How To Become An Instagram Influencer and Profit in 2021

So you want to know how to become an Instagram influencer? Well, Instagram is a very different platform than it was even a few months ago. Their algorithms update often to provide users with the best of what they want. This means that, while it’s not impossible to become an Instagram influencer, the road to get there gets a little harder every time. 

Gone are the days of posting bland, caption-less pictures of sunsets and gaining 100,000 followers in a week. 

No longer can you farm for likes and followers by curating the perfect Instagram bubble. 

And now, with the most recent algorithmic changes, it’s that much harder to scam and hack your way to the top. Now, the algorithm demands more – accountability, authenticity, and yes, genuine connection. 

And frankly, so do your followers. 

So, how do you become an Instagram influencer?

The quick answer: dedication. 

The not-so-quick answer: well, that’s the purpose of this article. 

Without further ado, let’s dive into our 11 tips to become an Instagram influencer. 

Tip #1: Define Your Niche and Content Pillars

Defining your niche is Step Number One in any kind of marketing. After all, you can’t market to everyone about everything all the time – there aren’t enough hours in a day. 

And because, without a clear focus, your business will be on a fast track to nowhere. 

But most importantly, if you don’t define your niche, you’ll never be passionate about your product. For those who want to become an Instagram influencer, passion is everything. Without an ever-burning desire to share your life with the world, your drive to succeed may fizzle out. 

Defining your niche goes beyond your internal motivation, though. 

When people follow an Instagram account, it’s because they know what they want. Beyond that, they want to know what they can expect. 

Think about your own social media feed. When you follow an IG account, is it for random selfies and blurry pictures of sunsets? Or do you choose the pages with well-defined content, such as travel tips, memes, or mommy hacks?

For most of us, the answer is the latter.

Thus, by defining your niche, you’re on your way to building an account that you, yourself, would follow. First, let’s have a quick glance at some of the account types that you might find on Instagram:

Personal Accounts

bill gates instagram

The usual account that belongs to a particular person, the most popular and widespread type of Instagram account.

Brand Accounts

tesla instagram

Accounts that belong to a particular brand. Music label, clothing brand, magazine, car manufacturer etc.

Theme Accounts

nature instagram

In contrast to the earlier examples, these accounts are not tied to any brand or a person but to a particular topic. The goal of these accounts is very straightforward – gather an audience and make money from advertising or other promotions.

As the goal of this post is to show how to become an Instagram influencer, we will be staying with the personal account type.

For personal accounts (and for the others also) the way how you position your account is the key and it becomes of outmost importance to clearly identify your niche.

Of course, within your niche, you’ll need to also define your content pillars. 

For instance, let’s say that you enjoy traveling, and want to start a travel-based IG. Let’s also say that you’re interested in fashion and cooking. 

These three aspects of your life can be your content pillars that define your content and strategy. You can incorporate these pillars into most – if not all – of your posts in one way or another. 

And that is the key to building your brand. 

Tip #2: Know Your Audience

After you know your niche, it’s crucial to define who fits within your niche. After all, posting photos and promoting product is useless if there’s no audience to hang on your every emoji. 

Keep in mind that you don’t have to limit your audience to a narrow subset of people. Rather, you should include those who are part of your lifestyle and others who may be interested. 

For instance, if you want to start an account around all things vegan, you don’t have to target only vegans. 

Instead, expand your worldview beyond your own community. 

Reel in vegetarians with your delicious recipes. 

Snag a few carnivores who are curious about the grass on the other side. 

Promote healthy, vegan choices beyond the food – clothing, travel tips, and even workout hacks. 

In doing so, you can strike a balance between your ideal audience and your actual audience. This will help you maximize your reach (and your influence) and become one of the main pillars of how to become an Instagram influencer.  

Tip #3: Be Personable (and Get Personal)

Now that you know the type of content you want to curate, it’s time to get started with your account. To become a successful Instagram influencer, this involves getting up close and personal.

Start with choosing a photo of yourself for your profile. This is the first image viewers will see when they interact with your brand or timeline. (Not to mention, IG is first a photo-sharing and social media platform). 

So, be social. Be personable. Upload a fire profile picture that lets followers know who you are. It can be quirky, funny, professional, or serious – but make sure it’s on-brand.

And remember: while your picture reels them in, it’s not why your viewers are there. Followers may flock to you for photos, life advice, or travel hacks. But at the end of the day, they’re there for you. 

People are social creatures. We crave connection, intimacy, and knowledge of those around us. This extends even into our digital lives with relative strangers. 

And there’s data to back this up: the Georgia Institute of Technology found that photos with faces in them are 38% more likely to receive interaction on Instagram. 

So be personable and get personal. It’s for the good of your brand. 

Tip #4: Be Vulnerable, But Define Your Boundaries

One of the most important tips to become an Instagram influencer is to be authentic. People don’t want to view fake profiles of fake people; they want to connect. They want to know there is a human on the other side of the screen. 

Sure, being fake can build your brand in a hurry. Posting about wild parties and exaggerating your wealth will work for a time. 

But soon, that engagement will taper off as people realize the truth. 

On the other hand, being authentic may build your brand slower than being bombastic. But over time, you’ll find that you’ll catch the most devoted followers with honesty. 

Plus, by cutting out the bull, your followers are more likely to engage with you. This builds trust, relationships, and even potential partnerships. Thus, when you’re big enough to start promoting product, you’ll have a loyal fanbase ready to buy. 

But at the same time as you’re being authentic, remember this: just because you’re baring your soul or your home doesn’t mean you have to bare your chest, too. (And vice versa). If you’re uncomfortable sharing parts of yourself or your family, you have no obligation to do so. 

Tip #5: Update Your Followers with Meaningful Captions

Instagram is not a set-it-and-forget-it platform. This goes for all aspects of your account, from your bio to current interests. Make sure new visitors and old friends alike know what you’re up to.

That means anytime you pick up a new hobby, catch a new beau, or find a new favorite drink, you should let the world know. 

After all, you’re becoming an Instagram influencer now. Go out there and influence the world. 

One important tip here is to make sure that your updates are meaningful for your followers. Data from Fohr and Later shows that caption length has almost tripled since 2016, from 142 characters to over 400 characters. 

Audiences no longer want a two-word caption and a cute photo. They want content. Good content – and lots of it. (Plus, captions are a great way to open conversations and build professional relationships.)

To provide the best of you, look into microblogging – miniature blog posts – to inspire the world. This can look like your 5 best tips on how to make your favorite recipes vegan, your 10 favorite boutiques in downtown LA, or even a few quick notes on how to unwind at the end of the day. 

Tip #6: CTAs and Engagement

Be sure to end your meaningful captions with a call to action. This is another tried-and-true technique in the digital marketing world to build engagement and connections. 

Whether you’re sending cookies, buying banner ads, or posting on Instagram, the purpose is the same. You want more engagement from your followers. 

On Instagram, you can tailor your CTAs to your captions and posts, as well as your engagement goals. 

  • Do your readers have a favorite travel spot? Ask them about it. 
  • Should your followers click the product link in your profile? Tell them why. 
  • Is your outfit on point today? Request that they like your posts. 

In this process, however, you’ll also learn that asking for engagement is not enough to build a successful brand. You’ll have to engage in turn to elevate your profile to the next level. 

This can take several forms. You may follow your followers back or start a conversation in their comments. You might respond to comments on your own posts. 

Anything you can do to build relationships and authentic engagement is good for your brand. It makes your followers feel like you listen – and is the type of content that IG’s algorithms promote. 

So, if you want to rise through the ranks, you’ll have to learn to talk to others in kind. 

Tip #7: Plan Ahead

All good things come to those who plan. How to become an Instagram influencer – is no exception.

Keeping organized is important in many factors of our lives: with laundry, our calendars – and yes, even social media posts. 

By maintaining a well-stocked, thought-out calendar, you can minimize disasters and have backups for your backups. It also means that you can find holes in your calendar or strategy and alter your plans if need be. 

Moreover, and more importantly, it means you’ll be able to stay consistent. No longer can you post at random times months apart and gain hundreds of followers in a day. Now, you need to pick a posting schedule – even if it’s only once a week – and stick to it. 

And even if you don’t want to plan a big post every day, be sure you drop in on your Instagram Stories to promote yourself. 

Best Times To Post On Instagram

Keep in mind that while randomly posting when you feel like it can work, you can improve your chances of success by following a time posting schedule:

Furthermore, as you plan, also consider what it would take for a brand to approach your account in the future. You want brands to see you as a potential partner – so set yourself up in a way that will be easily approachable for the brands. 

For one, you should set up a Business account. This will let you use Instagram Analytics and open up auto-publish posts via third-party apps. You should also have an email available for brands to contact you. 

And if you want to land contracts with specific brands in the future, be sure to publish the type of content that they would like to associate with in the future. 

By planning all of this ahead, you’ll prepare yourself for success from day one. (Plus, by keeping your calendar updated, you can actually spend more time off your feed than on. More on why this is important in a moment).

Tip #8: Partner When it Makes Sense

Brand partnerships provide a decent chunk of the income – and exposure – for Instagram influencers. If you want to be famous, you’ll need to consider potential partnerships early. 

As you do, consider the type of content that lines up well with yours. You know your niche and your audience; there’s no reason to partner with brands that don’t align with your lifestyle. Furthermore, you don’t want to partner with brands that will harm your reputation.

When you have enough followers and clout to your name to start partnering with brands, consider how they’ll affect you, and vice versa. Be willing to reach out to brands with a professional pitch for why you’ll be good for each other both financially and reputationally. 

And as you become Instagram famous and the offers to partner with you roll in, don’t be afraid to say no. If the products, brand, or even company culture doesn’t align with your values, chances are, it won’t resonate well with your followers, either. 

Tip #9: Limit Sponsored Content

Sponsored content is a good way to build brand partnerships and make money. However, for those just starting to wrap their head around how to become an Instagram influencer, overdoing it can kill your brand before you’ve had a chance to take off. 

The reasoning is three-fold. 

  1. Audiences don’t like being sold to too much. While they’ll put up with some sponsored content, if they notice that they’re fodder for your fame-and-fortune-hungry dreams, they’ll jump ship. 
  2. Audiences and brands don’t like to keep up with influencers who are indiscriminate partners. If an account will deal with any brand and every brand, that once again shows that there’s no thought behind the account beyond “give me your money!” 
  3. Instagram algorithms prefer natural, organic content – the opposite of sponsorship and brand partnerships. If you want to make it big, cultivate meaningful account interactions with individuals and brands alike. 

Tip #10: Haters Gonna Hate

Unfortunately, doxing, harassment, bullying, and general “ugh” is present on Instagram, as it is everywhere else. While bad vibes are no fun to contend with, it’s important to not let the haters get you down. 

However, that doesn’t mean every negative comment is necessarily coming from a hateful place. Sometimes, influencers try to share pieces of Instagram wisdom that hurt – after all, no one wants to hear that they’re running their account wrong. 

In those cases, it’s important to keep an open mind. 

But other times, people are just being cruel. 

In these instances, do your best to be compassionate. Understand that people may not hate you – they wish they had what you do. Use their negative energy as a point of pride in your accomplishments. 

Alternatively, you may choose to block or ignore those comments or accounts. Whatever works for you. 

Tip #11: Never Buy Followers

When you account is not growing at the speed you want it too (that is usually the case), you will be tempted to take a shortcut.

Eventually, you will stumble upon services that sell followers. At some point, you may even be bombarded with offers to buy followers.

Do.not.do.it.

It has no value and will only potentially damage your account.

  1. Instagram sees the spikes in followers and can identify bot traffic, you may get shadowbanned or just banned.
  2. If you buy followers your engagement rates will drop. You may frequently see accounts with over 500k followers getting 10 likes and 1 comment on their post – sure signed of a dead account or an account which bought followers.
  3. Advertisers analyze the engagement rates thoroughly and you will be losing potential deals.

Tip #13: Consider Your Monetization Options

To fully answer how to become an Instagram influencer, we must also look at the monetization options.

First of all, do not rush to monetize your content. The audience is sensitive when it comes to promotional content and you do not want to kill your growth by jumping on promotion too early.

Get at least 100k followers before you start to make money from your account.

As for the ways to make money on Instagram, there are three main categories of income streams.

Affiliate Marketing

Register with one of the affiliate networks. Find a product that works well with your audience. Get approved for the program, take your link and put it in your bio pointing it out in the description of your post.

If your audience will get interested, they will click on the link and if they make an action (registration or a purchase) you will receive a commission.

That, in short, is affiliate marketing on Instagram.

Shoutouts aka Sponsored Posts

When your account will get bigger 100k+ followers. Various online entrepreneurs, agencies, and companies may start to approach you and propose sponsored posts or a shoutout (the same thing).

You would put a story or a post, with description leading to the bio where the clients link will be. Such post would be left on the account for 24h and after that deleted.

If you have around 100k followers, you may bill $25-$100 per such a shoutout, depending on the niche and your negotiating skills.

Accounts with over 1m followers, can charge four figures per 1 post.

Make sure to take the payment in advance.

Your Product

The same approach as with affiliate marketing, but in this case, it is your own product. It may be print on demand merchandise, online courses, webinars – whatever fits your profile and most importantly – what your audience will be interested in.

Tip #14: Maximize Growth Potential

When you create your account and posted your first few pictures…nothing will happen. Make sure to use all the tools that are available to you so get that ball rolling.

Hashtags

Use them. Try various combinations, see what the trends are and add those hastags into your posts.

Mentions

Depending on your niche, see if a mention of another Instagram account will yield results for you. It has to be an account that is closer to your size. There is no point in mentioning a 1m account when you are at 10 followers.

Mention somebody in yoru ballpark, and see fi htey mention you back.

Follow for Follow

The strategy is frowned upon, and many sources say that it does not work as it used to. Still, one of the most popular and easiest strategies to get those few first followers.

Do not get crazy with this, as it is also a good way to get your account red-flagged.

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. – whatever media channels you have, make sure to promote your account there.

Reddit

A very tricky one, either you will get a sudden inflow of traffic to your account, or you will get a few hateful comments and get banned by the mods.

Carefully choose the subreddit where you will promote your account. Take an even more careful approach to the actual angle of how you will promote your link.

Reddit hates self-promotion. So try to be original.

Conclusion

For now , that is all on how to become an Instagram influencer.

All the tips above will help you to grow and make money on Instagram, but there is one main tip that is more important than those all combined.

Consistency.

Building a big following takes time. Do not expect anything to happen in a span of a couple of weeks or months.

Just keep building your audience one follower at a time and soon you will be making good money from your account.

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