So, I’ve been blogging on and off since 2008-09. But for the longest time, it was an unplanned activity, with no specific direction, no one-dimensional niche (gasp!) and no business plan to monetize it (ever!). It was just a sort of dump file, where I wrote whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and with no intent or plan to get it before readers (a little headshake for the poetry!).
Things have changed now.
2020 came and I experienced a shift in mindset. I hooked up on my current domain and hosting, loaded up a good, fast and dynamic WordPress theme and decided to get serious.
Despite having about 30-odd previous blogs here, I decided to lump them up in separate folders and niche down to one niche: travel (or rather travel blogging). I also decided to formulate and implement a plan. It is a 5-step plan to becoming an influencer in the travel blogging space, but it can also be seen as a generic ‘how to be an influencer in 5 steps’ roadmap for just about any niche.
I am of course also documenting this journey in terms of growth statistics and influencer reach statistics, so that I can branch out in a ‘how to become an influencer’ high-touch mini-course in the future. So you see, there’s definitely a clear and precise plan now.
Influencer marketing is still in the nascent stages in India and this is indeed a great time to follow this 5-step plan and get ahead of all future competition. Brands are indeed catching up to the powers of influencer marketing in India and influencers like Sandy & Vyjay or digital laptopreneurs like Ranwinder Singh are proof of the same.
So there is certainly a first-mover sort of advantage to this 5-step roadmap to get an influencer status, especially if you are an aspiring Indian!
Step 1: Set Up Your Platform
Do you need a website? Well, not if you do not intend to blog. But yes if you do (and of course you knew that already). If you do not intend to blog, you can become an influencer by setting up your social accounts and consistently posting niche-specific (and strategic) content to grow an organic following.
This is for socials like Twitter, Instagram and others. And indeed, thousands of social media influencers earn enough money off of their social media to quit their 9-to-5 grinds and become true digital nomads.
But I am slightly old-school and a blogger at that. My first step is setting up the domain, hosting and the overall front-end of a blog (in my case, a travel and travel blogging specific one at that). An additional tip, go ahead and spend a bit on your basics. This spending will keep you accountable.
My main reasons for preferring blogs are two-fold:
- Full control over the content I post and how I deliver it to my readers (with no intermediaries and their whimsical, ever-changing policies and algorithms)
- Full control over traffic direction and reach. For example, if I wish to direct my incoming traffic onto an opt-in page, I can plan my content around that. If I wish to share external links, I can still do that without the struggle of getting the algorithm to show it to incremental percentages of viewers (as is the case with most social media).
Setting up a platform and a good one at that came first and foremost for me. Of course, it helped that my website was already getting some (though nowhere near what it I want it to be) traffic on existing posts already and organically.
Step 2: Plan Your Content
Every existing and successful influencer will tell you how important niching down is. Of course it is true that going for targeted appeal with people truly interested in what you talk about or share gives you greater chances of success when it comes to monetizing your efforts.
Universal appeal does not give you the same connect when it comes to converting your generic visitors into paying customers for your products or buyers for your affiliate products or recommendations.
So I have niched down into travel blogs and travel blogging. I have segmented my categories, tags and keywords to go with that now. I have also settled on a theme that goes well with my chosen niche. So in essence, every aspect of my blog ties in with my niche like a well-put-together meal.
The content needs to be planned in more details and of course SEO features heavily on this if blogging is your chosen platform. Posting consistently, posting valuable content and having good keyword picks that have the possibility of ranking organically, gives you the best results in the shortest possible time.
Step 3: Market the Content
If you’d thought that writing and publishing a great post is all there is to the job, you couldn’t have been more wrong. More than 60 percent of your effort actually goes in the post-publishing marketing efforts.
Promoting your posts on your social handles (with the right captions and hashtags), getting your content on alternate search engines like Pinterest, and getting people interested in your post and topic by talking about it on Quora, Reddit, etc. and constantly directing eyeballs to your valuable content is a continuous effort.
Interlinking related articles, including clear calls to actions in the promotional posts, inviting backlinks, etc is a full-time job on its own and deserves a separate post for more details. But for the purposes of this 5-step roadmap post, suffice it to say, that this effort goes hand-in-hand with the actual task of researching, writing and publishing your posts in the first plan. And that too, with a unique value-add that is your own!
Step 4: Content Calendar & Consistency
Consistency is the key when it comes to blogging to becoming an influencer, or even for becoming a social media influencer with no blog! For the former, stick to a plan, one or two long-form posts per week (and stick to it religiously and dedicatedly).
For the latter, go for a schedule that depends on the social media chosen. For example, Instagram would require at least 1 or 2 posts daily, with appropriate captions and hashtags of course. This means having a content calendar ready with a content plan for at least a few days in advance.
For blogging, it helps to have a plan ready with post topics and target keywords handy at the very start of each month so all that’s needed is really writing up the post and posting it each week as per schedule. Consistency is the true key when it comes to hitting an influencer status and reach sooner rather than later.
Step 5: Set Up Processes for The Long Haul
There are other processes that need to be set up for the long haul. After all, hitting that influencer status and earning money from it is not an easy, 1-month job. It takes months, sometimes even years to grow your reach slowly and steadily.
These long haul processes include (but are not limited to):
- Opt-in forms
- Landing pages for in-house products or affiliate promotions
- Mailing sequences (and mailing software)
- Social schedulers, graphic design software, free stock images and more
Those were the 5-steps to becoming an influencer, or a 5-steps to influencer status roadmap if you will. But though these 5 steps are easy to read as a blog post, they require a lot of hard and consistent efforts. In order to hit that influencer status fast, one of the biggest requirements is also having a personal voice and appeal.
For example, before you start, be sure to have your answer ready to the question – what makes your ‘5 things to do in India’ article different from another travel blogger’s similarly titled article. Find your differentiator and you’ve hit your jackpot.
I am currently documenting my own influencer journey by following this very same influencer roadmap. As I get the stats growing and climbing, I’ll update this article with add-on blog links as I go. Wish me luck.