So you don’t have Kylie-level clout yet, but you do have at least one social media account, right? Then you can turn your casual online presence into a side hustle… Or even a lucrative career. It takes more work than slapping a filter on a cute #lewk, but with a little grit and this pro guide, you can learn to make bank.
Step 1: Build Your Brand
Pick a Niche
Start by asking yourself, ‘What do I love to do and can it be documented in new ways?’ For example, Julie Dastiné (66 000 followers, @JayHairBigga) is a hairstylist who shares her work on Instagram. ‘Almost all my clients hear about me through social media,’ she says. Her focus on natural hair is key. ‘The most successful influencers own a specific category,’ says Amber Venz Box (90 000 followers, @VenzEdits), president and co-founder of the influencer network and platform rewardStyle. For example, if you love cocktails, post about whiskey drinks versus just mixology.
Use What You Have
No need to start new accounts. Just clean up your Insta, YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook and/or Twitter by deleting old posts that don’t mesh with your new jam. Make your handle your full name or your new brand’s name – eg. set decorator Cynthia Moreno (60 000 followers, @HotPinkPineapples) chose one that reflects her account’s colourful vibe. Then infuse your bio with clear words about your new venture. Monique Doughty’s (112 000 followers, @IAmNurseMo) reads, ‘Critical Care Travel Nurse Influencer & Motivational Speaker’.
Make It Legit
Use the Settings tab on Instagram to switch your account to business profile for free, says Ernest James, founder and CEO of influencer agency Noire MGMT. This gives you data, like when people are most likely to comment.
Next, make a website by buying ‘your handle+.com,’ says Brittany Hennessy, author of Influencer. Think of it as a backup system. ‘No one owns their social media accounts, so it’s a bad idea to attach your whole business to them,’ says Hennessy.
Step 2: Grow Your Following
Only share stuff that actually represents your brand. That might mean sticking to a coloor theme or just a few specific yoga poses. Keep your captions full of your personality. ‘I imagine talking to a girl who is sitting on her couch and might need motivation,’ says wellness influencer Remi Ishizuka (192 000 followers, @Rrayyme).
Have A Schedule
Be consistent with your posting, says James. On Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, share at least once and up to three times a day. On YouTube, upload around three videos a week at the same time every week.
Write 10 or so relevant hashtags that will make it easier for people to discover you. List them in the first comment. You can also create your own that people can follow or use too. For example, city-turned-country baker Molly Yeh (312 000 followers, @MollyYeh) often adds #GirlMeetsFarm to her posts.
Network with all stars in your industry. ‘But never slide into a DM,’ says James. Instead, follow them and leave comments. If they repost your pics, their fans could find you. Take it from Ishizuka: When she had only 1000 followers, she posted about a big fitness star’s workout. ‘I tagged her and she reposted it … and I gained 8000 followers overnight!’
Step 3: Rake In the Dough
Cash in with links
Just about anyone with a social account can earn cash with affiliate links, specific URLs for products you promote (say, a certain bowl ora foam roller). Start by setting up a free account with the Shop-Style Collective network, then follow the site’s directions to make affiliate links. Drop a new link in your Insta bio or YouTube video description, and every time someone clicks on it, the brand you’re showing love will pay you a percentage. Once you find some success and build your audience, apply to be a member of rewardStyle. If someone clicks and buys through your rewardStyle affiliate link, the brand you’re suggesting will pay you 5–20% of the item’s total cost. So if you shout out to a pair of sneaks, you could rake in a portion for every pair your followers snap up.
Work with brands
After you hit 5000 followers, search for other brands to sponsor your posts. Make a list of companies that you actually like or that make products you already use, and scour their websites to find a marketing director. ‘Nine times out of 10, the folks in marketing control the budget,’ says Kéla Walker (68 000 followers, @KelaWalker), a producer and style influencer. ‘Do the work for them, so the only thing they have to do is write you a cheque.’ Say, ‘I love this product and I already use it. I’d like to create content with you as a sponsor. Here are some ideas.’ Lay out your stats, including engagement numbers and follower count. Rates may vary but there is a chance to make serious bank!
This post originally appeared in Cosmopolitan.
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