“I want to be an Instagram influencer”: Behind the Scenes

Kim Kardashian has pushed everything from perfume, to vitamins, to even luxury brands like Fendi. Her little sister Kylie has gotten in on the action too with the launch of her makeup brand, ‘Kylie Cosmetics’ in November 2015. In this day and age, even your next-door neighbour could be cashing in on the big business of being an influencer. 


It seems like light work, but there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Being a social media influencer is a real job for many. They’ve turned their hobbies into a full-time career.

So, what’s the job like? 


Making a living from social media means you must be online all the time. Consistency is key. Days are always scheduled from morning to evening. Planning, shooting, editing, web management, working on blogs, the list goes on. 


Most people don’t take it seriously and see influencers as nothing but a pretty face – but, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of a single Instagram post and if you’re successful, there’s a lot of people to answer to. Your followers are your boss. You must be thick skinned and have the right attitude. You need to pick the right niche and the pressure to produce content is constantly at a high.


A huge part of the job is responding to DMs, comments, and engaging with your audience. It’s important because it shows your audience, you’re a ‘real person’ and they can relate and approach you. For some influencers, engagement is difficult to manage but the rewards are worth the effort.


For some influencers, the best part about the job is meeting people and networking. If you’re an affiliate for a brand, they gift you with free stuff to keep as well as to promote. You can even get away with not paying for a holiday trip, an outfit, front row tickets to a fashion show or a yoga class for up to a year. 


Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s also important to evolve and change some things. As real life and social media trends shift, you need to adjust your niche around to stay ‘relevant’.


Hair & Makeup influencer/blogger Pavelle shares how she plans her day in order to produce good content for her Instagram feed.  


“I normally create all my content on my days off work and University. The first thing I do on a regular filming day is to make sure I’m awake by 8am, I’m ready and I’ve had breakfast by 10.”


“I sort out the looks I will be filming on the day,” she continues “I put my camera on charge. I use the Sony A5000, soft boxes and a ring light. Once everything is ready, I start filming. By 6pm I’ve done 2-3 looks. I spend the rest of the evening editing using final cut pro.”


Pavelle started blogging from October 2017, by the end of the month, she had 2,000 followers. A year later, November 2018, she was on 10,000 followers, and her platform kept on growing, she was gaining close to 5,000 followers each day. 


But maintaining and continuing to grow your online influence can be difficult, as Pavelle explains.


“During July of this year, I noticed that all came to a standstill. I didn’t lose any followers, but I wasn’t gaining any either. I spent time trying to evaluate why that was, after a month of

constantly uploading content, I realized makeup alone wasn’t enough, how many other makeup bloggers are out there? Everyone’s doing it.” 


Pavelle got thinking. “As a black makeup influencer, what else are you good at? So, I got into hair, I incorporated hair tutorials into my makeup tutorials and my analytics skyrocketed. Now, I currently have 77.1k followers.”


“I would advise anyone who’s trying to get into being an influencer to also explore other niches their good at and exploit them to bring traffic to their website, because it shows versatility and that you have more to offer. If I had known this earlier, I would’ve done that earlier.” 

Fashion and Travel Influencer Nandi Cher also provided some insight into her journey to building her online platform. 

Being an influencer is a very competitive industry but definitely rewarding. Every day I plan new ways to build content on my social media accounts. This includes taking pictures, researching the latest trends and seeing what my followers are interested in so that I’m always producing content that’s relevant to them.” Nandi shares. 


“At first, I struggled for a year to build content. To be honest, I didn’t really have a direction/goal I was going towards. However, once I really got to know my audience and looked at my own personal interests, that’s when I realized I had a love for fashion and travel. So why not share that with people as well? This is when my page started to take off – when I began posting pictures I was interested in and then soon realized others were interested too.” 


“It is very rewarding getting features from brands and well-known fashion publications,” Nandi continues. “However, to get to this level, the ingredients are passion, consistency and a whole level of diligence is needed! It’s not easy as a black influencer either.”


“I have a whole folder on my phone dedicated to editing apps – I know, a little crazy! But my main favourites are “Lightroom” which helps change the lighting, shadows and highlights in pictures, “Afterlight”, and the famous “Face Tune” which is also good if you want to add detail to Jewellery”


But producing quality content means nothing without attracting the necessary traffic. 

“Hashtag! Hashtag! Hashtag! It’s important for your discovery and engagement.”


Hashtags have become more and more popular since they were created in 2009 on twitter. Now, they are everywhere and are used in campaigns as well as to categorize types of content. In the world of Instagram, hash tagging is a good way for others to find your account. They help increase exposure, thorough engagements such as likes, follows and comments. They could also lead to finding clients which in the long run, build brand loyalty – which is the goal.


Instagram has 6 algorithms. Search Feed, Instagram story suggestions, Explore feed, News Feed, Location Feed and Account Suggestions. Hash tagging is mainly affecting the Search Feed. It’s the landing page you find yourself on when your searching using a hashtag. 


Instagram also has a Top Posts section, and the algorithms are made of an equation which is likes, comments, time and relevance score. To get onto the top 9 posts section, your posts need to have a good engagement as well as a high relevance score than the other posts using the same Hashtag within a certain time period. This time period also depends on the popularity of the hashtag. The more popular the hashtag, the shorter time period. 


To any aspiring Instagram influencers, Consistency is key. You wont gain 50k followers in one day, but it’s achievable overtime. Plan ahead. Organize you week ahead, whether its booking shoots, ordering products to promote or networking. Remember – you’re still learning – don’t put yourself under any pressure. It might good to observe other influencers once in a while to see how they promote their feed. You never know – it might give you an idea.  


Words by Sharon Lola

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