with their audience compared to influencers with millions of followers.
Image via Later x Fohr
Still, all four types of influencers are popular among brands and their audiences. Following are the type of influencers based on their followers' count:
Nano influencers have between 1K to 10K followers on their social profiles, which allows them to establish a very close relationship with their followers and achieve great engagement rates.
Typically, nano influencers tend to be very vocal about the products and brands they personally love. Their followers appreciate the nano influencers’ authentic commentary and recommendations.
Nano influencers spend a lot of time responding to comments on their posts and DMs.
Among all the influencer categories, micro-influencers are the most popular among brands. With a follower count between 10K-100K, micro-influencers enjoy a mixture of engaged and a large audience.
At this level, micro-influencers tend to specialize in a particular area, making it worthwhile for brands in the niche to collaborate with them.
Macro-influencers enjoy a broad audience of 100K-1M followers.
Typically, macro-influencers are internet-made celebrities, including bloggers, podcasters, and social media stars.
In most cases, macro-influencers not only have a large audience but also have established trust among their followers, which acts as the foundation of their personal brand identity. The reason behind the trust is that they have developed an enormous audience nurturing relationships for years.
Although their trust level among followers is decent, their engagement rate is lower than nano and micro-influencers.
Mega influencers are celebrities who have more than 1 million followers. This category of influencers can include social celebrities as well as high profile celebrities.
The trust factor among mega influencers’ audiences is relatively low, and so is the engagement rate.
Alright. Now that you are familiar with all the types of influencers let's get to the most exciting discussion: how influencers make money.
Influencers on most social media platforms can earn money in a multitude of ways. As more brands start collaborating with smaller content creators like nano and micro-influencers, building a career as an influencer is no longer a pipe dream.
However, all the top three social media platforms, including Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, have different functionalities for creators to make money.
Hence, let’s understand the top ways a social media influencer can make money before we talk about how to be an influencer.
Disclaimer: Every method of earning money as an influencer might not be applicable to all the platforms. Hence, read the description for further clarifications.
Many influencers rely on posting brand-sponsored content to earn money. Sponsored content is to which an influencer promotes a particular brand. All the social media platform influencers utilize this method of making money as an influencer.
The sponsored content can appear as a post, story, or short or long-form video based on the influencer's engagement metrics and the brand's preference.
Moreover, the sponsored content can be in many shapes, such as posting a product picture with “#ad” in the caption and sharing links in the stories.
Influencers charge differently for sponsored posts on various platforms.
For example, the rates Instagram influencers charge are based on their engagement and follower count. To give you a hint, mega influencer Alexa Collins used to charge $1,000 or more for a sponsored story in 2020. Whereas Instagram micro-influencer, Tyler Chanel, charges $100 or more per sponsored story.
To decide the rate for a story or a post on Instagram, influencers mostly rely on formulas such as $100 for every 10,000 followers. But the values differ as per the engagement rates and trust factor.
On the other hand, YouTube content creators generally earn between $2 and $12 per 1K views for sponsored posts.
Similar to Instagram and YouTube, TikTok influencers also charge money for sponsored posts. But their major chunk of income is usually from song promotion. Let’s talk about this in the next pointer.
Song promotion isn’t what influencers on every platform choose as their primary source of income. Promoting songs via influencers is a great technique musicians and bands utilize.
While influencers on every platform that supports a short video format can make money via song promotion, TikTok is the most popular platform for this method of earning.
Mega influencers on TikTok, Nicole, Natalie, and Nika Taylor, told Business Insider in an interview that they charge $750 to promote a song in a single video, $1,400 in two videos, and $2,000 in three videos.
The song promotion rate for micro-influencers on TikTok can fall anywhere between $20 and $150.
Although brand advocacy appears quite similar to sponsored content posting, it differs in terms of time frame. Becoming a brand ambassador or advocate means that the influencer will continue to promote the brand and its products.
This method of earning money is very effective for an influencer as well as the brand. The brand will enjoy a high level of engagement, customer trust, and lower cost, whereas the influencer will benefit from a steady stream of income and their audience’s reliance.
An influencer can generate greater results by collaborating with brands for a longer period. For instance, the influencer can regularly post about the brand and its products for a period of 6-12 months.
Most methods of earning as an influencer might overlap, but there are differences in the approach.
For instance, selling products on social platforms as an influencer does seem quite similar to sponsored content and brand advocacy.
But products are sold through referral discounts and shopping feature within a social platform. Whereas sponsored content can be limited to branding and advertising.
Influencers also make money via commissions on selling merchandise and DTC products and affiliate links.
Instagram influencers use platforms like ShopStyle and Amazon Affiliate Program to generate affiliate links. Adding these links to stories on Instagram became easier when Instagram released link stickers in 2021.
A great way of earning money via Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok as an influencer is to collect virtual gifts in a live session – it’s called Live Gifting. This unique feature allows audiences to appreciate the content creator in real time by sending them virtual gifts, which can be redeemed for money.
In 2021, a micro-influencer on TikTok, Lucy Davis, told Business Insider that her earnings via Live Gifting range between $20 to $300 each session.
TikTok offers a variety of monetization options. For example, the influencers can join the TikTok Creator Fund to make money based on their audience size and engagement rates.
However, you have to meet the following criteria if you want to join the Creators Fund to be an influencer:
With more than 2 billion monthly active users, YouTube is a popular channel that is home to top paid social media influencers. YouTube is known for product recommendations and lots of varied content.
You probably are one of those who watch product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations before buying a product. At least most rational buyers do that.
What’s in it for creators?
YouTube is a mature platform for authentic content creators and social media influencers. It provides tons of options and functionalities for influencers to earn money.
For instance, you can join the YouTube Partner Program to make money via monetizing your videos via Google AdSense. However, similar to the TikTok Creators Fund, you need to qualify for the YouTube Partner program.
Only influencers with 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of total video watch time over the previous year can join the program.
Before we get to the crux of this article and talk about how to be an influencer, you need to understand why brands reach out to influencers for promotions.
In today's world, celebrities are those who are present on social platforms and create content for specific audiences. These audiences share certain characteristics, tastes, preferences, and lifestyles.
Given the specific audiences and a higher engagement rate, the cost of promotion for brands via influencer marketing is comparatively lower than traditional advertising. And, the results are better.
Influencer marketing can help brands achieve specific objectives like the following:
On top of everything, since influencers' posts are personalized recommendations, they are more likely to be exempted from algorithm change. Influencer marketing also helps brands leverage social listening for content marketing.
While we could’ve discussed this pointer more, we really need to jump to the heart of this article – how to be an influencer.
Life of an influencer seems very attractive from the outside, but a lot is going on inside. Just to give you a hint, creating relevant content isn't enough to become a social media influencer.
From the start, a social media influencer has to put in a lot of effort to build trust.
However, there isn't a clear answer to how to be an influencer. The reason is that it isn’t a mature job profile like finance or marketing professionals where people are trained in universities.
“Social media influencer” is relatively a new term, and there are different approaches to tapping the fame and glamor.
Hence, we’ve created a listicle to help you be an influencer. So without further ado, let’s take you through your journey to be an influencer.
In the world of specialists, you shouldn’t try to be a “jack (or jane) of all trades.” If you tap a broad audience, it will lead you to confusion in terms of content creation, a lower engagement rate, and a higher unfollower count.
It is essential for you to pick a specific niche and try to cater high-quality content to an audience within that particular field. Moreover, you shouldn’t pick a niche in which you don’t have enough knowledge.
If you wonder in which areas can you be an influencer, here is the answer:
Look at the following categories and try to identify which one relates more to what you have to say.
Although we’ve listed almost all the popular influencer categories, there might be something of your interest that isn't listed here. If this is the case, let us know your particular niche in the comment box, and we’ll respond with the influencer opportunities for the same.
Nevertheless, you don't have to limit yourself to one particular category to be an influencer. You can go with a few of them if they relate to one another. For example, you can combine food and travel or food and nutrition together.
Every social media influencer has a unique voice and positioning, and so do you. Therefore don't hesitate to experiment with new cover photo or video content types and niches that can help you gain more follower count and trust. The catch here is to post content that most of your followers like.
Which niche would you pick to be an influencer, and how should you show it on your profile?
Let’s understand this with an example.
Take a look at this Instagram micro-influencer, Elizabeth Moye’s profile. She explicitly has identified herself as a nutritionist for approachable, affordable, and healthy eats.
Image via Instagram
As per what she conveys on her Instagram profile, she battled an eating disorder during college, which inspired her to help others establish a healthy relationship with food. She frequently posts delicious dishes on her Instagram profile to promote a healthy lifestyle.
If you aren’t good with short-form videos, there is no point in being an influencer on TikTok; Instagram and YouTube should be your pick instead.
What it means is that in most cases, not all influencer platforms should be your focus. Even if you can find an audience of your interest on a platform, you don’t necessarily need to be there if its content type doesn’t suit you.
Although YouTube is the best platform for brands to promote products, this doesn’t mean you need to focus only on YouTube influencer marketing. Many influencers who have low YouTube subscribers are doing fabulous on Instagram and TikTok.
However, if you still want to utilize all the social media platforms to be an influencer, nothing can be better than this. But you have to find enough bandwidth to tailor your content for each platform. There will also be extra promotional efforts you have to make in order to increase your followers or subscribers on each social platform.
Here is an example of an Instagram micro-influencer not having a presence on YouTube and TikTok.
The micro-influencer Evelyn has a decent following on Instagram. She is a fashion and fitness blogger whose significant chunk of influencer earning is via affiliation for clothing and apparel.
As per her particular niche and way of earning via influencer marketing, she doesn’t see an ROI from other social platforms.
Image via Instagram
Some influencers can benefit from being present on several platforms.
For example, take a look at Louis Cole’s Instagram and YouTube profiles. He is a travel vlogger with over 1 million Instagram followers and just short of 2 million YouTube subscribers.
Image via Instagram
He is active on both platforms. And the reasons are – one, his content style, and two, bandwidth.
On Instagram, he is more focused on posting pictures and reels of his travel, whereas on YouTube, he posts short as well as long-form videos like the following.
Image via YouTube
Now, you might have understood that you can be active on all the social media platforms if you have the content and bandwidth.
If you don't have a social media account on the platform you want to go with, create one to be an influencer. Write an excellent bio and pick a profile picture that aligns with your niche. And, off you go.
If you already have a few hundred followers or subscribers, you’re good to start, but work on increasing your follower count if you don't have them.
The strategies for creating the bio and building the audience are similar for Instagram and TikTok. However, there is a considerable difference when it comes to the strategy you need to use on YouTube.
Hence, let’s discuss the best practices to increase followers or subscribers on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to be an influencer.
Similar to any other social network, there are several ways to increase followers on Instagram. Here are the best practices to build a massive audience for your Instagram profile and become an influencer.
1. Include Reels into Your Social Content Mix
Reels are short-form videos (up to 30 seconds) you can share with the Instagram audience. The best part about Reels is that they help you get a broader audience even when you have a low follower count.
Image via Instagram
The most effective way of creating reels as an influencer is to identify the trending Reels on Instagram and put your own spin on them. This increases the probability of your Reels getting viral.
2. Create Your Profile Grid
Your followers are generally interested in what you’ll post in the future.
Hence, your Instagram feed should reflect a consistent theme that helps your audience understand what the profile is about and what updates they’ll receive in the coming time.
This will help you engage your audience and increase your follower count.
Consider the first nine posts of your Instagram feed as the first impression you create on your potential followers. Think about them and see if they align with your personality and the purpose of your Instagram channel.
For example, check the following profile and see how elegantly the first six posts align with the purpose of the page “travel and fashion.”
Image via Instagram
3. Spice Up Your Highlight Section
Instagram profile highlights is the section right next to your bio. Hence, it’s the second most attention-grabbing thing for your audience.
Image via Instagram
You should save the best bit from your stories for the highlights section. The stories section should give your audiences a sense of what your Instagram profile is all about.
4. Create a Solid Content Strategy
If you want to know the most important thing about being an influencer, the answer would be “content.” The more quality content you share, the better your chances of getting shares, likes, and comments.
Following are some tips you should incorporate into your Instagram content strategy:
5. Use Catchy Captions
Nice photos or videos catch people's attention, but great Instagram captions retain it. Captions give you a space to share the context behind the content you are sharing. While it is not necessary to write lengthy captions every time, you can do so based on the content type and the emotions behind it.
6. Collaborate with Others
Instagram's new collaboration feature makes it easy to create content for social media. You can get more exposure by collaborating with other people in your area of expertise to create content.
7. Engage with Your Audience
One common mistake many Instagramers make is that they don’t engage with their audience. The recommendation is to follow back all your followers and engage with their content. This will help you build a stronger relationship with your followers.
You’ll start seeing more engagement and thus more loyal followers.
Strategies for improving TikTok followers are pretty similar. However, YouTube has a different approach to increasing subscribers. Let’s discuss them to help you be an influencer on YouTube.
When it comes to YouTube, the most challenging thing is getting the first 1,000 subscribers. Hence you need to create a strategy to get them as quick as possible. This is because your channel’s monetization depends on the subscribers count.
Here is how you can increase your YouTube subscribers.
1. Post High-Quality Content
Create more than a dozen videos and post them to your YouTube channel. Your potential subscribers need to understand what type of content you will be posting in the future and if that aligns with their interests.
If you aren’t sure of what types of content to post, have a look at our guide on YouTube video content creation – 5 Types of Video Content You Should Be Using in 2023.
Now, we'll talk about the optimization part of the videos in the forthcoming pointers.
2. Add a Subscribe Button to Your YouTube Videos
Here is a quick hack to increase your YouTube subscribers through every video you upload. Either download or create a 150 x 150 image that says “subscribe” and use it as your video watermark that appears at the right-bottom corner of your video screen.
Image via YouTube Studio
Here is how you can do it:
3. Optimize Your Videos for Organic Traffic
YouTube SEO is the most effective strategy to get more views on your videos and help you be an influencer. When you start getting organic traffic, you can use the engagement insights to attract more subscribers.
There are several things you need to take care of in order to rank your videos on YouTube SERP for several keywords. Following are the pro tips:
4. Do a YouTube Collab to Get More Exposure
Once you have things in place and adequate content on your YouTube channel, you should collaborate with like-minded people on YouTube and create videos together. This will help you as well as your partner to leverage each other’s subscribers.
5. Lastly, Be Regular
How frequently should you post videos on YouTube? The rule of thumb for new YouTube channels is to post anywhere between 2 to 5 videos a week.
The point is that when someone subscribes to your channel or shows interest in your videos, they should receive video suggestions very frequently. And, you can improve the suggestions by posting new videos regularly.
Once someone views a couple of your videos, the YouTube algorithm suggests more videos from your channel, improving your chances of converting them into a subscriber and growing your subscriber base.
Now, you must have become familiar with creating a profile on social platforms and increasing subscribers or followers.
Let’s get to the next step to how to be an influencer.
Okay. So you have created your profile and gained the first few hundred or thousand subscribers/followers.
Is it enough to be an influencer?
An excellent technique for influencers is to go through their social media analytics and find out which posts got the most engagement. Engagement rate is the best indicator of the effectiveness of content.
Social media analytics can also give you insight into your audience demographics and SEO rankings (especially for YouTube).
Moreover, if you’re looking for new content suggestions, the comment section is a gold mine.
Your audience is the best source of new content ideas.
Image via YouTube
Find some time to read and respond to all the comments you receive on your posts. This will help you identify new topic ideas and establish a deeper connection with your audience.
Here is an example of an Ohio-based juicery owner Lauren Mattice utilizing the comment section to establish a personal connection with her audience, funneling the audience to her Instagram. Such a neat funnel.
Image via YouTube
The way Lauren interacts with her audience has gained her a lot of YouTube subscribers organically.
Being an influencer, you can help your audience by addressing their questions and queries from the comment box and through direct messages.
If you want to know how to be an influencer without spending on advertisements and promotions, hashtags are the key.
Your content is only effective when it is distributed to the right audience. Although most of your followers will see your social media posts in their feed, you can get more exposure by using relevant hashtags.
Many social media users look for new topic ideas and people through hashtags, and if you intelligently use hashtags related to your niche, you will see a jump in organic follower count as well as likes.
Image via Instagram
If you are an influencer in the yoga and spirituality niche, there are several trending hashtags you can use to upscale your social media game. Some of these hashtags are:
The next step to be an influencer is consistency.
Maintaining consistency in terms of posting content is the most effective way to retain your audiences’ attention. When your followers see your post regularly in their social media feed, they are more likely to engage.
It is recommended that you create content in advance and maintain a couple of days’ social post inventory that can be used anytime.
You can even create content series that keep your audience hooked to your social handle.
However, you cannot compromise the quality of your content in any case. Becoming an influencer comes with the responsibility of crafting excellent content for your audience.
Your path to becoming an influencer will go through collaboration with other influencers. Even if you have a decent following on your social media handle, collaborating with other influencers will give you a new audience and the possibility of attracting them to your profile.
Make sure you create your best content when collaborating with fellow influencers on social media channels with a huge following. However, initially, you might not be able to collaborate with mega influencers. It’s better to look for people who have a follower count similar to yours.
Image via YouTube
If you are wondering how to be an influencer that people trust and love interacting with, the answer lies in keeping your followers engaged.
Some remarkable techniques influencers use to boost audience engagement are hosting contests and giveaways. They are proven to entice your audience to comment, like, and share your posts.
If you don't have enough resources to fulfill contests and giveaway rewards, you can host an “ask me anything” session to engage with your audience.
When you post valuable and catchy content, more and more people start appreciating your efforts and provide you feedback via comments or direct messages.
Responding to your audience's responses is comparatively more straightforward initially, but as you begin to grow, it can become a challenging task to reply to all of them. This doesn't mean that you leave the questions and appreciation unattended.
Always aim to respond to as many as possible. Your responses validate your fans’ trust and make them feel more connected to you.
Now you know how to be an influencer.
Q1. How can I be an influencer?
A. Here is how you can be an influencer:
Q2. How many followers do I need to be an influencer?
A. If you have more than 1,000 followers, congratulations, you are an influencer. However, based on the number of followers, influencers are categorized into four types:
Q3. How to be an influencer on Instagram?
A. The steps to becoming an influencer on Instagram are quite similar to other platforms like TikTok and Facebook. These are the steps to becoming an Instagram influencer:
Q4. How to become an Amazon Influencer?
A. Amazon influencer is coined for social media influencers who affiliate products on Amazon. Here is how to be an influencer to affiliate with Amazon products:
Q5. How much do influencers earn?
A. All the top three social media platforms, including Instagram, Tik Tok, and YouTube, have different functionalities for creators to make money.
Q6. What qualifications should an influencer have?
A. An influencer needs to have a decent following (more than 1K) and a higher engagement rate. That’s it.
Q7. Is it too late to be an influencer?
A. It’s never too late to be an influencer. There are influencers like Helen who started out at the age of 85.
Q8. How to be an influencer for a brand?
A. Either the brand reaches out to you, or you approach them; in both ways, you have to promote their products via your social media profile.
Q9. Why do brands collaborate with influencers?
A. Influencer marketing can help brands achieve specific objectives like:
Q10. How to increase YouTube subscribers?
A. Following are the tips for increasing subscribers count on YouTube:
By following all the tips and techniques, it shouldn’t be impossible for you to be an influencer.
Although the path to being famous among the target audience isn’t easy, the outcomes are lucrative enough to make you push hard to reach your goals.
If you have a decent following but still can’t make money, you should try the top influencer marketing platforms to monetize your popularity.
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