So you're wondering how to become an influencer on social media? Here's what you need to do.

You’ve likely seen online personalities on Instagram promoting products, travelling to beautiful remote islands in Asia, and generating an enormous amount of buzz around themselves.

Perhaps you assume that living their life and becoming “one of them” is as unattainable as becoming a celebrity. You’d be wrong.

With Instagram exceeding a billion users, finding 10,000 people to follow you suddenly sounds much more realistic.

That said, I want to give you a high level look at the 11 steps on how to become an influencer on social media.

1. Niche - choose the right niche, then niche it down

Choosing your niche is step number one. Here, you need to find a topic that you could talk about every single day and not get tired of. Naturally, it’ll be something you’re passionate about.

Once you determine your niche, you need to decide how you can narrow it down. If you select one too broad, you’ll have difficulty standing out. Rather than simply being a fitness influencer, you could focus on bodyweight exercises and ketogenic diets. It’ll allow you to stand out and really build a strong connection with very similar minded followers.

Common niches are:

  • Fashion
  • Lifestyle
  • Fitness
  • Modeling
  • Food
  • Business
  • Travel
  • Technology
  • Gaming

2. Value - focus on your value proposition

This step is often overlooked by people wondering how to become an influencer on Instagram. With the amount of noise on Instagram from your friends, brands, and content creators, you need to do more than just show off what it’s like to be you.

The cold hard truth is that people that don’t know you, don’t care about you – they care about what you can do for them. To be successful, you need to determine how you can provide value to the lives of the people that follow you.

Let me give you an example. Suppose you’re a wife and a mother of two young children. You’re only a couple years into your career and money is a bit tight. You see fashion and accessories as something you’re interested in, but can’t afford to have the style that you sought after.

If this is you, would you rather follow a fashion influencer who posts their luxurious outfits everyday and simply tags the brands in their captions? Or would you prefer to follow the influencer who focuses on sharing tips, tricks, and insider secrets into fashion on a budget. They share what stores they shop from, how they get deals, what apps they use to find coupon codes, and how much their outfits cost. Their brand reviews are honest, they encourage engagement and communication, and they take the time to respond to their followers.

Who’d you rather follow? I think I could take a good guess.

Narrow down on your niche and determine how you can provide value to people struggling for help and answers. Find the hair on fire problem and put it out.

3. Study & read up on your skills and interests

Alright, so you’ve decided on your niche and how you will create value, now what? Well, chances are you aren’t the most experienced expert in your field. You should dedicate time each week to learning and developing your skills and experience if you want to become a paid influencer.

Here are a few great ways to accomplish this:

  • Join and engage with others within relevant Facebook groups
  • Subscribe and post in Reddit
  • Follow similar influencers to you and engage with their content
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Network with others in your field
  • Read books
  • Ask people in your niche what they struggle with

4. Switch to an Instagram business account

Simple and straightforward. If you haven’t already, switch to a business account by going into your Instagram settings.

You’ll be able to improve the appearance of your profile, add contact details, and access valuable account insights. There are no downfalls to having a business account and it makes it easier for brands to contact you.

5. Design your profile appearance

Here, I’m talking about everything that shows up on your profile before your posts. Your display picture, handle, page category, bio, and Instagram Story highlights.

This section takes up 80 percent of the screen that someone sees as they land on your account and is often the deciding factor as to whether or not that “Follow” button is tapped.

Ensure your display picture is a nice, close-up headshot. Your handle should be easy to type and find. Underscores, periods, and numbers should be left out if possible and your page category should be set within your business profile settings.

Perhaps the most important component in all this is your Instagram bio. This needs to say who you are, what you do, and why people should follow you. It’s best to space it out nicely and add something unique and interesting.

Instagram Story highlights are often underutilized. These can be used to showcase your interests, what you’re about, and can even give people a sneak peak into what sort of content they can expect to see from you. Create story highlight covers within Canva to give it an esthetically pleasing look.

6. Determine your feed’s theme

This is a big one. Without an esthetically pleasing feed, filled with high quality imagery and a consistent color scheme, you make it more difficult for yourself to gain followers, increase engagement, and attract brands. To become an influencer on social media, you need to be able to create excellent content.

Taking into account your narrowed down niche and your value proposition, determine what your theme is going to be. Are you going to take a bright imagery approach, where all your content is in front of white or bright coloured backgrounds? Or perhaps a more dark and grungy look with lots of dark browns?

Determine what your theme is going to be and try to incorporate it into every post. We call them “curated feeds.” The influencers who have curated feeds are more sought after than those who simply post whatever they feel like.

You can use apps like UNUM to mock up what your feed will look like. Remember, planning and consistency are key!

7. Find and save Instagram hashtags

It’s not news that hashtags are a big part of how influencers grow their followers on Instagram, but it’s not as simple as choosing 30 of the top hashtags and sticking them in your caption or the first comment of your post.

Select hashtags that have been used between 10,000 and 500,000 times. Most people choose the most popular tags like #fashion, #fitness, #goals. Trouble is, the likelihood of you making it in the top nine posts for those hashtags is next to nil.

By choosing more seldomly used tags, you increase your exposure. Gather a few sets of 30 hashtags and save them on your phone. Each time you upload a post, select one of the groups of hashtags and insert them into the first caption of your post.

8. Develop a consistent schedule

Consistency is a major component needed to grow your follower count on Instagram and become a paid influencer. Too little and you won’t be growing at all. Too much and you’ll annoy people to the point they unfollow you.

The exact amount of posts you should be making depends a lot on your niche and how much value you can bring to your followers on a regular basis. Think ahead – can you see yourself being able to post something valuable every single day? If not, consider either adding another element to your niche, or choose to post less often. You want every post to be fire – posts that don't engage lower your ranks in the Instagram algorithm.

Take a look into your business account’s insights to see when your audience is most active. Aim to post two or three hours before your peak engagement window. This way, you have a few hours to build up steam before you surge into the peak window. If you post late in the evening, you only have a couple hours before engagement drops off dramatically when people head to bed.

9. Engage and grow

One of the best ways to increase the size of your audience is by engaging with others in your niche. Search through the tagged images on the profile of brands in your niche. Leave meaningful comments on the posts and encourage people to follow you.

The important factor here is that you’re not spamming people. You need to provide value in the form of compliments – drop their name, comment on something they’re wearing in the photo, and leave a bit of advice before asking them to follow you.

There are actually a ton of strategies you can use to grow your follower count, some of which I have actually laid out in this video on how to grow your Instagram followers.

10. Attract brands

To attract brands, you’ll need to have the ability to create high quality content, which is one of the key factors in what engagement rate you will garner. If you can combine good content with healthy engagement rates and a lot of followers, you’ll be guaranteeing your success and likely won’t have to do much else to attract brands – they’ll be coming to you. Obviously, this is far easier said than done, so how can you connect with brands early in your journey?

I put together an article on five places to look for your next collaboration, but since you’re still with me here, I’ll give you a synopsis. Although, I recommend giving that article a read once you’ve finished with me here.

To attract brands, you can start with cold outreach through Instagram Direct Message, or simply email. Find brands in your niche by searching for them on Instagram and scanning through the similar accounts function that Instagram has enabled by tapping the down arrow next to an account’s “follow” button. Compile a list in Google Sheets and then begin reaching out.

You can also sign up for influencer marketplaces, which can be easily found through a quick Google search. You’ll also find success by approaching agencies and talent management companies as they benefit from already having an established network of brands running influencer campaigns.

My favourite strategy for attracting brands is often overlooked: local, small businesses. They’re often new to influencer marketing but can afford to pay you a few hundred dollars per month to create content for them and promote their brands. Partner with several of these each month and you’re making a full time income. Even having a few thousand followers is enticing enough to a small business owner.

You’ll likely need to educate them a bit on what influencer marketing is, what’s in it for them, how it all works, and what they can expect in working with you.

11. Develop your influencer skills

There’s a reason some influencers with 10,000 followers are getting paid in long-term sponsorship deals, and why others are not. When I surveyed over thousands of influencers on what their biggest struggle was, guess what the number one answer was by a landslide? They said it was gaining new followers.

When your mentality is follower growth over everything, you will lose. Your focus should be on creating valuable content in engaging and stimulating ways, backed with best practices like niche hashtags, using audience insights, cross-channel promotion, etc.

If you are wondering how to become an influencer on Instagram and it's truly something you’re serious about, you must be willing to put in the time and effort to turn it into something that can earn you more than a 9-5. If you take our course on how to become an influencer, you can achieve that 9-5 income in a fraction of the time. Take a look at our agency’s course on Influencer Marketing, How To Become An Expert & Sought After Influencer. If you liked this guide, I have a ton more in store for you within 22 sections, 100+ lectures, an hours of HD video content.

See you in class!