How to be an Instagram Influencer – 8 steps to get you started

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I'm Jade Scarfone.
A digital strategist and transformation catalyst, merging a decade of corporate systems mastery with a profound journey of self-discovery. From navigating the high-stakes world of banking to making waves in high-ticket affiliate marketing, I'm now dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs through strategic digital innovations. 

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I’m sure you’ve probably seen lots of people with beautiful Instagram accounts. And you’ve probably wondered how they’ve been able to work with so many brands on a regular basis. Or maybe you’ve seen people go on free trips or get free products. And you’ve wondered how it’s possible and whether or not you can do it too. So I’m here to show you exactly how to be an Instagram Influencer.

But before we get into that, first let’s talk about the basics…

What is an influencer?

An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.

An individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with.

Influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole.

But Jade… don’t I need to have a HUGE following before brands will even want to work with me as an influencer?

This might have been the case a few years ago, but 2018 is all about micro-influencers.

Not to be mistaken with celebrity endorsements

Influencer marketing is not the same as celebrity endorsement. Celebrity deals tend to be outside budget for most brands.

Celebrities may be famous, well-known, and have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people following them. However, do they have the ability to influence people in their tastes and encourage them to change their behaviours? Generally not.

That is the essence of a micro- influencer. He or she is somebody who has gained enough respect to be able to change the tastes of others.

The rise of the micro-influencer

5 years ago nearly 6 times as many people searched Google each day for ‘social media marketing’ compared to those who searched for ‘influencer marketing’. But by the beginning of 2017 the positions reversed. There are now about 1.5 times as many daily searches for ‘influencer marketing’ as there are for ‘social media marketing’.

The key to micro-influencer success is in their name. They may be comparatively “micro” in reach, but they genuinely “influence” people’s decision-making. With so many apps and bots that help people “fake” their follower growth, the number of followers isn’t always the best gage for how well an influencer’s account will perform. 

So brands are more concerned with engagement than followers and they can actually gain the best results from accounts with reach as low as 3-10k followers. If their engagement is high enough, this will make up for lack of followers.

Types of influencer work

Discount codes – brands will generally gift you products or give you discount codes to test the products out. Then you share the product with your audience with a special discount code for them to use as well.

Affiliate marketing – many brands and companies rely on other people to promote their products. A great way to encourage people to endorse them is to offer them a % of the profits. This is where affiliate marketing comes in. Brands will give you a special link you can use and when people purchase from that link you will earn a percentage of the sale.

Competitions and giveaways – you’ve probably seen many posts where companies offer competitions or giveaways, then they get their network of influencers to share that across their social platforms as well.

Long term ambassadors – some brands prefer to work with influencers for a longer term. So they will hire them as ambassadors to keep promoting them. This is a more effective way to get in front of the same trusted audience over and over.

Sponsored content – brands with bigger marketing budgets tend to be more choosy about who they work with and they will pay influencers for higher quality content.

Events – a great way to get exposure is to host an event and invite influencers to attend. They will spread the word about the event and the products being shared.

So, how would you like to have an inbox that looks like this?

How to be an Instagram Influencer

What about receive free products in exchange for posts?

How to be an Instagram Influencer

Or better yet, get paid for your posts?

How to be an Instagram Influencer

It’s all possible… if you follow these 8 steps.

How to be an Instagram Influencer – Step 1 – Determine your niche

Think about what you love and are passionate about. What are you already posting about and what will you find easy to continue posting about? Brands want to work with influencers that have an engaged audience.

And the best way to have an engaged audience is to pick a niche and stick to it so your audience is clear on what content to expect from you. And it will be easy for brands to determine if your content and audience is aligned with their goals.

How to be an Instagram Influencer – Step 2 – Create a great brand

Your brand is what people will be attracted to so you need to forever be building your brand, maintaining it, and improving it. Your brand is more than just a name, logo or colours. It’s the story you share, the content you create, the language you use, your vision, your values etc.

The stronger your brand, the stronger your influence.

For more tips on creating a great brand check out these posts:  Choosing your brand  & Building your brand

How to be an Instagram Influencer – Step 3 – Pick your platforms

If you really want to make it as an influencer you need to pick one or two main platforms and truly master them. Since we’re talking about Instagram I’m going to assume you’re already on there. And this tends to be one of the most popular platforms for influencer marketing.

Other platforms you could look into are Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.

Think about the content you like to create and which platform is best suited to that type of content. Then set your account up there and focus on growing that platform to a point where brands will recognise you and want to work with you.

How to be an Instagram Influencer – Step 4 – Grow your following

This one is pretty much a no brainer. Whilst brands are looking to work with micro-influencers, the key is still to have a decent following so they will have a reason to work with you. Generally speaking 10k is a happy medium for Instagram.

It’s a big enough following to start getting noticed. It’s also the follower count you need to be able to start using the swipe up feature in your Instagram stories. Which is a great way to share links direct to special offers from brands you’re promoting.

How to be an Instagram Influencer – Step 5 – Create great content

With so many people using social media these days, brands want to make sure they’re working with the best influencers. If your images are grainy, your account doesn’t have a nice aesthetic, your posts are inconsistent, and your content isn’t engaging, it’s unlikely brands are going to want to work with you.

Ensure you create great content and make sure you do it consistently.

For more tips on creating a great Instagram account check out these posts: 5 Must have tools to improve your business Instagram & How to create beautiful Instagram stories

How to be an Instagram Influencer – Step 6 – Keep your audience engaged

Instagram is constantly adding more and more features to help you keep your audience engaged. It’s far more than just a platform for posting pictures now. So if you’re not taking advantage of all the extra features you’re going to be missing out.

Video content is huge on Instagram now so post them in your feed every now and then. Also use stories and IGTV to connect with your audience on a more personal level so they stay engaged.

How to be an Instagram Influencer – Step 7 – Connect with brands

This is the key to being an influencer. In the beginning brands aren’t going to know you or that you’re trying to be an influencer. So it’s up to you to reach out to them.

Find brands that resonate with you and are within the same niche as your account. Send them a message or email (depending on the brand) advising what you can offer them and wait for a reply.

Remember not all brands are going to say yes, some might not even reply, but just keep going. Eventually you will get that yes . Then before you know it, you’ll make a name for yourself and brands will be coming to you.

How to be an Instagram Influencer – Step 8 – Arrange collaborations

Once you’ve established a connection with a brand it’s time to arrange your collaborations. Some brands will work with you on a product for post basis. This means they’ll send you free products or discounted products in exchange for your posts. Others will pay you.

If you’re just starting out it’s good to test the waters with product per post collaborations. Then as you build your portfolio and testimonials you can start seeking payment.

There’s also apps you can use to connect you directly with brands who are looking for influencers and wanting to pay.

And there you have it, how to become an Instagram Influencer in 8 simple steps.

For more details you can watch this video.

Need more guidance on becoming an Instagram Influencer? Get access to the exact training I’ve used to grow a huge and loyal Instagram following and secure multiple collaboration deals.

How to be an Instagram Influencer

P.S. if you’ve found this post useful don’t forget to share it. Thanks for reading xo

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How to be an Instagram Influencer

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