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Michael O'Connor, PR & Marketing expert from Grey Sergeant, discusses how to become an influencer in your industry.
Who was your hero growing up? That one person who inspired you to greater things? For me, it was my English teacher, giving me tips on composition, pushing me to greater writing. Eventually this led me into journalism and PR. She was an influencer, that person who gave me the confidence that I could do better.
So how do you become an influencer in your industry and what are the benefits? The great thing about the craft industry is you have an audience that really wants to learn and make. They want to see new products and experience new techniques.
To become an influencer there are three key areas that you need to address:
You require an expertise in a specific subject
You need to create valuable content on a regular basis
Build a large audience
Finding your voice
Let's start with what you're good at - your niche. You've most likely done your craft for many years and have a wealth of experience, but only you know that. You need to find what your 'unique selling point' is, what will make you different from other influencers.
It's very important to be yourself, this is what your followers will be interested in, so ask your friends and your family what exactly makes you 'you'! It may be that you explain things in a really simple way or that you're funny and entertaining.
The objective is to be you and not try to be someone else - this insight is invaluable. Once you understand your tone of voice, this will then become your brand - what you're recognised for.
A story tells a thousand words
The next phase in the journey to becoming an influencer is to produce great content and stories around your niche subject. This is one of the hardest parts - you need to dedicate time and energy to producing sharable content on a regular basis.
Create one-of-a-kind content that highlights your brand and ideas. Identify unusual, compelling angles. Try to take complicated issues and transform them into compact, easily understood, usable content for your followers.
Your focus is important, you must have a clear, powerful brand and value proposition to stand out in the craft sector. This allows you to compete and makes you prominent even in a remarkable crowd. Your brand and value proposition also become your longterm goal; everything you do must make sense within that pattern.
It's all in the blog!
You absolutely need to blog to be an authority. The trick is to publish on a regular basis so you'll need to be organised and plan your blogging. Aim for a minimum of two to three posts per week. Use an editorial calendar to stay on track, and stick to it.
Your blog content must be valuable and usable but most of all it needs to be searchable. Think about SEO (search engine optimisation) techniques - using keywords and incorporating them into the URL and headings. Write more than 300 words and title any images that you use. Its purpose is to show who you are and allow you to disseminate your knowledge. Your blog is your voice in the world.
Discover your audience
Now you've found your niche and you've got your blog with great content - it's time to find your audience. One tip before you start, don't be shy! You've really got to go out and sell yourself, be confident and know your stuff. People will be believe in you and will want to learn and be inspired by you.
Social media is a fantastic channel to work with - promote your blog posts through Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. Join social groups in your niche area and join in the conversations, all the time building quality followers. Don't forget LinkedIn - this is a great place for business to business. Again, join relevant groups and start talking to other like-minded people.
Offer your insights into the trade magazines that specialise in your niche - guest blog for them, write articles and provide projects that they can use for their readers. Participate in workshops at some of the big craft shows - this is a great way to meet new followers, and build relationships with them.
Eventually as your reputation grows, you'll start to get other opportunities coming to you. Companies may want you to be a guest speaker at an event. A lifestyle magazine may be writing a feature and will come to you for advice and content. There may also be opportunities to demonstrate on the leading craft TV channels.
Making money from being an influencer
Your passion should always be with your niche subject but yes, money can be made from being an Influencer. Many brands are now looking for new routes to market and they understand the influence that you have.
They know that you have a trusted audience and are prepared to pay to reach that crowd. But remember, always be true to yourself. Your followers trust you so if you review a product that isn't very good, or you write a blog post for a magazine with a bad reputation, then this will reflect more on you than the product you're promoting. Always do your research.
To summarise - be yourself, share your passion and work hard. That's what your followers will expect.