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Is Being An Influencer A Good Career Choice?

is-being-an-influencer-a-good-career-choice?

6 Factors To Consider Before Becoming An Influencer

Being an influencer can seem like the perfect easygoing career choice, but like any other career, it comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. Many aspects impact whether or not this career is a good choice for you.

If you’re on the fence about starting down this path, here are six factors to consider:

1. Niche expertise

Every influencer has a particular niche they’re passionate about, distinguishing them from the competition. If you have the education, experience, or strong interest in a topic, you can create content around it that the audience enjoys, and build a career through your niche expertise.

2. Audience and engagement

Your audience is the only factor that allows your career as an influencer to flourish. It takes a lot of time to build an engaged follower base. You need to understand their expectations of your content and deliver consistently. If you are relatable, entertaining, and trustworthy, you not only create a bond with your audience but also bring monetization opportunities.

3. Monetization opportunities

There are a number of income streams available for influencers today, as long as they have a substantial follower count and established credibility in their niche. Brand collaborations, sponsored content, affiliate marketing, and merchandise sales are all ways that you can potentially earn a living as an influencer.

4. Long-term sustainability

Social media influencers have to create content online every day in order to establish themselves as a trustworthy voice within the industry. With ever-changing algorithms and unpredictable income, your career’s sustainability depends on your ability to adapt, evolve, and diversify your brand.

5. Work-life balance

Your career as an influencer is based on your passion and creativity as an individual. While this means you have to share parts of your personal life, it’s important to set boundaries so you can protect your privacy even as your career progresses. Many influencers struggle with this. So it is a worthwhile factor to consider before you start working on your online presence.

6. Emotional resilience

Dealing with criticism may be a part and parcel of every career, but exposing yourself to millions of users on social media can amplify the effect of it. Negative comments, online trolling, and public fault-finding can all impact your mental health. Learning to maintain a positive mindset and preserve your mental health, therefore, becomes important if you choose to become an influencer.

While this is not a one-and-done list to decide when a career as an influencer is suitable for you, these factors can help you make a well-rounded decision for yourself.

Social media is an evolving landscape, and there are plenty of successful influencers that you can take inspiration from. When you know that you want to begin your journey, knowing the first steps can make all the difference.

How To Launch Your Career As An Influencer

While it may look like an overnight success, becoming a successful influencer takes months if not years of dedicated hard work.

Every influencer’s journey is unique, even within the same niche or industry. Your specific topics of interest, goals, and target audience all make your path different from others. But there are some helpful guidelines that can help you get started. If you’re looking to learn how to launch your career as an influencer, we’ve broken it down into nine steps:

1. Define your niche

Every influencer is known as a figure of authority in a specific field, so choosing the niche is the first step. Explore what topics interest you, what your expertise is, and what can set you apart from others. Once you have a clear idea of your niche, you can begin to attract an audience that’s interested in the same thing.

According to the State of Influencer Marketing Report 2023, the most popular niches for influencers are lifestyle, music, and beauty. You can choose any niche and be successful at it, from cooking and fashion designing to motorcycles and traveling (as long as you’re willing to put in the work and have an interest in the area, as you’ll spend a lot of time learning and posting about that subject matter).

As a budding influencer, finding your footing can also be easier through an influencer marketing platform like Afluencer where you can define your niche and connect with brands looking for influencers with audiences like yours.

Take, for example, Marques Brownlee. He made his YouTube debut 14 years ago by uploading videos on software tutorials. Today, he has over 17 million subscribers and gets millions of views for testing and reviewing the latest consumer electronics.

Tech influencer looking down on table of smart phones
Image Source: Marques Brownlee’s Instagram

His reviews are simple, detailed, and unbiased. And his unique style of editing his content makes his audience trust and support him. Unsurprisingly, he is the most subscribed-to tech reviewer in the world today.

The bottom line: jump on the subject matter that truly interests you, as you’ll be spending a lot of time thinking, talking, and creating about it. If you don’t love the niche you’ve chosen, it’ll be difficult to remain consistent on days when you don’t feel like creating.

2. Choose a primary social media platform

With so many options to choose from, choose one social media platform that most aligns with your content and lean into that arena first.

Work to build your presence on one platform exclusively, be it Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, or others. Think about what kind of content you want to create—is it blog posts, short-form videos, photos, or in-depth tutorials? Each platform is uniquely suited to one content type, with Instagram supporting visual imagery, YouTube promoting longer video content, and TikTok famous for its quick, short-form videos.

Once you know what you want to publish, you’ll know where you’d be best suited to do it. This way, you concentrate your efforts and establish yourself before expanding into other platforms.

For example, Liza Koshy started posting short-form comedy videos on Vine and amassed seven million followers before starting her YouTube channel and opening an Instagram account.

Liza Koshy in short yellow checkered dress alongside Instagram comments | Influencer career guide
Image Source: Liza Koshy’s Instagram

Today, she has snowballed her influence to 17 million subscribers on YouTube and 20 million followers on Instagram. She has gone on to create comedy shows, act in Hollywood movies, and start her own beauty products brand.

You don’t have to scratch your head creating content on multiple platforms. Start with one and take it from there.

3. Consistently create high-quality content

Social media algorithms tend to favor content that strikes up conversations, follows current trends, or mirrors popular formats. That means you’ll need to follow those trends and always be “on”.

It’s not an easy job. Consistently creating high-quality content means addressing your audience’s questions, making it entertaining for them to follow and engage with you, and ensuring top production practices to make it visually appealing. This can be tough since as an influencer, you’re often working as your own cameraman, model, editor, and producer. Having a schedule for the days when you can shoot content, edit it, and publish, can help you incorporate this into your daily routine.

Example of an Instagram Calendar by ManyChat
Image Source: ManyChat’s Instagram Calendar

Whether your focus is photos or videos, the goal is to stay consistent in uploading new content and strive for originality to leave an impact on the viewers. Here’s the posting frequency Hootsuite recommends on different social platforms to maximize your content performance:

  • Instagram: 3-5 times per week
  • TikTok: 3-5 times per week
  • Facebook: 1-2 times per day
  • LinkedIn: 1-2 times per day
  • Twitter: 2-3 times a day
  • Pinterest: At least once a week

There are a ton of creators you can take inspiration from, and there’s always room for experimentation with new and creative content styles.

4. Build and engage your audience

Content that’s valuable and engaging will resonate with your target audience. So you’ll need to invest some time into understanding what your followers want to see from you. Analyze which of your content performs best and replicate that in future content.

The comments sections, DMs, stories, and mentions are also great ways to build authentic connections with your followers. Influencer and entrepreneur Ali Abdaal does this well. Across Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, he has over five million followers. And he still makes it a point to engage with his audience regularly.

Every week, he asks questions, replies to comments, and creates content based on his audience’s suggestions. It’s his attention to detail and commitment to his followers’ opinions that have led to his success as a productivity influencer online.

Ali Abdaal tweets asking followers for their favourite song or playlist
Image Source: Ali Abdaal’s Twitter

5. Collaborate with other influencers

When trying to build your network and reach a wider audience, collaborating with other creators is a great way to increase exposure. It allows you to work together to create content that helps both of you attract new followers.

Content opportunities like guest appearances, shout-outs, and group collaborations can all work to expand your network quickly. Makeup and beauty creator James Charles, for example, recently collaborated with dancer and influencer Jojo Siwa to create a YouTube video that has already crossed 1.4 million views. While the two creators specialize in different niches, their collaborative content helps each of them tap into the other’s audience bases.

James Charles collabs with Jojo Siwa swapping credit cards
Image Source: James Charles’ YouTube

6. Monetize your influence

Brands are working with smaller-scale micro and nano-influencers more than ever today. So you don’t have to wait until you have a large following to start working with them. Whether it’s brand partnerships, merchandise sales, digital products, or affiliate marketing, brands are open to negotiations so you should select opportunities based on your audience’s interests, no matter the size of your audience.

However, even if you’re an influencer with a large following, it’s not ideal to rely on one or two sources to monetize your business, especially if it’s reliant on brands. You may want to explore opening something of your own to leverage your influence and make your business more profitable.

For example, influencer Emma Chamberlain’s collaboration with photography company Canon was well-received by her audience since she has advocated for the brand’s cameras on her YouTube channel for years. Both influencer and brand benefit from such paid partnerships, with visible boosts in reach, branded search, and revenue generated.

Emma Chamberlain collabs with Canon | Influencer career
Image Source: Emma Chamberlain’s Instagram

7. Network by attending industry events

With the rise of social media careers, influencer events are commonplace today. Many are hosted by brands, like this recent week-long yoga retreat by fitness brand Alo Yoga. These networking and branding events set the stage for influencers to promote the brand’s products on their personal social media accounts in exchange for this exclusive access, free products, and a fun experience. When you attend an influencer event like this, you get to showcase your expertise and establish yourself as a prominent influencer in your niche (while networking with fellow influencers, too).

Alo House yoga retreat | Couple doing yoga pose on grass
Image Source: Alo’s Website

While some events may be invite-only, you can always keep an eye out for such opportunities. By actively interacting with fellow influencers both online and offline, and networking with brands and event organizers, you can stay in the loop regarding all potential events. There are also more mass-scale events for influencers to network, like upcoming events including Podcast Movement in August, Indie Pod Con 8 in September, and AdWorld in March 2024.

Meanwhile, keep working to improve your key metrics, including your follower count, impressions, and engagement rate. Brands are more likely to invite you if they are confident that you can turn your content into awareness and sales for their products and services.

8. Diversify your income streams

One of the unspoken risks of a career as an influencer is the unpredictability of income. Relying only on brand deals might not be enough, especially in the beginning. Consider diversifying where your money comes from by adding other revenue streams depending on the social media platform you’re active on.

UGC, or user-generated content, is another source of income with big potential. This differs from the usual content you create because this content is directly used on the brand’s social media channels. And so the content ownership is transferred to them so they benefit from the authenticity you bring, while you get more reach and monetary compensation. Brands and their consumers both value authentic content on social media today. So UGC allows you to leverage your creativity while brands collect social proof and influence purchase decisions.

Mindy Thomas, a content creator, and creative strategist, explains it well:
“Creating short-form videos for brands gives me the fulfillment of being a creator and executing brand partnerships without having to rely heavily on building a personal brand or sharing too much of my personal life with the public. I create for the brand and their channels only.”

According to her, creating user-generated content helps take pressure from having to keep personal engagement rates high enough for brands to see her value. Since it also helps add another source of income to help with revenue fluctuations, it’s a win-win situation.

9. Keep learning and adapting

The best way to keep growing as a creator and influencer is to stay updated with the latest trends and changes in social media platforms. It can be easy to slip into your comfort zone and create content that feels familiar. But remember, audiences are always looking for new and exciting experiences.

That’s why the last step to starting your career as an influencer is to be open to learning new skills, strategies, and technologies in order to stay relevant. Being an influencer, the best way to learn is by observing what industry leaders are doing, what creator companies and agencies are suggesting, and investing in your learning through communities and masterclasses like on AdWorld Pro, Foundr, and Later.  You can also use the new skills and knowledge you acquire to give your content creation a facelift and demonstrate authority when speaking to brands for collaborations.

So whether you want to kickstart your career as a fashion influencer or become the next big makeup mogul, these guidelines will help you get the ball rolling. Given this is a relatively newer career path, the only way to learn is by trial and error.

Unsurprisingly, this career path also comes with its fair share of pros and cons.

The Pros and Cons Of Being An Influencer

Social media’s depiction of an influencer’s life makes everything look like rainbows and unicorns. And while there are benefits to being an influencer, it also comes with potential dangers, struggles, and setbacks.

“The reality is, as an influencer, there’s constant anxiety to keep the business running and being subjected to algorithms while trying to be creative. It’s hard, but no one wants to hear that it’s hard.” Amy Landino

Knowing all this information before you dive into the profession can help prepare you in advance, so you know what to be excited about and what to avoid.

“Creator is such a better path than me than full-time work. The downsides of financial uncertainty, need to create, etc. are prices I’m happy to pay.” Paul Millerd

Pros:

  1. Rare opportunities to share your creativity, expert knowledge, and passion with people from all over the world.
  2. Autonomy and flexibility to build a schedule that works best for your lifestyle, making sure you prioritize what matters most to you.
  3. Connect with a positive community of like-minded people, both followers and fellow influencers, through your work.
  4. Earn a comfortable livelihood through branded opportunities with the potential to make a lot of money.
  5. Spread awareness through positive influence to a huge group of people, making an impact in society for the better.

Vice President of Marketing at Sparktoro, Amanda Natvidad, also says influencer marketing comes with great pros like creating opportunities for yourself, becoming a magnet for cool ideas, and meeting intellectual peers.

Cons:

  1. Can take years of consistent efforts to create a significant online presence today. Especially with rising competition on major social media platforms.
  2. Challenging to take on the role of your own boss as an influencer when trying to stick to a fixed working schedule.
  3. Difficult to manage your personal life without sacrificing your career when you work by yourself.
  4. Demanding to build an online persona without compromising your and your loved ones’ privacy.
  5. Can put pressure on you to earn a stable income when dealing with unpredictable monetizable opportunities.

Aside from this, female creators like Amanda Goetz share another downside to a career on social media: “I’ve been thinking about choosing not to show my face as much. When I show my face – the gross DMs and hate increases. I also want people to hear what I’m saying for the words, not how I look delivering them.”

Blogger-turned-Instagram influencer Hitha Palepu shares that the upside of influencer marketing for her included writing and publishing two books, ramping up her speaking career, and building a solid lifestyle business she truly enjoys. But the downsides have been being the subject of snark threads on Reddit, and a lack of privacy for family members, which is why she says, “I still have a full-time job and plan to always have a non-creator career.”

Starting Small: Building An Influencer-Adjacent Career

A recent study showed that one in 10 creators are just in this profession as hobbyists. 43% of creators also have another full or part-time job. Whether this means keeping the stability of their full-time jobs or helping other influencers with their brands, influencer-adjacent careers are becoming popular too.

It can be undeniably scary to lead the life of an influencer, and many people prefer to keep working their full-time jobs while only being an influencer as a side hustle. Being an influencer today is about being authentic to your content and your audience, so everybody with a smartphone and internet access has an equal chance at succeeding.

Whether you choose to become a part-time influencer first or you’re ready to begin your journey as a full-time influencer, having the right support system can make a huge difference. To launch your career and start meeting brands today, download the Afluencer app for Shopify here.

This originally appeared on afluencer and is available here for wider discovery.
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