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What You Should Do If You Want To Become An Influencer

You're gonna have to graduate from only posting food porn & OOTD's.
PHOTO: istockphoto

So you don’t have Kylie-level clout yet, but you do have at least one social media account, right? Then you can turn your casual online presence into aside hustle...or even a lucrative career (some influencers rake in upward of $1 million or P53.5 million per year!). It takes more work than slapping a filter on a cute #Lewk, but with a little grit and this pro guide, you can learn to make bank as an influencer.

Step 1: Build Your Brand

Pick a Niche

Start by asking yourself, What do I love to do and can it be documented in new ways? For example, Julie Dastine (64,000 follow­ers, @JayHairBigga) is a hairstylist who shares her work on Instagram. "Almost all my clients hear about me through social media," she says. Her focus on natural hair is key. "The most successful influencers own a specific cate­gory," says Amber Venz Box (90,000 followers, @VenzEdits), president and co-founder of the influencer network and platform RewardStyle. For example, if you love cocktails, post about whiskey drinks versus just mixology.

Use What You Have

No need to start new accounts. Just clean up your Insta, YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, and/or Twitter by delet­ing old posts that don't mesh with your new jam. Make your handle your full name or your new brand's name—e.g., set decorator Cynthia Moreno (60,000followers, @HotPinkPineapples) chose one that reflects her account's colorful vibe. Then infuse your bio with clear words about your new venture. Monique Doughty's (112,000 followers, @IAmNurseMo) reads, "Critical Care Travel Nurse Influencer & Motivational Speaker."

Make It Legit

Use the Settings tab on Instagram to switch your account to "business profile" for free, says Ernest James, founder and CEO of influencer agency Noire Management. This gives you data, like when people are most likely to comment.

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Next, make a website by buying "your handle+ .com," says Brittany Hennessy, author of Influencer. Think of it as a backup system. "No one owns their social media accounts, so it's a bad idea to attach your whole business to them," says Hennessy.

Step 2: Grow Your Following

Post Smart

Only share stuff that actually represents your brand. That might mean sticking to a color theme or just a few specific yoga poses. Keep your captions full of your personality. "I imagine talking to a girl who is sitting on her couch and might need motivation," says wellness influencer Remi Ishizuka (196,000 followers, @Rrayyme).

Have A Schedule

Be consistent with your posting, says James. On Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, share at least once and up to three times a day. On YouTube, upload around three videos a week at the same time every week

Take Advantage Of Hashtags

Write 10 or so relevant hashtags that will make it easier for people to discover you. List them in the first comment. You can also create your own that people can follow or use too. For example, city-­turned-­country baker Molly Yeh (294,000followers, @MollyYeh) often adds #GirlMeetsFarm to her posts.

Get Engaged

Network with all­ stars in your industry. "But never slide into a DM," says James. Instead, follow them and leave comments. If they repost your pics, their fans could find you. Take it from Ishizuka: When she had only 1,000 followers, she posted about a big fitness star’s workout. “I tagged her and she reposted it...and I gained 8,000 followers overnight!”

Step 3: Rake In the Dough

Cash In With Links

Just about anyone with a social account can earn cash with affiliate links, specific URLs for products you promote (say, a certain bowl ora foam roller). 

Work With Brands

After you hit 5,000 followers, search for other brands to sponsor your posts. Make a list of companies that you actually like or that make products you already use, and scour their websites to find a marketing director. "Nine times out of 10, the folks in marketing control the budget," says Kela Walker (68,000 followers, @KelaWalker), a producer and style influencer. "Do the work for them, so the only thing they have to do is write you a check." Say, I love this product and I already use it. I'd like to create content with you as a sponsor. Here are some ideas. Lay out your stats, including engagement numbers and follower count. Rates vary, but people with 100,000 followers can make up to $2,500 (P133,775) per sponsored post!

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.