The meteoric rise of blogging and influencer marketing has had far reaching consequences in many areas of advertising, not the least being the shift in influence from the unattainable celebrity, to the everyday Joe Blogg-er. Because of this, you’d be forgiven for looking at the inconceivable success that influencers of today enjoy, and wanting a piece of the action for yourself.
But can anyone become an influencer? Is it really as simple as buying a cheap theme, domain and crash course in social media, and raking in the cash before the month is out? Well, no, but influence is always there for anyone to take. Anyone can start a blog or social channel, and provided they are willing to put in a mammoth amount of work, make it pay dividends.
So how is it done? Read on…
1. Be prepared for an unending whirlwind of work
Although blogging and social media influence appears tremendously simple on the surface, it is imperative to remember that IT IS NOT. To be influential, you need to know how to play the game, and to play it better than most other people. Otherwise we’d all be influencers!
If you want to monetise a blog, you need to learn how to create relevant, engaging, well-written and search optimised content, day after day after day. It is not enough to write a bi-monthly post about your idiosyncratic pet dog. You need to learn how to brand yourself and your blog so that people will want to read your content. It is not enough to set up mycrazylife.wordpress.com using the ‘Twenty Fifteen’ theme and rest on your laurels – successful blogs need logos, typefaces and photography that can rival most online magazines. You need to be au fait with social channels and have a decent following on each, with whom you are constantly interacting. It is not enough to just automatically share your own, hashtag-less content through each platform as and when it happens.
Social media influencers don’t get off any easier either. Social media, despite its innocuous, friendly appearance, is a game of numbers that takes a long time to master. You need to know how hashtags work, what kind of content attracts followers, how to talk to the followers you do have to get them to maintain interest in what you’re sharing, as well as the best times to share it.
Simply put, influencers work damn hard, and this workload is most insurmountable right at the very beginning.
2. Make sure you have an audience
As good as your content, as regularly as you update it and as diligently as you use social media, you won’t get anywhere as an influencer unless you have an audience. This is for the simple reason that access to an audience is what brands are really paying for when they work with influencers – no audience, no brand interest.
Of course, an audience doesn’t suddenly appear from nowhere as soon as you set up a blog. They take a lot of time and effort to build up, and just because the building is slow at the start, it doesn’t mean you’ll never succeed. But before you start the process of monetising your blog or social channel, it is essential that you make sure the audience you want to attract exists. What content are you planning to share, and who would be interested in it? Is it niche enough to set you apart, but not too niche that it will isolate people? What makes you different to other bloggers/social stars in the same vertical? Why would people WANT to follow you and engage with you? If you can answer all these questions unequivocally and with unwavering self-belief, you have given yourself the best chance of success.
Once you have the audience in mind that you want to attract, make sure you do everything with them in mind. If you want to monetise your blog/social channel, you can’t only consider yourself and your own preference anymore. That’s what hobby blogs are for!
3. Always stay passionate
We’ll admit, being an influencer sounds like a lot of effort so far. So why does anyone bother? Well, it all comes down to sheer and unadulterated passion. Influencers work way past the 9-5, but are always working on something they love. The reason audiences trust and value the opinions of influencers and the content they produce, is that it always comes from the heart.
Becoming a successful influencer should mean that you are able to make decisions about which brands to work with, so that you still only produce content in which you fully believe. On days when the work piles up, the follow-counts have suddenly dropped and your site is experiencing technical difficulties, it is the love of what you do that will get you through.
4. Don’t expect too much too soon
Unsurprisingly, all of the above takes time. However you intend to make money from your blog/social channel, remember that it is not valuable until it is influential. Sounds simple, but unfortunately it’s easy to forget. Once your influencer identity, be it blog or social based, has value and has built up a wide, dedicated and focused audience, it will be invaluable. Until then however, it simply won’t be of interest to brands.
Stay focused and motivated. Instead of concentrating on making yourself attractive to brands themselves, shift your attention to the people you want to read and enjoy your content. Focus on transferring your own passion to them, and make it your goal to build up a following of people hungry for your next post. If you achieve this, finding brands to work with will take care of itself – if you build it, they will come.
5. Be diverse – think about different ways you can use your influence
Here at CI, we concentrate primarily on brands and influencers working together to produce content, but it is important to remember that there are endless other ways the two can partner:
- Content Sharing: Sometimes, working with a brand need involve nothing more than you simply sharing their content via your blog and/or social channels. This is a relatively labour-unintensive way of making money from your influence, but be warned, share the content in a natural and authentic way. Audiences can smell fake posts a mile off.
- Sponsored Posts: Creating content in your own style, but commissioned by a brand can sometimes be the best of both worlds – you get relative creative free-reign, and you can work with a brand on paid campaigns.
- Guest Blogs and Social Takeovers: Writing a piece on a brand’s blog, or sharing content through a brand’s social channel as yourself is a great way to build a relationship with said brand, and can be a lot of fun. However, these methods usually require a very high level of influence, to have enough gravitas for the brand’s audience to take notice. It’s definitely a method to consider in the long term.
- Product Reviews: This can be a great way to start building up your name, although isn’t hugely lucrative for micro-influencers. Whilst the big guys can charge a lot to review a brand’s product, those with smaller audiences are often asked to review with the product as the only form of payment. However, working with brands this way can increase your own exposure and lead to bigger things – just remember to only review products your audience will actually be interested in!
- Competitions and Giveaways: This is a great exercise, as not only does it increase exposure, it’s also a lot of fun. Brands are always keen to involve even small influencers in competition promotions, and doing so is one of the easiest ways to collaborate.
To answer the titular question of this post, yes, you can monetise your blog or social channel. It definitely won’t be easy, and will take time, but as long as you never lose your passion, drive and work-ethic, the rewards of building an engaging blog/social channel with a dedicated following really are limitless!