Every day when I look at my phone in the morning I see stories about people making large sums of money from creative business ideas and side hustles. Many boast about making 6 and 7-figure annual earnings without making a huge amount of investment or time. Many of them seem too good to be true but there are many genuine cases out there. What most have in common is they have developed an online audience for whatever they are selling or promoting. Many have become Influencers in their chosen niche. So what are Influencers and could you become one too, to monetise your business idea or side hustle? Let’s look further into how to build an online following to make money.
The Age Of Influencers
● In years past, you had to have a celebrity profile to be considered an influencer. Then the internet, social media and smartphones came along and changed everything. Now, anyone can build an audience and become an influencer.
● You don’t have to be famous or attractive. You just need to know how to create content that interests people. The beauty of the internet is that it allows people to find others like them, with similar interests. Within every tribe, there are influencers.
● Of course, this does create a challenge. If everyone can be an influencer, it’s much harder to stand out. It can be difficult to cut through the noise and capture people’s attention. So let’s examine the what, why, and how of becoming an influencer:
What Is An Influencer?
● At a high level, an influencer is someone who has a following and is able to influence that following to do specific things. You don’t have to be Taylor Swift or Cristiano Ronaldo to be considered an influencer. Depending on your niche, you can be an influencer even if you have only 1,000 followers.
● There are 3 main types of influencers:
○ Mega-influencers. These are celebrities with millions of followers.
○ Macro-influencers. These are individuals who, while not exactly celebrities have still built up a large online following.
○ Micro-influencers. These are normal people who have built up an audience in a specific niche and are known for their knowledge of it.
● Most people think about influencers in terms of social media, but the reality is that there are all sorts of ways to be an influencer:
○ Social Media
● If you can build a substantial following on any platform, you can become an influencer that brands want to work with. Some influencers, such as YouTubers and TikTokers, have a very broad audience. Others speak to a smaller, niche group, such as business influencers on LinkedIn.
● If you build up a big enough audience, you can make substantial amounts of money by partnering with different brands. Even if you don’t make much money, there are still perks:
○ Build your reputation
○ Attract new clients
○ Connect with others
Choose Your Niche
● The first step in becoming an influencer is choosing a niche. The niche you choose should be broad enough that you can build a sizable following. If the niche is too small, not enough people will be interested in the content you produce. However, if you choose a more popular niche there may be a lot more competition. It’s therefore important to research the market and strike a balance.
● When choosing your niche, ask yourself these questions:
○ What am I good at?
○ What do I like to do?
○ What problems can I help others solve?
○ What value can I deliver to my audience?
○ What can I offer that no one else does?
○ What are my unique skills?
● Your goal is to find a niche that’s broad enough that many people will care about but narrow enough so that you can stand out. Maybe you’re an enthusiastic cook and could display your talents on your own YouTube and TikTok channels. Perhaps you’re a keen gamer. Then how about setting up your own stream on Twitch and attracting an audience to pay to access your subscriber perks and ad-free viewing?
Define Your Audience
● Knowing your audience allows you to create content that is valuable to them and will add value to them. If you don’t have clarity on your audience, you may end up creating irrelevant content, which will hamper you from attracting followers.
● To help you define your audience, think through these questions:
○ What is their age range?
○ What are their hopes and dreams?
○ What do they fear?
○ What motivates them?
○ What do they want out of life?
○ What are their biggest struggles?
○ Who do they look up to?
○ Who do they dislike?
○ Whose opinions influence them?
○ Where do they go for information?
● Facebook Audience Insights can also be useful when it comes to understanding your audience. Another way to get insights into your audience is to join relevant online groups (like Facebook groups) and pay attention to what people in the groups discuss.
Pick Your Platform
● You may think that you should try to be present in as many places as possible, but you’ll end up getting spread too thin. Choose one or two primary platforms where you will focus the majority of your attention. The platform you choose should be in line with the type of content you produce.
● If you aren’t sure which platform to choose, think about your audience. Where do they spend most of their time? What platform do other influencers in your niche use?
● In addition to choosing a primary platform, choose a supporting platform where you will share smaller pieces of content. Try to use your supporting platform to drive your audience back to your primary platform.
Make Appealing Social Media Profiles
● When someone visits your profiles, you want to give them a great first impression so that they’ll want to follow you. Here are some simple ways to make your profiles pop:
○ Add a great profile picture
○ Add a cover photo
○ Switch over to a business account
○ Craft a compelling bio
○ Untag yourself from inappropriate posts
○ Pin your best content
● Depending on the platforms you choose, there are some other ways you can spice up your profiles. For example, YouTube allows you to add an introductory video to your channel. Take advantage of these additional options.
Map Out Your Content
● Mapping out your content will help you know what to publish and when. It will also come in handy if you find yourself creatively blocked at any point.
● As you think through your content, consider your audience. Your goal is to deliver content that is valuable to your audience and allows you to show off your personality.
● Content is valuable to your audience if it:
○ Helps them solve a problem
○ Gives them valuable knowledge
○ Evokes emotion in them
○ Entertains them
○ Makes their life better in some way
● All sorts of content can meet these requirements. Don’t think that you need to create all this yourself. The best influencers also share valuable content created by others.
● If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, there are a number of strategies you can use:
○ Type a relevant phrase into Google and then look at the related searches at the bottom of the page.
○ Answer the Public is another helpful tool for finding content ideas.
○ Type a keyword into Quora and it will show you related questions that actual people have posted on the site.
Publish Your Content
● If you want your content to be seen by as many people as possible, it’s important to post regularly. When it comes to social media, platforms tend to prefer accounts that are active.
● If you’re like most people, the thought of having to log in and post multiple times a week is probably a bit overwhelming. This is where social media scheduling tools can be very helpful. They allow you to schedule your posts in advance and then automatically publish them for you.
● Optimise each of your posts for the platform that you want to publish them on. Ensure that it looks great. Make sure to optimise your posts for mobile devices too.
● Depending on the platform you’re using, you also may want to optimise your posts with hashtags. Hashtags allow your viewers to find posts related to specific subjects that they’re interested in.
Engage With Your Audience
● Engaging simply means interacting with your followers. Influencers who engage get traction faster than those who don’t. In fact, if you’re not willing to regularly engage your audience, you’ll most likely struggle to succeed as an influencer.
● Engagement allows you to build relationships with those in your audience. By replying to comments, answering questions and providing helpful resources, your audience will learn to trust you and will more likely keep coming back.
● Almost every social media platform boosts posts that have more engagement. When they see a post with lots of comments and likes, it’s a signal to them that the content is valuable and that more people should see it.
● Comments on your posts give you more insight into how your audience thinks. You can hear what they want in their own words. You’ll understand more about what drives them and learn how you can better serve them.
Analyse Your Results
● One of the biggest keys to succeeding as an influencer is regularly analysing your results. You’ll want to know what sorts of content resonate most with your audience and get the most interaction. If you hope to work with brands, you must be able to provide them with concrete data.
● Almost every platform offers analytics of some kind that you can use to map your progress. As you evaluate your results, pay close attention to the content that performs best, as well as the comments left by your audience. This information shows you what matters most to your followers.
● If a blog post, video, podcast episode or social media post performs really well, consider making more related content. As you focus on producing more of the content that performs best, you should pick up momentum and your audience will grow faster.
Collaborate With Brands
● The final step in being an influencer is collaborating with brands in exchange for products or money. So how do you connect with these brands?
○ You can wait for brands to reach out to you. If you get big enough, you’ll eventually be noticed by brands who are interested in working with you.
○ If you want to take a more proactive approach, consider reaching out to relevant companies in your niche. When you do this, be very clear about the value you offer to them.
○ A third option is to use an influencer platform. These platforms serve as marketplaces, bringing together influencers and companies interested in collaborating.
You will read stories of Influencers making huge sums from just working an hour or two a day. However, they probably had to work long hours for many years to get to that position. Building an online presence doesn’t happen overnight. However, if you follow the tips in this guide then anything is achievable provided you have a clear objective and are determined to make it happen.