The role of the social media influencer seems like an enviable one. You have loads of followers! Everyone looks up to you! You set trends! You are the coolest person out there, with all of the knowledge and all of the respect. Within your particular sphere of influence, you rule your world.

It should also be pointed out though that being recognized as an influencer or tastemaker is inevitably the product of a lot of hard work, much of it unsung and certainly unpaid. To become known as an influencer requires constant effort and output, always staying ahead of the game and putting in as much time as you would at a regular job (or a part-time one at least) without receiving a wage. In short, it requires dedication. But if you still want to go for it, here’s how.

What’s your thing? 

The first step is to identify your particular niche. What are you most passionately interested in, and what do you know lots about? While it helps to be an expert, having a passion is much more important. If you’re into something and determined to find out more you can take your audience with you on your journey of discovery.

Who are you?

As well as having a subject, you need to have a fresh take on it. It’s all about the interface between you and your subject, so who are you? What’s the unique life experience that shapes your worldview? Why should people be interested in what you have to say? Don’t put yourself down, but be honest in your self-assessment.

What’s your channel?

Once you know what you’re going to be talking about you need to decide what media you’re going to use and which social media platforms will work best for you. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Facebook is the classic all-rounder, where you can write short posts, upload images and create Facebook video content. Instagram and Tumblr are image based. WordPress is great for written blogs, YouTube for video blogging and LinkedIn for scholarly articles. Each also has distinct and different audiences, so choose carefully.

Can you keep it up?

Once you start you’ll need to maintain a constant presence and you’ll need to be continually posting great content that will make your name. You should have a plan for at least the next three months, but don’t create content that far ahead as you’ll need to be topical.

Who are your peers?

Contact other people talking about the same subject, reach out to brands within your sector, and write guest posts on relevant sites. Contribute to forum discussions, fan pages and sites. Either join a community or create one. Get noticed, but also be supportive of others in the hope that they’ll support you in turn.

Finally, remember to stay humble. Ultimately it’s for other people to bestow the title of influencer upon you. Your part is to just keep doing what you love, posting content that’s entertaining, educational, inspiring or thought-provoking, and preferably all of the above at once.