Influencers are pros at keeping a finger on the pulse of the digital world. Between changing trends and algorithms to new tools and apps, the influencer life is one of constant learning. If you’re just learning how to become an influencer (or even if you already are!), one of the best ways to learn about and keep up with the influencer world is to chat with those who have “been there, done that!”
So that’s what we did! We reached out to Perlu members to figure out what they have learned on their influencer journey. Each type of influencer, from travel influencers and foodies to beauty and family bloggers, has plenty of tips and tricks related to their own niche, but we found a few lessons that all influencers seem to agree on.
1. Network, Network, Network!
Being an influencer may look like a pretty solo endeavor from the outside. The truth is, though, that the most successful influencers have a strong network of other influencers supporting them. Yes, even the introverts!
“But do I need a network?” you ask.
Short answer: yes!
First, having influencer friends makes the sometimes solo-life of an influencer so dang fun.
Second, having a network of influencers gives you a built-in support system. We all know the influencer life is not as easy as it seems to our followers. Having people who understand the frustrations of the influencer life will help you through the ups and downs. (Let’s be real, though – it’s mostly ups!)
“When one of my favorite bloggers posted about Perlu, I could tell immediately that it was different,” Laura says.
“Since joining Perlu, I’ve connected with bloggers from all over the world to talk about what’s working and what’s not working for us, and it’s helped me to grow my following on Instagram and my understanding of what it means to be an influencer.”
“I have learned that it’s so important to come out of your comfort zone because there are amazing people there to help you out! I’m quite a shy, introverted person, but being an influencer has meant reaching out to people and connecting with people every day. Perlu has helped set me up for success by doing most of the legwork – they’ve collected a group of like-minded people, and I just have to say ‘hey’!”
When figuring out how to become an influencer, there’s always more to learn! Surrounding yourself with other influencers is the best way to stay up to date on current trends and best practices.
2. Collaborate With Other Influencers
Having a solid network is like having an unending pool of talent to pull from whenever you want to collaborate on a project or guest post or simply exchange shoutouts. Collaborations are one of the best ways to grow your brand, and having a network already in place takes care of all the preliminary work.
“Something I’ve learned as an influencer is how important it is to collaborate,” Erica says. “This is not an industry where you want to be a lone wolf. Working with other influencers, guest posting, sharing, commenting and basically building a community online is the best way to expand your own reach – and also not feel like you’re doing it all alone.”
3. Remember There’s Room for You
There is always room for another influencer in your niche. Seriously! No one follows just one fashion influencer or one Bookstagrammer. If someone is into books, they’re probably following dozens or even hundreds of Bookstagrammers! And they’d be overjoyed to find another!
Should you try to make your brand unique? Of course! Do you want to stand out from the crowd? Duh. But your brand is already unique in some way because you’re you. Your special combo of style, passions and talents is different than every influencer out there. So cross-pollinate! Take the things you love and put them together to give yourself an angle that is uniquely you.
If you’re a book blogger who also loves retro fashion, there are people out there looking for you.
If you’re a vegan mommy blogger also raising vegan kids and a vegan dog (it’s a thing), there are people out there looking for you.
Or, if you’re a solo male traveler with a fashion passion for cool sneakers, there are people out there looking for you.
4. Grow Your Email List
Between blogs, YouTube and a dozen different social media platforms, there are plenty of ways to get your content out into the world. And while social media platforms come and go (remember Vine?), a couple things have remained pretty consistent: email and blogging.
Sure, they’ve each seen their fair share of changes and upgrades (usually for the better) but growing an email list and maintaining a blog remains a surefire way to get a following, and Nicole Mölders, fashion and science enthusiast from High Latitude Lifestyle can’t stress this enough!
“I think the most important lesson learned is to focus on your own blog and email list,” Nicole says. “All social media has their own algorithm with which they determine how many, how often, and which of your readers and followers get the honor to read your posts. As we just saw recently with Google+, they may even decide to shut it down. Unfortunately, brands still look for social media followers, but they would be better off looking at the reach of the blogs!”
5. Connect With Your Audience Through Story
Becoming a successful influencer is all about producing unique, valuable content that cultivates a loyal audience who loves to return to your site again and again. That can be hard to do when so much of the content out there looks the same!
“Top 10 places to visit this summer, top 10 dog-friendly beaches, top 10 blah, blah, blah. Listicles! There are a lot of them out there,” Abby says. “They’re easy to write and rank pretty well, too. But if you want to really connect with your readers and keep them coming back, it’s important to break out of the listicle format and write more personal stories.”
Stories and anecdotes are what encourage readers to keep coming back, Abby says.
“If your readers think ‘Oh, that’s just like me’ or ‘That’s exactly what I would have done,’ they’ll come back…if they think, ‘This girl has balls’ or ‘I wonder what she does next time”…they’ll come back to read more of your stories.”
So how do you write a good story? It’s all about being authentic. Sure, you could try to be like your favorite influencer. But why would you do that when you have so much to offer as yourself?
The rise of influencers has brought about an authenticity crisis. Less than 6% of people think influencers are genuine!
Clearly, people are desperate for influencers who are transparent with their audience. If you want to know how to become an influencer, just focus on telling your story authentically, like Abby, and you’re bound to make a splash in the influencer world just by being you.
6. Be Open to Critique… Sorta
The more followers you get, the more you open yourself up for critique. We all make mistakes sometimes – everything from factual errors to problematic or hurtful language – so it’s important to listen to what your followers have to say.
But…there is a difference between feedback and hate. Feedback helps you grow as a person and as an influencer. That’s why it’s important to have a community of friends and other influencers who will tell you hard truths in a constructive way.
Haters, though, are only out to hurt you, not help you. So as you read through comments and DMs, consider: does that DM from @troll92031 really matter? Does it hold more weight than the opinions and feedback from your trusted friends, family and influencer community? Probably not! So take it with a grain of salt (and maybe hit the block button).
7. Create Real Value
When push comes to shove, being an influencer is about creating something valuable for your audience.
“The most important thing I’ve learned as an influencer is the satisfaction I can receive when I see my job appreciated,” Alberto says. “I love to create and to spend my time doing what I love to do for a living and not doing a job just for the salary. Creating histories, itineraries, discovering new places and new cultures – this is what I love to do, and being an influencer allows me to share it with people.”
Does this mean you have to create ebooks and itineraries and tutorials? Not necessarily! Value comes in all shapes and sizes. Heck, humor is valuable!
Take Jenny Lawson, for example. Jenny is now a New York Times bestselling author, but she didn’t start out that way! Over a decade ago, she started The Bloggess, a blog dedicated to her dark humor and mental illness. She wasn’t creating downloads or tutorials – she was just writing to entertain. Entertainment and humor with a splash of education on mental illness was the value she offered to her readers.
So whether it’s creating travel itineraries, filming makeup tutorials, giving tips to new moms, or just making people laugh, creating value is at the core of what being an influencer is all about.