5 Steps to Becoming an Influencer

  1. Find your niche. Whether you’re posting daily mirror shots while you document your fitness journey, reviewing beauty products via short videos or taking wildlife photos, choose one thing you do exceedingly well (or can at least dedicate yourself to) and focus on that. That is your niche, and it’s what’s going to draw most of your audience. Sure, Karen from high school and that other weird internet guy might follow your content regardless of what you post, but there are only so many Karens and weirdos in the world. Most people simply don’t care about what mediocre things you’re doing on a day-to-day basis; it’s the one thing you’re doing well that attracts strangers who want to see that content. Even though we know Karen would probably believe what you had to say, the majority of your audience are strangers, so you’re going to have to learn to speak their language in order to get them to pay attention to your content.At the bottom of it all, an influencer is able to influence others because he/she has established him/herself as an expert in a niche market. Even lifestyle influencers, whose content seems primarily self-centered, are actually selling their audience on the idea that they know how to live a better life than everyone else. And people are watching because they want clues to see how they can live that kind of life, too.

Which brings me to my next point:

  1. Provide value for your audience. As much as you might think your social media accounts are for you, they’re not. They’re for everyone else. We all know this on a subconscious level, anyway. Why else would we showcase our lives for the world to see how great we are?But just because you create a blog or a YouTube channel to post your content doesn’t mean an audience will immediately flock to it (remember, not everyone’s a Karen.) What will interest others, though, is your ability to create content that adds value to their lives. When people first visit your website or your social media profile, they’re not looking at you. They’re looking at what you can do for them, whether it’s to teach them something, sell them something or provide something that resonates emotionally.Think about what people are really looking for as they scroll through your content. Usually, it’s an answer to a problem, even if it’s not framed as such. It could be as simple a thought as “this person seems successful, so how can I be more like this person to find success myself?” If you have a hard time figuring out how to add value to your content, put yourself in your audience’s shoes and look at your content from their perspective. What would you be looking for?You should occasionally be providing links and information about your niche, too. Your audience will appreciate it.
  2. Have a platform strategy. Ron Swanson, Nick Offerman’s character in Parks & Rec, put it simply: “Don’t half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” This applies to social media platforms. Whole-ass one platform until you’re skilled enough to whole-ass two platforms. Then whole-ass three. It’s easy.Start with one account on a platform you’re comfortable with, and as you build your personal brand, tap into other platforms. You can create a snowball effect once you have an established audience on your first platform by asking them to follow your account on your second platform.Stay away from using your personal Facebook account as your primary platform. While your mom and Karen are very proud of you, it’s just unprofessional to have your audience interacting with people who are involved in your personal life. Keep your work and personal life separate, period. It is okay, though, to set up a Facebook business page to streamline all of your content on all of your platforms. This, you can share with both your personal family and friends and your digital audience. That way, there’s no crossover, and a fan of yours isn’t gawking at pictures of you that one time you were drunk at noon on a Sunday.So which platform do you start with? It depends on your niche. If photography, modeling, or another visual art form is your thing, Instagram seems like the obvious choice, because it’s best-suited to showcase your content. If you’re long winded and blogging is more your style, WordPress is probably your best bet. Think about which platform is most likely to host other creatives of the same type. That’s where you want to start, because you need to connect with others who are doing similar things in order to expand your network.
  3. Connect. Have you ever noticed how troupes of comedians, rappers, artists and actors come up together? They know each other before success comes, and when it does, they all seem to find it at the same time. That’s because a rising tide raises all ships, and the power of collaboration is often more than the sum of its parts. People can do more together than they can alone.If you see someone that is doing an impressive job of what you want to do, don’t be afraid to reach out and let them know how fabulous you think they are. It’s also fair play to ask questions. People respect honesty more than they respect flattery, and being asked questions about a craft often reinforces their own belief in themselves. It’s a win-win: you’re able to expand your knowledge about your market, and the person you’re reaching out to is able to look at his or her abilities objectively and evaluate them.Be open to connect with more than just those who impress you, too. Respond to people who contact you, whether in questions or comments. Take some time to look through content that’s similar to yours and see who’s commenting on that. Reach out to those people if you think they’ll dig your stuff, too. Don’t post mass, impersonal content to a bunch of accounts— it’s spam, and people can smell it a mile away. Instead, take the extra few seconds to send a genuine message about why you think someone would enjoy your content, and make a point to let them know you’ve taken the time to look through theirs. High follower counts can be impressive, but quality followers who engage with your content are much more valuable in the long run.

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