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Shellharbour firefighter finds Instagram influencer success with Hiking Australia account | Illawarra Mercury



whats-on, things-to-do, influencer, increase followers, bushwalk, wollongong, hiking, shellharbour, illawarra, tourism

A Shellharbour firefighter who didn’t even have an Instagram account six months ago, has managed to add nearly 20,000 followers to his partner’s account and made her an influencer in the process. Mark Williams and Leigh connected over their love for hiking, so when she told him her Instagram page on hiking adventures was getting some attention he jumped at the chance to help make it a profitable business. Read more Why popular pizzeria Cin Cin is moving out of Thirroul “I didn’t know anything about Instagram but I learned pretty quickly,” he said. “Within a week I found you become addicted to certain pages and you want to see your daily fix, so I said ‘you need to start posting every day’.” He also suggested posting different styles of photos and cover the whole of Australia instead of just NSW, and find quirky places that may not be visited often. Now Mr Williams spends around 20 to 30 hours a week on gaining new followers to @Hike_Australia (when he’s not fighting fires), but it’s no easy feat. To be an influencer takes time, patience and research. Every day he will be searching for “the best” hiking photos from around Australia to repost on the account, contact photographers (amateur and professional) to use their images, as well as sifting through offers by companies wanting to advertise through their handle. Read more Wollongong to get first inclusive playground for people with disability “A lot of these people have already tagged us and then I’ve looked through their accounts and found what we’ve liked, and I just say ‘we’re going to use this picture’, and nearly every time they say ‘yeah sure’ because they also want the exposure,” Mr Williams said. As for getting paid, he said, the going rate for a business to post on the page is relevant to how many followers they have – for example, if you have 30,000 followers you could charge $300 for a post. But they don’t just allow anyone to sponsor a post or run a giveaway, it needs to fit with their branding. Read more ‘Si the cycle guy’ gives away a free bike every week The couple’s short term goal is to push the account above 50,000 followers as that would propel them into a high status with Instagram, known as “mid-tier influencer” (from 50,000 to 500,000 followers). This means their posts would get seen in more people’s feeds as well a being able to charge more for sponsored content. “The bigger it grows the more profitable it gets,” Mr Williams said. Spending this much time on social media isn’t a problem for the outdoor adventurer, as he’s essentially trawling the internet for posts about the topic he loves – hiking – and he’s happy to share his love with the world. “We like doing it; I love looking through the photos,” he said. “And I think a lot of people have realised what an amazing country we have here, and the amount of travelling you can do in Australia.” :


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