Do you consider yourself a social media guru with a larger-than-average network of followers? If you’re obsessed with Tweeting, Instagramming and Facebooking and have a knack for working the online crowd, you could have the potential to be the next big social media influencer. Read our in-depth guide to find out how you could turn your addiction into a career.
1. Research the profession
The job of is a fairly new one; but, given the importance of social media marketing in today’s business landscape, it can certainly be considered a career in its own right. While it may seem like the perfect career, not everyone has what it takes to succeed at influencer marketing. Before pursuing this career path, it is essential to research exactly what it takes to be successful.
There are many different kinds of social media influencer – from bloggers and YouTubers to celebrities and Instagrammers. In a nutshell, social media influencers work with brands to help them gain more publicity. As someone whom their followers trust and admire, they have the credibility and reach to promote brands they are passionate about – in a convincing and relatable way. In exchange, they are compensated either financially or with free products.
Two good examples are a skincare blogger promoting a new range of facial cleansers, or a fitness model on Instagram wearing a certain brand of sportswear. While celebrities have an automatic “in”, plenty of non-celebrities have cracked it too. One of the most famous social media influencers of our time is Zoella – otherwise known as Zoe Sugg – who went from broadcasting in her bedroom to topping the Forbes list of top beauty influencers for 2017.
The required skills are not as clear-cut as, say, a translator or a web designer. The skills required can vary depending on both your channel and your audience. An Instagrammer needs to be able to take (and edit) great photos, whereas a good YouTuber requires a flair for presenting. Bloggers, of course, need to be able to write engaging content. What many social media influencers have in common is an interesting personality or something that makes them stand out from the crowd. When coupled with digital know-how, this can be a recipe for stardom.
Above all, it is essential to know how social media works. If you are considering a career in influencer marketing, you are most likely already familiar with the most important platforms. Even if you use them every day in a personal context, however, it can be useful to understand their role in brand marketing.
In addition to social networking savvy, it is crucial to have a niche. This will enable you to define your target audience and the kinds of brands you work with – and ensure maximum credibility within your field.
The most successful social media influencers have huge earning potential; but, the salary you can expect varies greatly depending on how many followers you have – and ultimately, how influential you are. You can be paid per campaign or on a post-by-post basis. There are no set guidelines for how much an influencer earns, but one estimate highlights just how lucrative a profession it can be: a YouTube following of 7 million or more could see you earning as much as $300,000 for a video partnership.
That doesn’t mean to say that only people with millions of followers can make money. Micro-influencers have a much smaller following – usually in the thousands or tens of thousands – yet their audience engagement rates are extremely high, meaning they are just as valuable to brands. It is therefore possible to monetize your social media activity even if you don’t have celebrity status – with 100,000 followers you could still make up to $5,000 for a post.
You are very much your own boss. You can decide which brands you want to work with, and your schedule will depend on whether you are working on a full campaign or simply integrating sponsored posts into your normal activity. The work may also not be as consistent as a standard office job, so there may be times when you are busier than others.
2. Gain the qualifications
The great thing about a career as a social media influencer is that no official qualifications are needed. It’s all about knowing how each platform works and the kinds of content that your audience relates to. There is nothing you can study as such that will qualify you for this career, but there are certain things that are certainly useful to know.
First of all, a sound knowledge of online marketing will help you to understand why social media influencers are so important to brands. Consider learning about different types of content, as well as search engine optimisation (SEO) and what’s trending within your niche. It is also worth researching your competition and looking at how they got to where they are today.
3. Land your first job
If you have a strong presence within your niche and are ready to turn your hobby into a career, there are certain things you can do to help land your first gig:
- Volunteer: It’s extremely easy to “volunteer” as a social media influencer, and the chances are you’re doing it already. Post about brands you love and showcase your ability. In many respects, this is much like building your portfolio so that brands can see what you’re capable of.
- Network: The most important thing to do is to network – in every sense of the word. Expand your online reach by connecting with brands of interest, and also by actively taking part in groups and discussions. At the same time, network offline at industry events to raise your profile.
- Brand outreach: Brands may not always make the first move, so you need to put yourself out there. Especially in the beginning, take the initiative to approach your favourite brands about potential opportunities to collaborate.
4. Develop your career
In many cases, a career as a social media influencer opens the door to a world of opportunities. Much like celebrities, social media influencers may go on to write and publish a book, land a TV or radio presenting gig, or even bring out their own product lines. Following a particularly successful brand-influencer partnership, it may even be possible to be appointed as a long-term ambassador for that brand. Alternatively, your expert knowledge could lead you to a career as a social media manager or marketing consultant.
The role of social media influencer can be incredibly diverse, flexible, and rewarding. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that achieving large-scale success requires lots of time and effort. If you think you’ve got what it takes, go for it and give it your all!