How to become an influencer (even if you’re a little guy!)

become an influencer

By Aaron Lee, {grow} Community Member

If you’ve never heard of me, hello there! This is @AskAaronLee.

Back in 2009, I started a Twitter account because I saw the potential to have a worldwide presence. And I was right. I’ve used Twitter to connect with people, grow a small brand, and became an influencer.

Today, I’ve been featured in websites such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, Lifehacker, Mashable, Huffington Post and many others.

Many of you might think that I am an influencer because I started early and simply built on that early success. The game is different now, and it’s much more competitive to be an influencer. Perhaps you believe that @AskAaronLee would not make it if I had started today.

You’re wrong.

What many of you don’t know about me is I have also built another little brand from scratch, in an entirely new industry.

My new venture @shortofheight is a personal brand built through Instagram and my blog. I share fashion tips for short men like me (I’m 5’4″).

Bear in mind that when I started, I was neither in the fashion industry nor in a place where I could easily integrate with what I had already accomplished. This was a brave new frontier for me. Today, the blog has hundreds of new readers each day and my Instagram account has grown to more than 57,000 followers.

And I’ve done all of that living way out of the mainstream, in a historical town called Malacca (a UNESCO World Heritage site!) in the hot and sunny country of Malaysia. Not exactly New York or Paris.

If you think I am an unlikely success, well perhaps I am, but if I can do it, you can too. And I can help you.

This is not something that happens overnight, but with the right moves, you can generate an authentic following. That’s what I’m going to share with you today — Tips that I’ve used to grow a personal brand in two different industries.

1. Love what you do

The first and most important tip to becoming an influencer is you must love what you do. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with it!

It doesn’t matter if you want to be an influencer in golf, candle-making, real estate, financing or fashion — you have to love what you’re doing.

Many make the mistake of going where “the money is.” They pick topics for the sole purpose of generating money. While you can make you some cash doing this, it won’t be for the long term because to become the GO-TO person in your industry you have to build trust beyond the money. You must love what you’re doing, you must be passionate, and it has to show.

 

2. Find your focus

What is your focus?

To become an influencer, you must choose and master a particular specialty area within your industry.

Don’t spread your net too wide. If you love working out, and you’re in the fitness industry, you could be the go-to fitness person for moms, teenagers, people above 40, etc. You can even focus on nutrition, or just a particular type of workout.

You shouldn’t focus on just fitness alone. Really drill down and focus on a particular niche.

Remember, if your focus is too broad, you will not be perceived to be an expert or an influencer at all. You will have many competitors. Start small. Go for broke AFTER you’ve established a brand for yourself.

This is exactly what I had done when I started blogging. I wrote primarily on Twitter because I was fully utilizing a very new platform at that time. Twitter was once a niche, believe it or not. Many still remember me because of how my articles have helped them and I’ve become their go-to guy when they need tips on social media.

I am using the same thought process for Short of Height. I share fashion tips specifically for short men, as Mark Schaefer would say, this is my  “un-saturated niche.” I focus on one target market. It helped that I was actually short, too!

3. Add value

Do you know of any influencer that doesn’t add value? The reason you follow them is because they add value to you.

For me, Short of Height’s value is all about showing how short guys like me can dress up and look spectacular. I was able to build a strong following because of being dedicated to delivering something of value with every piece of content I create!

4. Publish quality content…… consistently

Quality, quality, quality.

Here’s the thing:

Poor quality doesn’t get shared.

Poor quality doesn’t attract people’s attention.

Poor quality is not memorable.

Even if you produce quality content, you have to post consistently. That’s how you become truly memorable.

Most of my posts are personal and not your annoying internet marketing quotes that people tend to abuse and overshare. If you’re thinking of posting quotes, add your story and personality in them. Mix it up with some personal posts of YOU.

5. Be proactive

No matter what industry you’re in, you need to be proactive.

You need to mingle with other influencers in your industry. The best approach is to leave your digital footprint everywhere. Do this by liking other people’s photos, commenting, helping others out, retweeting, etc.

For those who are active on Twitter, you should participate in Twitter chats. There are so many Twitter chats for fashionistas, financiers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, travelers and more.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can leave comments on blogs, guest post on other influencer’s blogs, post on medium.com and more.

6. You need substance

Although popularity on a single platform can make you an influencer, you need to have substance if you’re going to take your game up a notch.

Yes, you may be doing great on Twitter, but you may need a blog to add substance to what you’re doing. (Mark calls this “rich content.”) If you’re not good at writing, you may consider YouTube or a podcast.

Just having a Twitter account or an Instagram account will not be enough to become an influencer. You need substance to continue to add value. Brands are looking for that added value you can give to their brands.

For shortofheight.com, I created a blog to share in-depth fashion tips for those following me on Instagram. Because of that content, I’ve already started working with several companies and have become an ambassador for several brands.

7. Patience and commitment

I may have made it sound easy with the tips above … but it’s not.

Building a brand doesn’t come overnight. It can take many moons before you’re able to reap the rewards.

When I started my Instagram account, I shared what I wore that day so I could show my fashion ideas to short men out there. The account was quiet and my followers were sparse. It took me a few months before I saw any traction.

Since I loved what I doing, I didn’t mind. When you love doing something, you’ll continue doing it anyway. That was what I did. I didn’t have the intention of building it into a brand like what it is today, I simply liked what I did and continued adding value to what little followers I had.

Slowly people started to notice my account. Since I mentioned that I am short, people got curious about my actual height since I look taller in my posts. That curiosity got them tagging their friends. People then started asking me for style tips.

It took a lot of patience and uncertainty but today, that Instagram account has over 57,000 followers and is growing at a rate of 100-150 new followers a day.

In order to do something successfully you need to be committed. It takes hours of practice, research and just going out to do it.

What’s next?

After months of commitment and hard work, my new brand is finally starting to take off. Only now am I thinking of diversifying my content into a YouTube channel. I also believe that I have enough momentum to start to build relationships with potential sponsors for my content. I am already an ambassador for one of the fastest growing watch companies in Europe and Italian craftsmen who make luxury elevator shoes.

Big goals for a little man, right?

Those are my tips to become an influencer. It’s simple, it works and it takes hard work. I’m the living proof of it.

Screenshot 2016-10-25 08.39.52Aaron Lee is the founder, editor and writer of the blog at AskAaronLee.com where he writes about social media networks. He also founded ShortOfHeight.com.  Obviously.

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