How to Become an Influencer: A Beginner’s Guide

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The rise of social media has provided a unique opportunity for savvy folks from all walks of life to be their own bosses by becoming influencers. Of course, it’s not as easy as it looks; successful influencer careers take time, strategy, and dedication. But for those who make it work, it can be a rewarding pursuit. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how to become an influencer, but didn’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place.

What does it mean to be an influencer?

What is an influencer? Influencers build a loyal following by sharing their experiences, expertise, and unique perspectives, often focusing on a specific niche. It’s not solely about the content they create, but also about the personal connection and trust they establish with their audience.

Brands are drawn to influencers because that credibility allows them to authentically promote products or services to their engaged followers. Unlike traditional advertising, influencer marketing is more genuine, making it an effective way for brands to reach potential customers through trusted voices—and giving influencers the power to impact their audience’s choices and opinions.

How many followers do you need to be an influencer?

There is no predetermined threshold to cross in order to become an influencer. Although followers obviously play a role, the quantity isn’t always as important as the quality, or level of engagement. In other words, you don’t need millions of followers to pursue this path.

Let’s take a quick look at the different categories of influencers:

  • mega-influencers: 1m+ followers; celebrities or social media stars with a massive reach
  • macro-influencers: 100k to 1m followers; influencers or content creators who often cover broader topics and reach a large, but sometimes less engaged audience.
  • micro-influencers: 10k to 100k followers; smaller reach than macro-influencers, but they tend to have a highly engaged and loyal audience within their niche
  • nano-influencers: 1k-10k followers; highly trusted by their followers and often focus on very niche or local interests

You may already be well on your way to falling into one of these categories, at least in terms of follower count. But having a solid number of followers doesn’t automatically make you well-positioned to become a successful influencer. 

According to, micro-influencers can have up to 60% higher engagement rates than macro-influencers, which is valuable to brands hoping to sell products or services to your audience. So unless you’re already at the mega-influencer level, it might make more sense to focus on choosing a niche and crafting a personal brand over simply continuing to gain followers. 

How do I become an influencer?

The good news is that we’ve now established you don’t have to wait until you reach a million followers to have a career as an influencer. But whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to pivot your casual social media accounts to something more professional, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

1. Carving out a niche

Mega-influencers have a wide enough reach that they can get away with appealing to a broad audience, but anyone targeting a smaller crowd—even if your aspirations are ultimately higher—will benefit from carving out a niche.

Choosing a niche allows you to establish yourself as an expert or authority in a specific area, bringing a dedicated audience that shares your interests back to your content time and time again. This focused approach also makes it easier to collaborate with brands looking for influencers with appeal to a specific market.

If you already have hobbies or interests that lend themselves to influencing, it might be easy to choose your niche. If you’re still unsure, consider going for something you genuinely enjoy and are willing to spend a lot of time researching and posting about. Influencers make what they do look easy, but it’s very much a job, and you don’t want to burn out on something you don’t enjoy.

Your niche can be somewhat of an umbrella topic (food and cooking) or something extremely specific (reviewing vegan keto recipes). There are benefits to both, and if you prefer to leave yourself room to grow, you can always opt to narrow your focus for the time being while occasionally branching out into tangential topics. Just be careful about going too broad, particularly in an oversaturated market.

Here are some examples of larger fields as well as specific topics you could hone in on:

  • travel -> budget backpacking
  • technology -> building mechanical keyboards
  • gaming -> video game walkthroughs
  • finance -> real estate investment
  • fashion -> sustainable fashion
  • makeup and beauty -> special effects makeup tutorials
  • fitness -> yoga and meditation

Before finalizing your niche, research the topics you’re passionate about and the existing influencers in those areas. Understand the competition, audience size, and engagement levels. This research will help you identify where you can fit in and offer something unique.

It may also be worth keeping tabs on what types of influencers make the most money. In 2020, influencer marketing firm Izea reported that influencers working in beauty or fashion were making up to four times as much per post as those focused on music or family—but trends are always shifting.

2. Deciding on a social media platform

Now that you know what you want to post about, you have to decide where to post it.

You might be asking yourself, shouldn’t I post on every social media platform to have the furthest reach? Not necessarily. While securing your preferred handle on multiple platforms is a smart move to protect your brand in the future, staying actively engaged across all of the most popular social media sites can backfire for several reasons. 

To start, you might be spreading yourself too thin when your energy would be better spent focused on a more deliberate strategy. You also risk overwhelming or annoying followers who see the same, or similar, content from you on each platform. 

Then there’s also the simple fact that every social media platform has different strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to understand which one is best for what you would like to do. For instance, if you want to actively review fashions, TikTok or YouTube could make more sense than Instagram, but if your focus is on crafting the perfect aesthetic so your viewers are enticed to purchase the same items you’re wearing, Instagram would be the spot. There are also monetization opportunities that have less to do with social media platforms and more to do with brands, such as the Walmart Creator program and the Amazon influencer program.

There are some additional things to consider when choosing a platform:

  • Play to your personal strengths. If you’re an excellent writer, consider blogging on platforms like WordPress or Medium. If you’re charismatic in front of a camera, a video-based social media site could be the most strategic move.
  • Influencing vs. content creation. If you’re ultimately interested in both content creation and influencing, take that into consideration early on. You can review camera gear on TikTok, but if you also want to create short films, prioritizing building your audience on YouTube may be more beneficial.
  • Demographics. Who is your intended audience? Which platform do they hang out on the most? The viewers you get on Facebook are likely going to be worlds apart from the audience you draw on Snapchat.

All that said, having a primary platform best suited for your content, and utilizing the other social media platforms to drive followers to that primary location can be a winning strategy. You may also consider having a hub of some sort where you can centralize your content. This might just mean setting up a linktree that lets audiences know where else they can find you, or it might mean setting up a full-blown website where brands can check out your portfolio—and your other social media.

3. Designing your personal brand

Your personal brand is a key part of becoming a successful influencer. If your followers connect with you, or the public image of yourself that you put out there, they’ll be more likely to stay engaged, trust your recommendations, and even seek out your expert opinion on things within your vertical.

Now, you don’t have to have everything figured out all at once. As you create and share content, your personal brand will naturally evolve. However, there are things you can take into consideration upfront:

  • Tone: Determine the tone of your content. Are you informative, humorous, motivational, or a mix of these? Consistency in your tone helps your audience connect with your style.
  • Gimmick: While not necessary, having a unique angle or gimmick can make your brand memorable. It could be a catchphrase, a specific theme, or a recurring element in your content.
  • Aesthetics: Visual consistency is vital. Consider colors, fonts, and visual style that reflect your brand. This makes your content instantly recognizable.
  • Long-term goals: If you plan to expand your influence beyond a specific location or niche, avoid branding yourself too narrowly. Flexibility in your branding allows for growth and diversification.

Having a definable, discernible brand will not only help your content become immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with you, it will help you shape your work behind the scenes as well. Once you understand your personal brand, you’ll have an easier time making decisions about what type of content and brand deals fit your page—and how to expand as necessary without jarring your audience, because you’ll still be on brand.

When designing your brand, above all else, make sure it’s authentic to who you are. Be yourself, and let your true personality shine through your content. Authenticity builds trust with your audience, and your audience is what builds your influencer business.

4. Growing your audience

Although the size of the audience doesn’t necessarily matter as much as their level of engagement, most influencers do want to increase their sphere of influence by helping that follower count grow. Once you’ve nailed the first three steps, you’re in a great position to do just that. And here’s how:

  • Create quality content. Quality content is the foundation of your influence. Ensure that your content is informative, entertaining, or valuable in some way. Invest time in improving your content creation skills and maintain high standards.
  • Create content regularly. Consistency is key. Establish a posting schedule and stick to it. Your audience should know when to expect new content from you—regular updates keep your followers engaged and coming back for more.
  • Interact with your audience. Respond to comments, answer questions, and engage in conversations. Show genuine interest in your followers, and they’ll be more likely to stay and engage with your content. This is particularly valuable for those with a lower follower count.
  • Establish trust. Be authentic, transparent, and honest with your audience. If you recommend a product or service, be sure it aligns with your values and brand, and that you genuinely believe in it, or you risk losing whatever trust you’ve established with your audience.
  • Seek out your target demographic. Interact with people interested in your niche on relevant online forums, at conventions, or other places where you can build connections and demonstrate your expertise—not just advertise or direct people to your content.
  • Collaborate with other influencers. Working with influencers in an adjacent niche can be mutually beneficial and expose you to new audiences.

Growing your audience can and likely will take time. Don’t be afraid to switch up strategies if something isn’t working, or even reassess your content or target demographic. Sometimes feeling stuck can lead to life-changing bursts of inspiration.

5. Connecting with brands

Now onto the step you’ve all been waiting for, the one where money actually changes hands and you are officially working as an influencer—partnering with brands.

To make yourself an attractive prospect for brands in your niche, be sure you’re already actively creating content similar to what you would use to showcase their products or services. If you hope to strike a deal to review travel gear, have videos or blogs thoughtfully reviewing travel gear in detail. It’s easier for brands to say “yes” when they know exactly what they will be getting.

As your influence grows, brands will likely start reaching out to you directly with collaboration opportunities. But you can also take proactive steps towards connecting, starting with researching companies you believe you can have a mutually beneficial arrangement with. Identify brands that align with your influencing vertical and resonate with your audience, investigate their marketing strategies, products, and values, and determine whether there’s a gap in those strategies that you could help fill.

At this point, it also helps to have a media kit. You may have to tweak this as you reach out to individual brands, but it typically includes essential information such as your bio, contact details, influencing topics, audience demographics, follower statistics, previous collaborations, press, pricing for sponsored content, and a persuasive pitch that explains why brands should work with you.

And remember: not every brand partnership will be a good fit. Ensure the collaboration benefits your audience and doesn’t compromise your authenticity. Don’t be afraid to decline partnerships that don’t align with your brand, otherwise, you may gain a few extra dollars now, but lose traction with your longer-term goals.

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