How to Become an Influencer in 11 Steps: Your 2022 Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Discover the process of becoming a social media influencer, from understanding the current social media landscape to setting up your personal brand to inspiring an audience.

[Featured image] An influencer in a black jacket and orange scarf makes an Instagram Reel to share with their social media audience.

What is an influencer? 

An influencer, also referred to as a social media influencer, is someone who leverages social media channels to influence followers’ buying decisions. Successful influencers typically offer value on social media with quality content that shares specialized knowledge, “edu-tainment,” or insight into a niche topic. Influencers are also known for their ability to build relationships with an audience to build an engaged and loyal follower base.

The definition of influencer, and what it means to be one, is constantly evolving regarding what types of content influencers share on social networks and how they share it. Influencers can range from TikTok dancers to people who post detailed how-to videos. Even with this variety, there are some consistencies:

  • Influencers don’t have to be celebrities in order to succeed. Launching a career as an influencer is possible without already being a public figure. And even though influencers can attract online audiences into the hundreds of thousands and even millions, they may not consider themselves “celebrities” in offline settings. 

  • Distinctions like macro, micro, and nano influencer have worked their way into this industry’s terminology to indicate the size of an influencer’s audience. Macro influencers have 500K to 1 million followers, micro-influencers have 10K to 50K followers, and nano influencers have up to 10K followers. 

  • Influencers have the potential to drive business growth. The power of being an influencer lies in the kind of marketing that’s possible. You can garner the attention from social media users and brands that will pay you to promote their products in influencer marketing campaigns thanks to connections you've built with their target audiences.

Content creator vs. influencer

In your research into becoming an influencer, you may wonder how influencers differ from content creators. In the table below, we’ve outlined a few similarities and differences so that you can pursue your marketing career path from a state of clarity. 

Content creatorsInfluencers

Leverage their expertise to attract potential customers.

Leverage their large social media followings to promote other brands.

May sell products, services, and subscriptions directly to consumers or sell ad space on their content.

May accept compensation in exchange for promoting or endorsing other brands. May also earn commissions through affiliate links on social posts or sell their own products directly to consumers.

Create video, audio, photographic, and text-based content.

Create video, audio, photographic, and text-based content.

May prioritize website SEO and generating high-quality content like video and audio material.

May prioritize building relationships with an audience and creating unscripted, behind-the-scenes content.

Influencer marketing: What to know in 2022

As you consider a future as an influencer, it’s important to investigate the industry in which you’ll operate. Hubspot’s 2022 State of Inbound Marketing Trends report reveals that influencer marketing has been the top emerging trend of 2022, with 34 percent of surveyed marketers leveraging this strategy [1]. In terms of the influencer marketing industry’s future, Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2022 State of Influencer Marketing report projects that by the end of 2022, influencers and the brands they work with will have generated $16.4 billion [2].  

Influencer Marketing Hub also reveals that: 

  • Of the brands that leverage influencer marketing, 80 percent of them use Instagram. 

  • As of 2021, brands are now compensating influencers with monetary payments as much as they are free products. 

  • In 2021, the number of companies offering or specializing in influencer marketing services grew to 18,900 worldwide. 

  • The top industries that influencer marketing survey respondents represent include Fashion and Beauty (15 percent), Health and Fitness (13 percent), Travel and Lifestyle (12 percent), Gaming (11 percent), Family and Home (6 percent), and “Other” (39 percent).

So what do these trends mean for you?

  • Influencer marketing is becoming mainstream across industries so that you can garner a follower base for almost any topic.

  • Your influencer income may depend on the size of your audience, how much engagement you get, and your brand collaboration rates. In 2021, Business Insider reached out to 25 Instagram influencers and found that they can make anywhere from $100 to $1,000 per sponsored Instagram Story, with some influencers generating six-figure salaries from their content [3]. 

  • As more influencers enter the social media landscape, the industry may become more competitive. Some of the foundational skills you’ll need as an influencer include: mastering the latest features of different social media platforms; cultivating authentic relationships with an audience; developing content people love; editing audio and video content; live streaming; conveying your expertise or authority on a particular topic. 

Read more: Influencer Marketing: A Guide to Developing Your Strategy

How to become an influencer in 11 steps

Becoming an influencer can be an exciting endeavor. You have the opportunity to inspire your audience, share your passions, and generate income. Follow the steps to make your influencer journey a rewarding and successful one: 

1. Complete basic business tasks.

An important first step in starting your influencer brand is to approach it like you would a business. By adopting business approaches, you can systematically attract your target audience and generate income. 

Here are some basic tasks to complete: 

  • Articulate your influencer goals, such as building a following around your passions, working with specific brands you admire, and generating income. 

  • Write a summary of the kind of influencer brand you want to create, including the topics you want to post about, the aspects of yourself you want to share, and your methods for generating income (affiliate links, sponsored social media posts, etc).  

Tip: Refer to IZEA’s 2022 State of Influencer Earnings report to discover the average cost per sponsored post on different platforms and how these rates change according to follower counts. 

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  • Find a payment solution that makes it easy to send invoices and receive payments from brands. 

  • Gather influencer tools, such as Canva for designing simple graphics or Linktree for aggregating links to the URLs you want your audience to click. 

2. Identify your niche.

A niche is a highly specific market segment of consumers that an influencer can market to online. Your niche can be based on a category of content that you’d share on social media as well as the demographics (age, location, income, etc.) and psychographics (values, beliefs, interests, etc.) of your target audience.  

To gain clarity on your niche, reflect on your passions, the content you most enjoy consuming and that you’d like to create yourself, the successful influencers you already follow, the kinds of social media users that follow these influencers, the social media channels they use, and the kinds of products you love to use and would like to promote to others.

You may find it useful to research industries, content categories, and hashtags on different social media platforms for inspiration. For example, Instagram’s Explore page may suggest content categories to you, like “indoor gardening,” “animal photography,” and “college sports” that you could narrow down or tweak to reflect your unique angle. 

Read more: What Is a Niche Market? And How To Reach One

3. Get to know your audience.

Once you’ve identified your niche, conduct market research to understand your audience. That way, you can develop a lasting connection with your audience and post valuable content that satisfies their interests and goals. Click around on social media to find out: 

  • The content your audience responds to the most

  • The type of comments your audience makes on other social media influencers’ content

  • The questions and challenges they face

4. Create your influencer brand.

Think of your influencer brand like you would a personal brand, a coherent presentation of your personality, values and passions, and authority on a specific topic that you can use to explore your business potential. Take some time to get clear on the impression you want to leave on an online audience and what you want to become known for. You may choose to create an aesthetic for your influencer brand, complete with colors, fonts, and even a brand voice. 

Read more: What Is a Brand Strategy? And How to Create One

5. Explore your content strategy. 

A large part of an influencer brand is the content you share on social media channels. Make a list of individual pieces of content that explore different facets of your category.  

You may find it useful to set up a content creation calendar that determines the frequency and structure of your posts. For example, Monday posts could offer a glimpse at your morning routine, Wednesdays could be reserved for “Ask me anything” live-streaming, and Friday posts could offer educational tutorials. 

Read more: What Is Content Strategy? + How to Create Yours

6. Optimize your online presence.

Before officially launching your influencer brand and posting content in earnest, take time to optimize your online presence as a whole, so that you can build brand equity. Your online presence can include:

  • Creating new social media accounts for your influencer brand or converting your existing accounts into influencer accounts. (See Step 7 below for selecting your channels.)

  • Building a website that social media followers and brands can visit to learn more about you, subscribe to your email content, and read blog articles or other longer-form content 

  • Setting up an email marketing system specifically for your influencer brand  

Did you know? Some social media platforms allow you to switch your account type and enable different capabilities such as running paid ads or monetizing content. Instagram, for example, offers three settings: personal, business, and creator. 

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7. Select your channels.

Along with optimizing your online presence, you need to select the social media platforms and marketing channels through which you’ll influence and inspire an audience. Being selective about your channels offers two main advantages. One, you can focus your efforts on mastering the features of one or two channels. And two, you can choose the platform or channel that works best for the type of content you share. 

Here are some general differences between platforms: 

 

  • YouTube Influencers tend to perform well when promoting products that require an explanation or video tutorial to use. 

  • TikTok influencers perform well in categories like entertainment, dance, pranks, fitness, and home improvement, and typically cater to Gen-Z audiences. 

  • Instagram influencers perform well when their content leverages imagery. Categories that are popular on Instagram include fashion, beauty, food, travel, and fitness. 

Read more: What Is a Marketing Channel? 8 Types to Prioritize in 2022

8. Post unique content on a regular basis. 

Once you’ve set up your online presence and selected the channels and platforms on which you’ll appear, it’s time to start posting content. Bear in mind that it can take time to see tangible results from your content efforts; consistency is key. 

9. Engage your audience.

At the same time that you post regular content on social media, engage with members of your audience to increase your “know, like, and trust” factor. Here are some engagement methods: 

  • Like, comment on, and repost content by your followers and fellow influencers in your niche. 

  • Respond to comments on your posts. 

  • Start conversations on social media by asking your audience questions about their interests and opinions. 

  • Message your most engaged followers to ask them what kind of content they’d like to see you create. 

10. Collaborate with other brands.

As social media users start to take notice of your content, follow your accounts, and look to you for entertainment or information, brands may reach out to you to collaborate. You can also pitch brands directly. 

Prepare for these opportunities in advance, so that you can earn income and work with brands in a way that aligns with your goals, by completing the following tasks.  

  • Make a list of the brands you’d like to collaborate with. 

  • Decide how you want to collaborate with them, including sponsored posts and affiliate marketing, as well as how you want to monetize your efforts. 

  • Draft a description of content that you can create to promote various products that you can use for your website or for contacting brands via email or messenger. 

  • Draft a template for pitching these brands directly. 

11. Refine your influencer skills and strategy. 

As your list of followers and brand collaborators grows, commit to the regular upkeep of your influencer business: 

  • Set aside time periodically to conduct research into new influencer tools and techniques, social media platforms’ latest features, and how your audience is behaving online. 

  • Take note of which content that gets the most engagement from your audience and be willing to adjust your content strategy accordingly. 

  • Stay connected to your audience and seek to understand their interests, goals, and challenges more intimately. 

Market your brand with Coursera

Remember: When you become an influencer, you can experience the rewards of generating income while sharing your passions with an engaged audience. To market yourself online successfully, you’ll need to build a broad set of skills and treat your influencer brand as a business.  

Get started with these online Professional Certificates from industry leaders, Google and Meta:

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Article sources

1

Hubspot. “2022 State of Inbound Marketing Trends, https://www.hubspot.com/hubfs/2022_State-of-Inbound-Marketing-Trends_V08122022.pdf.” Accessed October 23, 2022. 

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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