How to Become an Instagram Influencer

There is nothing more exciting than the prospect of being an Instagram celebrity, influencing thousands of people through social media about some topic or lifestyle. You may be familiar with such Instagram personalities as Jay Alvarrez (@jayalvarrez), Cameron Dallas (@camerondallas), or Huda Kattan (@hudabeauty); who seemingly live their lives travelling the globe, receiving free products, and earning a nice living without a conventional job. Well, this is because they are examples of successful Instagram influencers, or people who earn money by partnering with brands/organizations to promote them within their Instagram accounts. Whether this takes the form of a free sports car, a free week-long stay at a Bali resort, or a direct cash payment; when it comes to the good life these Instagram influencers seem to have it all figured out.

Jay Alvarrez Instagram account.

Jay Alvarrez (@jayalvarrez) promoting a Bali Resort in his latest Instagram post.

What many people don’t realize is that you don’t need to be a former celebrity or have over 1 million followers to become an Instagram influencer. In fact, a study found that many brands follow a ‘one-cent per follower’ rule to dictate how much they are willing to pay Instagram influencers per post. The same study also found that 66% of brands surveyed pay less than $250 per post, indicating that the majority of Instagram influencers average less than 25,000 followers. For those influencers who manage to break the threshold and join the Jay Alvarrez’s and Huda Katan’s of the world; the reward is even more lucrative. At this level (>5 million followers,) the average influencer brand-partnership campaign generates $150,000 in revenue.

Huda Kattan instagram account. Promotional post.

Huda Kattan (@hudabeauty) promoting her personal beauty brand through an Instagram post.

Finding Your Influencer Niche

The first step in becoming an Instagram influencer is to decide what you want your niche to be. Do you want to be a beauty blogger and review various products to your followers? How about a travel influencer who captures the essence of various resorts, activities, restaurants, and other sites through their Instagram posts? Maybe you wish to create an identity around financial literacy and dedicate your account to educating people about personal financial management. The possibilities are essentially limitless, and given the rapid expansion of Instagram in recent years you can be assured that there is demand for almost every type of content imaginable. Choosing a niche is about finding what you’re most passionate about. Don’t simply try to emulate what you think will be most popular, as most successful Instagram influencers only got to where they are by demonstrating true knowledge and a passion for their content.

@iamgalla Instagram account. Men's fashion.

Adam Gallagher (@iamgalla) created his account around the Men’s fashion niche.

Why can’t you become an Instagram influencer by just posting what you usually post? Think about it. How many non-celebrity Instagram accounts (aside from friends and family) do you follow that don’t specialize in some sort of niche? Chances are not many. Focusing on a niche makes it easier to gain Instagram followers beyond your inner-circle, which is the second component in becoming an Instagram influencer.

Getting Instagram Followers

Once you have determined your niche, you must next focus on growing your Instagram followers. There are several different ways you can get Instagram followers. The goal is not only to get lots of followers, but also make sure that a good portion of those followers is: a) not bots, and b) potentially interested in your niche. Many services claim to be able to sell you Instagram followers, however most times the followers they sell turn out to be shell accounts. Brands will only be willing to work with you if you have exposure to a large, targeted, and real group of followers who are interested in the niche focus of your account.

Instead, we recommend employing strategies to get Instagram followers organically. There is a strategy that you can use right now to get real Instagram followers without paying a cent. First, you should search niche-related keywords and hashtags to find relevant content and accounts of those who might be interested in your account. For example, if you are trying to become a hockey-related Instagram influencer, you might search ‘hockey,’ ‘nhl,’ ‘slapshot,’ or the names of some famous sports teams. Next, you interact with the content to promote your own account. Liking and commenting on niche-related posts and following niche-related accounts are the primary ways to generate awareness and get Instagram followers. The more you do this, the more followers you will get to your account.

This is a time-consuming strategy, however, due to the drawbacks of buying followers, it is really the best way to get real, quality Instagram followers. Luckily, the larger your follower list is, the easier it becomes to get new followers. As your account grows, it naturally gains reputability, as people are more willing to follow an account with more followers than less. Thus 90% of the work you put in will go towards getting the first 10% of your followers. Certain platforms have arisen to assist small businesses and organizations looking to grow a quality Instagram following whom don’t have the time to invest in doing it themselves. Instagram automation platforms such as Social Bloom allow up-and-coming influencers and small businesses to hand-off their Instagram accounts to a machine learning system, which automatically follows, likes and comments on content and accounts according to pre-specified criteria. This remains a popular option for Instagram influencers looking to get a head-start on the follower list-building process.

Monetizing Your Instagram Account

Once you have built an adequate Instagram follower list, it is time to start partnering with brands, businesses, and organizations in order to monetize your efforts! The good news is, the use of Instagram influencers as a form of marketing has dramatically increased in recent years. In fact, another study estimates that total spending on Instagram influencers in 2017 amounted to $1 billion, and projects that advertisers will spend $1.60 billion on Instagram influencers in 2018 and $2.38 billion in 2019. In other words, the odds are in your favor.

Instagram influencer market growth 2017 to 2019.

Projected Instagram influencer market growth 2017 – 2019.

Voila! You are well on your way to becoming the next Kim Kardashian. Of course the process doesn’t stop here. To maintain your Insta-fame, you will need to continuously employ strategies to gain new followers, continuously produce fresh/interesting content to maintain your current followers, and actively seek out new brand partnerships wherever possible. Want to learn more about how you can grow your followers to get started? Visit our comprehensive guide here.

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