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Media & Marketing

Career insights: Become an Influencer


What do you picture when you think of the term’ influencer?’ A ‘Momfluencer,’ sharing her tips for school lunches and parenting? A ‘Cleanfluencer’ showing off household tidying hacks? A ‘Travelfluencer’ jetting off all over the globe? Or maybe you have an image in your mind of someone like Kylie Jenner, poised and posed with a sponsored product in her hand.

Like it or not, influencers have a lot of power in today’s online world. They help build brands, promote social causes, and have plenty of clout regarding trends. You’ve likely purchased something recommended by an Instagram or Facebook account!

The whole phenomenon has become such a big business that entire marketing firms are now dedicated to managing influencers and the brands that use them.[i] Fashion brands, weight-loss products, cosmetics, and travel are all big industries that rely heavily on influencer marketing.

What is an influencer?


Simply put, a social media influencer has a large following on one or more social media platforms. These platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. While certain brands and celebrities have large followings, influencers have a reputation of credibility. People trust their opinions and respect their content choices. Ironically, it is this perceived credibility that allows them to cash in on their followers! They often sell products, either for their brand or for other brands who pay them per post.

As traditional marketing has changed over the past two decades, social media marketing and influencer marketing have become more popular. Today’s consumers are less likely to be swayed by a billboard or radio advert. They want the products and services they see their favourite content creators using.

There are few different types of social media influencers:

  • Celebrities who leverage their fame for followers
  • Macro-influencers who have between 100,000 and 1 million followers
  • Micro-influencers who have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers and often focus on a niche topic

How much do influencers get paid?

When you look at the top 100 Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok accounts, you see tons of big celebrity names. People like Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, and Selena Gomez are undoubtedly huge influencers. However, these people got famous for other reasons, such as music or television shows.

However, plenty of people got started on social media, such as YouTube or Instagram, and then pivoted their success to other ventures.[ii] These influencers include like make-up superstar Huda Kattan, former Vine heartthrob Cameron Dallas, and comedian and magician Zach King. They each have more than 20 million followers on Instagram and have branched out to launch their products and companies. Huda is now worth $510 million USD (owing mainly to her beauty brand), and Zach King and Cameron Dallas are worth around $4 million USD each.

TikTok has changed the game yet again, adding a whole new dimension into the world of online influence.[iii] The app’s biggest stars, such as Addison Rae with 80 million followers and Charli D’Amelio with 110 million, are redefining what it means to be an influencer. They are estimated to be worth $5 - 8 million USD each, but both dancers have multiple products and brand launches in the works. You can expect to see their incomes skyrocket.

Most recently, influencers who also create helpful or entertaining content have started asking for sponsorship on Patreon. Patreon allows fans to sponsor their favourite creators for a few quid each month in return for exclusive content. Many creative influencers earn a ton of extra money from their Patreon patrons – Philip DeFranco has more than 17K patrons.[iv] Even at a modest £2 per month, he’s raking it in on that platform alone. Of course, not everyone has millions of followers and lucrative brand sponsors. However, even if you *only* have 20,000 followers on Instagram, you can start to command a few hundred pounds per post. If you are a YouTuber, you can monetise your channel and earn around £5 per 1000 views.

The Pros & Cons

There are plenty of pros to being an influencer, including the opportunity to travel and live an international lifestyle.

  • You can work from anywhere in the world and make money doing what you love.
  • Many brands will send you free products and services to review.
  • You get the accolades and admiration of your peers.
  • You could achieve high levels of fame and even work in film and television as a result.
  • You could launch your own products and brand.
  • You can earn a lot of money for doing what makes you happy.

However, don’t be too seduced by the idea of easy money and quick fame. Becoming an influencer is often a long slog that requires a lot of time, energy, and money.

  • You have to deal with trolls and haters tearing you down.
  • It costs a lot for the microphones, lighting, and cameras needed, not to mention setting up an enviable lifestyle.
  • You can face a lot of scrutiny for your content.
  • There’s a ton of competition – it’s hard to stand out and gain a following.
  • Your posts have to be of consistently high quality.
  • You need to post regularly and not take long pauses between posts.

How to become an influencer


So, do you think you have what it takes to become an influencer? Follow these steps to build your social media following.

  1. Choose your niche


    While some influencers showcase their entire lives (or at least what they want their followers to see), most niche down into a specific area. Maybe you want to show off your travels, your local foodie scene, or your personal fashion and grooming routines.

  2. Choose a platform


    There are plenty of social media platforms out there, but only a few are successful for influencers. Namely, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube are the top choices.

  3. Post high-quality content


    Your photographs and videos need to be extremely high quality to attract the attention you need to become successful. People want to immerse themselves in your life and live vicariously through you – your photos are part of the illusion. Online photography courses can help you develop the skills you’ll need to take, edit, and post stunning posts.

  4. Be consistent and disciplined


    To succeed on social media, you need to post fresh, original, and interesting content. If you have long lapses between posts, you’ll soon lose followers. Even when you don’t feel like creating, editing, posting, and promoting content, this is your job. You’ve got to be consistent!

  5. Listen to your followers


    Your followers wait for your posts with bated breath. You need to strike a fine balance between posting what you want and what they Ideally, these two things will overlap! Take requests and pay careful attention to their comments – they’ll let you know what you want to watch.

  6. Promote your content


    Don’t spend tons of time creating unique content only for no one to see it. If you are posting on Instagram or TikTok, ensure you master the use of hashtags. Use relevant, location based, and niche hashtags to generate more engagement.[v] If you are posting on YouTube, promote your posts on other social media channels and in your blog.

  7. Collaborate with others


    Followers love to see their favourite influencers collaborating on posts together. Not only will you get a lot of engagement, but you will also be introduced to a whole new audience.

  8. Host contests and giveaways


    People love prizes! When you run a contest or giveaway, ask people to follow your account and share your contest post on their own profile. You’ll be amazed at how many new followers you can gain this way!

  9. Respond to your followers


    We already covered listening to your followers, but it’s equally important to respond and engage with them. People are much more likely to follow you and promote your profile if they feel like you genuinely care about their support. Show them that you care by thanking them, engaging in the comment section, and giving their comments a ‘like.’

  10. Approach brands


    Once you have reached a few thousand followers, you can start approaching brands and businesses with a track record of social media sponsored content. You can also approach an agency like Tribe that will help you get those paid ads you desire. Over time, brands will start to approach you. Remember – your fans will not like it if you post too many sponsored ads, so pepper them in amongst your regular content.

Is the influencer lifestyle right for you?

Now that you know how to become an influencer, does it still sound fun and glamourous? If so, it’s time to brush up on your photography skills, learn to write good captions, build a long list of followers, and start promoting yourself to brands. Good luck on your journey!