Influencer success secrets! Content creators reveal the lessons they’ve learned while amassing followers on social media – including the importance of being ‘authentic’

  • Meta launched a power list of the top creators across Instagram and Facebook 
  • FEMAIL speaks to four of the creators about lessons they learned from internet 
  • Content creators got candid about keeping their content authentic and original 

The working from home revolution has taken the career world by storm since the pandemic, with many choosing to completely overhaul their lives in favour of more flexible hours. 

Moreover, the shift meant that online creators multiplied in droves, as many finally found the time and courage to pick up the camera and put pen to social media.

To celebrate the evolution, Meta has now launched the UK Creators of Tomorrow 2022, a power list of the top entrepreneurial creators across Instagram and Facebook who are inspiring Gen-Z into a radical new way of working. 

Young people today are re-evaluating how work fits into their lives as they lead the way into a new internet-led career path. 

Here, four of the creators have told FEMAIL all about what they learned from curating an online personality and the lessons they learned about amassing followers, keeping their ideas genuine and what they think the future looks like. 

RITA BALOGUN (@msritab): ‘Don’t let the numbers dictate what you create.’

Rita has described building a following as ‘a journey’, albeit she admits she got noticed ‘fairly quickly’

Rita, who creates Instagram posts featuring jokes, beauty, and general lifestyle advice, says the key is to ‘be yourself and consistent’.

The creator, 32, first got into creating content on Instagram when the pandemic started.

‘Comedy is something I’m passionate about and creating content is something I had always wanted to do but I was too nervous,’ she said.

‘However, when I saw everyone else doing it my friend convinced me to start, so it’s amazing to now be recognised as a Creator of Tomorrow – life can be so intense and I feel like a bit of relatability and laughter can go a long way.’

She has described building a following as ‘a journey’, although Rita admits she got noticed ‘fairly quickly’. 

However, the influencer says it ‘could’ve been a lot more had she been more consistent when she started’.

‘When starting out its super important to try and consistently post interesting, varied content to get you spotted on the explore page and come back for more,’ she said. ‘With Instagram I found that the more I posted the more I was seen.’

Rita says ‘authenticity’ is the key in keeping her followers interested.

She said: ‘Over the years I’ve been able to build a lovely community on my Instagram channel so that my audience finds me relatable and shares an interest in my stories and sense of humour – which is basically making fun of the things in my life which ordinarily might make me cry, but I think that’s comedy!’

Speaking on advice for anyone wanting to move into online content creation, she stressed the importance of being ‘yourself’, and being ‘consistent’.

‘Don’t let the numbers dictate what you create,’ she said. ‘The numbers will come. Be patient with yourself when it comes to figuring out what your “thing” is then work on it.’

She added: ‘Keep going and don’t focus on going viral, focus on building a community. And finally, do what you love, just like I did…’ 

Rita believes this style of working is ‘100 per cent’ here to stay – and hasn’t even peaked yet. 

‘I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon and Instagram is a place where you can really be passionate about something and make a living from it,’ she added.

The influencer continued: ‘I think 9-5 is great if that’s what you want but for the people who don’t want it, platforms like Instagram are giving people an opportunity to create work that they are passionate about and matters to them, and more importantly, that doesn’t fit a traditional job description.’

BEE (@beeillustrates): ‘The only way to sustain yourself creatively in this industry is to create things that bring you joy to make…’

Bee, 24, admits they ‘never started out with the intention of getting a following’, revealing they try ‘not to think about the numbers too much’

Bee, who creates stunning colourful illustrations, opens up about learning that not every piece of content they make will resonate with their audience.

The influencer’s journey happened ‘completely organically and accidentally’, as they were studying a Ba (Hons) in Illustration at the University of Edinburgh.

‘I would post bits and pieces of my art online – ranging from some personal projects to snippets of pieces I was working on for my degree,’ they said. 

‘When the pandemic hit, I was in my final year of study and ended up using social media, especially Instagram as my primary way of connecting with people, and shared more of my art, as well as my thoughts and feelings on a range of topics – it seemed to resonate with people and unexpectedly grew into what it is today!’

Bee, 24, admits they ‘never started out with the intention of getting a following’, revealing they try ‘not to think about the numbers too much’.

‘It happened fairly slowly and steadily and then exploded all at once during Pride Month in 2020, when I was in lockdown and creating art every day as a form of escapism,; they said. ‘So often it seems as though people online have amassed a huge platform overnight – but in reality, that is very rarely the case.’

Bee says they try to focus ‘less on amassing a following’ and more on ‘sharing creativity’.

The illustrator admitted that not every piece of content they make ‘resonates with their audience’ – something they are ‘learning to accept’. 

They continued: ‘I think it is so easy to focus on creating content based on what you think other people want to see, but I’ve found that the only way to sustain yourself creatively in this industry is to create things that bring you joy to make.

ESTELLE ALIOT (@estelle_aliot): ‘I just try and experiment with new things’ 

Estelle says while her following has been up and down for two years, she’s noticed a huge growth in the last year

Fashionista Estelle, whose Instagram features chic and artistic outfits, says she likes to put on ‘different “characters”‘ when creating content.

The influencer, 29, says she’s always been into fashion, but it wasn’t until she started putting out consistent content online that everything kicked off. 

‘The pandemic happened, and I started on Instagram,’ she said. ‘It was really nice to find a distraction and focus on something during some very dark times and naturally it grew from there.’

She added: ‘Five years ago if you would have told me I would be in the position I am today, working with brands I could only dream of I would have a heart attack!

‘I recently came back from Milan and Paris Fashion Week where I met some lovely people and saw some amazing fashion shows. I couldn’t believe I have come this far and this is only the beginning.’

Estelle says while her following has been up and down for two years, she’s noticed a huge growth in the last year, revealing she thinks it’s down to people looking for post-lockdown style inspiration.

Opening up about how she keeps people continuously interested in her content, the creator admitted she like to ‘experiment’.

She says: ‘I like to put on different “characters” when creating my content, it makes putting together a look so fun and enjoyable for me and I think that translates in the content. (Thank-you to Amazon wigs!).’

Her advice for anyone wanting to become a creator is to ‘start now’.

‘Don’t wait for the perfect phone, video camera, background,’ she said. ‘Be yourself, trial new things, make mistakes, learn from them and just be consistent. Consistency is key.’

Estelle urged anyone wanting to build careers online to ‘have patience’ and ‘not put too much pressure on yourself’. 

‘I find that the things that people tend to respond best to are the things I have genuinely enjoyed making. I try to carve out a digital space that resonates with my community.

‘As someone who is interested in current affairs and social issues, I create content that is interesting and relevant to me, exploring my own experiences, and hope that people relate.’

Their key advice for anyone wanting to become an online creator is to ‘be unapologetically and authentically yourself’ and ‘build on talents and interests you already have’.

‘People can smell inauthenticity a mile off,’ they said. ‘I’ve found that using Instagram as a means to promote and develop your existing craft/talent/passion is a fantastic way to figure out where you fit in online spaces.

‘Create the kind of content that you would want to see, that you enjoy, and that makes people feel good.

‘Remind yourself that at the end of the day, it is a job like any other, and be prepared for it to be harder work than you’d initially anticipate – it really isn’t all glitz and glamour and can be stressful, tedious and difficult; no matter how it may appear online!’

Bee got candid about how easy it can become to slip into working 24/7 when you’re self-employed, stressing the need to remind yourself to take breaks.

‘Just because you enjoy what you do doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to rest,’ they urged.’

Bee also advises on the importance to treat content creation as a ‘real’ job. 

‘Make sure you maintain a life outside of what you put online – keep some things just for you, and make sure you have an outlet that is entirely unrelated to your online work to allow you to take some time away from it all,’ they said. ‘It’s so important to set boundaries and working hours just like you would in any conventional workplace.’

LEO KALYAN (@leokalyan): ‘Don’t be afraid of experimentation – and don’t believe yourself when your brain tells you: “I can’t”.’

Leo – one of the first openly LGBTQIA+ South Asian artists – advises that ‘originality, uniqueness and individuality are within all of us – but it takes time and effort to find them’.

The 31-year-old creator says he began filming and sharing videos ‘just for fun’, singing Bollywood film songs and mashing them up with their favourite Pop and R&B songs.

‘I saw it as a way of exploring the musical overlaps between Indian, African and Latinx music,’ they said. ‘It’s something I’ve unconsciously done since childhood, and to be honest I never thought it would connect with global audiences as much as it has done.

‘It proves that music is universal, we don’t need to understand the words to connect with the feeling.’

Leo was able to get a following after posting Reels on Instagram, admitting they ‘started to go viral pretty much immediately, and they’ve continued growing steadily every single day’.

‘I probably had a solid following within about 10 days – which is wild to me,’ he admitted. 

Leo’s advice for anyone looking to get into creating content online is to ‘find your unique point of view and stick with it’.

‘Don’t be afraid of experimentation – and don’t believe yourself when your brain tells you: “I can’t” – because you can,’ they add.

‘Find your own voice: that’s the hard part, I know, but don’t be discouraged. 

Leo (pictured) was able to get a following after posting Reels on Instagram, admitting they ‘started to go viral pretty much immediately

‘Originality, uniqueness and individuality are within all of us – but it takes time and effort to find them.’

Leo, who believes that ‘as long as the internet exists, this style of working is here to stay’ says platform like Instagram have provided people with ‘endless ways of being creative and sharing their creativity’.

‘It’s inspiring people to pursue what they love to do in a very real, tangible way – which is exciting because we get to build our own futures and tailor our lives to suit our own individual needs, rather than the other way round.’

They added: ‘I’m proud that these little experimental singing videos that I film all by myself at home have gained worldwide traction… It’s very humbling, and I’m hugely grateful to be recognised by Instagram for what I love to do.’

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