How to Start a Social Media Influencer Business and Set It up for $0

How to Start a Social Media Influencer Business and Set It up for $0

When people think about starting a small business, they often think they’ll need a large initial investment. Luckily, that’s not the case with a social media influencer business. You can start a social media influencer business for $0. Literally, no dollars.

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How to Become a Social Media Influencer

With the average person in the United States spending over two hours on social media per day, there are a lot of potential eyeballs and followers out there to capture. As a social media influencer, the more followers you have, the more money you can make from brand sponsorships and collaborations.daily time spent using social media

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Wondering: “How do I start an influencer business?” Here’s how you can start your social media influencer business for $0. 

Choose a Niche You're Knowledgeable or Passionate About

One of the easiest ways to gain a following online is by talking about something you’re passionate about. When people see your passion, they’ll be drawn in and want to learn more. 

Choosing to talk about something you know a lot about will make the content more interesting to your followers and for you. While some influencers will create and post content outside their niche, the majority of their content covers one topic. If you have to cover the same topic all the time, it’s important that it’s something you enjoy.

Start as a Micro-Influencer

When you’re starting out your new social media influencer business, don’t worry too much about your follower count. Break it down into small steps so that the process isn’t overwhelming. Before you can be an influencer, you need one follower. And, the first step is to become a micro-influencer. Producing great content within your niche will help you find those first few followers.

A micro-influencer is someone who has anywhere between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. Even with those small follower counts, micro-influencers are attractive to brands. Micro-influencers have strong follower engagement, which is very attractive to brands looking to sponsor an influencer.

Start with One Social Media Platform

When starting a new business, it can be tempting to do it all at once. But, the best thing to do is to start with one, maybe two, social media sites. Build your following, and then if there’s demand, branch out to other platforms. 

Each social media platform has a personality and demographic. So when you’re getting started, you’ll want to start on the platform that you understand the best and markets to your target audience. To get an idea of which platforms work for your niche, look for similar influencers and which social media platforms they use and are most active on.

While Facebook might have the most active monthly users of any social media site, it might not be the right social media platform for your niche and influencer business. 

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Choose a Creative Social Media Handle

As a social media influencer, your business name is your social media handle. So, before you start your business, you’ll want to pick out a creative handle and make sure that it’s available to use. Jonathan Bell gave an amazing TED Talk about how to choose a creative brand name that can help you get inspired. 

Your business name will also be used for:

  • Website URL
  • Registering your business with your state
  • Federal and state trademark records (if you file for a trademark)

A unique business name will make marketing your business easier and will allow you to register your business with your state. It’s important to make sure no one else has claimed the URL and social media handles you want before choosing your business name. 

Optimize Your Social Account

Once you have your social media account on your chosen platform, then it’s time to optimize your profile. 

To optimize your profile you’ll want to:

  • Create an engaging bio.
  • Add a profile picture and cover photo.
  • Post some content so the profile looks full.
  • Consider switching to a business account.
  • Apply to get your account verified.

Hootsuite has a great guide for quickly optimizing your social media profiles.

Get to Know Your Target Market with Social Media Analytics

According to Hootsuite and We Are Social, there are 3.8 billion social media users in the world. That’s a lot of people. As a social media influencer, you just need to attract a small percentage of those people to follow you.

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To get followers, you’ll want to market your message to your target audience. Each post and message should be something that will interest your audience and target new potential followers using hashtags. 

One way to find your target demographic is to use social media analytics. Most platforms include analytics so you can see who already follows your account. This will give you good information to start figuring out who is most interested in following you. In addition to the built-in analytics tools, you can find free analytics tools online to help you stick to your $0 startup budget.

And, if you don’t yet have followers, you can look for influencers in your niche to find out who you should be targeting. This will take more leg work, but you can look at who follows your competitor to get an idea of who your target demographic will be.

Understand Audience Motivations

To keep current followers engaged and find new followers, you’ll want to understand your audience’s motivations. To do this, target your message towards their:

  • Challenges
  • Motivators
  • Pain points

You can find a lot of this information by doing market research on your target demographic. When crafting a message for your audience, always answer the question, “Why?” If you can’t answer why they’ll find the post interesting, then it might not be the right message for your audience.

Form an LLC for Legal Protection

When starting a social media influencer business, you might find yourself asking: “Do influencers need an LLC?” 

The answer is yes and no. As a small social media influencer business, you don’t necessarily need an LLC, but it can provide you with a number of benefits that make it worth it. The best part: forming an LLC is easy and cost-effective. In fact, you can file your LLC for free but will have to pay your state filing fee. There are many resources out there that make filing for your LLC free and easy

An LLC can provide your social media influencer business with these benefits:

  • Legal protection by separating your personal and business assets
  • Potentially pay lower taxes
  • Gives your business credibility 

Apply for Your EIN 

When you make money as a social media influencer business, you must pay taxes on that income. To do so, you’ll need an EIN or Employer Identification Number. 

Think of your EIN as a Social Security number for your business. You can get your EIN for free with the IRS or through a business formation service.

Open a Separate Bank Account

If you’re wondering: "How much do influencers earn in the USA?" — that’s a great question. And the answer is: it varies. How much you can earn as a social media influencer will depend upon your niche, how many followers you have and the social media platform you’re on.

But, even before you earn that first dollar, you need to open a separate bank account. Having a business bank account that’s separate from your personal bank account is one of the simplest ways to operate your finances as a small business.

Before signing up for a business bank account, be sure to look through the fine print as many business accounts require a minimum balance or charge a monthly fee. It's important to choose an account that has the right features for your business. If you want to stick to your $0 investment in your social media influencer business, look for a business bank account with no monthly fees, such as Novo.

Keeping your business and personal finances separate makes filing for taxes easier and helps to insulate your personal assets from your business.

Track Income and Expenses

Once you have a separate bank account for your business, then it’s time to start thinking about tracking your income and expenses. Many small businesses use accounting software such as QuickBooks to track income and expenses. But, as a new small business, this can be expensive. 

To get started, you can use free accounting software to track your finances. Software companies Wave and ZipBooks both offer free versions of their software that are great for businesses that are just getting started.

Post Relevant, Consistent Content

Once you’ve got the social media handle you want, have built out your bio, and have some business basics under your belt, it’s time to become an influencer. To do that, you’ll need to consistently post relevant content.

Set a schedule for posting and stick to it. Many influencers post multiple times a week, while some post multiple times a day. Once you’ve decided on your posting schedule and created a content calendar, then it’s time to create relevant, timely content that your followers will find interesting.

Use Sprout Social to Post at the Optimum Time for Engagement

Once you’ve got some content ideas and know how often you want to post on your feed, then it’s time to optimize your posting schedule. Sprout Social has some great statistics and information on the best time to post that’s broken down by each platform and you can access it for free.

By posting at the right time, you’ll get higher engagement from your followers and hopefully get noticed, which will gain you even more followers.

Open Your DMs for Collabs with Influencers and Brands

Now that you’ve got the business basics down, it’s time to flip the sign to “open for business.” Start looking for potential brands to partner with and monitor your direct messages to see if anyone reaches out to you with a collaboration opportunity. 

To find your first collab, you should:

Starting a small business as a social media influencer isn’t easy, but it does have low barriers to entry. All you need to start an influencer business is a social media account, LLC, EIN, accounting software and the drive to post and attract followers. Most of what you need to get started is completely free, except for your state's filing fee to get your LLC. As you grow your business and start posting content, there are many free resources and tools you can access, including Incfile's blog and business tools, that can help your business flourish.

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