Social media platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok only seem to be getting more prominent and more popular. With the pandemic, we’re turning towards these platforms more than usual. They’ve become real sources of income for people who have lost their jobs. It takes an entrepreneurial spirit, but you can make an entire career on social media by becoming an influencer. And it’s a job title that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Here are ways influencers make money:
Have a Thing
To start, you need to be specific about what you want to sell, promote, and influence. Frequently, influencers get their start by posting about what they’re good at and what they love. Ana Coto is a fun, entertaining, and very skilled roller-skater, and has a significant following on Tik Tok, where you can watch her glide on the rink for hours. Maybe you want to go that route and make money off one of your skills. Or perhaps you’re really into nail art, or you dress only in Victorian lace. Whatever it is that you want to do as an influencer, make sure it’s focused—it can be outlandish or not, but don’t have ten different ideas. Find one thing and stick with it. Oh, and make sure your account isn’t just a page of products with no personality. Remember, people are there to follow you—not just the sunscreen you love.
The bigger your following, the more likely it is that larger brands and companies, which have the means to pay more, will want to work with you. The easiest way to build your following is to keep posting. Use hashtags, location geotagging, and tag any products that appear in your posts. Don’t get caught up on the likes—those will come. As you start, remember to network. Follow other accounts that you admire and engage with them and their followers in the comments section. Direct message people you admire. Treat your account as an extension of yourself at a happy hour—introduce yourself, say hi, compliment other people’s content. The more you get yourself out there, the more followers you’ll attract.
There are many agencies out there, like Izea, that can help you get your influencer business started. Izea helps with content strategy, project management, and reporting. You’ll have to pay for the service, of course, but working with an agency will give you benefits you can’t get on your own, like access to their influencers network. There’s also Viral Nation, August United, and Obviously. You’ll want to set up consultations to make sure it’s a good match and shop around a little. Signing with an agency is like dating—you want to feel out all your options before settling down.
A huge part of being an influencer is working with brands in some way—perhaps on sponsored content or social media campaigns. Like any job, start small and build. Find brands that you think would be willing to work with you based on who they’ve worked with in the past. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them first. In fact, that’s probably how you’ll land the gig. It’s similar to applying for jobs. You can’t sit around waiting for the job to come to you. Be proactive and make things happen.
Build Your Toolbox
Now that you have your influencer idea in place, there are sites you can use to monetize your social media business. Take advantage. Famebit, for instance, can help you apply for campaigns, and you can find specific audience demographics. Grapevine Logic connects you with brands and is most known for YouTube and Instagram. There are also marketing platforms that will help you make money, too. Upfluence is a relatively affordable one and gives you contact information for other influencers.
Being an influencer looks like a lot of fun from the outside, but it takes work. It requires networking, putting yourself out there, taking risks, time, effort, vision, and a real eye for business. Many influencers, if not perhaps all, are self-starters. It’s the nature of the job, and you have to be willing to strive towards your goal without a boss telling you what to do. The good news is that there’s freedom in that.
A version of this article was originally published on Forbes.