Being an influencer looks awesome on Instagram. Staying in luxury hotels in the biggest bucket list destinations in the world. Being paid to travel the world. Getting free stuff sent to you and then getting PAID to post on Instagram.
But is being an influencer worth it? What goes on behind the scenes of creating those dreamy Instagram photos?
Here Boost Society is diving into how to become an influencer and what to think about before becoming an influencer. This is what you need to consider before you start the journey to becoming an Instagram influencer.
What Do You Have to Offer?
What is it that you are offering that is different? In this situation, competition is good, but you need to be different and stand out from the sea of influencers doing the same thing and taking the same photo.
If you become one of many, you will grow to about 10K (if that) and then stall out, especially if you are in travel. Personally, I would tell anyone starting out now to stay out of travel. Do more lifestyle or fashion or beauty and mix travel in with it.
Travel is an extremely saturated niche right now, and it is hard to get paid collaborations with a smaller following in travel than in other niches. There tends to be less longevity in travel as many travel influencers end up shifting into another niche or becoming more of a lifestyle account as their lifestyle changes.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:
- How am I different creatively?
- How am I going to share my content differently?
- How can I speak to my audience differently?
- What is it about me that will make people want to follow me and then continue following with me and engaging with my content?
- What can I share with my audience to add value to their lives?
These are all things to think about before deciding to become an influencer or taking an influencer course. Otherwise it is a huge let down after you’ve put so much time, energy, and maybe even money into it and gone nowhere.
You’ll start asking yourself why it didn’t work. Well, it’s because you did the same thing everyone else was doing and did not stand out from the crowd.
What is it that is special about you? There is something special and unique about you that makes you equipped to provide value in a way that others are not. Find that and then go for it!
What Makes Your Content Different?
This goes back to what is special about you. Maybe you share the same content everyone else does, but you find a new and unique way to do it. This becomes part of your brand and instantly makes people recognize a post as your post.
The people who maybe aren’t growing the fastest but have the 5-10% engagement rate with a large following aren’t getting those results because they do the same thing everyone else is. They are doing something crazy different or there is something special about their account and the way they shoot.
Examples of Instagram Influencers with Unique Content
Think about people like @tezza. She took a pose that no one else was using and made it her own, starting the #benditlikeTezza movement. The hashtag now has over 5,000 images that have used it. She started a trend that now everyone is doing.
@paigearminta is another influencer who found new and creative ways to deliver content. Every image has a behind the scenes video attached. This helps her audience see what went into getting the shot.
Boost team members @explorerssaurus_ also found a creative way to deliver content. Their feed features beautiful travel couple photos, but each post typically comes with a video. These videos are often places into a Polaroid frame and show either a cute stop motion video of the shoot or behind the scenes of getting the shot.
Not only are the images and videos unique, but they also deliver content in two languages: Portuguese and English. They do have the couple thing going for them as couple images tend to perform well on Instagram, but they have that special something that makes them stand out even among all the other travel couples out there.
As an individual (or couple if you are doing this with a partner), what is special about you? Everyone has something, whether they know it or not. Find that something that makes others want to follow you.
Find Your Passions and Your Platforms
Start with your passions. What are your passions and skill sets? How can you provide value to your audience with your content?
Chances are you have an area where you can provide value. Maybe you are great at making people laugh or inspiring them. Maybe you have knowledge about an area that people would find interesting.
Don’t be afraid to try something no one else is doing. It might be what sets you apart and helps you grow your community.
While you are finding your passions, figure out what platforms you want to focus on. Yes, Instagram is the big thing right now, but that doesn’t mean Instagram has to be your focus (if it is, check out these Instagram tips!).
I recommend trying TikTok first. There is still a ton of organic growth on the platform, so you can grow a following there much more quickly than on Instagram. Plus, there is a lot more freedom in the type of content you put out there on TikTok. Find out more about why you need to be on TikTok here.
Don’t forget about a blog either. Spend as much time on your blog as your do on social media. Give free information to your audience to keep bringing them back for more.
See how you can mix and match platforms to find the best fit for your. Maybe you love video – start with shooting and editing a video for YouTube. Later you can use that same video to create Instagram posts and even a blog post. If you love writing, start with writing a blog post or your Instagram captions.
You don’t have to have a big, fancy set up or travel the world to be a YouTube influencer either. It might be you in your room talking to the camera. What you say in the video later becomes content for other channels. Maybe the video itself even gets shared on other platforms.
Think about the knowledge you have. How can you share that knowledge with the world? How can you share creatively on TikTok or YouTube through video or on Instagram through pictures and captions and stories? What do you want to be known for on social media?
If you are sitting there and have no idea, wait until you figure it out. Work on something else for now. If you dive in before you are ready, six months from now you will have invested time, energy, and money but have very little to show for it.
You’ll be tempted to blame anyone who gave your free or paid advice. The real reason is that you did the same thing as everyone else. Find your own way to be you on social media.
It’s unfortunate. If you got in at the beginning, you could do well because there was so little competition. That’s not the way it is now. The same photos everyone else is taking won’t make you stand out enough to really make it.
Find Your Why (Because It Isn’t as Easy as It Looks)
Take a deep dive into yourself before starting this journey. Don’t try to be an influencer just because you want to be an influencer and don’t want to work a 9 – 5 job. That’s now how it goes.
There is grunt work. There are long hours. It’s lonely. It can be depressing. It is very numbers driven whether it should be or not. Plus, it can easily be smashed apart like it is with the pandemic right now hurting many in the industry.
You have to have the stomach, the brain, and the heart for it. Give it your all for a full year. I’m talking early mornings, late nights, whatever you have to do to be present, engage, and give it everything you’ve got. If you do that and it doesn’t go well, at least you know you tried.
No matter what, you’re going to learn something from it to take with you into the next part of your journey. Maybe you’ll meet someone or learn something or gain a new skill, but you’re going to learn something.
Plus, maybe you’ll find that Instagram wasn’t the platform for you. Maybe your YouTube takes off and you decide to focus on that. Maybe your blog goes crazy and you focus your time and energy there instead. You may even find a whole new career path by building your own business.
You need to have a heart to heart with yourself about whether you are just excited about the potential (who doesn’t want an all expenses paid trip to the Maldives?) or whether you can really grind it out (long days of shooting vs. laying on the beach).
The Reality of What It Is Like to Be an Influencer
It’s not all sunshine and flowers and free trips and paid posts. The majority of the time, being an influencer is hard and lonely. Most people will not understand what you do or why you do it. It’s not like a more “normal” job where you have coworkers you see all the time to vent and get encouragement from.
You have to be on all day, every day and be on social media every day. This can take a toll on you and on your mental health. Because it is so numbers driven, it is easy to get caught up in the numbers and place your worth on those numbers.
Even people I met and started working with two years ago have completely changed. I’ve seen them get beat up by Instagram. They have changed and revolutionized themselves, but it wasn’t an easy journey.
You have to be prepared mentally to be an influencer. This isn’t a walk in the park like the world and the media often portray it. Keeping a positive mindset can be difficult.
Now, with celebrity influencers who were already celebrities, it is probably easier. They likely already had money or get huge offers, so they can pick and choose what they want to take on.
If you are starting from 0 and building from there, it’s a whole different story. If being an influencer is your only income, you don’t have the same freedoms.
For example, if you are a travel influencer, you have to travel to make money. Even if something comes up or you just want to stay home and relax or really take an actual vacation, if an opportunity comes up for paid work, you have to take it to earn an income.
Plus, vacation is no longer actually a vacation. It might look like it on social media, but you aren’t seeing all the work these influencers put in behind the scenes.
Even as an influencer manager, I had no idea until I went to Egypt with some of our Boost team in 2019. They put a lot of stress on making their content great so that their audiences love it as much as possible. They rely heavily on giving amazing content and advice since their whole business revolves around this.
It might look like it’s all relaxing in luxury hotels and jetting off to bucket list travel destinations, but influencers work long hours on those trips. When the weather is good, they have to take advantage of the conditions to shoot their content. When the weather isn’t so good, they are inside writing, editing, posting, etc.
Plus there are long days of cramming in as much as possible to see the destination and staying up late to post at the best time for their audiences. Even when they get home, they have to deliver content and prepare final reports.
Oh – and the most important part – they have to get paid. It might sound simple, but if they don’t have a manager, sometimes they are chasing down brands to get payment once they have delivered everything. It isn’t as streamlined as a “regular” job where the paycheck lands in your account a couple of times a month.
Things to Think About Before Becoming an Influencer
To wrap it all up, here are some things to think about before becoming an influencer (you can pin it or save it to remember later) – and don’t forget to get my FREE pitching guide below!
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For more Influencer tips, check out these posts:
- 14 Things to Influencers and Content Creators to Work on When at Home
- Money Talk: When to Charge, How, and How Much
- Influencer Marketing Explained
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