Tip #1 - Get clear on your passions and goals
It is one thing to tell yourself that you want to be a travel content creator, but what does that really mean to you?
Doing something you are passionate about is going to make it a whole lot easier for you to stay motivated and become successful. Plus, people and brands tend to see straight through someone chasing a certain goal with the wrong intentions and lack of passion. It is hard to build trust when that person may not believe what they are saying either.
Before jumping in, I want to convince you to dream BIG. Write down your big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG), disregard all of the nonsense that is holding you back, and think as though you are in your perfect world RIGHT NOW. What would that goal be?
While this BHAG seems like it should be your end goal, the one that you spend as long as it takes to achieve, you’ll be surprised to know that it is actually the starting point for many of your plans when you are setting up for social media success. You need to know where you want to end up so you are sure the stops along the way are actually on the right track.
Not to mention, getting clear on your passion and those wild dreams you have should motivate you to keep going every step of the way.
Tip #2 - Define your niche
If the word ‘niche’ is a little confusing to wrap your head around, you can think of it more as a category. If you are unsure about what ‘category’ you should stick to, take another look at that biggest, hairiest, most audacious goal and work your way back from there.
For example, my goal before launching my own career in the social media world was to:
GET PAID TO TRAVEL and EAT AROUND THE WORLD. Therefore, my ideal niche to help me achieve that would be: TRAVEL and FOOD. But it is also important to niche down to find the audience that will want to connect with you, so mine is value travel in lesser-known places with great food!
BONUS: yes, you can have more than one niche, as long as they have some connection.
As a travel content creator most, if not all of your content should revolve around that travel niche. Now, this does not purely refer to posting travel photos. Your niche can and should be highlighted anywhere from your Instagram name and bio to captions and comments.
The more you share your knowledge and experiences within a particular category, the more you will become recognised as an authority in that niche. Being an authority in a niche will lead you to a stronger, more engaged community and further opportunities!
Tip #3 - Focus on what makes you unique
This goes beyond selecting a niche to cater to your specific needs.
Focusing on finding a unique niche can help you stand out from the crowd and likely become an authority faster but even with the most basic/broad niches (like travel), highlighting your uniqueness in other ways will mean niche is not the only area you will benefit in.
Sure, in a niche sense, bringing the donut category into my branding helped me stand out in a broad, oversaturated TRAVEL niche, yet it is not the only unique feature that I attribute my success to.
The donuts may have grabbed some attention, what kept my audiences and clients around is my awkwardly relatable tone that flows throughout my content. With my content and overall messaging, I remain very lighthearted and fun, not to mention, as honest as possible with everything I do. This has allowed me to build genuine connections and loyalty throughout my community.
Even things that some people worry may be a disadvantage to them, like age, can actually make them stand out from the crowd and be an advantage in their niche. It's not unusual to see a perceived negative flipped into a total positive.
Your uniqueness can come from many aspects of you and your life
Tip #4 - Give your profile a Pro makeover
To become a professional content creator, you NEED a professional profile.
Start off by switching over your account type, if you haven’t already. If you are wanting to kickstart your career as a travel content creator you need to switch over to a CREATOR account.
Launched in 2018 the Creator account type was a big step forward for us CREATORS.
While there are many similarities between a business and creator account, the biggest change was that Instagram was finally recognising its influencers and their needs beyond standard business and personal profiles.
It is a smart ploy on Instagram's behalf to keep its creators on the app since they play such a huge part. With more and more social media apps to compete with, Instagram wants you to stay with them.
The benefits of a creator profile:
- Daily in-depth analytics/insights/demographics
- Branded paid partnerships
- More flexibility on labelling your account/type
- Customise your contact info
- Separate DMs - primary, general, requests
- Call to action buttons
Possibly the biggest benefit of a creator account compared to a business profile is the option to use ANY music in reels. This has only been picked up recently when some accounts noticed their music was limited to copyright free only, once switched over to a creator profile the music options were back!
And with reels being the best way to grow on Instagram right now this is a necessity for an influencer.
Having a professional account isn’t only about the label, professionalism can be displayed in so many ways from ditching the old email you made when you were 11, making the most of your Instabio through niche keywords and contact info and even leaving those drunk club selfies for your close friends only on your personal account and sticking to only your best travel content on your business account.
Tip #5 - Start seeing yourself as a brand
I always knew I wanted Wandering Donut to become a full-time career, yet it wasn’t until 4 years into my social media journey that I finally recognised myself as a brand too. And that changed EVERYTHING for me.
Seeing yourself as a brand will improve:
- your content
- how you network
- confidence in yourself, your work, products and services
- your income
- how to set and achieve your goals
- your focus
It is one of the biggest things on my ‘I wish I knew sooner' list, which is why I want to tell you RIGHT NOW so you don’t have to waste any more time and can take your success to a whole new level.
Seeing yourself as a brand is more than just having an account or business. It comes down to knowing how YOU have a role in those areas. This is about actively taking your role as a content creator seriously. Treating it like a REAL JOB because that's what you want it to be, right?
Tip #6 - Quality posts vs cohesive feed
There has been huge pressure put on creators to have a beautiful aesthetic feed that the moment someone comes across your profile they will fall in love with just how pleasing to the eye it is, it would be impossible not to follow!
I somewhat agree that a cohesive feed can greatly convince someone if they like the look of your profile or not but what often gets forgotten is:
- How are people coming to your feed in the first place? The top way is likely through discovering your individual content across hashtags, features, and shares.
- Once people are following you, think about how they will be viewing your content. It is very rarely they will be coming back to look at your feed as a whole as your content is going to be showing up INDIVIDUALLY through stories, feed posts and on their explore feed.
While the overall feed is great to grab attention and convince people to follow you. It is the quality of your individual content that will keep them around and engaged. There is no point in having a satisfying feed if the individual content is half-assed and average at best, so stop wasting so much time planning your feed and focus on creating and sharing the content you love!
Tip #7 - Engage with your target audience
A target audience is exactly that, the audience you want to target and engage. Defining these demographics will be the foundation for growing your following.
In saying that, it is not necessary to define every single possible demographic. Targeting as much as possible, like a niche, is going to give you a greater chance of attracting the right audience and in turn opportunities, but when it comes down to it, some may be unnecessary for you to pinpoint.
For example, education and occupation are not important for my target audience. They don't need a college degree and it doesn't matter if they are working full-time, part-time or not at all, as long as they want to travel... and eat donuts!
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to attracting your target audience, or any opportunity for that matter, is waiting for them to come to you. You are going to have a much better chance of being noticed when you put yourself out there. Create your own opportunities!
You need to stop thinking it is all about growing followers and start focusing on becoming part of a community, a community with you as one of the leaders. Nowadays most brands are smart enough to know an engaged community will give them better results than more followers who really don't care.
Here are some of the ways to identify your target audience
Tip #8 - Hashtag research is essential
Hashtags were seen as a joke for a while, you know back in the days where you would write every word in your caption in hashtag form, but they have become serious business.
The power of hashtags is still so underrated but if used right can boost engagement and the growth of your account, not to mention open up so many opportunities for you.
Hashtags aren’t only for your captions anymore either, you should be putting them to work in your stories, reels, and other Instagram features.
However, this is not about throwing any old hashtag in your post and calling it a day, to maximise their potential you must do some research to help you and your content reach the right audience. There is a high chance if you don’t use the right hashtags your content won’t get shown to any audience at all.
Here’s what hashtags to look out for:
- Niche related. As a travel creator, you should be using TRAVEL hashtags to help you build your authority and presence within that Travel community.
- More specific niche related. Travel means so many different things to so many different people so to be reaching YOUR target audience, go on the hunt for tags that suit your style of travel and content. For example #femaletraveler or #luxurytravel
- Under 1 million tags. Ideally under 250k for micro and macro influencers to be seen. I have no doubt many of the tags you find that suit the criteria above have millions of tags because they're the most popular with these communities, usually linked to the top feature pages and for something as big as the female travel community, these tags are constantly being promoted to each other. The issue with these is that because everyone is posting constantly with these hashtags your post gets lost in the sea of uploads. You want your content to been seen longer by more people, and the way to do that is to surprisingly use the hashtags that fewer people are using.
- Photo specific. The closer your hashtags suit your content, the more likely it is the people that find you through those tags will want to engage with your content and follow along. If you upload a photo of a beach picnic, some of those bigger travel tags might not get as much attention to your image as it may not line up with the type of travel inspo some people were looking for, but on a specific tag like #beachpicnic or #picnicideas everyone looking at your image should be drawn to that content.
Tip #9 - Get camera confident
Camera confidence is predominantly referred to as understanding the ins and outs of your camera. Everything from settings to framing your shot, yet true camera confidence extends beyond the camera itself in the social media world. It also means getting comfortable being on camera.
It’s about figuring out your own settings just as much as it is to work out how your gear works. And it also means understanding it is about more than just looking natural or good in a photo.
Think about interacting on social media, in stories or Reels, or engaging in online calls and meetings. After all, an Instagram story is not your typical photoshoot yet having the skills and positive mindset that true camera confidence brings will allow you to connect on a deep level with your community, get more engagement and help you build your authority in your niche.
Camera Confidence leads to success in many shapes and forms. Now, this does not mean you have to plaster your face across every single piece of content you post. For example, you may be wanting to focus on landscape photography and show off those skills behind the lens, but visibly showing up in even the smallest ways like a daily Instagram story makes a huge difference in building trust on social media with an audience and potential clients.
You need camera confidence in all its forms to take your social media career to the next level and be properly prepared to be landing dream PAID partnerships. After all, are you really willing to let your lack of confidence on camera hold you back from achieving your goals?
Tip #10 - Just start posting!
Create the content for the opportunities you want
When it comes down to it, it really is that simple.
Stop holding yourself back with excuses, fear and letting perfectionism take control. After all, even the people at the very top will tell you that their early work was pretty lame. The sooner you start posting, the sooner you will reach your goals.
NO, it is never too late! Or better late than never as some prefer to say. Either way, your time is NOW! There is always a place for you in the world and on Instagram.
The only thing that can stop you from getting on the road to success is never taking that first step, we all know practice makes perfect right? So get practising, get posting!
But don’t just post any willy nilly content though, still focus around your passions, goals, and branding as you should be publishing content that speaks to your brand, and that showcases the opportunities you hope to get.
If your goal is getting paid to create content for tourism boards around the world, you best believe you should highlight your best travel-related content to grab the attention of those brands. You want to show them that you are clearly capable of doing that same thing for them! You see, they probably won’t be as excited to hire you if all you post are makeup selfies or pics of your dog, no matter how cute it is!