By Meeta Vengapally
I am often asked how I became a social media influencer, and the subtext behind this question is always the same: How can someone else make a living at it? I’m not going to lie—juggling being an influencer with raising two kids and running my own business has not been easy, but I can definitely say that the rewards are worth it.
It’s not difficult to understand why being a full-time influencer is awesome. You get to set your own rules. That means that you choose your work hours, decide whom you hire (if you need extra help), and determine your own income goals. Not only does this set you free from the grind of a traditional job, it also gives you the chance to make a living doing something that you love.
The truth is, there is a way to quit your 9-5 job and become a full-time social media influencer, and I’m going to outline the steps for getting you there.
Visualize becoming a successful influencer
It’s easy to look at other social media influencers and wonder how they got started, and what was the special sauce that helped them to achieve success. I can tell you that for me, it all began with visualization.
I’m a firm believer in the power of the mind. We can manifest things when we have a clear vision of what we want, and embrace that amazing feeling that it gives us when we see ourselves succeed. Yes, there are concrete steps that you’ll also have to take, but in the beginning, it all starts with a dream.
Once you’ve narrowed down what you want to achieve, start looking at others who have already achieved the same thing. Say you want to be a cooking blogger and influencer. Research who the top cooking bloggers and influencers are. What are they posting about? How are they using social media? What does their website look like?
Before I became an Instagram influencer, I did a lot of research on Instagram, scouting out who was crushing it and what types of content they were creating. This background research will help you gauge the work you need to do to compete with other people out there, and lays the groundwork for you to move ahead with your goals.
So now you have your vision, you see what others are doing, and you’re ready to quit your job. Hold on a minute! Making a drastic change like this can feel like diving off a cliff. Keep in mind that you will likely need the income from your day job to finance your new endeavor, at least in the beginning.
In the meantime, educate yourself: take classes, research information sites, and read books on topics that can help you become an expert in your chosen subject area as well as a better writer and content creator.
7 steps to becoming a social media influencer
1. Determine your influencer niche
This first step is important and your earlier visualization should have given you some guidance on what you want to be known for. Finding a niche in something specific is important. If your influencer category is too broad, it’s going to be much harder to attract an audience. You can expand your niche later, but you want to be pretty precise in the beginning. The key here is that you want to pick a niche with the potential to be profitable (unless you’re pursuing your influencer dream as more of a hobby).
Some examples of popular niches include beauty, lifestyle, travel, health and fitness, entrepreneurship, fashion, technology, and so on. My business falls into the health and fitness niche, but my influencer status is all about beauty and fashion. On top of that, my writing is geared towards helping people in the business and entrepreneurship niche. It was only after finding success in one niche that I was able to expand into others that I was also interested in.
2. Be prepared for challenges and hard work
I would be leading you astray if I said this was going to be easy. Some of our greatest accomplishments in life come from facing obstacles and challenges, and that’s definitely the case here. You stand a much better chance of pushing through these barriers if you know that challenges are going to arise. In fact, in the beginning you might be totally overwhelmed. This is all natural and to be expected. It’s hard to build momentum, but once you get things rolling, it does get easier.
The truth is that, if you assume becoming an influencer is going to be easy, you will not succeed. There are so many new things you have to learn, and I can guarantee it’s going to be more expensive in terms of time and money than you realize. Be prepared for the work involved in taking classes, building a website, growing an email list, and expanding your skill set.
More articles from AllBusiness.com:
You’re going to have to work to break free from the work you have now. It takes a lot of elbow grease and you must determine how much you want it. Everyone thinks that I’m some sort of overnight success, but this is not the case. It took me years to become an Instagram influencer. There are days when you will be tired and frustrated. There will also be days where you want to give up. Don’t do it! Remember your vision for yourself, and trust that what you have put out into the universe is going to come back to you.
3. Adopt a “CEO” mindset
If you really want to do this, you need to understand that you’re a business owner now. It was a huge mindset shift for me when I figured this out. Business owners take what they do seriously, and they also put a lot of heart into it. Become knowledgeable about your industry and never doubt yourself. Every CEO and business owner had to learn everything from scratch, and you are no exception. Invest in yourself and make sure you have the tools you need to succeed.
4. Dive in and just get started
Once you have all the tools in your tool belt, it’s time to take the leap and get started. Get your blog up and running, start posting to your Instagram page, and keep at it. When I say keep at it, I mean to seriously keep at it and consistently put out a lot of good content. Make friends with others on social media and develop a following. The only way to become an influencer is to start influencing! It can be hard to begin because you’re worried about failure, but push through that insecurity and start making your dream a reality, little by little each and every day.
5. Send an email newsletter to stay connected
Email marketing is crucial, and you should have a way for followers to sign up for your email newsletter on your website. This is how you can engage your audience and keep them in the loop. It also builds a sense of trust with those who follow you. Remember you’re not annoying people by sending out a regular email—they sign up for it, so you can feel confident that they’re interested in what you’re doing and what you have to offer.
6. Build momentum with regular posts, links, and comments
While just writing and posting may be easy for you, how do you get others to follow you? There are several factors that go into building momentum around your blog or Instagram presence. For one thing, consistency is really key. I set up a schedule for my Instagram posts to make sure that I have a steady stream of content going live.
And remember, it’s not all about you. Comment on other blog posts, write and submit guest posts to other websites, and link to other bloggers or influencers so that you’re creating a network that works to your advantage.
7. Start connecting with brands
Here is the million dollar question: how can you make a living from all this? First of all, be patient as you build your passion project. This is not going to happen overnight; it certainly didn’t happen for me. It takes time to grow your online presence and become a full-time social media influencer.
Make your contact information easy to find then start working with brands. Sorry, but this is the reality. Tag brands that are relevant to your content, and you’ll find that over time, as your presence grows, companies will start reaching out to you to voice their brand. This is something that is not only fun for me, but also exciting because I get to work with so many amazing brands. You should also look into affiliate marketing.
Ready to start your new career as a social media influencer?
Yes, it may feel at time like you are about to climb Mt. Everest. Trust me, I know. Despite what I’ve already achieved, some days I still feel like I’m banging my head against a wall trying to keep going. In these moments, I try to breathe and remind myself that this is all part of the process. You really can achieve your wildest dreams when you envision what you want, learn the skills you need to succeed, and have the courage to put yourself out into the world. I believe in you!
RELATED: 6 Tips for Creating Social Media Videos That People Can’t Help But Click On
About the Author
Meeta Vengapally is founder and CEO of Garnysh and a Top Influencer on social media, where she is a spokesperson for over 700 brands. Follow Meeta on Instagram, read her profile on Forbes, and see her articles and full bio at AllBusiness.com.
This article was originally published on AllBusiness.com.