Instagram is one of the most popular social networks and many popular Instagrammers have built large audiences. These “influencers” are the sixth most influential way online consumers make buying decisions. Well above listening to celebrities, incidentally.

These popular Instagrammers can make a nice living by posting photos and stories. Let’s look at how you can join the Instagram influencer club.

Choose the Right Niche

The first decision you need to make is what topic you want to focus on. Some of the most common include fitness, travel, and food but any niche that has an audience of interested people can work.

The key choosing the right niche is to pick a topic you’re interested in and enjoy. For one, your audience will know if you’re only in it for the money and it will be tough to get any traction. And having to post about something you don’t enjoy will get old pretty fast.

Brand Yourself as an Instagram Influencer

There are several steps to creating your personal brand:

  • Make the most of your bio.
  • Develop your own unique style.
  • Learn how to make your Instafeed look good.

Your bio should catch people’s attention and make them interested in what you have to to offer. Don’t overthink it, but make sure you include keywords related to your topic so you’ll show up in searches. And remember that your bio is one of the first things brands will check when they’re thinking about working with you.

Developing a consistent and unique style will help make your posts more recognizable. Use a consistent editing style for your photos and make sure you’re only using your best pictures. Don’t post anything that you’re not completely happy with.

Think about how your photos all fit together in your Instafeed as well. An attractive feed will draw people in and get them clicking on more photos.

Make the Most of Your Hashtags

Maximize the number of hashtags in each post you make. Instagram allows up to 30 in a single post, use as many as possible to expand your reach. Don’t “spam” hashtags that aren’t related to your posts though. Being spammy will hurt your engagement and could lead to people reporting your posts.

Target hashtags with decent search volume but not too high. High volume tags are more competitive and it will be harder for your posts to rank near the top of the results. Targeting hashtags with search volumes from 10,000 to 1 million is a good range.

Create your own unique hashtags as well. These will help brand your posts and your audience can use them in their posts as well, extending your reach even further. Use unique tags that don’t already exist like your account name, your website name, or a unique combination of words related to your topic.

Engage with other Instagrammers

Influencers often work together to extend their reach beyond their own audience. Think of another Instagram promoter in your niche as a potential partner, not your competition.

Like and comment on other people’s posts, in a natural way. Like things you actually like and leave comments that you actually mean. Don’t be spammy about your engagement. If other people in your niche are using their own unique hashtags, include those in some of your posts.

Make sure you respond to comments on your posts. When people know you’re a real person who is actually paying attention to what they have to say, they’ll become fans.

You should also follow other influencers, both in your niche and in other markets, to see how they’re doing things. Don’t just copy what they’re doing but watch what is getting the most engagement and watch for ideas you can use and put your own spin on.

Tag and Reach Out to Brands

Once you build some momentum on Instagram and are getting engagement from your audience, you can start reaching out to brands you’re interested in working with. Tag them in your posts so they will notice you. A lot of brands will repost pictures they’re tagged in, exposing you to a whole new audience.

You can also use sites like HYPR, InfluencerBay, and TRIBE to get connected with brands that want to work with Instagram influencers.

Get a Business Account

Once you get some momentum going, you should consider getting an Instagram Business account. You get a couple of valuable extra features that aren’t available on standard accounts:

  • Better analytics to see what posts are getting the best engagement, the demographics of your audience, the best times to post, and other valuable information.
  • The ability to run ads to promote your posts.

Don’t Buy Followers

It can be hard work to get your Instagram account off the ground. You’ll build momentum as it grows but getting the first few hundred followers is hard work. It can be tempting to take the easy route and buy followers.

This will increase your follower count but it will kill any engagement you’ve developed. Bought followers are usually fake accounts that were set up purely to use for selling follows. They will rarely, if ever, like or comment on your posts.

Engagement has an effect on your posts’ reach and a higher follower count with the same number of likes and comments means lower engagement statistics.

Remember the Basics

Becoming an influencer takes time and effort but you can’t forget the basics – good photos and engaging stories. Learn how to take good pictures like this great photographer and write captions that grab your audience’s attention.

If you don’t have these basics in place, all the effort in the world won’t get you to where you want to be.

Don’t Be a Stranger

The other important thing to remember about being an Instagram influencer is that you need to post regularly.

That doesn’t mean dozens of pictures a day, but you should post often enough that your audience won’t forget who you are. Regular posts will also help train the feed algorithm to keep showing your photos in your followers’ feeds.

Check back regularly for more helpful articles.