Do you catch yourself being glued to Instagram? Do your followers (on your private or public profile) love your post and stories? Thinking of becoming an Instagram Influencer? In this article, we look at all the steps it takes in learning how to become an Instagram influencer so that you can build a large and engaged number of followers using your platform and allow brands to approach you for advertisements, promotions and even paid partnerships. 

Before we understand how to become an Instagram influencer, let’s look at who an Instagram influencer is. 

How To Become An Instagram Influencer

Who are Instagram influencers?

Influencers are content creators on Instagram who build communities across the social tool. Being a visually rich platform, Instagram calls for the most visually dynamic content for better performance (likes, shares, saves). As a content creator or influencer, you will use Instagram to promote your passion for travel, beauty, fashion, food, fitness, lifestyle, celebrities, photography, and more. 

Influencers with attractive photos and videos gain more followers, but those with genuine photos and honest information are much loved and appreciated by their followers too. This way you can get more customer retention through a loyal base. Brands love that you accrue an audience and today, pay handsomely to social influencers. Influencers also get paid on the basis of “per post” on Instagram. Such influencers don’t just have thousands of followers in their account, they must have a much larger group. Only then can you exert impeccable influence on audiences who are keen on consuming the content and product you offer. 

Influencers who have less than 5,000 followers are called nano-influencers. Micro-influencers have more than 5,000 but less than 30,000 followers. Influencers who have over 500,000 followers have higher benefits on Instagram. 

How large is the market?

  • Almost a third of Americans who earn more than $75,000 a year use Instagram, according to a study conducted by Pew Research Center.
  • Also, Instagram’s data revealed that more than 80 percent of accounts on Instagram follow some form or the other businesses or brands, and over 200 million Instagram users visit business profiles every day.
  • The research states that Instagram is most commonly used by young adults—roughly 59 per cent of people aged between 18 and 29 have an Instagram account. 
  • However, a third of adults earning more than $75,000 are most likely the people that big brands want to target.
  • This makes it a very lucrative market for those looking to learn on how to become an Instagram influencer.

We hope you’re interested in changing the course of your life and getting started. Below are all the tips needed to woo your fanbase or followers to learn how to become an Instagram influencer no matter how little or large your profile is.

Step 1: Don’t Be Shy

Let’s cut to the chase. Ditch any insecurities you have and get ready to post. The most successful Instagram influencers today are the ones that allow their audience in. Good influencers will share all the ups, downs, good’s and bad’s of their lives. By being honest and authentic, you create an open space that makes people comfortable, trusting and happy to connect.

Not only that, but it also helps to let them know that you are all about your relationship with your audience – you have to be able to influence them. So by showing the deepest, even insecure parts of you and not being shy about it, you create a safe space for people to connect to you, relate to you, and build those impactful relationships that can take you a long way in this career.

Step 2: Pick Up A Niche

What Does Pick A Niche Mean?

To truly pick a niche, it means to pick something unique and distinct. It’s like picking your favorite type of coffee from all the coffee in the world and then asking other fans of that exact coffee brand/type of coffee to form a community around it. A niche will make you different from everyone else in the world because you will simply be showing YOUR perspective about it. But you must be willing to show that and make an impact. If you have a medical condition, but you aren’t afraid to be funny about it, then this is the right place for you. Only then can you set yourself apart in a digital ocean of over 400,000,000 Instagram users. If you have already found that uniqueness, then FOCUS solely on that. It can be uncomfortable at first but it’ll be worth it.

How To Pick A Niche?

Imagine that you’ve opened up the app and you’re looking at Instagram’s Explore page and you come across a beautiful piece of cake. Since you love to bake for birthdays and are always looking for more inspiration to style and present your cake, you click on the profile.

The likelihood of you following a page that is filled with easy to read recipes is much higher than if the page was filled with random images of a car, a family, selfies, fashion products and parrots. 

The bottom line: When people come to your page, they want to know what they can expect by following you and feel confident that they will consistently receive that type of content. This is why it’s better to mince down your likes to the finest niche. There is a large chunk of audiences that exists just to follow cake decorations and subsequently will take your profile to the next level. 

Here are some factors to think about while picking a niche: 

  • To learn how to become an Instagram influencer, you must choose a niche or field about which you will be documenting. 
  • Niches can be: fitness, fashion, design, interiors, food, travel or funny content, love for only red food, expert financial advice, or advocacy for topics like body positivity or climate change, DIY crafts, kitchen hacks, lifestyle, motherhood, fatherhood, etc. 
  • This niche must be an absolute passion that suits your personality and makes you feel connected to what you document. It should also be a strong passion because writing content (let alone good or bad content) day-in and day-out is impossible if you are not passionate about the field that you have chosen. 
  • Targeting one specific topic to post about can more times than not be really difficult, though. We are all multifaceted people with different interests, so it can be strange to post ONLY about travel, fashion or wellness, for example. So, selecting the right niche is very important because you will have to spend a considerable amount of time posting content on one topic. 
  • Not only should you be able to create content, but you also need to have some basic knowledge about that and the curiosity to delve deeper. To understand how to become an Instagram influencer in any field, you will have to research it and post content about topics regularly and consistently.
  • On social media you can’t fake it if it’s not your passion, somewhere or the other you will seem disinterested or unoriginal. The best thing to do is to just be authentic, lean into what you know and be very careful about that you don’t follow a niche that is trending, rather build what interests you. 
  • Instead of posting different things, figure out what can go in combo and curate your content. For example, if you love embroidery and are good at DIY. Then you can show how to make DIY embroidery shirts, cuffs, denim, recycle things etc. and retain your posts’ originality.
  • Just because someone else is doing something and is successful, doesn’t mean you should too.

Anchor Content

Got your overall niche established? Great! Now you’ll need to nail down 3-4 content anchors that you can firmly establish to get clear on the type of content you’ll post on your Instagram. These content anchors are smaller, more specific topics that fall under your broader niche. They keep your boat from sailing away as these small anchors hold your fundamental content together. (See below)

Once you have it established, it’ll be a lot simpler to create content because you can rotate between your content anchors every day. For example, if you were a fashion influencer and your anchoring posts were street style, vintage style and beauty the images can be laid out like this: 

  • Monday: street style (vintage outfit) 
  • Tuesday: close up of a vintage bag
  • Wednesday: street style (casual outfit)
  • Thursday: street style (evening wear)
  • Friday: close up of favorite vintage lipstick 
  • Saturday: street style (vintage outfit)
  • Sunday: street style (casual outfit)

Step 3: Engage 

1. Create High-Quality Instagram Posts

The quality of the content you put out can determine if people like, comment and follow your account. 

Having quality images also makes all the difference on Instagram as brands are looking for the best of the best to accurately represent their products, services and locations. Because of this, they won’t pick influencers who struggle to capture quality images so you definitely need to make this a priority!

A blurry selfie or a dimly lit food picture doesn’t typically attract a crowd of raving fans.

But if you share high-quality images that are non-pixelated, aesthetically-pleasing images that will inspire, educate or entertain people.

Invest in a high quality camera or photographer: If you like to take your own photos, invest in a high quality camera and tripod. Or you can invest in a decent smartphone or DSLR camera, and spend time taking photos that have a solid composition, good lighting and are in focus in all the right places. 

Or else you can hire a local photographer to take a variety of images for you, or reach out to photographers on Instagram and propose working together. 

But your work doesn’t stop there. You also need to make sure that your page looks and feels the same each time. 

2. Stick To One Design Theme for Your Feed

The number one thing that sets influencer accounts apart from the general masses is by having a consistent aesthetic. A cohesive feed helps your audience know what to expect from your account with a quick glance. 

  • Picking an aesthetic and sticking to it can be tough but will be a major key to your success as it guides your audience from one picture to the next. 
  • This is how you keep people on your feed longer and engaging with each and every one of your posts. 
  • It also increases engagement by keeping people on your feed longer as they’ll feel compelled to like more pictures as they scroll down your feed.

When you start working with brands, your engagement statistics play a big part in you landing that paying gig. Find a feed design that works for you (meaning, you can stick to it consistently) and start standing out from the rest.

3. Interact With Followers

PC: Later

Once you have everything set up perfectly: posts with attractive graphics and photos along them and a message conveying your brand, you’ll want plenty of comments and likes from your followers. This is where interaction comes into the picture. 

To know how to become an Instagram influencer, pick up your mobile and start interacting on your Instagram account, make them feel they are talking to a person and not posting to a digital profile. You can even maximize your brand name by encouraging them to use a special hashtag you created just for your brand. All of which is the benefit of interaction. 

4. Use Instagram Stories

PC: TechCrunch

Every day, 200 million plus users use Instagram stories and why shouldn’t you join the bandwagon to improve your followers base? They are searchable by non-followers too. For influencers having more than 10,000 followers, you can add a link in Stories with a ‘Swipe up’ option.

5. Engage Meaningfully

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

Ways to increase your engagement tactics: 

  • Include a call-to-action in your caption
  • Post at a time when you’re likely to get maximum engagement (use insights if you have a Business Account to find the best times)
  • Host giveaways and contests
  • Use polls in Instagram Stories
  • Follow similar accounts and engage with their content
  • Use popular and relevant hashtags or create your own hashtags

6. Focus on Building Community

No matter what stage you’re at in your Instagram influencer career, building relationships within your community is the single most important thing you can do. The quality of the community will help with your profile as well. If you have a large audience that doesn’t trust your suggestions or if you have a smaller audience that will buy your products but less followers are not what you’re after, are all important questions to think of. 

Get Conversational:

After posting on your feed, stick around on the app for at least 30 minutes after you’ve posted responding to comments and go back later in the day to respond to the rest. As you receive direct messages, don’t ignore them and be sure to respond and strike up a genuine conversation. Sending voice notes adds a personal touch too (and it helps to go hands free in this business). 

Get Your Audience Talking To Each Other:

Ask your audience to engage with one another in the comments of a post. You can also help by commenting and tagging them for the response. 

Step 4: Hashtag

One of the best tips on how to become an Instagram influencer is to use hashtags. Before you become an influencer, it’s always beneficial to understand the value of #hashtags:

  • Hashtags make your posts searchable. 
  • Keep your audience in mind and choose the trending hashtags in your niche while posting content.
  • Don’t choose hashtags having high search volumes because high search volumes imply high competition too. So the probability of your post being discovered using those hashtags are less. 
  • The rule of thumb is to keep it in limit. Don’t go overboard, just use 3 to 5 hashtags on an average and coordinate phrases, popular words in your niche and create something relatable.
  • Instagram allows you to use a maximum of 30 hashtags on a post. 
  • Choose hashtags that have decent search volumes and use a combination of hashtags varying in search volumes from above 10,000 to 1 million. Obviously, don’t pick those with more than a million search indexes. 

Step 5: Use A Personal Profile Photo Rather Than A Logo

A study by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs once discovered that photos with faces in them are 38% more likely to get likes on Instagram. This makes sense because 

Your profile photo is what Instagram members see before clicking on your story, interacting with your posts, or visiting your profile. With such high visibility, as a poster boy or girl for your niche you need to literally put your best face forward.

A profile photo allows people to get to know the real YOU behind the account, increasing personalization and trust. Crucial to any brand. 

Step 6: Hone Your Unique Bio

Once you have decided on your niche, and set up your profile, the next thing that you need to focus on is creating an Instagram bio that immediately catches people’s attention. It should talk about your story in a way that engages people. Your bio will create a lasting impact on your followers. 

If you are a makeup lover, you can write ‘beautyblogger’. Travel + Makeup can be teamed up to make ‘Traveling Beauty’. The options are endless. 

Remember, your bio is one of the first things that a brand or a potential follower will see on your account.  

Step 7: Commit To A Consistent Posting Schedule

Instagram’s algorithm rewards those accounts that post consistently. This is simply because Instagram wants people to stay addicted and be consistently using the app. Thus, the accounts that help it achieve this goal get pushed up higher in the newsfeed. By taking an hour out of your day to curate content for the week, composing the image, writing your captions and choosing your hashtags, you’ll start to see an increase in engagement and followers.

Whether you decide to post multiple times a day or each day, you need to stick to your schedule. One of the coolest things you can do is to enlist a tool that helps you publish content daily.  

But, you must not forget that the content should be published on your profile at its fixed time. Haven’t you seen people waiting for 8.30 PM to watch their favorite TV show? That’s what followers are doing as well. They like to tune in and catch up with you. 

For some special occasions or offers, you can tell them to announce the good news at a certain time and date and see how engagement on your post shoots up! Also, don’t forget to take advantage of the Instagram Stories feature. On this you can post stories and update followers about what’s going on for better interaction. What’s more? There are some advanced tools to check the Instagram analytics of your page and decide the right time of the day to post specific content but this comes with a business account. If you can get a business account, then nobody can stop you from becoming a happening Instagram influencer.

Step 8: Get a Business Account

PC: MacPaw

Seriously thinking about learning how to become an Instagram influencer? It’s high time that you invested in getting a business account. On your Instagram, there are numerous benefits of switching to a business account with the most important being access to Instagram Analytics. You’ll be able to see:

  • Follower demographics and demographic data of your followers. 
  • Which posts are getting better engagement.
  • See the days and times where you get the best engagement.
  • Discover points with follower fluctuations, identify top locations, identify audience activity times, identify profile views and see website clicks, based on a set time period. 
  • See Insights data for your overall account, as well as for specific posts.
  • Another perk of Instagram Insights is ads.

As you can see it is important to understand your audience and learn what content works best for them. Follower demographics are very useful when it comes to pitching to brands for collaboration. One of the best advantages you get with a business account is the ability to run ads. This is what’s happening when you see the text : Sponsored Ads. With it, you can promote one of your posts if you want, in order to get some additional engagement.

With a personal account, you’ll never know what are the types of posts your followers love, what time to post and exactly where your followers are located.  

Step 9: Do Not Buy Followers

Buying Instagram followers seems to be the question most followers and Instagram influencers think about after seeing someone’s followers go from a few hundred to somewhere in the thousands.  Many beginner Instagram influencers try to take an easy road to success, but fake followers are no good to you. If you want to know how to become an Instagram influencer and make money, organic increments are the best way forward. Let’s tell you why: 

  • There’s no easy road to success. 
  • It’s not that difficult for brands to identify influencers with paid followers. If someone realizes that you have a high percentage of fake followers, you could lose your credibility in the industry. This could affect all of your future collaborations or lack thereof.
  • Fake followers can be detrimental to your growth as paid followers won’t nearly be engaged enough. So your follower count will increase but at the cost of zero substantial increase in engagement.
  • Getting caught having paid followers can be detrimental to your success as an influencer. If you really are serious about your goal in learning how to become an Instagram influencer, you need to do it the right way.

Step 10: Tag Relevant Brands and Contact Them

In order to learn how to become an Instagram influencer, you need to do two things: The first, of course, is to grow your followers organically and engage them. The second, and probably more important for some, is to learn how to make money as an influencer because this is their future career. 

So, once you have grown your followers to thousand and above, you are now equipped with a decent engagement rate. Time to start your brand outreach: 

  1. The easiest way is to tag relevant brands (based on your niche) on your photos to put yourself on their radar. Ever seen brands feature photos on their Instagram account? You can also tag them and give yourself greater visibility. Also send direct messages to brands you think are relevant to your niche. Especially, if you have seen them collaborate with other influencers in your field. Work on a pitch that talks about why you are reaching out and what you can offer them. It won’t be easy at first but you might be pleasantly surprised at the responses.
  1. Once you’ve grown your account to 1,000+ followers, it’s time to start reaching out to brands in your niche. Don’t be scared to start pitching if you’re a small account. If you have an engaged following and it’s the brand’s target audience, you stand a good chance of landing the opportunity. Spend some time crafting the perfect pitch and detailing what you can offer them. It can start off feeling a bit upsetting if you don’t get responses, but don’t give up simply because there are thousands of other brands to pitch to. This is the only time when having competition in your field pays off. Awesome, right?

Step 11: Learn About Your Audience

Other than basic demographic information, what do you know about your audience? Do you know their spending limits, their favourite brands, their likes and dislikes? 

To succeed as an Instagram influencer, you truly need to market a bit. This involves learning about the market- who it is made up of- in order to directly create content that they resonate with and that therefore performs well. It will also ensure that you take on the right kind of collaborations with brands that resonate with your audience and that your followers might buy from. If you want to create a product of your own one day (like if you want to sell a recipe book, a clothing line, or a water bottle), knowing what your audience’s desires and struggles are will be incredibly helpful in ensuring you won’t be carrying out a failed mission. 

Aside from learning about your audience through private DM conversations, this is how you can learn more about your targeted audience: 

Try To Purposely Conversate In Comments:

Use your captions as an opportunity to ask your followers to tell you about themselves in the comments!

Host Polls on Instagram Stories:

The poll feature is great because it’s quick and simple for someone to vote and participate.

Some questions you might ask (that, of course, should be tweaked to your profile and niche specifically):

  • Do you guys have a 9 to 5 job?
  • Do my followers travel more or less than 3x a year?
  • Do my followers like it when I post scenery or hotels more?
  • Where are my followers from?
  • Are you older or younger than 25?

Create a Survey:

Creating a survey (on Google Forms/ Typeform) for your audience is a great way to ask questions that require longer answers, like “What’s your favorite thing about following me?” or “When do you want me to conduct Instagram live?” and “What’s the one thing you want me to post often?”. One thing to keep in mind in asking your audience to complete a survey is that it should be fairly time-consuming. You need the information while they get the benefit of some incentive. Say, they complete the survey and are entered into a giveaway. Win-Win. 

Step 12: Set Yourself up for Brands to Approach You

One of the most common problems that novice Instagram influencers face is that brands aren’t coming to them and, most of the time, it’s because their page isn’t set up in a way that will attract them! Here are some things you can do to make sure that potential brand partners know that you’re open for business:

Make your email address visible: 

Either have your email address visible in your bio or accessible via the “email” button on your Business profile.

Make sure you have a business profile: 

  • Having an official business profile has many benefits not only for brands to see you as a potential partner, but also because it will open up vital features like Instagram Analytics. Having a business profile helps you see what is and isn’t working to improve future content and share stats with brands. You can switch your profile by going to Settings -> Account -> Switch to Business Account.
  • Be Strategic With Your Content: Post the kind of content that the brands you want to work with would want to see! If you are a luxury fashion Instagram influencer wanting to land collaborations with the likes of Dior and Channel, you should already be posting and hashtagging that. 
  • Bottom Line: Make sure you have your email listed in your bio and are prepared to provide social statistics to any company that might reach out to you. Statistics involving engagement rate, clicks on your link, follower growth, and monthly website traffic are all things brands like to discuss. To be a truly influential figure keep this in mind: While we all want to be offered sponsorships, don’t sell out! Only promote those items or products that you truly believe in and think your audience would benefit by consuming. If there are things inside the protein powder you don’t like, then your followers won’t like it either. 
  • They are literally an extension of you so by having a standard that you stick to, not only will you be more appealing to brands, you’ll simultaneously build a strong, trustworthy and authentic presence!

If you want 2020 to be the year you finally start getting brand collaborations, an increased amount of influencers and paid sponsorships then you need to put yourself out there. Creating consistent content, building a community on Instagram without networking with brands and without knowing your profile statistics is kind of like going on a date in the dark, they aren’t going to notice you. So, getting used to tackling these steps one by one if you want to learn how to become an Instagram influencer.