How to Become an Instagram Influencer (and Make Money)

become an instagram influencer

Being an Instagram influencer means you’re capable of reaching a wide audience with a simple picture. And I’m not just talking about having a close circle of friends and family following your account.

To be a successful influencer on any platform, you need a vast following of people who are interested in your content. Today, I’m going to look closer at how you can become an Instagram influencer and cultivate that audience.

If you stay consistent and build up a strong base of followers, it can draw in quite a bit of money.

Think about this: it’s estimated that Selena Gomez can potentially make $550,000 per Instagram post from specific brands. Of course, she also has a nine-digit number of followers; more than 130 million, actually.

This doesn’t mean you’ll make half a million with each post, though. After all, some celebrities are just incredibly popular. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reach those pinnacles of success yourself.

In fact, every influencer starts from 0 followers. It all depends on how you build yourself up as a brand.

Why Become an Instagram Influencer?

Instagram marketing is a very powerful tool in any business-minded box. It can help small businesses reach more customers or a single person turn themselves into an online celebrity.

What makes Instagram such a popular tool today?

  • Instagram Popularity Continues to Grow
    By June of 2018, Instagram had over one billion active monthly users. This is significant when you put it into perspective that only seven billion people live on Earth. And it shows no signs of going away anytime soon.
  • Boosting Brand Awareness
    With the immense number of people on the platform, you can see how easy it is to spread brand awareness to the masses. And in reality, Instagram posts get 23% more engagement than that of Facebook!
  • Getting Lucrative Offers
    According to some reports, Instagram influencers can receive as much as $1,000 per post on average for every 100,000 followers. If you get the attention of some big brands, you could make some very serious income.

Now, keep in mind not everyone who strives to become an influencer will reach such heights of success. On the other hand, I’m not saying it’s impossible either.

It’ll just take more work than just posting a picture once a month.

So, how do you become an Instagram influencer and start making money and building a loyal base of fans?

Step 1: Find Your Niche

Your Niche

Perhaps the most important step before you even turn on your camera is to decide on a niche for your account.

Is this a business brand? Do you focus on a specific industry? What are you passionate about?

Your niche will determine the type of audience you begin to accumulate. For instance, a health and fitness-minded Instagram account would most likely attract an audience who wants to engage more in being healthy and exercise.

Which also means this type of Instagram account probably isn’t going to sponsor Krispy Kreme donuts.

Pick what drives you and of what you want to be recognized for. Are you an avid gamer? Do you love beauty products? Perhaps you’re really driven by fashion.

Once you decide on a niche, stick with it. Changing things up may cause some of your followers to leave.

Step 2: Offer a Unique Presence

Be Unique

As an Instagram influencer, you need to capitalize on the most effective part of development: YOU.

You want to offer a unique view through the lens when taking photos. Add your own sense of humor or personality that will separate you from the billions who use Instagram on a monthly basis.

I’m sure you’ll create content that may seem similar to others, especially given the number of people on the social hub. But try to stand out and carve out your own slice of the platform.

Take what makes you a unique individual and exploit it as best you can. Being an honest version of yourself will easily attract an audience of some kind.

Step 3: Learn to Use Hashtags

Instagram Hashtags

Like other social platforms, Instagram makes use of hashtags to connect similar pieces of content together. Utilizing these hashtags will greatly improve the chances of new followers finding your photos.

Think of hashtags as a method for Instagram to compile a collection of photos fitting a certain theme.

If you’re looking for the best tags to use in your photos, free tools like Instavast help with generating ideas as well as showing the popularity of each. For instance, I used the term “fitness” and can see “#gym” is far more popular.

In fact, there are a lot of incredible social media tools on the Internet. Some of them are excellent for engaging a large audience.

At any rate, it’s important you find the best hashtags to reach the largest audience. Don’t just plug something in because you think it sounds cool.

Step 4: Build a Good Bio

Good Bio on Instagram

Your bio in any social media platform affects how others view you. If it’s generic and not full of detail, people are less likely to engage with the account.

The Instagram bio is essentially a firm handshake for new followers. You need to capture their interest as well as their hearts. Which is why a lot of successful Instagram influencers will offer a short story to depict who they are.

Keep in mind that information shared on this bio is searchable by others. So if you’re a professional freelance writer, you should include it within the text. It helps others understand who you are and helps people find your profile.

And don’t forget to include a link back to your website. You might as well market your content as well as yourself.

Step 5: Maintain Your Photographic Style

Instagram Photographic Style

Once you decide on a niche for Instagram, try to stick with the overall theme of your material. This includes style of photos, specific filters and actual feel of your account.

For example, a lot of “foodies” in Instagram essentially focus on sharing pictures of amazingly prepared dishes. It’s unlikely you’ll see too many images in those accounts of anything else.

And followers of those accounts don’t want anything else.

People will follow you because of the average type of content you’re sharing. It’s much like a blog or subscriber list in YouTube. Many fans want a specific layout and visual appeal of any Instagram account.

So if you’re sharing photos of workouts or health foods, you wouldn’t want to post a cat meme…unless it relates to food or exercise.

Step 6: Be Consistent with Posts


Consistency on any platform is incredibly important. Whether you’re uploading videos to YouTube or taking daily photos for Instagram, fans need to rely on content at specific intervals.

I’m not saying you can’t be successful otherwise. However, maintaining a regular flow of content keeps people engaged and following social profiles.

In reality, there’s no real magic number for how often you should post. Some accounts are exceptionally popular with only one or two per day while others crank out photos on a semi-hourly basis.

It all depends on the quality of the content itself. Many believe it’s more ideal to post amazing photos and captions less often than just slapping up any image you can throughout the day.

Just make sure you stick with a consistent flow of content that works best for your audience.

Step 7: Interact with Followers

Interact with Followers

The whole purpose of social media is to be “social.” Which means you need to do more than just post content. You need to interact with fans and followers, which is true no matter what social platform you use.

Interacting with followers on Instagram includes things like: commenting back when a follower comments, using polls through Instagram Stories to engage actions, promote giveaways, hold contents or following others and commenting on their photos.

Do you see the commonality of these suggestions? It’s all about interacting with others in some form or another.

People love to be called out or engaged by social influencers. It gives them a sense of being “important.” Which they are. And making connections on a personal level greatly boosts your effectiveness as an influencer.

Step 8: Tagging and Mentioning Brands

Mention Brands

If you want to get the immediate attention of a potential sponsored brand, start by tagging them in photos. It often appears in the brand’s feed and has potential to shine a light on your Instagram profile.

It’s also not a bad idea to send direct messages to brands or other influencers who are closely related to your niche. When you begin building a network, you come across a myriad of people who may be in a position to help you grow and advance.

Just make sure you’re trying to contact others and businesses who are relevant to your niche.

It’s also best to do this if you have a steady growth of followers, though. Brands are less likely to pay you for a sponsored post if you only have 50 followers.

Step 9: Share with Stories

Share Instagram Stories

Easy photographs and captions can only do so much to draw and retain an audience. To get more out of being an Instagram influencer, you need to add stories.

Stories are effective as it gives you a way to tell a tale through imagery or through the use of recording short snippets of video. And since they appear on the top of a users app, it doesn’t clutter his or her feed.

So, if you produce a 50-frame story in Instagram, it’s all condensed into one tappable element.

One of the reasons why Instagram Stories is so effective is because it gives you a chance to “be real” with followers. By adding the human, story-telling element, you seem more approachable and relatable to your fans.

Step 10: Consider Using a Business Account

Business Account

Switching to an Instagram Business Account opens all kinds of doors for an influencer. For one thing, it appears more professional when trying to land affiliates or businesses willing to hand you money for a post.

The second feature of a business account is access to fan data. This is extremely helpful when figuring out the demographics of your audience as well as finding which posts have the best engagement.

With this information, you can produce content on Instagram that is most likely to draw and retain new followers.

To become an Instagram influencer, it all depends on delivering content people want to absorb. Data from the business account can be instrumental in your future posts.

Step 11: Never Buy ‘Followers’

Never Buy Instagram Followers

To make your account seem more likable, you might be tempted to buy followers. This is considered a poor practice and really doesn’t support being called an “influencer.”

Why is this?

Because an “influencer” is supposed to influence the behaviors of followers. It’s why brands pay for sponsorship posts…to drive additional sales from an influencer’s audience.

If you have fake accounts, then it’s unlikely a business will notice a high return-on-investment by using you. As many companies track such data, it’s easy to see whether they are losing money through sponsored posts.

Another thing I should point out is how buying fake followers also doesn’t feed into the “engagement” factor. Paying companies want an influencer who is active on social media.

Since fake accounts are not interactive, it plays poorly into how you’re viewed by those companies.

Step 12: Integrate Your Website


A great way to reach an audience who may not know of your Instagram account is by integrating it with the website. In fact, you can easily connect Instagram to WordPress and show off your feed in a variety of ways.

This gives visitors to your site a chance to follow the feed. For example, you can show off the last 10 photos in the sidebar of your website along with a “Follow” button.

Some developers will go so far as to set up an entire page dedicated to Instagram photos on the website.

My point is you can leverage your blog, business site or other pieces of content to help drive additional followers. In any case, it will surely help create awareness of your social profile.

Become a Paid Influencer

In reality, just about anyone can become an Instagram influencer. When you can demonstrate expertise, professionalism and engage followers directly, people will come in droves.

However, you also need to keep in mind just how much work it will take to get you to the level of success as someone like Selena Gomez.

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