If you’re on Instagram (which…duh), you’ve probably noticed a bunch of people you follow are suddenly dedicated to spreading the good word about weight loss teas, waist trainers and other fad products. This new apparent interest for things like teeth whitening kits and strapless sticky bras is a veil for their true motive; becoming an influencer.

 If you’re not in the know, an influencer is a person who can sway the behaviour or feelings of their followers. In the case of social media marketing, influencers are often used by brands and businesses to gain reach, attract new customers and boost sales without being pushy. They leverage the influencer to get their message out in a non-promotional way.

If you ask us, being an influencer is just about the coolest job you can have. It entails being passionate about something, posting awesome content about it, and growing a big enough following to convert your influence into dollar signs. As soon as brands see that you have a big enough following who trust and value your opinion, they will pay you to post. Fashion guru? Brands will send you free clothes in exchange for a post wearing it. Foodie? Restaurants will comp your meal and pay you to eat at their restaurant. It doesn’t get much better than that.

While it sounds great, becoming an influencer and growing a large following isn’t easy. Unless, of course, you’re the girl who threatened Dr. Phil’s audience to “cash [her] ousside”. She became an Instagram sensation overnight. But if making a fool out of yourself isn’t really your thing, here are 5 other ways you can become a (solid) social media influencer.

  1. Find your focus

Just like with anything in life, you need focus. Figure out what you’re passionate about and concentrate on that. If it’s something you genuinely love,  that will come through in your content and make it more authentic.

Once you’ve established a niche, make sure all your posts reflects it so that brands and followers can understand what you’re about at first glance. Since influencer marketing is largely about word-of-mouth recommendations, it’s important that you position yourself as a knowledgeable and trustworthy figure within your niche.

Unless you’re super(wo)man, you should avoid spreading yourself too thin and start by placing focus on one social media platform. To complement this primary social network, utilize other platforms to repost your content and extend visibility.

  1. Share valuable content that your followers want to see

The number one way to organically gain followers is to consistently be putting out awesome, unique content. People need to see you as a resource. Get a good understanding of your followers and what they value and share content that they’ll appreciate.

  1. Create a marketing strategy

While creating content is important, it’s only half the battle. The best content in the world is useless if no one knows about it. Create a marketing strategy that combines owned (email, blogs) and earned (social media, PR) media to maximize effect. Your content has more chances of being seen if you’re utilizing all marketing avenues possible.

  1. Engage, engage, engage!

Unless you’re King Kylie, you can’t expect hundreds of thousands of people to flock to your product with a single post of you swatching lipsticks on your arm. Being seen and noticed requires work. This is why the top (non-celeb) influencers in the game are constantly taking part in conversations and dialogue with their followers.

Have you ever noticed how influencers are always asking questions? Things like “What’s YOUR favourite city to travel to?”, “What are YOUR favourite bum exercises?” or “How do YOU like your eggs in the morning?”. There’s no way they’re actually interested in how strangers like their breakfast in the morning. They’re doing this to start a conversation, create a human connection and get some action beneath their photo.

  1. Combine digital networking with human networking

While you can totally become a successful influencer by remaining two-dimensional, if you want to step up your game, get out and network with people face to face.

Industry events and parties are an amazing way to make connections that may lead to growth for you and your brand. You’re opening yourself up to meeting other influencers who may want to form some type of mutually beneficial relationship. Success often comes from who you know and not what you know.

The number one piece of advice I can give when it comes to venturing into the crazy world that is influencer marketing is to never give up. It’s super cliche but cliches are cliches for a reason. It’ll be slow moving at times and will be easier to give up than to continue on but remain steadfast. There’s nothing cooler than creating a living around your passion.