The ultimate guide filled with good advice on how to become influencer

The small world of social media influence has never been better, and maybe you’ve found an idea that you’re planning to put, or have already put, on the tracks to become an influencer yourself? A YouTube channel, an Instagram or TikTok account, a blog? If so, you’ll find in this article all the information that will help you reach your goals, some tips that will be of great use to you, as well as a list of pitfalls you should absolutely avoid.

What Is an Influencer?

Let’s start by understanding what exactly an influencer is. This term appeared at the beginning of the 2000s with successful bloggers, and today it refers to a person who, through their activities on social networks, has managed to gather a community of fans large enough to have an influence on them. This power now attracts various brands and other commercial companies that want to use this influence to sell their services or products.

For example, a YouTube channel offering content related to computer news and promoting subscriptions to a VPN provider, thus earning a commission in the process, or an Instagram account whose theme is feminine beauty, and which would receive a sum of money from a famous cosmetic brand in order to incite its followers to buy their new face care cream.

If you are present on social networks and regularly follow one or more particular accounts, chances are you have already been subjected to this type of influence. It is, therefore, an advertising medium that has appeared quite recently, but which is constantly growing. There are many reasons for this, but we can explain it by the fact that the price of ad campaigns on Facebook or Adsense is constantly increasing and is therefore becoming less and less cost-effective, but also with the use of ad blockers whose number of users is constantly increasing and which make advertisers lose a lot of money.

Definition of Influencers by Wikipedia Definition of Influencers by Wikipedia

How Do Brands and Companies Choose an Influencer?

Companies never randomly choose the influencers they want to work with and who will serve as their ambassadors, whether it’s for the long term or for a simple “unboxing” (unpacking a product to present it). They make this choice by taking into account several criteria that will help them determine which influencer can best get their message across:

  • The number of subscribers: also called the “reach”, this is obviously one of the first important criteria for them. The more subscribers you have, the more views you can potentially get. This doesn’t mean that brands only work with “big” accounts, but I’ll come back to that later.
  • The engagement rate: This is the index that measures the interactions of the followers of an account on a social network towards a publication. The higher this rate is, the more fans “like”, comment, share, click, and even buy the product or service, so the more receptive they are to messages, the more brands will be willing to consider a collaboration. Hence the importance of having real followers, as I explain below.
  • Positioning: The vast majority of influencers publish around a main niche (fashion, travel, gaming, etc.) and brands will prefer in most cases to work with those whose image is closest to their own. First, because they already know the product or service, often share the same vision and values, but also because the message will be more credible and honest. For example, it is obvious that a fashion brand will not call upon an MMA influencer to sell its new collection of bikinis (although, it may be an idea to explore 😋).
  • Established skills: Brands will more easily call upon influencers who have already shown what they are capable of. Here everything will be analyzed: the quality of production (photo or video), the originality of the presentation, the choice of background music, and even the voice will be important. This is also why it is important to take care of the aesthetics of each aspect of your publications.
  • Geolocation: More than the country where you live, it is the language you speak that will be important here, and this for an obvious reason: The more the language you speak is spoken in the world, the more brands would want to work with you, right? Well, that’s not always true because some brands may find it difficult to communicate about a product or service in a particular country or local community. Even if the language you communicate in is Quechua, Swahili, or Hmong, know that what matters most is the influence you can have on your community.

Nano, Micro and Macro-influencers

There are multiple categories of influencers: nano, micro, macro, and celebrities. As you may have guessed, it is the number of followers/subscribers that determines this status.

  • Nano-influencers: less then 1000 subs – a few tens of dollars per publication, but often paid in products, goodies or vouchers.
  • Micro-influencers: 1000+ subs – between 1.000 and 5.000 dollars per publication.
  • Macro-influencers: 100.000+ subs – up to 10,000 dollars per publication.
  • Mega-influencers: 1.000.000+ subs on average 1 million dollars per publication.
The five types of influencers Illustration from the book Marketing Rebellion

So, is it better to become a macro-influencer to succeed? Not necessarily. Even though macro-influencers like Logan Paul (YouTube) or Huda Kattan (Instagram) generate millions of dollars every year, most micro-influencers manage to make a living just from their activity, some of them very comfortably.

The big difference here is that the fans of micro-influencers feel closer to their “idol”, and the links they build with them are generally stronger, especially because they can communicate more easily with them (I imagine that Cristiano Ronaldo must not be able to exchange much with his 500 million fans on social networks), but also because they consider the influencers human beings and not “demigods”.

And precisely, because of this proximity and this relationship of trust, the rate of engagement of the fans is then much higher, and it is what interests the brands and the companies. The other interest for brands is that micro-influencers are much cheaper than macro-influencers, and above all, they allow companies to target niche markets.

Subscriber and Like Boosters

There are nowadays a lot of services that allow you to artificially inflate the number of subscribers/followers, and this for only a few dollars. I know it’s tempting, especially when you’re just starting out, but I strongly advise against doing this. Why? Because there are very efficient software and techniques to detect it, brands don’t like it at all, and you risk to see your activity “blacklisted”. This will penalize you quite seriously and could even compromise the future of your project.

In most cases, the followers you buy are bots, fake, inactive and ghost accounts, who will never interact with your content and will even unsubscribe after a while. Some services sell real followers who will be active on your channel or your account, but here again, I remain circumspect.

If you are really tempted, do a test with only a few tens of followers, and you will be able to judge by yourself. But above all, avoid buying 10,000 subscribers straight away because you will then be spotted directly.

What Are the Qualities Required to Succeed As an Influencer?

Well, it’s hard to say. When you look closely at the profile of the most successful influencers, you realize that it varies greatly from one individual to another. But overall, we can say that if you are young, good-looking, funny, and have a certain charisma, your chances of success are quite high. This is unfortunately one of the cruel realities of this world, but don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that if you don’t have any of these characteristics you can’t succeed in this field too. There are many other factors (talent, intelligence, area of expertise, etc.) that can also play a role in your success.

But how do you know? Well, all you need to do is have a minimum of common sense and stay coherent. For example, if you want to start a TikTok that talks about sexy lingerie for curvy women, it will probably work differently depending on whether you’re a scruffy man with a dirty look or a rather flirtatious woman with a generous shape. This doesn’t mean that it won’t work, but you have to understand that the reason why influencers are so successful is because the people who follow them like to identify with them and often even like to look like them. Another example, if you want to start a gaming Twitch channel, it’s better to be very talented than to be a “noob” who gets beaten up every minute on the battlefields of “Call of” or “Fortnite”.

If you have any doubts, I simply advise you to go and take a close look at any influencer you particularly like and whose theme revolves around the one you are targeting, to see what you like about them and especially to understand why you follow them rather than someone else. This doesn’t mean that the only way to succeed is to copy what they do, but to improve or even innovate, and why not do something completely different. Success sometimes depends on a small detail that makes all the difference. So, be inventive, original, and put your heart and soul into what you are about to do because it is a long-distance race, even a marathon, that you are about to embark on.

Which Sectors and Themes Work Best on Social Networks?

Even if it is preferable, as I said above, to have a certain talent in a particular field in order to optimize your chances of success, this is not necessarily an essential element. To be convinced of this, you just have to see how some people from reality TV who show a totally insolent fame and yet seem to have an IQ barely higher than that of an oyster. Yes, I know it’s free and mean, but I must admit that I’ve seen so many (at best) distressing or (at worst) pathetic scenes that I’m taking the opportunity to spit my venom at. 😜

This being said, let’s see what the most popular “niches” are:

  • Fitness / Health / Nutrition
  • Beauty / Fashion / Lifestyle
  • Business / Making money
  • Travel
  • Gaming
  • Cooking
  • Pets
  • Arts (photography, painting…)
  • DIY (do it yourself)
  • Technology
  • Social networks and Internet
  • WTF (dramas, provocations, bad jokes…)

These are the most representative but also the most exploited. Fortunately, there are many others, and it is not necessarily because they are less popular that they are less profitable. In fact, it’s quite the opposite because if you manage to find a “niche” less over-represented than those I just mentioned, and if you manage to make a success of it, i.e. to reach a sufficiently high number of followers, you can be sure that you’ll arouse the interest of a lot of people.

There are all sorts of under-exploited niches and a simple Google search will give you access to all sorts of articles about them, but the best thing, once again, is to stick as close as possible to your skills, affinities, passions, etc.

For example, I know a friend’s brother who lives in a remote area of Spain, who humbly lives from cattle breeding and agriculture, and who earns between 2.000 and 5.000€ per month just by showing others his daily life, by sometimes preparing some local recipes, by telling anecdotes and other local stories, etc. As you can see, the niche here is authenticity and “back to the roots”, and it works well for him. The fact that he has charisma and that he manages to capture the attention when he speaks is not foreign to his success, of course.

Which Networks Should You Use?

It used to be simple. Each network had its own specificities, and depending on the content you wanted to offer, the ideal platform was almost self-evident. But nowadays, everyone does just about everything (and sometimes anything): Instagram does TikTok by offering short videos, YouTube does Instagram by allowing images to be displayed, Facebook is now also a video platform like YouTube, etc. So, the best thing, in my opinion, is to get started on as many of them as possible, to quickly spot the ones where it works best, and then to stay focused on those.

But overall, if you’re mostly offering video content, the best is TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram while if it’s exclusively photos, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook will be fine. And then there are other networks that we do not necessarily think of but whose potential is far from negligible such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, or other more local such as Line, Weibo, VKontakte, etc.

Finally, if your target audience is of a particular age group, the choice will be crucial since each of these networks has again its own specificities. For example, TikTok is mostly frequented by young people, even very young, while the audience is older on Facebook.

Age distribution of users for each social network platform. Source : Hootsuite and Gmobal Media Insight

How to Become an Influencer?

I have already explained it a bit above, but in the main steps you need to take are:

  • 1Find a niche, a topic, or a theme that you are passionate about and in which you feel comfortable.

  • 2Create your accounts on the appropriate social networks.

  • 3Work hard to bring quality content as regularly as possible.

  • 4Promote yourself in every possible way: tell your family, friends, co-workers, in comments on other channels/accounts/blogs (but don’t spam), launch small ad campaigns, make friends in the industry and do exchanges (you talk about them and they talk about you) or “guests” (invite them to your place and have them invite you to theirs), etc.

  • 5Interact a lot with your fans/followers. It’s important to build a lasting relationship with people who have decided that you have some interest in their lives (without falling into hypocrisy). So, talk to them, answer their questions, take an interest in them, etc. because they are your new best friends.

  • 6Persevere!!

I insist on this sixth point because, as you can probably imagine, you won’t become a multimillionaire in just a few months. The main thing is to get started and then do everything you can to keep growing linearly, or better yet, exponentially.

And if the number of your subscribers is stagnating, talk to them via Twitter or Discord to ask their opinion on what they want to see, show your content to people you trust and ask them what they sincerely think about it, don’t hesitate to question yourself, try to improve your content, think, innovate, look at what is being done elsewhere, and get inspired by it (but don’t copy and paste), etc., but above all, react quickly. Every subscriber counts!

How Do I Make Money Being an Influencer?

Generally, influencers earn money promoting services or products through their accounts, and for which they earn either a commission on sales or a fixed amount for a fixed term broadcast.

Most of the time it is the companies that have something to sell that will contact you, but feel free to approach companies that might be interested in your account/chain yourself.

Finally, more and more people are making money by selling their own products or services (T-shirts, cosmetics line, personalized items, training, etc.) or create an online store altogether.

Is It Necessary to Go Through an Influencer Marketing Agency?

Yes, there are specialized agencies that can help you gain visibility on social networks, but they also put you in touch with brands and companies looking for your type of profile.

So, is it worth it? Well, from what I’ve read on the web, the answer is “yes”. These agencies can be very useful if you already have a lot of followers/subscribers and you really don’t know how to do it or you are stagnating in finding partnerships. They will generally advise you in a very judicious way but will take a commission in return, which is, however, quite logical.

To go further on this specific subject, I suggest you read this article which lists some of the best agencies in the world, but feel free to do a more localized search if needed.

Some Tips on How to Become an Influencer

Most of the influencers we know today did not become influencers by choice. I mean, it wasn’t their primary goal. It’s often just for fun that they started a YouTube channel, a blog, or even signed up for a reality show. What motivated them, in most cases, was just the desire to live a new experience.

So, it was primarily because they had a motivation that burned like a fire inside them that it worked. This detail is very important because I have the feeling that this is less the case today. What I want to show here is that becoming an influencer can’t be a goal in itself. What matters is that you have the desire to do something you really love, and if possible, to make a living out of it.

The first piece of advice I can give you is to get into what you love to do. Whether it’s creating videos, vlogs or short films, podcasts, writing articles in a blog, or even taking pictures of yourself while traveling around the world, do it with passion, self-sacrifice, and most of all, by working hard and putting your heart into it. If your greatest wish is just “I want to be rich and famous”, there is little chance that it will come true unless you are really talented in a particular field.

With that said, let’s move on to the tips that will help you succeed in this endeavor. I’ve already given you some of them above, but let’s try to structure it all in a more coherent way now. So, here are several points (in bulk) that you should definitely keep in mind throughout the process of creating your project:

  • Choose a theme for which you have a real passion or at least a real interest: I can’t insist enough on this point because you will have to keep your motivation intact for a very long time. If you lose this motivation, your content will suffer, and you risk seeing your audience drop. If you are not sincere in what you do, your followers will feel it quite quickly and will end up losing interest in you.
  • Don’t spread yourself too thin: As marketing experts say, “If you try to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one”. If you want to build a loyal community around your project, it is important that your productions revolve around a central theme. This clear positioning will allow your followers to know exactly what content they will find in your blog/channel/account and, mainly, to federate a solid and loyal community, thus increasing your visibility with potential business partners.
  • Write down ALL the ideas that cross your mind: There is nothing more volatile than an idea crossing our mind. Whether it’s good or bad, write it down in a notebook or on an app on your phone and see what you can do with it later. How many times have I had an idea suddenly pop into my head, only to have it forgotten a few minutes later because I didn’t write it down? Many, no doubt (Damn! Maybe one of them would have made me rich 😁).
  • Define clear objectives: Like any business, before you start, it is important to know where you are starting from, but especially where you want to go. Ask yourself the right questions. Imagine yourself in one month, one year, 5 years… What number of followers/subscribers would you like to reach for each of these steps? How do you plan to get there? What future changes would you like to make to this project? What do you hope to gain from it? All of this will help you develop a solid strategy to reach your goal.
  • Define the type of audience you want to reach: For this, create an avatar. I’m not talking about the profile picture you use on your networks, but the marketing persona (or customer avatar), in the marketing sense of the term. This will allow you to better know who you are addressing and will greatly help you to offer adapted content. This avatar will probably change over time when you’ll be launched and you’ll know your audience better, but it’s a base you can already build on.
  • Organize meetings with your community: This will allow you to get out of the digital frame, to show that you are a “real person”, and especially to reinforce the closeness between you and your fans. For example, you could give them an appointment during a meeting or a convention, during a conference, or organize a contest to win a dinner with you… The possibilities are numerous.
  • Define a budget: Because, yes, if you want to grow quickly, it will cost money. Whether it’s for the purchase of equipment you will need (microphone, camera, computer to edit video or photos, etc.), outsourcing (any service entrusted to a third party such as voice over, video editing, text translation, SN management…), or various advertising campaigns (Google AdSense, FB/IG Ads, etc.). Make a list of the minimum you need to get started, and if you don’t have that budget, find ways to get it.
  • Focus on quality over quantity: In the beginning, you’ll have lots of ideas, and you’ll want to get as many of them off the ground as possible. It’s great to be motivated, but it would be a shame to waste an idea by rushing it. Take the time to develop each of your ideas so that they can be realized in an optimal way. Be sure that your followers will prefer to see you less often but with good quality content.
  • Be regular: Try to propose your content at regular intervals. This will please your audience but also the algorithms of the different platforms you will use.
  • Outsource as soon as possible: Creating content can be quite repetitive and, therefore, tiring. In addition, you may lack certain qualities that would allow you to greatly improve the various contents you propose. For these reasons, I advise you to hire a freelancer when your project starts to become profitable or when your budget allows it. This will allow you to lighten your workload and focus on what you enjoy doing most (not napping, no).
  • Challenge yourself and constantly survey your audience: The biggest mistake you could make is to rest on your laurels once your project is up and running. The “competition” is often very tough in the influencer world, so you’ll need to constantly adapt your content based on what your audience wants but also perhaps other factors such as current events, trends, etc.
  • Innovate: Be constantly looking for new ideas that will appeal to your fans, new original concepts, and anything that will make your project stand out from the rest. So many accounts on social networks seem to publish the same type of content, that it gets boring. So, never stop looking for innovation.
  • Be close to your audience: I’ve said it before, but this is also a point I want to emphasize. Being close to your audience will make them feel unique. Treat each of your fans as if they were your best friend.
  • Monitor the competition: It seems obvious, but it is crucial to understand why and how your competitors are doing better or worse than you. Watch them and build good relationships with them. This is an environment where (as in many others, but especially this one) it is better to have friends than enemies.
  • Don’t do this project if you’re an emotionally fragile person: I’ll talk more about this in the next section.

What Are the Pitfalls to Avoid?

I talked about the “glamour” side of this job in the introduction, but it’s not always true. Unfortunately, there are many cases of influencers who have encountered problems, sometimes serious or even dramatic.

Before going down this road, you should know that, almost inevitably, you will sooner or later be confronted with individuals who are either jealous of your success, or simply malevolent, who will misinterpret or outright distort your words to turn them against you, etc. As you know, the “shitstorm” on social networks is never far away. Here are some tips I recommend you to follow, but I would like to insist on the fact that the relevance of each of them depends on the type of project you want to launch (topic, audience, etc.) as well as your own personality. So, it’s up to you.

  • Avoid controversial topics: Politics, religion, “conspiracy” theories, and any other polarizing topics should be avoided as much as possible. If you don’t follow this advice, expect your comment section to quickly turn into a battlefield. It can be very violent.
  • Don’t expose too much of your private life: I know it’s not easy when you’re an influencer, but it’s crucial in order to protect yourself in case of problems. Never reveal your real name (find a nice nickname) or private information about yourself (or as little as possible). Anything you reveal can be exploited by anyone who is malicious towards you. And keeping a part of mystery can be very attractive too.
  • Be careful about who you associate with on social networks: Avoid as much as possible befriending people with questionable or troubled personalities. I say this in a very general way and it is of course up to you to choose your friends, but just know that “toxic relationships” can have an impact both on your reputation and on the health of your business.
  • Be careful about the partnerships you accept: Avoid promoting miracle products or notorious scams, even if the potential financial gains are significant.
  • Give up if you are emotionally fragile: Here I put a reminder with a big red warning because cases of harassment leading to suicide are not rare. And if you decide to go ahead, surround yourself with people you can confide in and NEVER stay alone with your problems.

The world of social networks (and the Internet in general) is unfortunately not the world of “Care Bears”, made of tolerance, love and kindness. Even if, I’m sure, it will often be the case, it is above all a world where the inhabitants (the Internet users) have no filter and are sometimes completely uninhibited. When they are happy they are often both euphoric and overjoyed, but the opposite is also true. Haters often have no limits and have a sense of impunity thanks to their anonymity. They can do a lot of damage, be warned.

Knowing how to react to this kind of harmful individual is a vast subject that I can’t cover here. That’s why I recommend you read this excellent blog post which, I think, covers the various facets well. And if you want to know more about the dangers of being an influencer, this article should also interest you.

Conclusion

We sometimes hear that before children wanted to become astronauts or doctors, and that now they just want to become famous. It’s true that when for example we look at Kim Kardashian, who started from nothing and having no particular talent, except maybe her charisma (and her generous forms), reached such a high level of notoriety and wealth, we can understand that some people see her as a model to follow. We can agree or disagree with that, but the model works, and even rather well for some.

However, we must be realistic. Every day, there are newcomers who try their luck on the different platforms, and if some of them manage to make a living out of it, the majority give up after a few months because they haven’t found a big enough audience. The reasons for this failure can be multiple:

  • Little or no interesting content
  • Lack of rigor, consistency, perseverance, or simply ambition
  • Choice of an already overexploited niche
  • Lack of originality
  • Lack of charisma
  • Poor production quality

In many people’s minds, being an influencer is about making money just by being famous on the networks. This may be true if you have enough money to hire people to do all the work for you, but if not, be prepared to work hard, to spend hours taking care of the smallest details of your project and later of each of your productions, to acquire the skills required to deliver quality work (video editing, photo shooting, sound recording, lighting, etc.), as well as all the other facets of this profession, and never stop learning more. Only then will you be able to reach your goal.

And above all, pay attention to your mental health. Don’t let yourself be impressed by a few trolls who would try to ruin your life on the networks, take a step back, surround yourself with good people who will give you their unfailing support. This is one of the essential conditions if you don’t want to sink into a nervous breakdown, as it already happened to others.

Good luck to you (because, as you will see, you will need it too).

I’ll end this article with this video from ABC Nightline, which I find quite interesting.

This article could be completed or improved with your help. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any question, a relevant remark, a feedback, additional information or spotted any error.Go to comments

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