Can you still become a social media influencer in 2022?
Let’s be honest, these days the niches are overwhelmed, the competition is tough and even our pets have their own Instagram accounts showing us their every move.
If you are starting out from zero right now, you may be worried that you’ve missed the boat.
Not only are there possibly hundreds of thousands of people making a living from social media (myself included), there are also possibly hundreds of thousands of “experts” who are teaching and helping people how to become Influencers (myself included!)
I still get asked so many questions about how I grew my @melaniejadedesign account and how I became a full-time blogger and Instagram influencer, so I guess people are still wanting to become an Influencer in 2022 and it is absolutely possible!
I dislike the term “Influencer”. I know for a fact that our accounts provide so much more than just influencing people. They are a place of familiarity, where people come to chat and ask about DIY or interior problems.
I don’t necessarily want to influence people into buying things, I like to show people that anyone can pick up a paintbrush or hammer and have a go at DIY.
How to become an influencer
I may have a large following on Instagram but that doesn’t necessarily mean I always have a huge influence on what people buy or how people decorate their homes.
With the number of home accounts increasing dramatically in the last couple of years, it is now quite difficult to get your voice heard.
If your chosen subject used to be quite “niche” you can now bet your bottom dollar that there will be tens of thousands of other accounts doing it.
Why would I want to become an Influencer?
I accidentally fell into being an Instagram influencer and content creator. Rewind back to 2017 when we were in the midst of a huge kitchen renovation.
I had 2 little ankle biters to entertain, a kettle and slow cooker to make all our meals and a constant stream of builders coming in and out with McDonald’s and dance music tuned on the radio.
I have always been interior obsessed and was finding life as a stay-at-home mum quite difficult. I started reading lots of interior and lifestyle blogs and decided I would try my hand at it.
The thing is, I didn’t see myself as a writer. No, that accolade goes to my husband and at the time he was fed up with his 9 to 5 Project Management job so he started a blog about family life.
I began to look at ways to help him promote his blog and boom! My Instagram account was born.
I’ll be honest, it was terrible, to begin with. I would post pictures of plant pots and cushions and think I was on my way to being the next Kelly Hoppen! I was a long way from becoming an Instagram influencer.
Skip forward 5 years and I am now earning a full-time wage from Instagram. In fact, I opened a business bank account 2 years ago, employed an accountant and started paying myself a proper wage.
I can’t tell you how good that feels. This is the first time I’ve been earning a decent living since I left my job as a Programme Management Officer nearly 9 years ago, just before I had my daughter.
It really is a dream come true. I am my own boss by being an Influencer; I get to be creative for a living whilst managing it around being at home for my kids 24/7. I am not bound to a 9 – 5 job or fixed location (well, not strictly true, my house IS my location 😊).
I can decide how much or how little I want to work; I get to talk to people I call my friends every day and I still get extremely excited every time a brand contacts me asking if I would like to collaborate!
Some of the brands I’ve worked with include sofa.com, Howdens, Aldi, Dulux, West Elm, Graham and Brown and La Redoute.
How to grow and become a social media Influencer
It is still possible to start, grow, monetise and become an Influencer with an Instagram account in 2022.
You just have to be seen!
This means putting in a lot of hours by creating exceptional content, jumping quickly onto trends and engaging with your followers. So, where do you start?
Step 1 – Set up an account
To start with the obvious, you need to set up an Instagram account if you want to be an Influencer. What about though?
Well, what do you love? Don’t try and be something you are not.
If you are sitting reading this wearing a pair of jeans you’ve had for 10 years and your boyfriend/husband’s jumper because you hate clothes shopping, don’t start a fashion account!
Once you have decided what kind of influencer account you want to have, start by optimising your Bio.
- Make sure you have an easy-to-remember name that is unique but not ambiguous.
- Attach a personal photo of yourself so you appear approachable and authentic
- Add a quick introduction about your account so people know what they are following. You only get 150 characters so use lots of keywords.
- Add your website address or any other social media site you want to link to.
Step 2 – Niche it
Being an Instagram influencer can be completely time-consuming so you have to be authentic and true to yourself.
I made the mistake very early on of trying to recreate the interiors that all the big accounts displayed but it didn’t sit right with me and my engagement and follower numbers suffered as a result.
Once you have found a topic or area you want to cover, be that interiors, family life, travel or fashion, you need to hone it down a bit.
Finding your niche within your chosen subject will help people recall you for your particular style and expertise in an area.
For example, if you love interiors, what kind of interiors are you drawn to? Is your home a Scandinavian Shrine or Pink Palace?
The niches in the Influencer world that are predicted to grow in 2022 are Restaurants, Travel & Tourism, Real Estate & Construction, Art & Culture and Animals.
So maybe it is time to create an account for your crazy cat!
Your niche will help you define your “brand” and help people remember you if you have a particular style and colour scheme.
If I say to you IKEA, their blue and yellow brand colours will immediately spring to mind and the fact they specialise in Scandi interiors and flat pack furniture.
Step 3 – Make sure you have a Creator or Business profile
You can either have a Creator or Business profile as an influencer which will give you access to Instagram insights.
These analytical tools let you see the demographics and reach of all your stories, Reels and posts and is invaluable when it comes down to working out what does well on your account.
With these statistics, you can tailor your content to your audience’s preferences which in turn will help you grow.
Step 4 – Your content
You’ve got your account and niche set up, now you need to work on your posts and captions to become a social media influencer!
First of all, how often should you post? This doesn’t really matter, although I do find the more I post, the better my engagement is, sorry! Instagram wants you to be on it 24/7, there is no other way around it.
However, what is really important is consistency.
If you can commit to a post every day, then go for it. If you find that is too much, then post 2/3 times a week but make sure you do this every week.
Another thing you will have to get to grips with to become a successful Instagram influencer is your photography. Take a look at your photos, would you want to look at them in a magazine? Make sure they are clear, and straight, include detail and draw the follower in.
I would also recommend editing and filtering your images so once again, they all have consistency.
I use the Lightroom app on my phone where I have presets, I make sure my image is completely straight and finally, I use Retouch to get rid of any blemishes.
Although, saying all this, with the rise in popularity of TikTok and the raw and unfiltered videos, maybe over-filtered and perfect images are a thing of the past.
Step 5 – Your Caption
Your caption can be just as important as the image itself.
Once people have started following you for a while and have established they like the images you post, they will probably start reading your caption as well (let’s be honest, we very rarely engage 100% with a new follow from the start. It takes a while to build up a relationship).
A bit like your image, make sure your caption represents who you are. You can talk about the image itself or general day-to-day life. I find a mix of the two works and I always keep it in my own voice!
Engaging captions work the best. Ask people for their opinions, ask them if they like a new cushion you’ve bought or what they’re having for tea. People like talking about themselves.
Having a CTA (Call to action) in your captions is a guaranteed way to get people talking and something all successful Influencers do.
Step 6 – Engage and then engage a little more
Nobody on Instagram grew their account overnight. If they did, they’ve obviously bought followers and as tempting as it might be, what is the point?
If your ultimate goal is to make a living from this little app you absolutely have to have integrity and it is quite easy to spot the fakers through websites like social blade.
It is also quite noticeable if a lot of your followers have no profile picture and very few followers themselves (which screams BOT).
Most brands worth their weight in gold will also look at these figures as they want to be sure they’re getting reliable engagement for their products when working with Instagram influencers.
There is no easy way to build your following and engagement.
Basically, to get the engagement on your account, you have to engage yourself. Follow like-minded accounts, comment on their posts regularly and like as much as you can. Watch people’s stories and comment on them.
I spend roughly 2 hours a day on Instagram engaging and creating posts and stories and I have been doing this for 5 years.
Being an Instagram influencer and blogging is my full-time job and I have worked hard to get here. I know there are many people who scoff at the thought of being on Instagram hard work, but it is time-consuming. Sometimes it can take me 2/3 hours to set up a styled shot, take the photo or video, edit it, write the caption and find 30 hashtags.
Step 7 – Hashtags
Hashtags are still and will always be relevant. Hashtags are how people who aren’t following you, find you.
Before the search facility was added to Instagram, if people wanted to find inspiration for their new kitchen, they could type in #countrykitchen and as long as their post included that hashtag, you would show up.
If you struggle to work out what hashtags to use, it is best to have a mixture.
A few hashtags with millions of tags, a few with mid-range tags and make sure the majority of your hashtags have under 100k tags. That way it is easier to be seen amongst the sea of posts.
When I was building up my account, I would regularly look at the big interior accounts and successful Influencers to see what hashtags they were using for inspiration.
This was a very recent post. Looking at the insights you can see that 21,619 people saw this post via the hashtags I used. They are still extremely relevant.
Also, always use all 30 hashtags! Why wouldn’t you? With every hashtag you use, you are increasing the post’s reach on Instagram. If Instagram didn’t want you to use them, it wouldn’t give us 30 in the first place.
Step 8 – Capture, caption, post, repeat
Don’t be afraid of repetition! I know, the creative types amongst us will probably recoil at this idea but I really think that’s what has helped build my following.
I often repost some of my most liked posts. It helps build familiarity and I know that this is what my audience wants to see.
With over 1 billion users on Instagram, your post will never be shown to the same audience twice. Even though I have posted my green sofa several times over, I still get comments asking me where it’s from and how much people love it.
Step 9 – Keep up to date
Something I probably struggle with is the ever-changing dynamics of Instagram and it is changing at an ever-increasing speed.
Instagram is forever trying to compete with all the other popular social media apps out there so will always be changing its framework and we have to keep up to date with the features.
Reels are now the feature that is pushed most on the platform. If we want to keep growing, we have to quickly jump on board the new features and trends.
I love Reels, it’s a fantastic way to be more creative and show another side to your account.
I wrote about how to go viral with your Reels here.
In fact, I have gained several thousand new followers through my Reels alone so they are 100% worth getting on board with.
Step 10 – Reels. So important they get their own step!
When I get asked how to become a social media influencer, the first thing I say is you have to get on board with Instagram Reels. There may be a few accounts out there that are thriving without making them, but they are few and far between.
The only way my account really grows these days is when I have a Reel go viral.
How do you make them go viral? Post consistently, use trending sounds, have a mixture of longer videos and quick snapshot Reels (no more than 7 seconds) and post more of what your audience loves and interacts with.
Read more >>>
As you all breathe a huge sigh of relief… haha.
Don’t put all your eggs in an Instagram-shaped basket!
I truly believe that it’s not just engagement or interiors that people enjoy that have helped me build my account and become a social media influencer. It is so hard to get seen on Instagram these days, you need to utilise other social media channels too.
Having multiple platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and TikTok will increase your coverage and help people find you via other channels.
In fact, I think my Melanie Jade Design Pinterest account has a huge part to play in my large following as I often get messages from people saying they found my kitchen when searching on Pinterest and followed the link which brought them to Instagram.
I know you are probably sighing thinking I haven’t got time for another platform, but Pinterest is really worth putting the time and effort into, I promise you!
I spent a few weeks doing nothing but teaching myself Pinterest and now I have got my head around it, only need to spend around an hour a week keeping it happy!
Read more on Pinterest >>>
If only Instagram was that easy!
My top tip is to create content that can easily be shared on all your channels. When I take a video for Reels, I then adapt this for TikTok (normally by using different music) and take some images whilst I’m creating the video to put on Pinterest and Facebook.
It goes back to becoming a brand! If you are consistent across all your channels and people instantly recognise your style and brand colours, it is easier to build followers, find success and become a social media Influencer.