“How can I attract more followers?” 

Most social media influencers and business owners have, at some point, asked themselves this question. It’s a valid question. Especially for those of us that use Instagram, one of the world’s most popular social media networks. As of June 2018, the site reached over 1 billion monthly users.

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"Can I get just 10k of y’all to follow me? I mean, I can’t monetize my blog/brand until I get my numbers up, right?"

That couldn’t be further from the truth. To make money, there are 3 key elements that you must acquire: exposure, creditability and experience. 

With exposure, people need to know that your brand exists. With creditability, people need to believe that you can provide a quality product/service. With experience, you need to be able to show proof that you can do the work.

For me, there’s proof in the pudding:

  • – I was named as one of the Carolinas Best Bloggers in 2013 with 432 followers (Exposure)

  • – I was asked to develop and facilitate classes on career topics for local non-profit organizations with 715 followers (Experience)

  • – I contributed quality articles to local publications on fashion and career topics with 1098 followers (Creditability)

  • – I was asked to speak on panels as an expert, coach new leaders and write copy for websites with 1300 followers (Exposure, Experience, Creditability)

But you weren’t getting paid, sis” is what you’re probably thinking. You’re right, I did not get paid. I was gaining the tools that would later earn the bag. Notice I said the ‘tools’ and not the ‘followers’.

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Here’s where my Instagram story (pun intended) gets interesting. I started losing followers, and earning money.

In 2018, I re-launched my blog and laser-focused on earning income. As a part of my strategy, I unfollowed almost 1,000 accounts. I previously followed hundreds of makeup, fashion and celebrity accounts. However, I wanted to earn income as a freelance writer, having partnerships with fashion/beauty brands, and with speaking engagements and events. I learned that to gain paid opportunities, first I must know about them. 

As I deleted accounts, I began to lose followers. At first, I panicked. I was hustling backwards, right? I needed more followers.

I started following publications that I wanted to work with, people who were currently writing for or speaking at events that I wanted to, conference/event pages and public relations professionals. I also came across entrepreneurs that coached new writers, helped influencers with branding strategies and local event pages.

Soon, my IG feed changed! Instead of seeing 10 different videos on how to create a cut crease with the latest eyeshadow palette (don’t get me wrong, I still love makeup tutorials), I watched my feed fill with new opportunities! I’d see a call for guest contributors from publications. Conferences would post that they were accepting submissions for speakers. There were so many paid opportunities that I hadn’t come across before I had changed my focus.

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Photo: Pexels

With less than 3,500 followers, this past May I have:

  • – Acquired a paid guest contributor gig with a national platform.

  • – Obtained 2 additional paid writing opportunities.

  • – Joined the staff and have been published in a print magazine.

  • – Booked a paid speaking engagement.

  • – Began planning my first workshop with (paid) sponsors.

  • – Been recognized for a national honor that will provide exposure and creditability, which leads to additional paid opportunities!

At the end of the day, even if your follower count doesn’t ‘add up’ to tens of thousands, it doesn’t mean that your bank account can’t!

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