The power of influence is not a new concept in marketing. From actors and athletes to musicians and models, businesses and organizations from industries of all shapes and sizes have been harnessing the influence of celebrities for decades. However, with the rise of social media over the last several years, the ability to influence an audience on behalf of a brand no longer requires celebrity status. Following a 10-year career in public relations, event planning and nonprofit management, Jennifer Maune joined this growing space with her popular blog and social media channels. While she shies away from the title of influencer, it’s clear with more than 160,000 Instagram followers that she is seen as a trendsetter in lifestyle and home design inspiration. Check out her steps to become an influencer yourself.

Establish Your Brand

Before you try to dive head first into the world of influencer marketing, you must first establish your own personal brand. The goal is to generate a true connection with your following, so it’s important to focus on an area or topic that is especially important to you. The more passionate you are about a subject or idea, the more likely you are to invoke those same feelings in others. Maune’s brand includes everything from recipes and party planning to home design and travel tips, but it all revolves around one central theme. 

“My tagline is live life beautifully, so everything I create revolves around that,” she said. “I consider myself a content creator and I love to create content to inspire my audience. It could be sharing a project that we’ve tackled, a recipe that my family loves or it could be working with a brand or sponsor to highlight something that makes our life easier.”

Build a Following

While an influencer certainly brings a new level of confidence and excitement to a brand, what the business or organization is ultimately after is the influencer’s followers. Building a following that is deeply connected to you and your content is essential for generating legitimate interest in a product or service. Keep in mind that quality is greater than quantity when it comes to follower count, so don’t get too caught up on hitting a specific number but rather put your efforts toward fostering a relationship with followers. Maune built her impressive social media audience by simply interacting with those who follow her channels. 

My goal is to be present for my audience,” said Maune. “I’m always responding to comments on my social media platforms and blog, but also Instagram stories as well. Whenever I’m tackling a project, I love to get them involved in the process.”

Develop Partnerships

After you’ve taken the time to build your personal brand and rapport with your following, it’s time to enter the world of influencer marketing by partnering with a business or organization. However, that doesn’t mean you should reach out to any local business about a potential partnership. Even when creating and sharing content on behalf of another brand, it’s still important to maintain consistency with your personal brand. Unfollowing is just as easy as following and your relationship with your audience will diminish if you post unrelated content as part of an influencer marketing campaign.

“It’s always important to me that when I am sharing something, it’s truly something that I authentically believe in or would use personally,” Maune said. “I like to remind my audience frequently that it’s something that I truly believe in or stand behind. I have actually removed myself from partnerships when I realized that it’s not something I can stand behind or it just might not be the best fit for my audience.”

Learn From Others

One of the best ways to become an influencer is by learning from others who have done it successfully. As the world of influencer marketing continues to grow rapidly, it’s easy to find ambassadors partnering with all different types of businesses and organizations. Whether your interest is sports, movies, fitness, food or something entirely different, chances are there’s already an influencer thriving in that field to emulate. In her early days of content creation, Maune looked to notable influencers such as Joanna Gaines and the Pioneer Woman for inspiration.

“Those are two that I would say are similar because they share everything from recipes and home design to entertaining, but with a little bit of that family life wrapped up in it as well,” she said. “Although we have different styles and different approaches to our blogs, the business that they’ve built is incredible. Those would be two that I love to watch on the daily and that I’ve studied how their business has evolved as well.”