If you want to become a paid nano-influencer or micro-influencer, you’re in the right place. We recently discussed how you could build a nano-influencer or micro-influencer platform that is poised for rapid follower growth by defining a niche, choosing a color scheme, and identifying the buckets of social media users who will be most interested in the topics you want to represent as an influencer.
Building a platform as a micro-influencer used to be considered a hobby that most people did “just for fun,” and only a small percentage of people at the top make money. Previously, the paradigm was that making money as an influencer would require years of work devoted to follower growth; making meaningful income from promoting brands was as aspirational as becoming a rockstar. The advent of referral marketing platforms like Ambassador, which empower everyday people to earn money when they refer others to brands they like, makes it possible for nano-influencers and micro-influencers to make money creating content about their passions, especially if they have follower counts under 10K.
In this post, we’ll look at how to grow your followers, how to build trust with your audience as an influencer, and how to convert your influencer platform into a lucrative side hustle where you make money as an influencer with brand partnerships, getting paid every time one of your followers completes a purchase. The key to getting paid as a micro-influencer is building trust with your social media followers. When you are ready to make money as a micro-influencer by recommending products, that trust will yield lasting dividends.
1. Get involved in your online community.
This is audience development 101: when you are building a social media platform, establishing rapport with other accounts active in your space by liking and sharing others’ posts is important. Commenting on others’ posts is key: this is how you build visibility among the people who are also interested in your area of expertise and meet your first “mutuals.” Your mutuals– the people whom you develop a relationship with in comments and over DM– serve as your Instagram support system and are also your first “power users.” The odds are good; in time, your mutuals will share your posts, and this will begin the snowball effect of your work gaining traction and building momentum.
One important tool in becoming a nano-influencer or micro-influencer is following other nano-influencers and micro-influencers’ accounts. You can monitor the trends in your corner of the influencer marketing space, stay up to date on what your fellow micro-influencers are creating and posting, and gather inspiration for your content and your own perspective.
2. Don’t focus on growing followers– focus on creating exceptional content.
It can be tempting to obsess over hashtags or to namecheck influencers with larger followings in your content to try to jump the Instagram algorithm or inspire a larger account to share your work. The best use of your time is to create really good content. Ask yourself, “What do I have to say that no one else is saying?” or “What is my unique perspective?”
With anything you post, ask yourself, “Is this shareable?” Would this content I’ve created make someone pick up her finger mid-scroll and lean towards her phone to see more? With anything you post, ask yourself, “Does this add to the conversation?” or “Am I creating something that has some element of uniqueness?”
When you are writing content, especially if it’s the caption to a TikTok or Instagram post, write the caption in a way that inspires users to comment. With each and everything you post, ask yourself, “Does what I’ve written inspire someone to leave a comment? Does my writing motivate someone to weigh in with their own experience?”
3. Use a spreadsheet to analyze your metrics and look for trends.
You may find it helpful to use a spreadsheet to plan your content. You will definitely find that it is helpful to use a spreadsheet to analyze how your content performed. Look for trends in view counts, likes, shares, comments, and follower growth. What posts are performing the strongest? What do those posts have in common? What day or time of day did you press publish?
At the end of the month, look at which of your posts performed best by analyzing the data in your spreadsheet. What stands out about the post that performed best? What do the top-performing posts have in common?
If you’re serious about building traction as a micro-influencer, spending time analyzing what’s working– and making a plan to do more of that–is one of the most powerful investments of your time.
4. Devote effort to building trust with your audience.
One of the ways that nano influencers and micro-influencers are more powerful than influencers with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers is that nano influencers and micro-influencers have a relationship with their audience members. When a micro-influencer is really on top of her game and thinking about building trust, she will devote time to engaging directly with her followers in the comments and in her DMs.
You may want to earmark 15 minutes a day to respond to your DMs or a one-hour block a week to respond with hearts to all your messages.
If your area of expertise is at all sensitive or personal (related to social justice, trauma, health care, the law, or finance), you may want to create a post or a set of stories that you save to your highlights with your boundaries. You can specify that you can’t give advice over DM or that you would prefer that people not send you personal stories. If you are interested in an added income stream, you can sell one-hour “peer support” or coaching calls with followers to hold space for their stories or give advice– as long as you are very clear that you are a peer, not a professional, and your advice is not a substitute for legal advice, health care, or the equivalent in your space.
In time, you’ll figure out how to curate the right level of interaction with your followers. But in the beginning, forging a personal connection with the people who are connecting with your work is the single most important factor in becoming a nano-influencer or micro-influencer. The followers who feel like they have a direct connection with you will be most likely to engage with your work, share your content, and buy the products you recommend.
5. Don’t wait for #sponcon contracts – build your revenue with referral marketing
We follow nano-influencers and micro-influencers– and often, we develop “parasocial” relationships with them– because we feel connected to them and trust them. When a micro-influencer has a great platform that feels sincere, we are likelier to buy products or explore brands she has recommended. We are much more likely to buy products recommended by nano-influencers than we are to buy Pepsi because Kendall Jenner did a tone-deaf commercial.
In fact, social media users devoting more time and attention to the work of nano-influencers and micro-influencers is contributing to a big shift: we follow people on social media because we respect their viewpoints and trust their content.
This sets the stage for a shift to micro-influencers using referral marketing platforms to monetize their work. Rather than accepting a contract to publish #sponcon from brands that may or may not appeal to their audiences, micro influencers can start to grow their revenue by recommending helpful, trusted products that they truly believe their followers will try and enjoy. Nano influencers and micro-influencers can conduct their business using a referral marketing platform–like Ambassador– to build campaigns and get paid for promoting the products their audience members are interested in and want to purchase.
The shift from micro-influencers jockeying for flat-fee content sponsorship contracts from arbitrary brands to building authentic referral campaigns specifically for brands they believe in is part of the shift towards micro-influencers having outsized power. The tide change is that social media users prioritize trust and authenticity when deciding whom to follow on social media and what action to take after absorbing their content. When nano influencers and micro-influencers monetize their content by promoting brands that feel relevant and get paid based on how interested their audience really is, it contributes to the growing trust we feel in the micro-influencer space. It makes Instagram accounts with fewer than 50,000 followers paradoxically much more powerful than larger accounts.
Every micro-influencer starts as a nano-influencer, and that’s why this shift towards referral marketing revenue over flat fee #sponcon is so exciting. Nano-influencers have the opportunity to earn money even as they are starting out, creating literal value even as their accounts are getting off the ground.
If you follow the above steps, devoting energy to quality, unique content, and authentic connection with your growing audience, you’ll find you move from nano-influencer to micro-influencer faster than you can say “selfie.”