In this guest post, Puerto Vallarta alumni Shaunie contemplates what it means to be an influencer.

So, You Want to Become an Influencer?
What does it take?
How do you build your community?
Where do you start?

I started my Instagram around the Fall of 2017 with no particular goal in mind. Or at least not a goal I was comfortable telling other people about. I wasn’t even fully ready to admit to myself that I was doing this.

Because if I really tried, what if I failed?

Well, today I have 17K followers.

Let me start by saying I don’t consider myself to be an “influencer” – but I do hope that I get to a point where I can inspire other women to live a better life, pursue their dreams, do the things you think you can’t and travel the world in search of a better you – all through my Instagram channel. And I hope that what I share with you today encourages you to pursue whatever it is that brought you to this blog, whether that is to become an influencer, start an online business or anything else.

So, I thought I would break it down to something simple. Here is my top 5 list of what I have learned in my journey that it takes to be an influencer.

5 Things I have learned on my ‘influencer journey’

#1. Get past all of the reasons you are giving yourself for why you can’t do this

I am going to be honest and say that for some, and certainly me, the road to becoming an influencer is a personal journey which can be quite difficult at times. You learn a lot of things about yourself. I know many girls that say “I want to become an influencer” but are afraid to commit because of what other people might think. Some people will even refer to former classmates from high school back in their home town that they may never even see anymore.

That’s not an odd feeling to have, but why do we care? How silly is that fear? Deciding not to pursue your dreams because of what someone you don’t even like might think or say about you?

I get it, because I felt it too. Worrying if I was posting too much or if all the pictures of myself made me seem as though I was too into myself. It is funny how we are built to worry about what others think of us. All of these stories are build up in our heads, and we don’t know what people are actually thinking. What if they are thinking “I always knew there was something special about that girl”? 

And, if they aren’t, and the stories are true…guess what? Who cares? I can’t tell you how many times I had to give myself that pep talk when I wondered if I was embarrassing myself. Your first step in becoming an influencer is to decide that what you think of yourself is more important than what others think of you. At the end of your life, you want to think “I did all that!”, not “I wish I had done that” and be kicking yourself for worrying about what someone who you haven’t seen in (now) 50 years. So, go out there and be a rockstar!

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#2. Start Posting!

Take lots of pictures and try different poses out. You’ll try many poses and editing techniques before you start to really hone in on what your style is. It also takes a bit to get used to being in front of the camera all the time. But it’s all about the journey!

You have to go through those phases to grasp your story and your message!

#3. Build Your Instagram Community

Your Instagram followers are your lifeline. Be thankful whether you have 100, 1000, 5000, 10K or more.

Engage with your following and find accounts similar to yours and engage with them. When a follower comments on your post, always comment back. I even sometimes will go to their page and show back some love by liking and commenting on their most recent photos. This goes a long way in building trust within your community.

#4. Connect with like-minded girls with similar goals

As you are on your journey to become a fabulous Instagram influencer you will have many questions. And without surrounding yourself with girls that have the same goals as you – you will be left to search Google on your own. This may provide you with some information, but it certainly doesn’t tell you all the information you need to become a part of the influencer world.

Most of the information is written by writers not involved in the Instagram realm themselves. So, how do they know? The most important tool in your success is other women. I know you might be thinking that “girls can be catty”, but I cannot tell you a single person that I have met in this Instagram world that hasn’t been nice and helpful to me. Obviously I return the favor, which is what it is all about.

I have to say that it’s the most amazing thing about this whole Instagram community – the female empowerment. Just think about how absolutely beautiful it is! Instagram has created hundreds, if not thousands, of female entrepreneurs being badasses and sharing their successes and failures with one another to succeed!

When I first discovered Pangea Dreams, I thought “this is exactly what I need – an influencer retreat for women!”

I can meet other girls with similar goals on Instagram as me. The thing is, especially with Instagram, some people in your life will not understand what you are doing. And that is okay. But in order for you to succeed you have to surround yourself with people who do. I cannot express how important that is – not just to become an influencer but in all things in life. You should always surround yourself with people who lift you up rather than people who bring you down.

After long deliberation and stalking Pangea Dreams’s website, Instagram posts and stories and their alumni – I randomly got a referral from a friend who suggested I go. And that sealed the deal for me. I have to say I wish I could be on a Pangea Dreams retreat forever – the positive energy, the collaboration between girls, the CONTENT, the advice from influencers in the industry that I look up to, and more. Pangea Dreams really took me to the next level. Since the retreat I have been growing so much faster than I ever was before and felt comfortable reaching out to other content creators in NYC. I am more confident now than I have been in I don’t know how long. Female empowerment and sisterhood of this journey has been my favorite part!

#5. Get Out There and Kill It Ladies!

About the author: Shaunie is a Brooklyn native, who travels the world in search of a better self – and of course all the pizza and ice cream. She now works full-time on her blog and Instagram “Shaunie and the City”, focusing on NYC lifestyle, fashion and travel. She hopes that her journey will inspire other women to never settle and to pursue their dreams no matter what stage of life they are in and doubts they have. Kill it, ladies! 

Find her on Instagram or learn more on her blog.

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