You’ve likely heard—and maybe follow—people who have turned their Instagram feeds into a legitimate career. While influencers at the top of the field make salaries far into six figures, even Instagrammers with a few thousand followers can make decent money through sponsored posts.
In other words, being an Instagram influencer may not be as out of reach as it seems. If you can figure out how to grow your Instagram audience, you’ll be well on your way to making this dream a reality.
Becoming an influencer gives you the opportunity to rep brands you care about and can even give you the platform for entrepreneurial ventures of your own. As is the case with any career, however, it takes a great deal of time, effort, and ingenuity.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to make it as an influencer, check out the tips below to give you a head start.
1) Build a (Real) Audience
Let’s be honest, here: if you don’t have a sizable audience viewing your posts, nobody will pay you to market their products. This is where learning how to grow your Instagram audience is vital. Even if your posts are high quality, it’s not worth any company’s money to pay you to market to just 200 people.
Start following people in the Instagram community you want to be a part of. Look at the hashtags they use and their posting style. Engage with them, and hopefully get a few responses back. Over time, you’ll begin gaining followers, and with any luck, some valuable insight into what makes certain influencers so successful.
2) Create Top-Notch Content
Above all else, to make it as an Instagram influencer, the content you post must be pristine. Your images and captions should be perfectly tailored to get maximum engagement from your audience.
Maintain a style that fits the products you’d like to market and that will resonate with your audience. As a good example of this, check out the feed of fashion blogger, @poseandrepeat. While each post highlights certain products and brands, she maintains a specific aesthetic that denotes each image as part of her overall brand.
The quality of your posts will ultimately determine whether or not brands will want to work with you. Anything you post with their products is representative of their company, so you should make them feel confident that what your produce for them will be up to their standards.
3) Show Potential Clients What You Can Do
Just having a large audience won’t necessarily ensure that brands will start calling you out of the blue. You’ll have to give them some examples of what your influence could do for them.
Find some products of brands you like and feature them in a post. It can be something as simple as posting a picture of yourself wearing your favorite brand of sneakers, but if you can get a great deal of engagement on this “shout out” post, you can take that to companies as proof that they could benefit from working with you.
Take sneakerhead and photographer Isaac Garcia, known on Instagram as @basiciggy. He took his interest in collecting sneakers and skill as a photographer and built up a massive social following. These days, you’ll often see sponsored posts on his feed for brands like Asics, Bose Speakers, and Timberland.
Once you’ve built up a reputation, you’ll have brands starting to call you. For now, it’s your responsibility to show them that you’re worth their money.
4) Get Listed
If you’ve figured out how to grow your Instagram audience to the point that you have at least 5,000 followers, you can list your account on Grapevine, a marketplace of sorts that companies can use to find the right influencer for them.
If you don’t yet have that type of following, try Crowdtap (only available in the U.S.), which will send you on content creating missions. If your posts do well, you’ll start to get small rewards from the companies you’re posting for. This isn’t a surefire way to make being an influencer your career, but it’s a great way to build up an audience and a portfolio for future brands to see.
Really, the only way to gain traction as an influencer is to get your name and profile into places where brands can find you. You may have followers, but unless brands can find you, you’ll be firing off posts into the vast ether of the internet.
Grow an audience, engage with them, post high-quality content, and put yourself in a position to succeed. The formula to being an Instagram celebrity is simple, but will take a good effort to put into play. With enough persistence and creativity, however, you can begin making it happen today.