How does a normal Instagram user turn into a top-performing beauty influencer? There are tried and true ways for Instagram users to grow a huge fan following and create a popular persona for a successful influencer lifestyle. We’ll share the strategies and tips that this influencer followed to make it big.


Want to know how this popular beauty influencer made it big? Are you focused on finding new ways to grow your Instagram following? You can learn from his story and use it to your advantage when working on your own Instagram brand and business. Read on to learn more about James Charles and the example he gives in his successful Instagram story.

screenshot of James Charles instagram

With over 22.7 million Instagram followers, James Charles is a major beauty influencer on Instagram.

Timeline of James’ Rise To Fame

2010: The Beginning of Instagram

Before social media, TV and the Internet was the main source of entertainment and advertising for many years.

In 2010, people first used Instagram to share pictures of food, make-up, lifestyle, and pretty scenery. 

Instagram evolved over time to be now primarily a way for influencers to build their businesses and affect people’s lives. It allowed influencers to move their social status to a new platform. It helped them reach a bigger audience. 

How does this work? High Instagram involvement increases your reputation with followers. Essentially, the more people you have interacting with your content, the more people will find your profile, follow it, and remain loyal fans. 

That will enhance your influence over people (if you have large engaged audiences) and therefore, brands will be more likely to reach out to collaborate and support your ventures.

For anyone just starting out on Instagram and looking to have a boost of engagement, there are Instagram websites and tools to use. Skweezer is an example of a top-performing Instagram engagement tool. Individuals can also use tools to improve their social media management with systems like Hootsuite as well. 

2015: James Charles joined Instagram as a Makeup artist 

American beauty influencer James started a YouTube channel as a makeup artist in Bethlehem, New York. In 2015, he joined Instagram and acquired more popularity and followers than ever. He shared his skills to get more Instagram followers.

screenshot of james charles instagram post

At 17, he became CoverGirl’s first male ambassador. James Charles is now one of the world’s most well-known influencers and online celebrities. With millions of followers, partnerships, and other successes, he is one of today’s wealthiest social media stars. 

Early Life and Talent Identification

James Charles Dickinson was born on May 23, 1999, in Bethlehem, New York. He graduated in 2017 from Bethlehem Central High School. When asked about his time in high school, he said, “I did get bullied a lot in high school, and I just disregarded it.” 

At 12, Charles told his parents he was gay. Responding to inquiries concerning his gender identification, he said, “I know who I am, and I’m okay with it, and that includes being a male. But I also enjoy using cosmetics. I always wear a full set of nails.”

James charles headshot

Since being invited to perform a friend’s makeup for a school dance, Charles has been working as a side hustle as an amateur hairstylist and makeup artist. After he taught himself how to put on cosmetics, he started charging local teenage females for his services.

How Instagram Helped his Career

Charles joined Instagram in August 2015. He has been posting images of his work ever since. There was a time when Instagram was viewed only as a social media platform, and its users had no concept of the profound impact it would eventually have on their lives. 

Early followers joined his Instagram feed to see his makeup creations and interact with his content. He rose to unprecedented heights of fame thanks to his talent and some somewhat provocative creative ideas that, at the time, were more bold and new. Soon enough, he vied for a spot among the most influential people on social media.

Lots of brightly colored cosmetics can be seen on his Instagram page, which helped to get more Instagram followers and interactions. Additionally, he is a regular poster and uses a range of content types to keep his profile interesting and give his followers versatility. 

After a tweet about his makeup went viral in 2016, he became CoverGirl’s first male brand ambassador.

screenshot of james charles on covergirl

The majority of his filmography consists of guest appearances on various television and online series. His part in Alone Together was that of Jasper (2018). In addition, he made guest appearances on Nikita Unfiltered and The Secret World of Jeffree Star.

Awards and Recognitions

In the year 2020, Charles hosted, directed, and co-produced the reality competition series Instant Influencer. He has collaborated with Morphe Cosmetics on an eyeshadow palette and a makeup line.

James Charles holding makeup palette

His social media efforts have earned him multiple accolades, including two People’s Choice Awards, three Streamy Awards, one Shorty Award, and one Teen Choice Award.

James Charles is one of the most popular beauty bloggers online, with millions of fans and a long number of high-profile partnerships.

How Did he Reach his Huge Instagram Success? Key Points

James’ story is such a great example of how to really succeed on this platform. It didn’t take him long to become a big hit on Instagram, and although some might say that he was just ‘lucky,’ there’s no denying that he has made some right moves and used a winning strategy. Let’s look at how he’s done that to give you some inspiration for your profile. 

  • He collaborated with other well-known makeup artists with large followings
  • He posted regularly on Instagram in both profile posts and stories, very early on
  • He collaborated with popular media publications (CoverGirl)
  • He made guest appearances on TV shows and YouTube channels
  • He made himself into a ‘brand’ rather than just being another person on the app

Also, he got to where he is now on Instagram by:

  • Posting unique and engaging content
  • Posting to his platform regularly and consistently
  • Creating new and innovative looks with makeup that gave people practical value to follow along and try themselves (i.e. his niche isn’t just entertainment, it is helpful).

Want to be an Instagram Lifestyle Influencer Like James?

Following Jame’s success story, let’s do a little deeper into how you can start from scratch and become a lifestyle influencer/brand.

want to be an instagram lifestyle influencer

1. Pick a Niche

A good influencer is one who is influential within a very specific niche. 

Instagram is a hugely competitive market. If you don’t have specialist skills and talents, then go and acquire those fast!

If you don’t have something different, like the way that James Charles entered Instagram early on as a male beauty fashion influencer (which was quite different at the time), then it’ll be hard to penetrate the competitive landscape of Instagram. 

So, how do you know which niche to choose? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I good at? Do I have skills and talents in any specific areas?
  • What am I very interested in?
  • What would be a little different than the normal ways that people post about certain niches? (For example, if someone is in the gardening niche, how can you find a unique way to share about gardening?)

2. Edit your Content

Being skilled with photos and videos is a must on Instagram. Instagram offers filters and captions. If you want to stand out from other Instagram users, you need to learn how to take good photos and videos and edit them to suit your branding for your target audience of your niche. 

Pro Tip: Eventually, when you are more established, it would be beneficial to have a team of graphic artists and designers to handle the editing and branding of your content. As you’re just starting out, however, you’ll need to do this yourself 

3. Publish Consistently

To be a successful Instagram influencer, you need to post content consistently. Use a management tool to help you manage and plan your posts and not be overwhelmed with this tiresome process. This helps you focus on creating the content, rather than spending all of your time managing, planning, and posting the content.

4. Grow a Following

You’re now ready to become an influencer. You only lack followers. Follow your niche-related users. If you’ve chosen a narrow Instagram niche, follow profiles in bigger niches.


  • Follow niche-related hashtags
  • Engage with their content
  • Start collaborating with other influencers/brands and businesses so you can reach their audience, too
  • Partner with similar-sized accounts in your shoulder niches
  • Use an instagram growth service to get a boost to your following and engagement (we feel that this is one of the best tools to boost your social media).

It’s obvious that James Charles put in a lot of time and effort to become the Influencer that he is today. He became popular as a result of his dedication to content creation, collaborations, and his now-iconic Covergirl look. 

When you need a hit of inspiration to stay on track with growing your Instagram, look to his example and many other popular influencers on the platform to remind you that it is possible!