The influencer landscape is incredibly lucrative. In 2022, the influencer market was valued at $16.4 billion and is estimated to hit $21.1 billion in 2023. If you want to step into the influencer market, you're probably wondering how to become an influencer.
In this article, we're going to dive into what it takes to become an influencer and the steps you need to take to find success. First, let's define an influencer.
What is an influencer?
An influencer is a person with the ability to influence consumers to purchase a service or product by promoting, recommending, or using them on social media.
How to Become an Influencer for a Brand
If you want to become an influencer who works with brands, here's what you need to do to reach your goal.
1. Find your niche.
First, figure out what you're passionate about. Is it fashion, tech, entertainment, health, or something else? From there, carve out a niche within your passion to set yourself apart from other influencers.
For example, if you want to be a fashion influencer, you might decide your niche is thrift store fashion, DIY fashion, or stylish outfits on a budget. If you need help finding your niche, determine who your target audience is first.
To determine your target audience, consider your ideal consumer's wants, needs, challenges, and goals. Then use that information to create a buyer persona to find the right niche to tap into your target audience or use HubSpot's Buyer Persona Generation Tool.
2. Choose your platform.
Once you know your target audience, you must choose a platform (or platforms) to reach them. Instagram is one of the most popular platforms for influencers and brands, and it's easy to see why.
According to our social media trends survey, 72% of marketers listed Instagram among the social media platforms on which they work with influencers and creators.
Furthermore, most marketers surveyed (30%) said Instagram is the platform they get the most significant ROI when working with influencers and creators. However, that doesn't mean Instagram is the right choice for everyone — mainly if your ideal audience doesn't spend much time on that platform.
For example, if you're an influencer whose niche has to do with video games, Twitch might be the better platform. Video game fans often tune into Twitch to watch content creators play their favorite games or to stream their playthroughs.
If your audience is mostly Gen Z, you'll likely want to consider TikTok as your platform of choice.
You should also research other influencers in your niche to see what platforms they leverage the most. For example, style influencers are primarily on Instagram or Pinterest. Entertainment influencers may mostly be on TikTok or YouTube.
Once you know which platform your audience and fellow influencers frequent the most, you can select the right social media platform to post your content.
3. Create a content strategy.
The format and quality of your content will make or break your chances of successfully building yourself as an influencer. Decide on the format you'll use when creating your content.
The format should be feasible on the platform you choose to leverage, and it should be a format that allows you to deliver valuable information while showcasing your unique personality.
An effective content strategy will give your audience a proper balance of informative content and personal content. Remember, relatability and authenticity are the reasons people trust influencers.
In fact, 72% of TikTok users find "normal creators" more interesting than celebrities, according to the platform.
To find the perfect balance of content for your strategy, use the 5-3-2 principle. With the 5-3-2 principle, five out of every ten posts would be curated content from a source relevant to your audience.
Three posts should be content you've created pertinent to your audience, and two posts would be personal posts about yourself to humanize your online presence.
You're probably wondering, "How will this help me become an influencer if half of the content I publish is curated?"
For starters, influencers are known for being able to provide valuable content to their audience. That includes sharing content written by others that they believe their followers will find helpful.
Sharing content published by other influencers in your niche will help you slowly get their attention. As a result, it will be much easier to reach out to them and ask them to do the same for you later on.
When it comes to the quality of your content, you should invest in equipment such as mics, cameras, and lighting to give your audience gorgeous content that will keep them coming back for more.
Pro Tip: Smartphones have excellent cameras these days, so you can use your phone to record your content if you're not ready to invest in an expensive camera. Just make sure to use the front-facing camera for the best image.
4. Distribute your content.
No matter how great your content is, if you’re not getting people to see it and engage with it, it’s not exactly practical.
That said, it’s essential that you carefully plan out when you’ll be publishing and distributing your content on social media.
The best time to post content on social media hugely depends on which social media channel you choose. This infographic provides a detailed breakdown of the best days and times to distribute content for each popular social media network.
It's just as critical to know how to post your content on social media. While each social media channel has its own rules and guidelines, here are some general best practices that are applicable regardless of which social media channel you use.
5. Start a website.
Whether you leverage YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, or some other social media platform — you should always have your website as an influencer.
Websites are great for SEO because they allow you a space to create evergreen content with keywords that are optimized to get you at the top of SERPs.
You can create content around themes and keywords your audience is searching for, allowing them to flock to your website.
Furthermore, a website is an excellent avenue for consumers to engage directly with and buy products from you. It also allows brands and advertisers to learn more about you and your content and reach out to you for opportunities.
Finally, securing a long-term home base is the most important reason to have a website. Social media platforms change constantly. An app that's popular today can lose users to tomorrow.
Even worse, a platform can completely shut down, taking all your content with it.
A website that houses your business information, content, links, and points of contact will help you stay relevant and grow as an influencer for years to come.
6. Stay updated.
As an influencer, staying tuned into the latest trends and buzzy topics is essential.
So, follow other creators in your niche on social media, keep an eye out for trending hashtags and challenges, and know what keywords your audience is searching online.
You also need to remember that social media platforms will often change their policies, algorithms, and posting terms — so stay updated to avoid your account becoming irrelevant or, worse, deleted.
Most importantly, you'll need to familiarize yourself with Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) guidelines and policies, especially if you’re going to be collaborating with brands to promote their products and services on your social media accounts.
7. Be yourself.
Remember, authenticity is key to being a successful influencer. Almost 70% of marketers say “authenticity and transparency” are crucial to successful influencer marketing, according to Econsultancy.
Moreover, 61% of consumers prefer influencers who create authentic, engaging content.
The best way to be authentic is to be yourself. While your content should be quality, you yourself don't have to be flawless to be an influencer.
If your house cat walks into your shot, or you laugh as a car blasting music drives by as you're recording — it's okay!
Don't be afraid to be silly on camera or show off your sense of humor — consumers love influencers because they're more relatable and "real" than celebrities or companies.
8. Engage with your audience.
When your followers leave a question or comment on your posts, take the time to acknowledge and respond to them. That can make them feel valued and that you sincerely want to help them. It will also help you develop a relationship with them.
Of course, not all of the comments and questions will be positive. As an influencer, expect that you’ll have your fair share of negative comments and criticisms. Make it a point to keep your cool and address them professionally.
9. Network with other influencers.
Collaborate with other influencers in your niche to expand your audience and grow your network. You can find potential collaborators through social media, online communities, or by attending conventions and vents.
Having business cards to pass to potential collaborators also doesn't hurt.
10. Create a media kit and pitch yourself to brands.
A media kit is an influencer version of a resume or portfolio. An influencer media kit contains information about your work, successes, audience size, and why brands should work with you.
Every influencer should have a media kit to email to marketing professionals, brand representatives, and agencies to find work.
The kit's design is just as important as its content because you'll want a design showcasing your personality because personality is key.
Media kits also make you look more professional. Many people step into influencing and content creation as a hobby. Having a media kit shows companies you are not a hobbyist and are serious about your work.
Your kit should include the following:
- Your photo
- A short bio
- Your social media channels, along with your follower count on each platform
- Engagement rate
- Audience demographics
- Website link
- Information about past work and collaborations
You can design a media kit using Canva or purchase media kit templates from Etsy. You can also download media kit templates from HubSpot by clicking here.
11. Be consistent.
Your followers need to be able to consistently count on you to deliver quality content. If you don’t, they’ll eventually stop following you or at least paying attention to you.
Instead of manually publishing on each of your social media profiles, these tools allow you to create, upload, and schedule posts in batches.
12. Track your progress.
This step is crucial, especially if you’re looking to collaborate with brands for their influencer marketing campaigns, since this is one of the things brands look for in an influencer to partner with.
Most social media channels give you insights and analytics to monitor your progress — things like demographics, reach, and engagement rate that will show how quickly (or slowly) you’re building your audience.
It will also shed light on which content formats get the highest engagement rates so that you can create more.
How to Become an Influencer on Social Media
The steps above are all applicable to becoming a social media influencer. Some additional tips to keep in mind are:
1. Build an online community around your content.
Building trust with your audience is critical to your success as an influencer. One way to build trust is to build a community around your content.
Create a space where your audience can ask questions, engage with your content, and find others who enjoy your work or niche.
Some influencers start communities on Discord, Reddit, or other platforms to speak candidly with their followers. You can also host live Q&As or start your own hashtag for your followers to use to connect.
2. Repurpose content as necessary.
Fresh and interesting content should always be the priority when influencing, but sometimes it helps to repurpose content.
Repurposing content is especially helpful when you're pressed for time, lacking fresh ideas, or just need to post something to keep on schedule.
You can also repurpose content to give your posts a second life on other platforms. If you have an Instagram Reel that performed well but could use more eyes on it — repost it to TikTok or YouTube Shorts.
For more ways to repurpose content, click here.
3. Always be willing to learn and be open to new platforms.
As I mentioned earlier, social media platforms often fall in and out of favor with audiences, so always be ready to pivot when a platform is losing steam.
Keep an eye out for up-and-coming social channels, and always keep a pulse on where your audience is tuning in.
Ultimately, to be a successful influencers you need to be authentic, organized, flexible, and willing to adjust to evolving trends.
And of course, you need to create quality content that shows brands and your followers that you are serious about your work. Now that you know the steps you need to take, you're ready to dive into the influencer market.