How can I become an influencer? (A lot of people dislike the word influencer, but I find that’s what we are mainly referred to as, so I’m rolling with it for this blog post) This is a very good question and one that I often get asked. It’s a very new role that, for me, has just evolved over the past few years. It’s not something that I ever set out to do and when I first started posting on Instagram I never in a million years dreamed that it would turn into a business or that I would be leaving my current part-time job to pursue it full time.
There’s never really been a point when it all happened, it just slowly did and I think that’s why even my family and friends were a bit confused and still really don’t know what I do, because it went from being a bit of fun posting photo’s on Instagram to a business. My dream job has always been to become a stylist for a magazine or TV company but living up in Newcastle those opportunities are extremely rare. I feel that doing this job now fulfills that role, I love styling products in my home and creating content on my blog and Instagram to inspire others.
March 2016 – My Website went live and I started posting interior photo’s on Instagram.
So let me take you back to the beginning! We relocated to Northumberland because of my husband’s job and rather than sell the house that we had, we decided to rent it out and rent somewhere up in Northumberland. After renting for a few years I started to get itchy feet and wanted to add more of my own personality and style to the house, so with the permission of the landlords, I started to paint and slowly make changes. Friends and family loved what I did and I started getting asked for help with their interiors.
I soon realised that there weren’t many options out there for affordable interior design or interior styling options, which is what I was offering. So more of a room-revamp rather than a whole room refit where you get a complete, to scale, room plan. So I decided to set up a website and offer this as a service. People could ask for something as small as a paint consultation through to a full room restyle. I then set up a blog to inspire other tenants and to show that there are lots of ways that you can make your rented house feel like home, without spending a fortune. Then came Instagram! I already had a personal account which I used for filters etc but I started to post more interior photos on there and also links to my renovation blog posts. A few months later I changed it to a business account.
November 2016 – 7 Months later I had reached 10k followers.
My Instagram following started to grow and when I reached around 10k brands and small independent businesses started getting in contact to see if they could send me a “gift” like a cushion or a candle and of course I was super flattered, I had never received anything for free before. I was still working in sales at this point 3 days per week and on my days off and weekends I was doing renovation work to the house along with blogging and styling photo’s to post on Instagram. It was only when I went to an event in London and started chatting to other girls in a similar position to me that I then realised I’d reached a point where I should be charging brands to feature their product.
I had around 15k followers by then and let’s face it, although it’s super flattering at first, nothing really comes for free does it? First of all, there’s your time spent replying backward and forwards to the emails, then you receive the product and you have to style it in your home, photograph it, edit and upload to Instagram whilst thinking of a caption. Then there’s the general management of your Instagram account, replying to comments and engaging is a big part of having a successful account and takes time to do this. So once I had a better idea of fees, I then put together my media kit, which has a short intro to what I do, along with brands that I’ve worked with, my engagement figures and my fees. When a brand reached out I would forward them my media kit.
January 2017 – My very first Ad! I got paid £40 and had to buy the wine and the food for props!
I was still enjoying blogging frequently and creating and posting daily content on Instagram so I decided to join a couple of the apps like Takumi and Tribe which are a great way to start out and get some experience, even though they don’t offer great money. Takumi pay starts around £40 per post and Tribe works a little bit different, you read the brief then have to submit your image and caption along with your required fee (there is a guideline on there, see below) and they then either accept or decline your content. As I said, they’re a great way to gain confidence and also get used to following a brief of what the client would like. Here is some of the content that I created via Takumi and Tribe.
Tribe price guide.
I was working night and day around my job and the kids. I would put them to bed then turn the laptop back on and start editing photos and writing blog posts. As I got busier and started working with more brands I was struggling to keep on top of everything along with my part-time job, the kids & household chores. So I decided to leave work and concentrate on the business that I was slowly building. That was October 2017 and I haven’t looked back since. My aim was to be able to match the part-time wage that I was earning before I left my job. Leaving a salary to go self-employed was a difficult decision because you never know what’s coming in from one month to the next but I can honestly say that I haven’t looked back.
Those 18 months have been amazing, I now have 100k+ followers and I’ve been very lucky to work with some fabulous brands like Spotify, Campo Viejo, Tk Maxx, Hello Fresh, Dunelm, Dyson and many more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been hard work and since the launch of stories and IGTV it is very much a lifestyle that I have built which makes it hard to switch off. It’s not just a simple as taking a quick photo of a product and posting it, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes and one of the hardest parts is the creativity. When a brand gets in contact to work with me, they send a specific brief with details of the campaign and any key messages that they would like me to include. They will then send the product and it’s my job to come up with unique ideas that will fit the brief but also fit in nicely alongside my other content. I then have to send it for approval before posting and finally, once the campaign has ended I send over my statistics so they can track the performance. My days mainly consist of photographing and styling organic content and brand collaborations along with lots of admin, replying to PR companies/brands sending invoices, writing blog posts along with the daily management of my Instagram account. There are days when I’m traveling to a press day in London or meeting with a brand or PR company to discuss ideas of how we can work together. I turn a lot of work down either because it’s not a product that I would genuinely buy myself and therefore don’t want to promote it, or because it doesn’t fit my brand and aesthetic, which just isn’t worth compromising.
Feburary 2019 – I reached 100k!
How can I become an influencer?
So going back to my original question, How can I become an influencer? There really is no straight forward answer, you won’t see it advertised on the jobs pages or in the window of the job centre. You can’t go to college and do a course on how to be an influencer! (I’m sure that’s not far off though!) Don’t just start an Instagram account hoping that it will start earning you money because it doesn’t work like that.
You have to have passion, find a niche, be creative and work hard! Find something that not everyone is doing, be unique so that you stand out, don’t copy someone else because what’s the point? They’re already doing it, so be different! You don’t need an amazing camera but you do need a good eye for a photo and your photo’s need to stand out. Every photo doesn’t have to be perfectly styled, people like to see natural, everyday shots too. You need to write an authentic caption that will make people want to engage, you need to think of up to 30 hashtags and change them with each photo to get your content seen. Then you need to hang around, spend time replying to comments and engaging with people whose content that you genuinely like. With time, you’ll find that you build up a small community which is important because they’re going to grow and so are you, you’re going to help grow each other just by stopping by and liking and commenting on accounts that you love. Work hard, post every day at the right time when you know your audience is online. The main thing is to have fun and don’t take it too seriously, don’t worry about the posts that don’t do well, focus on the ones that do. Don’t get caught up in the comparison trap, we all have good days and bad days.
If your account is growing then you know you’re on the right track. Tag brands in your photo’s to get on their radar, show them that you’re featuring one of their products and let them know that you’re a fan. I’m working with a sofa company at the moment. When I first saw a photo of one of their sofa’s on Instagram I just fell in love. I reposted it to my stories to say that I would never move from this spot! Little did I know, their website had only gone live that day, they were a brand new company. They sent a reply to say thank you, then 1 year later they got back in touch to see if we could work together. I’m so happy to be working with them.
When you hit around 3000 followers you can then join the apps that I mentioned above and hopefully get your first taste of brand work. You will get offered gifts at first which is great but as your account grows you need to know your worth, it’s not really a gift if they’re asking for content in return because you’re doing work in return to get their product seen in front of your audience. As a rough guide, the average fee seems to be 1% of your following so if you have 30k followers then charge around £300 per post, if you have 80k followers then your fee would be around £800. This is not always the case as some people prefer to work it out on engagement rate or the number of views. I use my discretion and my fees vary, for example, a small business that has just started out isn’t going to have the same budget as a large brand. The fee for stories varies depending on your engagement. I was recently approached by a large brand that has worked with some huge influencers, I was interested in working with them so I sent them my media kit. They then replied and said because we hadn’t worked together before they would like me to do 3 Instagram posts and 3 sets of Instagram stories for less than what I had quoted for one post! I obviously replied to say that I wouldn’t be working with them and wished them luck with the rest of the campaign. Know your worth! There’s a lot of hours and hard work that’s gone into building my account and getting it to where it is today. If that brand were to have images of their product produced to be used for advertising purposes then they would have to pay stylists, photographers, models, editors and the rest! I do all these things and also have a very large, engaged audience.
One of my most recent campaigns with Spotify.
I’m by no means an expert, I’m still learning every day and I believe that to grow your audience then you have to keep growing yourself, keep learning, do your research and don’t be afraid to try new ideas. Make use of stories and IGTV. This might seem daunting at first and totally out of your comfort zone but the more you do it the more you will get used to it. You can record and delete as many times as you want until you’re happy with it. I get a lot of inspiration from Podcasts, here are a few of my favourites but I’m going to share some others that I’ve been listening to recently on the blog soon.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to grow your feed organically. Don’t be tempted to buy followers or likes. I get emails daily but I’ve never been tempted because what’s the point in cheating. Cheaters always get caught out eventually! Same with joining PODS which are groups of people with similar interests that set up a messaging group and all like & comment on each others posts. We all have our favorite accounts which is fine but keep it organic.
Another piece of advice is always to stick to the rules with Ads and gifted products. There are strict guidelines in place from the CMA and the ASA which you can find here. Some people don’t like to see Ads on Instagram but when I get approached by a brand that wants to work with me I see it as a sign that I’m doing my job well and I’m proud that they want me to create content for them. As I said earlier, I would never promote anything that I don’t love and wouldn’t pay for myself. My feelings are that if an influencer is creating good content that fits their usual style then it shouldn’t be looked upon any different to what they normally post, if you like the photo then hit the like button and leave them a comment to let them know! The fees from the AD ensure that that person can keep on creating beautiful content and continue to inspire you.
If you’re worried that it’s too late and that there are too many influencers out there then my advice would be don’t be. There is only one of you, so be unique and go for it, there’s enough to go around or everyone!
I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved and I’ve worked extremely hard to get there. I hope that my story will inspire you to have the vision and live your dreams. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and found it helpful. If you have any questions then feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Pin this image below to refer back to at a later date.