As your blog grows and your reach expands, one of the perks that comes along with your increased exposure (generally speaking) is an increased level of influence over your readers and their choices. This may mean influence over the products that they choose to purchase, or it may mean influence over the way that they view certain topics.
The Power of Influence As a Blogger
I want to be very clear by what I mean here because I know that my previous statements can be taken the wrong way.
The term influence can have many connotations, both positive and negative. I don't condone or promote using your influence to manipulate your readers for your own financial gain. That quite frankly, would make you someone that is in the blogging industry for the wrong reasons. Without your readers, you wouldn't have said influence, and you should be using it to truly benefit their lives, not your bank account.
Now with that being said, making money off of your readers when you connect them with products or information that you honestly love and know THEY will love, is a different story. At the end of the day, your blog is a business (which is why you're on this website) and you do need to treat it as one.
The Big Picture
You might be thinking, okay influence is great, but how does that fit into the big picture of my website and business?
Wait what is that? A helpful diagram illustrating my points? Boom. I've got you covered.
I've broken down the connections and benefits that influence over your audience can have:
Establishing trust and influence with your audience leads to an even more dedicated following. For example, let's say that you have a medium sized blog audience full of engaged readers that love sharing your content with their followers. Because you have established yourself as an influential authority with your audience, it has led them to do your marketing for you and continue to propel your growth and reach forward. Just like that, you have grown your medium sized audience into a much larger one.
Having a dedicated audience leads to more prestigious brand collaborations that in turn lead to a higher income.
When new viewers see that you are not only producing top notch content, but working with industry leading brands, that establishes more trust and increases your influence, thus starting the cycle over again.
We have talked about influence and why it's important for your business, so let's discuss a specific way to profit off of it.
Influencer Marketing and the Blogger: A Love Story
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which individuals with a strong market presence are leveraged to sell products (that they love) to their readers and followers. Many bloggers make a large portion of their income from this practice and supplement with other methods such as ads and direct product sales.
As a blogger, you are the middle man between the brand and the consumer. You are making the brand's product relatable and desirable to the consumer in ways that a faceless brand could not do. Why? Because you have a face. Thank goodness, because blogging might be difficult if you didn't have one.
But really in all seriousness, when consumers see you using and enjoying a product, it makes it easier for them to visualize themselves buying and using that same product. That in a nutshell is influencer marketing, and when utilized correctly, can make you, the brand, and your business, a lot of money.
How Does Influencer Marketing Differ From Affiliate Marketing?
If you are not familiar with the term affiliate marketing, it is a method that brands use to extend the reach of their brand, products, and services through the use of an affiliate. Let's say that I have a t-shirt company, and I want you, the blogger, to help me promote it. For every t-shirt that a customer buys through your recommendation, you get a percentage of that sale. A popular affiliate marketing company within the fashion and lifestyle community that you may know is Reward Style.
Affiliate marketing is a branch of influencer marketing. They both involve the use of a specific individual that is placed between the brand and the consumer. The difference is that with influencer marketing individuals are usually paid a larger flat fee for promotion of that brand as opposed to commission from individual product sales as with affiliate marketing.
While the logistics of both marketing strategies slightly differ, they both have one very important thing in common:
How To Build Your Influence As a Life + Style Blogger
1 | Determine Your Target Audience
The most important step to growing your reach and influence as a fashion and lifestyle blogger is determining who your target audience is. Without understanding your audience, it is hard to create content that really resonates with them.
2 | Build Your Audience's Trust
Gaining your audience's trust is absolutely crucial when building your influence as a life + style blogger. It is important that they trust your word, advice, and recommendations and genuinely care about what you have to say. Without this established trust and engagement, your blog has a lot less value in the eyes of a brand seeking a potential collaboration and more importantly, is a lot less fun to run and maintain for you.
Watch and Observe Your Audience
Once you have identified who your target audience is, start spending time in the places that they like to hang out in. For example, let's say that your audience really enjoys Instagram. Pay attention to the other accounts that they are following, the content that they themselves post, and questions and conversations that they are having. You can learn a lot about your audience just from quietly observing them.
Break Down the Barriers
When it comes to growing an engaged audience that trusts you, the most important thing to focus on is breaking down the barriers and letting your audience get to know your true personality.
To illustrate my point, let's begin with two scenarios:
Scenario One - Pretend that you yourself are not a blogger, but a reader that casually enjoys and follows various life + style blogs. You're on Instagram and you discover a new blogger that sparks your interest so you decide to follow them. Fast forward a few months - you remember seeing a few posts from this blogger in your news feed, but never decide to follow them on other social platforms or head to their blog. The end.
Boring story, I know. Stay with me here.
Scenario Two - You are once again a casual blog reader browsing around on Instagram. You stumble upon a style blogger that you fall in love with and decide to follow her. You then proceed to waste thirty minutes scrolling through her gorgeous Instagram feed, and decide to head over to her blog.
On her blog you discover that you not only love her Instagram, you love her unique personality that shines through with her writing and other blog content.
Eventually you discover that she has a Youtube channel, Snap Chat, and Twitter account, so naturally you follow her on there too. After a few months of watching her interact with the camera on Youtube, and getting to know her daily life, routine, and personality from Snapchat and Twitter, you officially decide that you are going to actively start keep tabs on this blogger.
She happens to talk about this amazing skin care line that she uses religiously, and you purchase several of the products to try out for yourself. Why you might ask? Because you now know and trust her. If she says these skin care products are amazing, then they're amazing. Influencer marketing at its finest. The end.
Cool Marie thanks for that long, super fascinating story.
Okay, but seriously do you understand what I am getting at here? Taking the time to get to know your audience and making sure that they get to know you is a HUGE deal. A huge following is great, but it doesn't mean anything if they don't trust what you have to say and keep coming back for more.
"A huge following is great, but it doesn't mean anything if they don't trust what you have to say and keep coming back for more."
A Few Quick Ideas That Will Build Your Audience's Trust
Utilize Video Platforms | Using platforms that break beyond the wall of pictures and text like Snapchat, Youtube, and Periscope all help to familiarize you and your brand with your audience. Video is an amazing tool that can be used to give your audience a behind the scenes look into your life and true personality outside of the "picture perfect" blogging world that we all see.
Stop Editing Yourself So Much | There is a lot of pressure in the blogging community, especially the life + style community, to act and appear a certain way. Remember that even though we all try to make our lives appear put together and shiny, for the most part, they aren't. As lady like as we all are on the outside, I'm sure a good portion of us cuss like sailors, binge eat ice cream for the hell of it, and wear yoga pants 70% of the time. I know I sure do. Be yourself. Be relatable. Be a little abnormal sometimes. Your audience will welcome this breath of fresh air, I promise.
Add Value to Your Content | Use your social media platforms to create helpful, informative, funny, witty, creative, conversational, thought provoking content. Instead of simply posting a picture of your latte with your sunglasses and wallet next to it with a lame caption, use that opportunity to provide value to your readers. Start a discussion, share a fun fact, provide additional content that accompanies a blog post that you wrote this week, etc. Make liking and commenting on your post something that they really want to do!
Essentially What I'm Saying About All of This Is...
Don't blog to build your influence and sell products with affiliate links. Not only does that sound unfulfilling, that sounds boring as hell. Be your true genuine self and produce valuable content that your audience loves, and the influence will come. When the influence comes (or if you already have it), you now have a strategy that will help you to utilize it to the fullest. Connect your readers with the products and things that you LOVE and want them to enjoy.
Be Glenda the Good Witch. Your outfit is too pretty to have a house dropped on you.