When you look at the Instagram ‘rich list’, you see celebrities like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Kylie Jenner charging nearly a million dollars for every post they write about their sponsors on Instagram.
The reason these celebrities are able to charge so much is less about their Instagram influencer status and more about them being popular celebrities in general.
The rest of us on Instagram are never ever going to be able to command such high prices mainly by virtue of our Instagram following. However, there are plenty of Instagram influencers who have been able to quit their day jobs and pursue their mini-celebrity status full-time.
In this article, I am going to take you through a very solid step-by-step plan that can help you become an Instagram influencer from scratch.
That’s right – you do not need an existing following on Instagram to be able to succeed here.
Let’s get started.
Step 1: Sign up for Instagram
I doubt anyone looking up online to become an Instagram influencer does not already have an Instagram account.
But hey, I did promise you that I’ll teach you how to become an influencer on Instagram from scratch.
So, the first step, inevitably, is to get hold of an account.
Once you download the app, you may choose to either sign up with your Facebook account or directly with your mobile phone number or email address.
At this step, you will also be prompted to pick a username. Do so carefully since this will be the handle that you will be promoting.
Here are a few pointers to picking a good username:
The first choice (and the best one) is your full name. There are a couple of reasons why I think it’s the best. First, it gives an air of credibility. The internet abounds with fake profiles and questionable information.
People are more likely to trust something that comes from a real person than claims from someone who hides behind the cloak of anonymity.
We will be discussing picking a niche further down in this article, but if you already have picked a topic, then you could also pick a username that aligns with this topic.
However, this is only a good idea if you also own a website by the same name. This way, you can put elaborate content on the topic on your blog while sharing visuals and other related information on your Instagram profile.
Regardless of what username you pick, make sure it does not come across as spammy or salesy.
For example, if you are Lisa Smith publishing content about yoga, your usernames could be something like @lisasmith, @lisa_smith, @lisayogaqueen or @everythingyoga. But usernames like @_best_yoga_advice or @_yoga_queen__ may not be equally good.
Step 2: Pick a niche
At this point, it is important to note that the success of an influencer is not measured by the number of followers they have.
Well, your follower count indeed matters. But from a business perspective, that is not the primary measure of a good influencer.
Instead, a good influencer is one who enjoys popularity in a very narrow niche.
Here’s why – building a large following is not too difficult. There are plenty of tools online that can help you grow your following.
The problem here is that you are not the only one using such tools to grow your Instagram following. Plenty of other people is doing the same too.
When a business wants to rope in Instagram influencers to market their product, they tend to go with those users whose audience tightly aligns with your target group.
Otherwise, they may end up spending money on an audience that has no intention to convert.
So, how do you pick the right niche? Here is a quick guide.
The niche you pick must have plenty of competitors vying for buyer attention. Marketers in such industries tend to experiment with different customer acquisition channels which means they may not be too afraid to spend money on something like Instagram influencers.
Product is WOM-driven
When was the last time you checked online reviews from other buyers before ordering a ball of cotton, or corn?
Commodity products do not need reviews. They are literally the same regardless of who or where you buy from.
The niche you pick must-have products that can be described visually and elicit customer interest in product reviews (word of mouth).
Beauty products, home decor, and automobile accessories are all good examples of products where a buyer may be interested in watching elaborate product reviews before buying a product.
More importantly, from an Instagram perspective, these products need to elicit impulse purchases from the buyers. Influencer marketing may not be ideal for planned purchases.
Not too many influencers
There are a ton of beauty Instagrammers. That’s a problem of plenty for businesses looking to hire influencers.
But for you, the influencer, too many fellow influencers in your niche only means that you are not a rare commodity.
Pick a niche where there are not too many influencers already. This way, there are not enough of you already which means that businesses are ready to pay a premium to hire you for a campaign.
Step 3: Learn photo/video editing
One of the basics to earning a good following on Instagram is to be good with photos and videos. Sure, Instagram does provide you with basic tools like filters and captions. But in order to stand out from other Instagrammers, you need to learn to capture good photos and videos.
Step 4: Publish Consistently
The key to becoming a successful Instagram influencer is to publish content consistently. There are a couple of reasons why.
Firstly, your followers are not all online at the same time. Publishing content throughout the day lets you reach followers at different times of the day.
Secondly, the Instagram algorithm takes a number of different factors into account while deciding the visibility of your posts. This includes post recency (how fresh your content is), post engagement (how well your post is received by the first few people looking at it), and past interactions (how well were your earlier posts received by the specific follower).
When you post consistently, you take care of content freshness. Also, it gives you an opportunity to experiment with different types of content, and hashtags, and also know when your Instagram followers are most active.
While at it, also experiment with the different kinds of content that Instagram has to offer. Some kinds of content work well as Instagram Stories. Others work well as Reels. Try out the different content types to see what your followers enjoy. Keep experimenting.
Step 5: Grow a Following
At this point, you have the entire setup ready to start becoming an influencer. The only thing stopping you is a lack of followers. Targeted followers, that is.
There are plenty of articles online that teach you the exact tips and tricks that you need to succeed here. Here is a short guide on how to do this.
- Follow other users in your niches. If you have picked a very small niche for your Instagram account, start by following accounts in the broader niche or shoulder niches. For example, if you post content about hairstyling, you could not only follow other hairstyling Instagrammers but also beauty vloggers and people talking about makeup, skincare, etc.
Also, follow all the hashtags relevant to your niche.
- Engage with their content. Make helpful observations and tips in the comments. The ideal way to do this is by prefacing your comments with a sentence about what your Instagram account is about. Going back to the example of hairstyling, you could comment on a post about hair care with a comment like
“I’m a hairstylist and I talk a lot about this specific advice on my Instagram account.” –
You could follow it up with some more helpful advice that the original poster may have missed. This way, you establish yourself as an expert and get people to check out your account.
- Once you have grown your account to a few hundred followers, start collaborating. Partner with other accounts of similar sizes in your broader or shoulder niches and share a shoutout about each others’ accounts on your Instagram profile.
Pro-tip 1: Do not simply announce their account. Share something useful from their post and then tag them within the post. Also, seek the same from the collaborator. This increases click-throughs and following.
Pro-tip 2: If possible, designate a specific day and time for collaborations. For example, Tuesdays at 2 PM. This way, your followers know to expect a shoutout to another account and may not lose interest in your posts simply because they don’t enjoy this kind of content.
You will just need to follow the above steps on a consistent basis for several weeks or months for you to gain traction and start seeing an organic spike in followers for your Instagram account.
Step 6: Open for business
At this point, you already have thousands of followers on your Instagram account. A four or five-digit follower count may be impressive depending on the niche you have picked.
In some cases, you will need to work more and grow your targeted following to six digits at least before seeking good influencer marketing offers.
There are three things you need to do in order to find successful offers.
Set up a bio
The bio sets the tone for what your Instagram account is all about. Truth be told, you may have required a great bio from the beginning.
But regardless of what your bio read until now, you will need to reword to make it interesting for your potential sponsors.
The best Instagram bios talk about two things: what your account is all about, and how potential sponsors can reach you.
A lot of businesses trying to find suitable influencers on Instagram still do it the old-fashioned way – via Google Search. A great bio will help them find you with the right keywords.
Giving them an email address or website contact form is a great way to be contacted directly. While your Instagram DMs work too, you may potentially lose their message if you already receive DMs from tons of regular users as well.
Showcasing an email or website contact form is the best way to make sure you see every potential campaign offer that comes your way.
Switch to a Professional account
If you haven’t already done this, now is a good time to switch your account to a business profile (AKA Professional account). In doing so, you get access to several analytics features that a potential sponsor may want to look at before hiring you for their influencer marketing campaign.
Switching your account to a business profile is easy and can be done in a few steps. You will need a Public profile and also may need a Facebook Page associated with your Instagram account. Connect your Instagram account to this Page and voilà, you are done.
Partner with Influencer databases
There are several influencer database companies online that businesses subscribe to. The job of these database companies is to build a long list of potential influencers across different industries that a business may be interested to work with.
Some of these companies also work as middlemen between the business and the influencer in setting up the influencer marketing campaign.
Write to these influencers and share your profile to be included in their databases. In most cases, it costs nothing. As a matter of fact, if you are already gaining a lot of traction with your Instagram account, chances are that your account is already a part of their database.
This way, when a potential advertiser is interested in hiring an influencer, your profile may be recommended to them by these database companies.
In conclusion – be patient & consistent
Reading this article, it may seem like becoming an Instagram influencer is quite simple and easy to do. That’s because it really is. What separates you from the rest is how patient you are, and also how consistently you can churn out content – even in the early days when you do not have a lot of followers.
Getting the first hundred or even thousand followers may be the hardest part of becoming an influencer. And it is here that a lot of people quit.
Dedicate a couple of hours of your day every day to publish top-quality content and follow these steps mentioned above to find success as an influencer.