Today, many super­star blog­gers are mak­ing six-fig­ure salaries and run­ning their own com­pa­nies. Armed with only a cam­era, a lap­top and a few strate­gic props, they have man­aged to intrigue mil­lions of fol­low­ers and sign con­tracts with some of the largest brands in the world. More­over, grow­ing your audi­ence on social media and improv­ing your blog read­er­ship is no longer lim­it­ed to blog­gers. Busi­ness­es too have tak­en notice of the impor­tance of social media and blogs and many are using their blog read­ers and social media fol­low­ers to gen­er­ate inter­est and dri­ve sales. Here are five tips on how to increase your social media fol­low­ing and become an influ­encer in the dig­i­tal space:

1. Strategy takes you to 2 million followers.

The biggest mis­con­cep­tion is think­ing that writ­ing great arti­cles and tak­ing count­less of pho­tos is enough to become a well-rec­og­nized blog­ger. Although con­tent is cru­cial (see below), the most impor­tant part of win­ning an audi­ence over is a strat­e­gy. One strat­e­gy to use is the ana­lyt­ics tool on a blog and social media; deter­mine what type of con­tent is most shared and liked, and start pro­duc­ing more of it. Anoth­er strat­e­gy is to study word­ing in the titles and images that accom­pa­ny arti­cles in order to deter­mine what attracts audi­ence the most.

2. Content is king.

Colorful pencil tree vector illustration with font letters

If you expect to snap one blur­ry image, or write an arti­cle in five min­utes so that it may be shared and admired by mil­lions of read­ers and fol­low­ers, think again. Before you take a pho­to, you can: Google the most pho­tographed loca­tions in the area, trav­el to pic­turesque set­tings, plan ensem­bles, props and lay­outs, and edit pho­tos using var­i­ous mobile apps. Study­ing begin­ner YouTube pho­tog­ra­phy tuto­ri­als can help ensure great qual­i­ty images. Each arti­cle or an image has to have the “wow” fac­tor; oth­er­wise, don’t pub­lish it. Mediocre efforts will result in mediocre con­tent, and your audi­ence will leave. It is bet­ter to hold off pub­lish­ing any­thing than to pub­lish some­thing that is just OK.

3. Originality wins.

For­get about what they taught you in school, and break all the rules when it comes to being dif­fer­ent and get­ting cre­ative in the dig­i­tal space. The more unique the con­tent, the more like­ly it will attract an audi­ence. Polar­iz­ing con­tent is ok too. You are not writ­ing to be polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect and please every­one; peo­ple want to hear and see some­thing dif­fer­ent. If you are not com­fort­able with oth­ers know­ing your iden­ti­ty, invent a nick­name. Repost­ing oth­ers’ images (unless they are “shout outs” — see below) or arti­cles on your own social media and blog is a big no. Your audi­ence fol­lows you on social media and reads your blog because they care about your voice/perspective. Post­ing per­son­al, unique and orig­i­nal con­tent is one trait that all super­star dig­i­tal influ­encers have in com­mon.

4. Collaborations are essential.

Don’t expect to become a rock star dig­i­tal influ­encer overnight. It takes most blog­gers at least a year before they see a real dif­fer­ence. Often­times, influ­encers col­lab­o­rate on many projects for free in order to help get their brand out there. Offer your unique con­tent free of charge to dif­fer­ent web­sites, mag­a­zines, events and any oth­er out­lets that may need it. Ask only that they pro­vide cred­it for your images and/or arti­cles. Locate oth­er blog­gers and ask if you may exchange audi­ences — in the world of Insta­gram, this is called “shout outs.” You will find that many bloggers/accounts of your size and larg­er will share your images and give you cred­it for con­tent free of charge. This con­cept is incred­i­bly effec­tive and has allowed us to reach mil­lions of new read­ers and fol­low­ers.

5. Interns to employees.

Scal­ing means doing less your­self” is a pearl of wis­dom we received from our men­tors. As your audi­ence takes off, hire an intern to help man­age your con­tent and maintain/increase inter­ac­tion with your audi­ence. Pro­vid­ing pub­lish­ing expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge to your intern will be invalu­able, and you will be able to receive much need­ed assis­tance as you grow. As you grow your audi­ence, your goal should be to become more of an edi­tor and less of a blog­ger. This way, you will be able to focus more of your much-need­ed atten­tion to cre­ative and busi­ness side of things.