IF YOU’RE stuck indoors with extra time on your hands during lockdown, your thoughts might be turning to a side hustle.
‘Influencing’ in a career which has exploded in recent years – with YouTuber Zoe Sugg, 30, aka Zoella, now worth £4.7 million and Aussie fitness star Kayla Itsines, 29, a staggering £355m.
And although a select few have sparked fury with their ‘essential’ lockdown work trips in recent weeks, more people are seeing it as a viable career choice than ever before.
Now an Instagram expert has revealed how anyone can make money as an influencer – and you only need 200 followers to start cashing in.
Abi Frances, from Hertfordshire, is a marketing expert who runs influencer coaching service Holler.
The 26-year-old helps aspiring social media stars, generally with between 1,000 and 40,000 followers, reach more fans and earn money from brands.
She tells Fabulous: “We take small aspiring influencers and we help build their careers from the bottom up.
“I mainly work with mummy bloggers, in their mid 20s to 40s, but I have influencers from every single niche on my books – fashion, beauty and travel, TikTok stars, but also obscure topics like Disney, budgeting, homemaking, hair loss, tall fashion and over 50s beauty.
“It’s great because it shows you can start a career as an influencer in whatever interests you.”
I have grown quite a few accounts from nothing to 10,000 followers in six months. That’s very achievable if you know the right strategies
Although she considers herself an ‘influencer’s influencer’, who herself has 10,500 followers, Abi says her expertise comes more from the business side of things, having worked for big brands as a social media consultant.
She says: “To build an Instagram account from scratch, you firstly need to pick your niche.
“It could be anything in your life that you have a genuine passion for, so you can post about it endlessly and not get bored, but something you know other people would be interested in too.
“Next, set up a business or creator account. You need to post a lot in the beginning, because you want to fill up your feed with at least nine valuable posts.
“When you start to gain an audience, you’ll want them to have something to look at and stay on your page for.
“Establish your expertise by sharing your own personal experience or your career journey – to show you know what you’re talking about.
“Then you need to engage with your audience and post daily, make sure you’re actually communicating with your followers.
“Find out what your audience want and start creating that.
“To go viral, your posts need to be controversial, educational, entertaining, motivational, instructional or inspirational.
“Always think ‘is this something I would share if it popped up on my feed?’”
How to grow your platform
- Pick your niche – something you have a genuine passion in & can talk about endlessly
- Start your account – setting yourself up as a business account or creator
- Post a lot in the beginning – you need at least 9 ‘valuable’ pics
- Establish your expertise – share your personal story
- Have a voice – post daily, communicate with your followers
- Find out what your audience want – start creating posts which align with that
- Competitions/giveaways/challenges – a great way to reach out to new people
- Create shareable posts – they should be controversial, educational, entertaining, motivational, instructional or inspirational to go viral
Abi runs a four-week course, costing £18.97, for anyone who wants to turn their fledgling Instagram account into a career.
Most of her clients are in jobs or full-time parenting alongside their Instagram business, although some do go onto quit work.
She says: “I have grown quite a few accounts from practically nothing to 10,000 followers in six months. That’s very achievable if you know the right strategies.
“We also teach people how to start working with brands so they can make money, typically people start doing that when they hit 1,000 followers.
“But I’ve also got a small budget food blogger who has a very connected following of about 230 people and is already thinking about releasing her own recipe book and monetising.”
Last year, research by marketing platform inzpire.me revealed 42,575 Instagram followers is enough for an influencer to earn the average UK salary of £29,000, after analysing the incomes of 10,000 content creators.
But no matter how big your following, making money is never a given, as Abi knows influencers with 30,000 followers who did not make a penny before seeking Holler’s help.
She says: “The highest earners will have multiple revenue streams.
“The easiest way to make money is with affiliate links which you can put as a swipe up link or in your bio or blog.
“You’ll get a percentage from every sale and it’s great because you can start with any amount of followers.
“You only earn a few pennies per click, so you’d need to be sending major traffic to get a lot of money, but every little helps.
“Brand ambassador schemes, when you work with a brand to promote their product, normally get you around 10 to 20 per cent of the sale – by using a link or a discount code.
“There are also brand partnerships, where companies pay you to create content for them – often because user generated content is much for engaging than professionally produced posts.
The best earners are brand partnerships and selling your own products or services. One of my clients has just quit his job with 30,000 followers
“For someone with between 5,000 and 30,000 followers, you would typically charge £200 to £400 per post.
“But I have one influencer who has a rolling contract with River Island for around £800 a month with only 3,000 followers. She creates consistently good, high quality content for them.
“You can also earn money through Google ads and YouTube videos, although again that’s a lower earner.
“Or you could get on the TikTok or YouTube creator programmes, which is where they pay you monthly to keep creating content.
“I’ve got one guy who has 350,000 followers on TikTok, he gets about £400 to £800 a month on there.
“TikTok and Instagram reels are also great for reaching new people, anyone can go viral as the algorithms aren’t based on how many followers you have.
“If you want to make a lot of money as an influencer, you need to selling your own products or services.
“The fitness blogger Krissy Cela has recently done just that by launching her app. She has 2.7 million followers, but you can also do it with a much smaller following.
“I have a client whose niche is beauty for over 50s, all about feeling confident wearing colour, and she’s making money with online make-up lessons.
“I have another girl on my books who sells a journalling course, she’s only got around 1,000 followers.
“The best earners are brand partnerships and selling your own products or services.
“One of my clients has just quit his job with 30,000 followers, he’s earning £2,000-£3,000 a month as a full-time influencer.”
Possible influencer revenue streams
- Affiliate links – in the form of a swipe up link or link in bio, you will make money for click throughs, but only a few pennies per click
- Brand ambassador schemes – actually working with the brand, who will give you a link or discount code, you should get 10%-20% of the sale
- Brand ambassador schemes – where companies pay you to create content i.e. stories/grid posts. Charge around £200-£400 per post if you have less than 30,000 followers
- Ads – for YouTube vids/blog posts, but again this is a low earner
- TikTok/YouTube creator programmes – be paid by the apps to provide quality vids
- Offer your own products – could you create a book/course based on your expertise?
Although the money might sound appealing, Abi says “it’s a common misconception influencers have the world’s easiest job”.
She adds: “People think all they do is take a picture and post it. I’d say that’s just 10 per cent of the job.
“The other 90 per cent is done behind the computer – coming up with ideas, communicating with brands, editing photos, hashtag research, caption writing and promoting your posts across different platforms.
“Just one post could take a whole day, and you have upfront investments in a ring light, clicker and a decent phone or camera too.”
And if you really want to make a career on social media, you need a strategy in place.
Abi explains: “You can’t be an influencer if you don’t have anything to say. You’ve got to think about who your audience is and what they want to see.
“Do they want to see inspirational content, educational posts which will help them achieve certain goals? Posting aimlessly will get you nowhere, it’s all about posting for your audience.
“Make sure you’re looking at your insights, seeing what type of content does well and replicating that.
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“Firstly, I would niche down as much as you can.
“If you’re going for a topic like fashion, there are a lot of people doing it, so could you focus on petite, girly, stylish, tall, mummy or professional fashion?
“Competitions and giveaways can help grow your platform, challenges are also really good.
“Then settle on what revenue streams you want. Think ‘is there anything I know people would pay to learn?’ Guides, courses, things like that.
“Once you’ve decided how you’re going to make your money, tell people how they can help you do that.
“Include a call to action at the end of every single one of your posts and put a link to your product in your bio.
“It’s all about deciding, researching and telling your followers.”
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