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How to Become an Instagram Influencer: A Deep Guide

Picture of Steven Miller
Steven Miller
How To Become a Successful Instagram Influencer

Instagram launched in 2010, and it was an instant hit. Over 1 million people registered an account in the first two months, and in a year, this number grew to 10 million. Fast forward to 2018 and over 1 billion people had accounts on Insta.

Influencers have been a “thing” since the mid-2000s, but we’ve never seen anything quite like the phenomenon that we do with Instagram.

If you try searching for the first influencer on the platform, you’ll come across a lot of names:

  • Flora Beverley
  • Jamie Beck
  • Jiffpom

But who was the “first?” That is still up for debate. Influencers are popular because they provide a glimpse into their lives and brands like no one else can.

Facebook, X and LinkedIn aren’t ideal platforms for becoming an influencer, but you can use them for this purpose. Instagram’s Explore page, Story and feed help influencers keep their followers engaged.

However, you need to put a lot of effort into your content to become an influencer. Consistent posts lead to more engagement and followers, which is exactly what it means to be an influencer. You can use a new or old account to reach your Insta fame, but reviving an old account with a few followers may take more effort than it’s worth.

If you want to become an Instagram influencer, we’re going to cover everything you need to know, including optimizing your profile, choosing a niche, following trends, how to reach the Explore page and the ins and outs of the algorithm.

What is an Instagram Influencer?

Influencers are challenging to define. You can have 10,000 followers who don’t find you credible or trustworthy, and in this scenario, are you really an influencer? An influencer is someone who:

  • Followers trust
  • Followers engage with
  • Have a certain number of followers

You can be one of many different types of influencers.

Types of Influencers

Influencers come in many types:

  • Categories: business, beauty, fitness, lifestyle, gaming, entertainment, etc.
  • Celebrities: an almost instant influencer status
  • Nano: < 1,000
  • Micro: 1,000 – 100,000
  • Macro: 100,000 – 1m
  • Mega: 1+ million

You can spread wisdom, be a thought leader, sell products, recommend products and use your influence in any way to push your followers in a specific direction.

How To Become an Influencer on Instagram

Want to know how to become an Instagram influencer? You need to do a combination of everything correctly:

1. Understand Instagram’s Algorithm

Instagram’s algorithm is complex, and each module has its own algorithm attached to it. For example, the algorithm for Reels is slightly different than for Stories, Explore Page or a Post. However, think about it for a moment: what does Instagram want?

Users to stay on the app or site.

Why do people stay on Instagram? Engagement. If you create content that gets a lot of engagement, Instagram will promote it to others. Instagram will consider:

  • Creator and viewer relationships
  • Interest in the topic
  • Relevancy
  • Session time
  • Posting frequency
  • Interaction history
  • Likes and dislikes

If your content starts conversations, it will tick a major box on cracking Instagram’s algorithm. You’ll have an easier time creating content by selecting a niche first.

2. Choosing a Niche

What niche will you choose? If you post content in 100 different niches, Instagram’s algorithm won’t know how to promote your content properly. You can choose an archetype, which will then make it easier to select your niche:

  • Educator
  • Conversationalist
  • Speaker
  • Artist
  • Entertainer
  • Lifestyle

Why choose an archetype? You can then decide what type of content to create. Perhaps you want to be an educator. You can then narrow down your talents and choose one you like.

For example, an educator can be a fitness guru, marketer, painter – anything that you can teach to build your brand and gain trust.

3. Optimizing Profile

If potential followers look at your profile, will they know what you’re all about? Your bio should explain what you do, include industry keywords that make sense (professional artists, yoga teacher, etc.), emojis or special characters to draw attention to certain parts of the text and even a call-to-action.

4. Create Content Consistently

Content is the basis of your account; it’s the foundation. You need to consistently create all types of content:

  • Stories
  • Live
  • Carousel posts
  • Reels
  • Photo or Video Posts

Leverage all content types when trying to become an influencer because you never know which piece of content will go viral.

5. Stay Current with Instagram Trends

Instagram trends change like the wind, and you need to be current on them. How? Influencers keep a pulse on trends by:

  • Following other influencers
  • Watching YouTube influencer
  • Reading through relevant blogs

If you learn of a new trend, such as when the Ice Bucket Challenge was a thing, you can jump on it to get followers faster.

How to find Instagram trends:

  • Explore Page
  • Hashtag autocomplete
  • Use social listening tools like Sprout Social, Brandwatch or BuzzSumo
  • Follow hashtags in your niche (more on this below)

6. Try Reaching Instagram’s Explore Page

Hit the Explore page, and you’ll get views and engagement from people who have never seen your profile before. But hitting this amazing page is a lot harder than it sounds. You’ll need to have a following or a post that gains a lot of traction fast.

You can buy comments or Likes to gain traction.

But if you don’t want to spend any money on comments or Likes, don’t worry – there are tricks to help.

  • Create engaging content that people want to like or comment on. Add something intriguing to increase engagement.
  • Study other people’s Explore Page posts and dissect them to learn what they’re doing right and how to recreate it.
  • Post at the best time of the day for your audience. You can learn the best posting times by reviewing your analytics to see when you get the most views and engagement.
  • Try new formats to learn what’s really working for your audience and cater to Instagram’s algorithm(s).

And if you don’t mind spending money to get followers and get on the Explore Page, you can try paid ads (more on that below).

7. Diversify Your Social Platforms

Spread the love. If you follow any influencer, you know that they’ll often have profiles on all of the major platforms:

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • TikTok
  • X
  • YouTube
  • Snap
  • LinkedIn (if you’re a business or professional)

You can cross-promote your Instagram on these accounts and attract more followers in the process. 

8. Collab To Hack Your Way to Influencer Status

Want a shortcut to become an influencer? Collaborate with other influencers in your niche and help each other reach a new audience. Instagram has a neat collab post (read about how to do collab posts in greater detail) and it works something like this:

  • Create a post and hit Tag when ready
  • Invite influencers you want to join the collab
  • Click Done
  • Share

If the influencer approves, your post will be shown on both your own and the influencer’s account. Influencers will need to accept your collab request, and you can only leverage this powerful feature with one influencer at a time.

Instead of inviting a random influencer to use this feature without knowing you, be sure to talk to them first and agree on the collab ahead of time.

If you don’t want to use this feature, you can also connect and create great content with other influencers. You can do this at meetup events, conventions or just meet with other influencers one-on-one.

9. Building Community

Influencers have an audience. Build one. How? You need to do one thing: create a dialog with your audience. Some influencers forget that their followers are their tribe, and they never:

  • Engage with them
  • Comment back
  • Reply to their DMs

You may reach a point where you cannot reply to everything everyone says, but you should carve time out to engage deeper with your audience.

If you do create a community, these individuals will:

  • Promote your content further
  • Assist you with growing your status

10. Leveraging All of Instagram’s Features and Tools

If you haven’t done so already, we recommend switching your account to a business account. Why? Because you’ll gain access to features and tools that will help you grow your following and track your progress, like:

  • Call-to-action buttons, like “book now” or “reserve”
  • Instagram Insights, including accounts engaged, accounts reached, content interactions and total followers

Even if you don’t create a business account, it’s important to leverage all the features that Instagram offers. This means creating a variety of content, like Reels, static posts, video posts, Live and more.

11. Try Paid Ads

If you’re serious about becoming an Instagram influencer, you can try using paid ads to build awareness of your personal brand.

Ads will put your content in front of a larger audience, and it’s easy to get started. You can create content specifically for your ads, or you can boost a post you’ve already published.

Just make sure that your ads tell people what you’re all about or showcase some of your best content. You need to catch the attention of the people viewing your ad.

Instagram offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to your budget and the duration of your ads. You can also track your ad’s performance to see if it’s helping you grow your following and influencer status.

12. Establish Yourself as a Brand

If you want to become an Instagram influencer, you need to treat your account like a business and establish yourself as a brand.

Every influencer is, essentially, a personal brand. They have a consistent style, tone and aesthetic. Take the same approach when building up your account.

How do you establish yourself as a brand?

  • Identify your tone or voice. How do you want to speak to your audience?
  • Establish your style or aesthetic. Create a logo and define your brand colors.
  • Be consistent. Always use the same colors, logo and voice across all of your posts on Instagram.

When you treat yourself as a brand, you become instantly recognizable by your followers.

13. Follow a Hashtag Strategy

Hashtags are still relevant on Instagram, and the right hashtag strategy can help your content get found.

Here’s what’s working on Instagram right now:

  • Focus on the biggest hashtags to get your content in front of the most people
  • Incorporate just a few smaller niche hashtags to grab traffic from less competitive tags
  • Make sure that your hashtags are relevant to your brand or niche
  • Add hashtags to your Stories to get more exposure

And don’t forget to post at the right time. Hashtags are useful, but if your audience isn’t on the app and scrolling, they won’t find your content.

One easy way to find the best hashtags to target is to use hashtag generator tools, like:

How To Monetize Your Account as an Instagram Influencer

Instagram influencers have many options when it comes to monetizing their accounts, including:

  • Creating Subscriptions: Instagram is launching its own Subscriptions feature, which will allow influencers to charge a monthly fee for followers to see exclusive content.
  • Sponsored Posts: One of the most common ways to monetize an Instagram account is sponsored posts. Brands pay you a fee to post content about their products or services.
  • Selling Affiliate Products: With affiliate marketing, you receive a percentage of the sale of products or services. Choosing products that your audience will love is key.
  • Creating and Selling Your Own Products: You can also monetize your Instagram account by selling your own products. These products can be courses, merchandise or any other product that your audience would find appealing.

How Much Do Influencers Get Paid?

The amount influencers get paid depends on their follower count, engagement rate and other factors. However, the average rates for sponsored posts are:

  • $10-$100 for nano influencers (1,000-10K followers)
  • $100-$500 for micro-influencers (10K-50K followers)
  • $500-$5,000 for mid-tier influencers (50K-500K followers)
  • $5,000-$10,000 for macro-influencers (500K-1M followers)
  • $10,000+ for mega influencers (1M followers)

Remember that these are just averages. Some influencers make a lot more than this, while others make less.

Why Do Creators Fail at Being an Influencer on Instagram?

Some creators fail to become an influencer for many reasons. One of the most common reasons is that they stop posting content consistently.

If you don’t want to suffer the same fate, make sure that you avoid making the same mistakes below.

What To Avoid as an Influencer on Instagram?

If you want to reach your goal of becoming an influencer, avoid these mistakes:

  • Copying other creators
  • Using captions and hashtags poorly
  • Not keeping up with algorithm changes
  • Posting content that’s irrelevant to your audience
  • Not planning your content
  • Posting mostly sponsored content

Creating content your audience will love is key, but make sure that you’re posting on your account consistently.

Who Are the Most Popular Influencers on Instagram?

The most popular influencers on Instagram are:

How Can I Grow My Followers Organically?

To grow your followers organically:

  • Create unique content that’s engaging to your audience
  • Post new content consistently
  • Focus on creating compelling captions
  • Post at the right time
  • Use hashtags strategically to get more exposure

What Are the Best Ways to Engage with My Audience?

There are many ways to engage with your audience on Instagram, including:

  • Posting to your Stories regularly
  • Copying your top-performing posts
  • Promoting your content across multiple social platforms
  • Creating more short-form videos
  • Collaborating with other influencers

Do I Need Professional Equipment for Photos and Videos?

No, not necessarily. Professional equipment can take your photos and videos to the next level, but they’re not necessary. Many influencers use their smartphones to create their content.

Is It Necessary to Have a Large Following to Be an Influencer?

No, you don’t need a large following to become an influencer. In fact, brands love nano influencers because they have such high engagement levels and the trust of their followers.

How Do I Handle Negative Comments or Feedback?

Many influencers respond to negative comments head-on by correcting inaccurate statements or explaining their perspective. They may even ignore the feedback. One of the biggest emotional challenges of being an Instagram influencer is dealing with negative feedback. 

What Is the Average Follower Count for an Instagram Influencer?

Most Instagram influencers have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. A small percentage of influencers have more than 100K followers and even fewer have a million or more. 

Do Small Influencers Get Sponsored Posts?

Sometimes. There’s no minimum follower requirement for sponsored posts. However, most brands will only work with influencers who have 1,000+ followers. Micro and nano influencers are very valuable to brands because they have close relationships with their audiences.

Becoming an Instagram influencer takes time, patience and dedication, but the reward is worth the effort. The trick is to get going and stay consistent from the start. Get started on your journey to becoming an influencer today.

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