What Is an Influencer? (And How to Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 23, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Influencers communicate regularly with their audiences and collaborate with companies to promote various products and brands. They typically have a lot of followers on social media that brands can leverage to reach a broad audience. By knowing more about influencers, you can determine whether this career is a viable option that suits your goals. In this article, we answer the question, "What is an influencer?", explore the different types, and provide you with a guide on how to become one.

What is an influencer?

An influencer is an online personality who can affect consumer buying decisions by making recommendations about which products to buy. These professionals use their online reputation to influence consumers through social media platforms and blogs. They frequently work with companies to develop content that advertises the company's products and services. These partnerships help influencers build their brand, increase sales from partnering businesses, and improve consumer loyalty or retention.

Here's a list of an influencer's typical responsibilities:

  • Scheduling content depending on the interests of and engagement of the target audience

  • Working with multiple systems and social media platforms to curate content depending on algorithms

  • Collaborating with a variety of professionals and organizations

  • Creating customized content for various social media platforms

  • Considering age restrictions of social media platforms and websites

  • Obtaining insights and feedback from audiences to help companies with decision making and adjusting social media campaigns

Average salary

The average national salary of an influencer is $40,957 per year. Their salary depends on several factors, including which brands they promote and how many companies they partner with. It can also depend on the pay structure they negotiate with a client. For example, some influencers earn commission based on how many products they sell, while others earn a set fee per promotional post.

Types of influencers

Here are some common types of influencers:

Celebrities

Celebrity influencers begin their careers in other domains or forms of media. For example, some actors become influencers over time as they progress in their careers. Celebrity influencers develop a strong social media presence by collaborating with companies they support, along with companies from whom they obtain sponsorships. Some celebrities appear in television commercials and magazines, which is a form of influencing without social media.

Industry leaders

Industry leaders obtain high levels of expertise within their industry through education, professional experience, networking, and constantly developing their skills. Respected professionals can more easily develop an online presence and share information about relevant products with their audience. This means that industry-leader influencers can work with leaders from other industries to develop strong reputations in other markets and their target audiences. Industry leaders who publish their research can then improve their reputation and influence others to implement similar practices and strategies.

For example, companies that develop new search engine optimization (SEO) tools can become partners with industry leaders who then share the features and benefits with their target audience. This improves the credibility of both the influencer and the company.

Content creators

Content creators develop written, audio, and visual content for websites and social media platforms. They write blogs, vlogs, graphic art, and podcasts for their clients and employers. Content creators typically become influencers when they gain numerous followers from their created content. For example, travel photographers can develop social media accounts to share their photographs and videos with their followers. Over time, they can implement marketing strategies and interact with their followers to develop a community.

When a content creator gains enough followers on social media, they develop influence over their niche or market. They can promote products and services in photography that interest their followers, like camera equipment and accessories. Some content creators also partner with companies that pay their travel expenses, gift them free clothing, or provide other perks.

Related: A List of Social Media Job Titles (With Salaries and Duties

Micro-influencers

Micro-influencers have small and targeted social media followings on their websites and platforms. These professionals typically aren't experts within their industry, but they often have a hobby or knowledge that helps them connect with their following. Micro-influencers typically express their passion for a subject or hobby through complex social media campaigns, and they can have up to 50,000 followers. Companies often work with local micro-influencers who can connect with audiences within their niche area.

For example, some professionals may begin a social media account about their passion for animals. They can subsequently post pictures of their animals and provide their target audience with consistent updates. For example, a company that produces dog treats may ask these micro-influencers to promote their products with social media posts that are already targeting a very specific audience of dog lovers.

Related: What Are Micro-Influencers?

How to become an influencer

Here's a step-by-step guide for those who want to become influencers:

1. Choose a niche

A niche refers to a subset of consumers who have an interest in a common factor. Most influencers start by picking a niche they're interested in. You may want to discover something that you can reliably talk about or create content about. For example, if you have a history as a published author, your niche can be those who also want to publish their work. If you like to travel a lot, you can target the niche of people who also like to travel.

Choosing a niche that you have a passion for or deep knowledge about can make it easier to get started. Some possible sources for your niche include:

  • Your job's industry

  • Hobbies

  • Sports

  • Literature

  • Politics

  • Travel

2. Choose the type of influencer you want to be

As an aspiring influencer, you may want to begin by working as a content creator or micro-influencer. This doesn't require additional expertise in your field or niche. If you have extended experience or education in a field, you can choose a career as an industry leader. You may want to consider first becoming a content creator by starting a blog, creating video guides, developing artwork, making videos, or podcasting. It's beneficial to provide quality content by researching what content viewers in your niche currently view and improving your skills related to your content creation.

You can also become a micro-influencer by posting daily on social media within your niche. For example, a micro-influencer in sports might post a fitness profile with daily tips. Consider researching what other influencers in that niche do to attract and gain followers. You may use this information to effectively communicate with your growing audience in turn.

3. Start building your audience

A primary metric for influencers is the number of followers and viewers they have. The more people your social media channels reach, the more influence you have. To get started as an influencer, you can benefit from growing your online audience. Your method of doing this depends on the type of influencer you are. If you want to be a content creator, you may want to start publishing creative content regularly. Connecting with other content creators can allow you to promote each other's work.

You can also post your work on popular networking forums to gain more attention. It's beneficial to use promotional tools within your social media platforms, like running advertisements, promoting your posts, or using hashtags. If you want to work as a micro-influencer, you can create accounts on the major social networking sites then start connecting with similar accounts in your niche. Regularly post updates and pictures related to your niche to develop a following. The more active you remain on these accounts, the quicker your audience can grow.

4. Find clients

Clients are the consumers who pay you for your influence. One way to find clients is by simply posting your interest in finding sponsorships in online forums like social media platforms and websites. You can also communicate directly with brands you like and ask if they want to work with you. Brands may also ask you to promote their products once you've established a large enough following. Another option is to join an influencer marketing agency. These agencies act as liaisons between businesses and influencers and can do all the work to find you a business to partner with.

Another aspect brands look at is your reputation, which can demonstrate your values and professionalism. Many brands search for influencers who fit in with their company's values, mission, and goals. Creating a consistent, responsible reputation can help you better align yourself with potential clients' values. Here are some additional components that companies consider in their influencers:

  • Number of online followers

  • Niche

  • Audience demographics

  • Activity levels on social media

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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