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How to Become an Influencer

There are so many people these days that aspire to become a full-time, work-from-home influencer. They see other influencers writing sponsored blog posts, snagging products for free, and getting access to exclusive events, and they want in on the action. But what they don’t realize is that being an influencer isn’t easy. It takes hard work, dedication, and authenticity. If you truly aspire to be an influencer, here’s what you need to know.

Don’t Try to Become an Influencer as a Means to an End

You won’t achieve influencer status if you’re thinking of your content and social persona as a means to an end. If you’re going to start up a fashion blog, or if you want to become the go-to-source for millennial parenting, you need to do it for the sake of doing it. You need to be truly passionate about it. As Igniter and fashion influencer Bruna Camargo recently noted at a forum, she loves to blog for her fashion blog, StyleMile, because she doesn’t have to. It’s purely a passion project for her.

Your social content needs to be a means in and of itself. Listen, I’ll be honest. When my wife and I launched our lifestyle blog, As It Were, I had my mind on the money. But when I brainstormed and wrote blog posts from that vantage point, the content always fell flat. It wasn’t until I let go of the idea that our blog would pad our bank account that our content became fresh, original, and authentic. Instead of tailoring our content to what we thought brands would like, we crafted content that fused our psychological and millennial points of view with a focus on the creative community in Detroit. Before we knew it, we were seeing spikes in traffic and collaborating with Lexus on a new vehicle launch.

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So, don’t start your venture thinking of all the cash money you’ll be raking in. Do it because you passionately believe that you’ve got something to say that’s worth sharing.

Find a Truly Unique Point of View

The influencer world is seriously saturated, and don’t you forget it. That’s not meant to disappoint or discourage you, but know that if you’re going to get any readership and generate interest, you’ll need to be unique.

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Take YouTube, for instance. Lots of vloggers can review Make Up Forever’s latest lipstick, but no one else can do it quite like Grrrcedes, a YouTube influencer who describes herself as “Just a small town cutie with a big city booty. Beauty is a chameleon and I worship at her altar.” Grrcedes isn’t afraid to blend her love of beauty and makeup with her fierce belief that they’re just accessories and self-love is the #1 priority. That message carries through all of her brutally honest videos and her fans absolutely love her for it.

The influencer Kate Arends, creator of Wit & Delight, also found fame when she stopped trying to make her life look perfect online, and just embraced the messy reality of who she is. She decided to write a post, not about how to be happy, but rather about how to throw yourself a proper pity party. Her readers responded positively and, to her surprise, Target took interest and approached her for a collaboration.

To become an influencer, your content needs to convey your outlook and your outlook needs to be one that people can’t easily find anywhere else. That might mean you focus in on a very particular angle, develop a super niche topic, or specialize on a particular geography. However you do it, remember Oscar Wilde’s words,
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

Build a Community, Brick by Brick

Having compelling content and an interesting POV aren’t enough to get you to influencer status. That would be like saying digging out soil and planting bulbs are all you need to grow an amazing garden. Every great garden needs constant tending to. If you tend to your community every single day, you’ll undoubtedly reap the benefits.

Make a habit of building your community each and every day. Whether that means you spend 2 hours a night engaging with people on Instagram and Twitter, or you send Snaps to new fans throughout every single day, you need to pick your strategy and be consistent. Pick your social channels strategically and then focus your efforts on engaging existing fans and bringing new ones into the fold.

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Take things to the next level by meeting social friends IRL. Work on a collaborative post together, meet up at a new restaurant to snap some foodie pics for Instagram, or just chat about shared interests over coffee. These 1:1 relationships will exponentially increase your reach and influence.

Hustle Your Content

There’s nothing worse than putting out amazing content and then feeling like nothing is happening with it. But part of building influence is networking your content. Don’t let it live dormant on your blog, or your YouTube channel, or your Vine. Reach out to people that might be interested in what you’re putting out, engage with them, express interest in what they’re doing, and when the time is right, share your content. Other ideas include offering to write guests posts for other bloggers, and offering to share their work across your largest social network.

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Ultimately, the best way to have true influence is to earn it. That means it’s going to take time, energy, and hard work. But the connections that you’ll develop, the impact that you’ll make, and the successes you’ll enjoy will be well worth it.

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