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How To Become An Instagram Influencer The Right Way In 2021

By: Viral Nation | 7 mins read |
Social media influencer Rachel Brathen is sort of famous. Some of you may have heard of her. Some of you perhaps not. But despite not exactly being a household name, her ability to cash in from her social content has been incredible. Brathen - a Forbes Top Influencer in 2017 - is known to charge upwards of $25,000 for a single Instagram post. Of course, Brathen isn’t alone. There is a bevy of others just like her who are making a successful living out of being an Instagram influencer. Instagram is a powerful platform that carries massive value for brands. And the hyper-growth we are witnessing in the popularity of Instagram influencers may have you considering a similar career choice. In this article, we'll share some tips on how to become an Instagram influencer and start making money through brand partnerships. Let it be known: there's no easy way to become an influencer, and Instagram monetization is no simple task. But this guide will get you started and moving in the right direction.

1. Choose A Niche You’re Passionate About

To become an Instagram influencer, finding a niche that suits your personality is the first step. This needs to be something. Something in which you’re passionate about and have a good deal of knowledge and interest. But remember, just because someone else is doing something and is successful, doesn’t mean you should too. For example, lots of people who post about fitness on Instagram tend to have more followers. Let's say you don’t have the slightest interest or expertise in fitness. Should you too start doing the same and posting about fitness? Of course not, because you are out of your element. Contrary to the old saying, when it comes to social media, you can't 'fake it 'till you make it'. That's why you need to pick a niche that you’re genuinely passionate about. Maybe you love food and enjoy cooking. Or perhaps you’re great at DIY projects. Your Instagram posts should reflect whatever truly interests you and is ingrained into your lifestyle. Not just random pictures and videos that inadequately narrate your life and interests. Your niche can even be a combination of different things, as long as they’re not random. Lifestyle and culture influencers who may have many different niches, all still have a fluid brand that aligns with their content.    

2. Compose A Top-Notch Bio

Ok, so now you have decided on your niche. The time has come to start fine-tuning your Instagram account. First and foremost, you need to focus on is creating a bio that immediately grabs people’s attention. This is your first opportunity to tell your story in a way that engages people, and hopefully create interest and intrigue for your content. Remember, it’s likely one of the first things that potential followers (and brands) see on your account. So if you want to become an Instagram influencer, your bio must be noteworthy. Influencer and travel blogger Helene Sula has a compelling and attractive Instagram bio. Two things she does great with optimizing her bio is: In the name field, she has cleverly included “travel blogger,” so that her profile shows up for such searches. In her bio, she tells her story of how she moved to Germany to explore Europe, leaving everything behind to embark on this new adventure. Everything except for her dogs and her husband, of course. This type of dialogue tells a story before users have even begun to digest your content, in turn, leading them to begin viewing your content and growing a relationship with you.

3. Share Your Stories

To elaborate on what we touched on above in #2, if you think you can become an Instagram influencer just by sharing photos, you're in for a rude awakening. The need to tell stories with your content goes far beyond the bio section of your account. The captions you use on those photos are as JUST important as the photos themselves. In 2019, that is truer than ever. Use your captions to tell your stories and connect with your followers on an emotional level. This is an ideal opportunity to give them a reason to trust you, follow you, and engage with you. Engaging your audience is paramount. But doing so genuinely is most imperative. Social media users easily see through those who are disingenuous or 'clout chasers'. Followers who develop a devout relationship with an influencer do so because they feel as if they have a genuine connection with them. So always share your personal stories in a way that your audience finds both interesting and authentic.

4. Create An Appealing Feed/Grid

If it wasn't for the importance of the top 3 of this list, this one would have been even higher up. It's all but a pre-requisite if you’re seeking to become an Instagram influencer. Your photos must be visually-appealing, yes. But they also must adhere to an overall theme and flow. So all of your photos in the feed should look good against one another. Many Instagram influencers follow a particular style of editing their photos so that the color or composition is uniform. Tools like VSCO or Lightroom are popular and effective for editing your photos with uniformity. Of course, you can also just use the built-in filters on Instagram. But regardless of what processes or programs you use to edit your content, always make sure that your photos are taken in high-resolution with plenty of light, to make them look as professional as possible.

5. Consistently Post Content

Posting content consistently is another crucial prerequisite in becoming an Instagram influencer. Most influencers on Instagram post daily. But as social media usage grows, so does the volume of posts we typically see from influencers. Many of them now post a few times in a day, often utilizing Stories to stay top of feed - and top of mind. Increasing your content posting frequency can boost engagement rates. But more than just posting more often, posting more high-quality content should always remain the priority. So build your content cadence around your volume and ability to create high-quality content. However, once you decide what your posting schedule needs to be, choose wisely. The reason? Consistency is key. That statement pertains to many aspects of life, and none more accurately then it does to social media. Your content cadence needs to be something you can stick to. Setting a lofty or unrealistic goal to which you cannot adhere will only hinder your momentum. Social tools like Buffer, Planoly, Preview, or Ripl can help you stick to your schedule. These platforms allow you to create your content in advance and set the dates and times for posting, allowing your content to get posted automatically.  

6. Get A Business Account

If you really want to become an Instagram influencer, you have to be about your business. And there's no better way of doing this than having a business account on the platform. So what are the benefits of switching to a business account? The first and most powerful benefit is that with a business account, you get access to insights. You’ll not only be able to see not your follower demographics, but also which posts are getting better engagement. You will also be able to see the days and times which give you the best engagement, how your content was discovered and consumed on the platform, and other important information needed to fine-tune your efforts to be most effective. Follower demographics are crucial when it comes to pitching to brands for collaboration. Brands want to know the details in terms of metrics associated with your social influence to determine if you are the right fit, and will produce the results they desire. Food for thought. The other huge advantage you get with a business account is the ability to run ads. You can promote your posts to boost visibility and engagement. And frankly, in today's social media landscape, cutting through the noise and standing out almost requires some form of paid media to get the ball rolling on attaining viewership on the platform.

7. Utilize Hashtags - The Right Ones

Although frowned upon in some circles, hashtags are important because they enable your content to be found by other Instagram users. And when you are just starting out and trying to build an audience, you need to get your content out there to potential followers. Hello, hashtags! The term - and practice - is synonymous with almost every form of social media use. Instagram allows you to use a maximum of 30 hashtags on a photo. If you are just starting out, we say use them all. You are trying to garner visibility, so you need the exposure. So what kind of hashtags should you choose? Contrary to popular belief, hashtags with high search volumes aren’t necessarily good for you. High search volumes imply high competition and saturation. Meaning the chances of your post being discovered using those hashtags is are about the same as finding a needle in a haystack. Instead, choose hashtags that have decent search volumes that maximizes your chances of appearing in the top posts. Hashtags varying in search volumes in the area of 10,000 to 1 million seems to be a good starting point. Enough to have viewership, but not so saturated and competitive you have no chance to emerge from the heap. Any hashtag with more than a million is likely going to present a steep hill to climb.

8. Creatively Leverage Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are probably the biggest thing right now on Instagram. It's no longer a bandwagon, it's a runaway train. So much so that more than 200 million Instagram users are using them every day. This makes them a perfect weapon to grow your follower count and gain visibility. Users who aren’t your followers can discover you from your Instagram Stories. By adding hashtags or location to Stories, you become discoverable to more people on the platform. And for users with over 10,000 followers, you can include a “swipe up” option to an outbound link, which is ideal for directing people to a call-to-action. Tagging others on your Stories and giving shout outs to people (and brands) can also help boost your visibility. It's also a great way to build relationships and engagement, which leads us to #9.

9. Engage With Authenticity

Engagement is one of the most important factors to help you become an Instagram influencer. Social media is all about people and how you engage with them.  When someone comments on your photos, make sure that you reply to them. Also, return the favor by liking and commenting on their content.  

10. Last But Not Least...Never Buy Followers!

This is a rookie mistake, but one that is still made even today. Paid followers are no good to you. If you want to become an Instagram influencer and make money, organic is the only way to go. Plain and simple. Paid followers are nothing but detrimental to your growth because these fake followers won’t be engaged enough with your content. So your follower count will increase, yes. But your increase in engagement won't align with that growth. This affects your engagement rate big time. And engagement rates are a core metric for Instagram influencer networks and brands in determining whether or not to collaborate with you.

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_About the author
Viral Nation

Viral Nation is a new media innovation group that powers the social ecosystem through integrated solutions that align strategy, talent, media, and technology. As pioneers in the influencer space, Viral Nation is comprised of a full-service creative agency, a creator and athlete-influencer representation agency, and a technology division creating modern marketing solutions for the social media age.