How to Become an Instagram Influencer: The Definitive Guide of Success
Here we discuss in detail - with figures, personal cases and tool references — how to start blogging on Instagram and become influencer, even if now you have a dozen followers and you know almost nothing about how to use this social service.
Choosing the Subject for Your Blog
To identify the audience of your page and make people interested at their first visit to your account, define one subject for your blog: fashion, travel, food, motherhood or something else.
Here are some ways to find the subject for an Instagram account:
1. Find what you’re good at
To become an Instagram influencer, finding a niche that you’re good at is the first step. It may be only the first impression that there’s nothing interesting in your life, because every day you live in this place, go to work and have a hobby. And those around you are probably like you: they have a similar lifestyle and work in the same industry. Your routine, however, may be interesting to strangers.
2. Choose something you’d like to explore
If you don’t like talking about your weekdays anyway, find a subject that has long interested you: sports, cooking, painting, even if you understand nothing in it. It is a good opportunity to study the subject and become an Instagram influencer. A story of Instagram success by a newcomer will evoke empathy in readers — it’s easier for people to identify themselves with someone who is afraid of something and makes mistakes, just as they do. And of course if, you really want to become an Instagram influencer, you have to be about your business with love.
3. Look at your subscription list
Another way to choose the subject for your blog is to analyze what content you read. That’s the subject you’ll definitely find interesting to deal with.
Don’t be confused by the fact that so many people already talk on the interesting subject. Almost everything has already been coined, but that doesn’t mean that no one would want to hear one more story — your story.
Appearance of Your Instagram Account
Change your profile description, avatar and highlighted stories, so the visitors would immediately see who you are and what is your page about.
So, if you want to become an Instagram influencer, your bio must be more remarkable.
Typical details in Bio are: name, location, age. Several lines on the job, interests and subjects covered.
Arrange line breaks so that the profile header would look more neat.
Avoid caps, unless it’s an artistic device. And don’t go too far with emoji. A reasonable appearance for an Instagram account makes almost half of the success in promotion.
Provide one link: to your website, page in other social media or Telegram channel. If you cannot pick one link, use Linktree.
One unspoken law of Instagram is that photos in your account shall look well next to each other. Some go fanatic and make dozens of pictures with things of the same color and processed in the same way. In practice, it’s enough to adhere to the same style and color range. It’s important that your pictures don’t look disorderly.
ColorKuler: Determine the account’s main color.
Preview: Check how pictures would look in the account before posting.
Only post quality photographs (of course, artistic ideas are an exception). The competition on Instagram is too high to hope for attention to inconsistent, noisy snaps shot on an old phone camera.
Create interesting images. A personal account and blogger’s account differ in contents. Everyday pictures are good too but would strangers like to look at them? Think if you’d be interested in such a photo featuring another person?
If you store memories on Instagram and it’s important for you to share some events in your life with your friends, set up the second profile for personal purposes.
At this stage, you might find that you’re a bad photographer. That can be fixed — free lessons are available on YouTube and Skillshare.
Image Processing for Instagram
You’ll also need to learn how to process. Lessons are available on Instagram and YouTube. Processing is a serious business for the audience of this service. Processing lessons by famous bloggers are even sold, such a course being typically priced at $20 to $30.
1. Traffic from other social media
When creating a page, the easiest (and obvious, but we mention it anyway!) approach is to invite your followers from other social media and ask your friends who use Instagram for a long time to tag your new account.
All the free options tend to have a catch, and promotion on Instagram is not an exception. Almost all the methods have several serious ‘Buts’. We will discuss all of them and leave it up to you to decide whether to use them or not.
2. Mass liking and following on Instagram
Remember this joke “Only shops follow me on Instagram”? It’s mass following — automatic subscription to a large number of accounts. Not only commercial profiles do so, but personal accounts, too. Software to execute mass following action would cost about $10 to $20. A cloud version would require that amount once a month and an app to be installed on your computer — for one time, when buying. However, you’ll have to keep your computer on so that the software would work.
One drawback is that after you subscribe, you’ll eventually unsubscribe, causing negative reactions. You might be banned if exceed the hourly action limits (they are subject to change, so search for the up-to-date values before starting to promote).
Mass liking is an automatic like giveaway. You’ve probably been a ‘victim’ of likes by suspicious profiles – this is mass liking on Instagram. It’s a more native method but still considered to be spam.
3. Activity chats
Beginners often unite in groups to help each other. Not only by advice, but also by activity in the account, because it affects the ranking. In activity chats, people mutually like and comment each other’s posts. Such comments are easily recognizable: They are trivial (‘Cool photo’, ‘You’re great’) and authors keep repeating themselves.
4. Contests and SFS
Having quality content and a good luck, one may get a free mention by a major influencer. They organize contests, or sfs (shout for shout): followers share any of the organizer’s photos in their accounts and tag the organizer. After that, the Instagram influencer chooses the accounts he likes among the participants and posts their photos in the profile or Stories.
In 2010, promotion via hashtags was topical. Today, after hashtag subscription was introduced, this way has a chance again. However, there’s no proven course of action. Test various hashtags in your posts and compare the statistics for posts with different hashtags and without them: Perhaps, reaching the top for one of the tags will bring new audience.
6. Get into Top/Recommended
This is the most realistic way to have followers on Instagram for free. Being Recommended brings a couple dozen to several thousand followers for one post.
But reaching the top is not easy. There are different theories on how the top generation algorithms work (Instagram doesn’t disclose any official information about it). The most popular and credible one is that reaching the top is only affected by engagement received by the photo in Recommended. I.e. it doesn’t matter how much attention the post received on your page. Instagram shows it to a small selection of people in Recommended and, if they get interested, shows it to others.
The top will show photographs that attract from afar and make you want to see the photo in full. This is why before/after pictures and photos with red arrows often end up here.
Paid Promotion on Instagram
Having a budget for promotion would make it quicker and easier to become an Instagram influencer, but if you are not planning to spend large amounts, spend money wisely: study the possible channels of promotion and, having placed the ads, compare their performance.
1. Placement by other bloggers
Followers brought to you by being recommended by opinion leaders will be more loyal than those attracted by targeted ads. Bloggers place links to other accounts in Stories or the main account. Mentions in Stories look more native and cost less.
Pick pages with similar audience and ask the owners for quotations. Discuss the details: how you will be introduced and for how long the ad will stay posted.
Record the follower count before advertising and 24 hours later. The difference between these two values is the approximate number of those attracted by the ad. If you know the daily average number of your subscriptions (it’s the natural gain you get without doing anything), subtract that value.
Divide the ad price by the number of new followers and you’ll get the price per follower.
Based on it, compare ad performance by different bloggers. Initially, it’s better not to have several placements at the same time to objectively evaluate each advertiser.
2. Targeted advertising
Another option for paid promotion is the Instagram’s official advertising. You pay for your posts being shown in the feeds of not just your followers but new audience, too.
By the way, your subscribers may also see the ads, so don’t be surprised by your friends asking you why you advertise yourself, because you are likely to face such questions ;)
The advantages as compared to bloggers’ advertising is that the posts’ promotion can be disabled at any time. For example, a blogger’s post costs $30. You’ve paid that amount and are waiting for the effect. While, in targeting, you’ve set up the ads, spent a small amount, e.g. $3, and check the result. If it’s unsatisfactory, you disable the advertising, if it’s ok — increase the budget.
Stories where you wake up famous are rare. Therefore, you’ll have to use Instagram Analytics showing enhanced statistical data for your account in order to assess the effect of your actions.
Metrics to Monitor
You probably pursue a certain follower count. At first glance, this is an objective indicator of your Instagram page’s popularity.
However, the onset of algorithmic feed made things not so simple: There’s no point in having audience who doesn’t see your posts.
Therefore, the reach becomes important, i.e. the real number of users who see your post.
Engagement is a criterion of content’s success. It includes likes and comments. Monitor the increase in ER (Engagement Rate). There are two ways to calculate it (the both are very simple!):
ER per follower = posts’ average engagement count / follower count *100%
ER per reach = post’s engagement count / reach * 100%
Where to Check the Statistics
Instagram provides detailed account statistics. Too see it, turn on business profile (Settings — Switch to Business Profile). You’ll get access to the page’s statistics and every post’s statistics.
You cannot check competitors’ statistics this way, but it can be done using third-party tools. For example, popsters.com. It will find the most popular posts, calculate ER, compare different accounts.
By the way, you can check which subjects get more comments: Analyze profiles that looks like yours with Popsters Social Media content analytics tool and filter the posts by comment count. The top will show posts that had the most intensive discussions.
How Much Instagram Influencers Earn
This is the section for those who read this article waiting for information telling when you’ll be able to drop everything and go on travel at the expense of hotels, travel agencies and clothing brands ;)
Beginners receive barter offers more often or even look for such offers themselves. They get something in exchange for a post or story. The conditions of placement are discussed beforehand: what will the post contain (it’s better to prepare the text and picture by yourself and obtain the prior approval for it), which account will be tagged. Sometimes advertisers agree to a sincere opinion and do not moderate posts at all.
You can find barter offers in specialized Facebook groups or exchanges like top russian bloggers/ .
Pricing for Instagram Blog Posts
The price varies widely — from $50 to hundreds of thousands of dollars for movie Instagram stars’ accounts. It’s influenced by the account’s popularity and subject — the rarer it is and the more valuable is the audience (e.g., car enthusiasts), the higher is the pricing.
If you want to know the pricing of other bloggers, you can use this trick: send a direct message on behalf of an advertiser, or use exchanges, although the pricing there may be inaccurate.
When Will I Have My First Ad Customers?
It’s hard to predict accurately: you’ll be noticed by brand managers or ad agency employees. Register on exchanges to obtain your first orders from there.
As a rule, you may get paid for ads if you have 10,000+ followers with the activity starting at 1500 to 2000 likes per post and active, lively (not single-word) discussions.
We have also asked some Instagram stars themselves to tell how to become an Instagram influencer.
Real Experience: Instagram Influencer’s Stories
We have asked influencers who blog on travel / family / lifestyle about how they became popular, how they create content and what would advise to beginners.
Alexander Dobrokotov Instagram.com/dobrokotov
“Now I'm active on two platforms: Instagram (for photo, video and jokes) and Twitter (just for jokes). Previously, there were numerous original pages on VK but now I lost interest in it somehow.
I’ve been keeping Instagram for a very long time but previously I posted what people now usually post in Stories. Just for pleasure and to fix moments to remember. I sometimes tried various formats and experimented. In general, however, the follower count didn’t really increase for years, staying around a thousand. It didn’t bother me too much, since, as I said, I’ve been keeping Instagram for pleasure.
Over the last one year and a half, the both platforms have acutely improved their performance and continue growing. I don’t know what it is caused by, but hope it’s the content quality. I started to care a bit more about the photographs, make funny videos (but not vines, God forbid), invent characters, mini-series of posts, conceptual flatlays, attack things I don’t like.
The main thing, as I think, is to find your face and your style. Instagram is now overfilled with uniform content. Look at typical Insta Girls’ profiles. Same bleached and processed pictures, same poses, same pointless texts with a lot of smileys. Or viners. Same disgusting sexist videos like this genre of Men Parking and Women Parking. This endless kaleidoscope of clichés chokes the platform, therefore I think that something original, honest and witty should make a hit.
After the milestone of 10,000 followers, brands started to contact me. I don’t like the bloggers’ stupid way of ‘native’ integration of advertised products in their posts and even make fun at it, advertising Auchan’s Every Day brand. However, if the offer and product are cool, I could do an original post. And I’d easily agree to help friends by advertising the business they start up.
I suggest that beginners should try new things and be patient.”
Diana Yakovleva Instagram.com/thedianeday
“I succeeded in what no one believed could be a serious business and many didn’t consider a profession in 2012. The others’ doubts affected me, so I was overwhelmed by the decision to prove to myself and those I care about that everything is possible.
In my case, the experience on television did work – a huge load with absolutely no chance for self-expression. Even my husband laughed at blogging, saying it’s ephemeral and has no prospects, but I persistently looked for every argument, read many articles on blogging and made pictures on a cheap camera and I was happy with any event.
I started with online fashion media Intermoda: I prepared reports and added my photos, I just wrote down descriptions of dresses on the go during shows — sometimes I didn’t even have press releases. In 2012, bloggers we perceived with a kind of mistrust.
When keeping my first blog on blogger.com, I published two posts daily, with photos I found on Pinterest and other websites — these were coverages of some fashion trends. And it was only six months later that I received the first offer of cooperation. Of course, my education and experience as a journalist and editor on TV have always helped me, but I have always studied how to blog and continue finding things out — one cannot afford relaxing in this business.”
Yana Kovaleva Instagram.com/yasminartist
“I’m a travel blogger and journalist. I write travel guides for Eksmo publishing house and my book ‘Kazan for Romantics’ has just been released. On Instagram, I write about travelling and post pictures of beautiful places and different countries. I started blogging on Instagram because I wanted to share something beautiful and inspire people. I started from posting my paintings, which were my hobby. I received good feedback, many started to follow me. I spent very much time liking and following others. I would just stuck on Instagram for hours three years ago, when this social service was at its height.
It’s not hard to become an Instagram influencer, and it’s good to be one if you want to share something: your thoughts, findings, your life. I think that a person who tends to keep everything within, would be bothered by the need to share something in their posts. It’s because the regularity of posting is not as important as the pictures and texts themselves. Post at least once a day or two days. Many people are not willing to share their life so frequently.
Difficulties arise when you withdraw into your own life and are pulled away from the virtual world, but when you’re a blogger, you already have certain audience, so if you don’t post, your engagement drops and you vanish from people’s feeds.
People around you don’t take it serious and don’t see it as a profession. While Western bloggers get paid for advertising and are treated more seriously, Russian advertisers often come up with barter or ridiculous amounts, which are useless for living. Therefore, it’s not easy to make blogging your profession in Russia. You’ll be able to get some barter offers even with 10,000 followers, but, of course, you can’t live off iPhone cases and manicure. Perhaps, you need to make serious investments in your blog to start making money on it.
Today, when I have 20,000 subscribers, I’m mostly offered barter or advertising for small amounts, like $50 to $100. I Don’t clutter up my blog, it’s about inspiration and travel, so I don’t publish posts about cases and manicure. It’s more important for me to stick to the concept, rather than make money on the blog.
My advice to a beginner would be to ask yourself a question. Behind the blog’s pretty exterior, there’s a lot of work: making pictures, promoting, working with the audience, comments. And the reward may be a long time coming. If you’re ready for that and agree to share your life, blogging is worthwhile for you, and if it’s just an opportunity to make money and you expect high income, I will disappoint you — there is no high incomes in this business until you reach the popularity having made a long way, during which you have to earn your living by doing something else.”
Vera Antamanova Instagram.com/confusion_with_a_k
“Initially, Instagram appeared in my phone in 2012. It was totally unclear what to do with another social media, as well as the whole point of it. As everyone, I just dropped photos there. The realization was coming gradually, so in October 2014 I decided that I need to create a profile that will adhere to a single style, where I’ll be able to share not only pictures but my thoughts, too. This is how Instagram for me turned from a memorable album into a place for communication and self-expression.
I almost always understood that no magic will just make people start stumbling upon my profile floating around the Internet. It needs to be promoted somehow. At that time, sfs and so called blogger ads were very popular. I talked to other people a lot, and that was what helped me to reach my first 1000 followers. Nowadays, it’s not so easy to do it like that.
Eventually I started discovering different ways of promotion on Instagram. As at first I was literally reinventing the wheel, I had to spend a lot working on the social service. I tried almost everything on my account (except for buying bots, which seemed stupid to me) with more or less success. Gradually I developed the understanding of what is particularly suitable to me among all this diversity.
I love my Instagram, it is a reflection of me, my lifestyle and way of thinking. I’m not an ingenious photographer and don’t have a sky-blue house in a countryside. Excuse me if it upsets you, but your Instagram won’t become popular with a wave of a magic wand. Profile promotion takes continuous work and self-improvement.”
Steps to Become an Instagram Influencer from Scratch
- Choose the subject for your account;
- Learn how to shoot and process photographs;
- To start blogging on Instagram and do it successfully, you need to create quality content;
- Start promoting your account. Choose free methods (invite friends from other social media, deploy mass following or liking, join activity chats, participate in sfs, try reaching the top recommended, test hashtags) or paid methods (placement by bloggers, targeted ads) for the promotion.
- Analyze the audience’s reaction to content to understand where to move to;
- Talk to the audience, initiate activities;
- Keep working on your profile.
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