I came across an article this weekend that really saddened me. It spoke about how influencers are a joke… people that just try to get free things in exchange for a selfie with a product. But I’m willing to bet that the person who wrote it, didn’t bother to do any research before spewing their biased opinion all over the internet. Being an influencer is so much more than a photo on social media. It’s hard work and has become a huge chunk of most company’s advertising budgets, because it works.
According to this report by Influencer Marketing Hub, the influencer marketing industry is set to grow to approximately $9.7B this year! And it’s no surprise to those of us that have been working in the industry for years. And while those numbers may shock some, I believe it’s why so many people are trying to find their way into the industry. It may be that they have read reports or have seen the various shows and documentaries about becoming an influencer. They may follow someone on social media that they know is a full-time influencer or have a friend who is successful. I’m actually contacted pretty regularly by complete strangers, asking how I got started and how they can make money as an influencer or blogger.
And my first question is always the same…
“How much time do you have to dedicate to this?”
And their responses tell me everything I need to know. If their answer is anything less than “as much time as I need to”, they aren’t ready. Because, contrary to what many people believe, being an Influencer (…a good, successful influencer), takes dedication, willingness to learn and most of all, TIME!
No successful, full-time influencer just rolled out of bed, posted a photo on social media and suddenly had companies banging down their door and offering them money. Most successful influencers have been working their butts off for years. They have learned that being an influencer isn’t easy because there are so many hats you have to wear. It’s actually a business where you are the employees and the employer and one that requires full-time effort if you want to make full-time money.
What Jobs are Successful Influencers Actually Doing?
Writer: Influencers have to have something to say and have to be able to put those words down in a way that grabs peoples attention and makes them want to engage. It needs to be relatable and interesting. An influencer’s job is to share their thoughts, challenges, triumphs and everyday life while flawlessly incorporating a specific product or service, highlighting how it helps them and why it will help those that are reading it.
Photographer: While there are a number of influencers who hire photographers, most have taken the time to learn how to take and edit photos themselves. Not only does that save money, but it gives them the flexibility to be able to produce content on their own time and not have to rely on others. It can be argued that photography is the most important part of an influencer’s job. If you’re scrolling social media, what makes you stop? It’s usually a photo that grabbed your attention and made you want to read about it.
Marketing: Full-time influencers often apply to campaigns via various platforms. Most of these platforms ask for a pitch. They want to hear how an influencer is going to incorporate a specific product onto their feed. An influencer is required to sell themselves in 1-2 sentences, painting a picture of what that photo will look like and what the content will say. Companies choose who they want to work with based on those pitches and what they feel is the best fit for their brand. Additionally, influencers are constantly marketing themselves via social media. On the days when they aren’t sharing sponsored content, they are sharing things about their lives. They are doing everything they can to reach more people and gain new followers.
Creative Director: Those photos you see on social media took time to create. There is planning involved in the photoshoot itself (what they are wearing, how their hair is done, how the product is positioned, what props they needed, what location they used, etc.). There is the photo culling process where they may have taken 100 photos and went through them all to find the perfect shots before editing them. Then of course, there is the planning of their instagram feed to make sure everything flows beautifully.
Social Media Expert: Influencers have to take the time to research and learn each social media network because they all work differently and need different images/videos, amount of words, hashtags, etc. A successful influencer will have a strong presence on all social media networks and understand what they need to do to put their posts in front of new people all the time.
Community Manager: Influencers spend a great deal of time communicating with their followers. Whether it’s answering questions, directing them to where they can find certain posts or products or just thanking them for their input. Keeping the conversation going, keeps their pages relevant.
Marketing Data Analyst: An influencer needs to know how to read their data and understand which posts do well and why, what time and day their followers are most active, which posts need to be shared again, etc.
Content Strategist: Planning is the key to being a successful influencer. What will they post and when? Do they have something to post that day or is it best to wait until the following day? Successful influencers find out what’s trending and create content around it, so that they can be a part of the conversation and use their platform not only for profit, but for influencing positivity as well.
A Natural Sales Person: I’m the first to tell companies that influencers are NOT sales people, but there is a natural ability that influencers have to have in order to “sell” the product they are sharing. Whether it’s through photography or writing, successful influencers are able to sell a product without even trying and that’s why companies will continue to hire them.
And that’s not all…
An influencer should never get to a point where they feel that they are the best at what they do and decide to stop learning and growing. We can always be better. We can always learn something. Things (especially on social media) are always changing and evolving and if you, as an influencer, aren’t doing that, you may find yourself becoming non-relevant.
If you’re thinking about becoming an influencer, take all of this into consideration. If you feel you are up to the task, take the chance, but don’t expect to become a successful influencer overnight. There are no shortcuts. You need to work hard, sometimes for years, before you are a successful influencer.
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