by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 16th April, 2019
Social media influencers are the new celebrities: making thousands, if not millions per year simply for being themselves and posting their life online.
Although many wish that they too could make their living online, it can seem out of reach. In truth, there is a method to the madness and by following these steps, you too could be well on your way to 100k.
Picking a niche and deciding what you want to post about is a crucial step in designing and setting up your new social media presence. People don't want to follow any old personal account, they want to follow someone who's going to provide them with something, and so you need to decide what niche you are going to specialise in.
It may seem obvious, but you need to pick something that you're truly passionate about and actually want to talk and post about. Many people will make instagram accounts based on whatever they think is popular at the moment, but if your heart's not in it, you won't succeed.
Think about what you like to follow, what you do in your everyday life, and what you could see yourself talking about for many years to come. Sure you might "like" fitness, but can you see yourself making posts about your workouts in three years time?
Once you've decided on your niche, be it art or fitness or beauty or travel etc etc, hone in on what exactly it is you'll be posting. Is it inspiration posts, lifestyle posts, informational or instructional content or personal stories?
You can mix up a few styles of posts, but make sure not to pick too many - you want it to be very clear what you are providing your potential followers. Now you've figured that out, clarify what your unique selling point is.
What do you provide that no one else does? Is it a particular style of picture, words of wisdom, a unique perspective, incredible art? Whatever it is, write it down - it'll come in useful later.
The platforms you choose to grow your following on are very important, not only will each one need a different approach, but you'll need to pick carefully which ones are right for your personal brand.
Many people like to get creative with their content and start up a youtube or instagram page (or both). If making videos and posting pictures isn't really your thing however, platforms like twitter or blogging sites like tumblr may suit you better.
Your bio is one of the most important elements of your social media profiles. Assuming you are using a platform such as instagram, twitter or facebook (which, lets face it, you probably are) your bio is where people get all of their information about you, and it can make or break whether you gain new followers.
A lackluster bio won't give visitors any information about you or what you're offering them. Remember, the aim is to tell your potential new follower what they will gain from following you, whether it's recipes, workout videos, fashion inspiration or travel tips.
Come back to your unique selling point and see how you can communicate it in your bio in a clear and succinct way. One popular method is the "bullet point bio" format. Take some key elements of your profile and put them into a bullet point format to clearly communicate exactly what it is that you are posting.
For example, if you decided to create a healthy food-based instagram account to complement your recipe blog aimed at mothers without lot's of time on their hands, you might say:
This bio gives the viewer a quick rundown of everything they need to know - what you provide, where you are and where they can discover more about you. It also highlights your unique selling point - that you're creating easy healthy meals for parents.
Although it can seem a bit odd at first, planning out your content is actually a key step to succeeding. We all have days where we're too busy to too uninspired to post, and during those times having a plan of what to post and when will save your butt.
Planning out your content also means you can spread out your posts and decide what will work well together, and to make sure you don't flood your followers feed with too much of the same-old same-old kind of content.
There are plenty of online resources to help you plan out and schedule your posts, so it can be as easy as sitting down once a month to create your posts and have them upload automatically.
Curating a certain "look" or aesthetic to your content is also an important aspect of many people's social media presence, especially on platforms such as instagram or pinterest but also with blogs or facebook pages to a lesser extent.
By deciding upon a theme you like and figuring out how to achieve it consistently, you can maintain a certain aesthetic which is not only visually pleasing to a follower, but can help you to seem more professional and brand-friendly.
Many influencers use apps such as VSCO or adobe lightroom to edit their photos to achieve a certain consistent look.
Hands down one of the most important parts of becoming a social media influencer is building up a community of people who genuinely like and interact with your posts. Not only is this an enjoyable part of social media platforms, but it's essentially the thing that makes you valuable.
If you have an engaged audience who respect your opinions, interact with your content and generally pay attention to what you're putting out there, you'll be able to gain the attention of brands who want to work with you and leverage more money from your account.
Building a community is also one of the hardest parts of becoming an influencer and the step that will take the most time. Most platforms are quite saturated at the moment, and so standing out from the crowd and getting people to follow you can be difficult, but it's by no means impossible.
By engaging with your followers first, you're much more likely to have them reciprocate - so comment on their content, follow them back and generally show that you're looking to interact.
Once you've gained somewhat of an audience, you can start trying to gain the attention of brands and making money from your social media profile.
If you're not ready to start contacting brands directly, you can try to gain the attention of brands by interacting with their posts and featuring them on your own platforms - if you're posts featuring them do well, you may be able to approach them and ask if they'd like to sponsor you.
Try to only go for brands that you genuinely value and that you think your audience might value, and don't forget that just because you like a product, doesn't mean it belongs on your page. If you run a food blog, your audience probably isn't going to be that interested in the type of body lotion you use, but they may well like to know where you get your ground flaxseed from.
Although it's advisable not to flood your feed with sponsored content or posts featuring other brands, try to incorporate one once in a while to show brands that you can create good content and to help them visualise their own products in your feed.
If you've gained a following and want to start pitching to brands directly, a quick and easy way to start is to use an online influencer marketing tool such as AspireIQ or Scrunch- essentially just a website designed to help you connect with brands who might want to sponsor you.
Even if you haven't managed to score any paid work yet, don't let that motivate you. Keep tracking your engagement and seeing what does or doesn't work for your audience.
Not only will you have a better idea of the kind of content you should be creating and how you can incorporate sponsored posts, but you'll also have plenty of data to help you pitch yourself to brands in the future.
A key part of your personal marketing is your "media kit" - essentially like a mini portfolio for yourself and your platforms. It illustrates your statistics such as your followers and engagement rates and what you can provide for a brand, be it an instagram post, blog post, youtube video or otherwise.
Becoming an influencer isn't for everybody - you may not feel comfortable putting yourself out there, or find it too much work. But for anyone who is interested in growing an online presence, it is possible - and it's profitable too.