When you first begin your career as an influencer, you may receive discount codes, free product, and event invites - so much fun! If your goal is to quit your 9-5 and take your brand full-time, you'll need to start getting paid for your services.
When you’re just starting out, all you'll want to do is work with brands, even if that means doing “collabs” (getting free products, event invites, restaurant tastings, hotel stays). If you’re just starting out and have less than 10-25k followers - this is what you SHOULD be doing as much as you can so that you can gain experience and build your portfolio. But what happens after?
When you have about than 10-25k followers, you get to this point that I call “The Freefall”. The Freefall is falling into the trap of getting free stuff and no actual compensation.
Is this a bag thing? Not necessarily. If you continue to just get free products and not get paid on top of that - then you don’t have a business, you have a hobby.
On the flip side, if you ARE just starting out and you have fewer than 10k followers - you want to get to this point where you are collaborating with brands as much as possible even if it's for free products. Once you get over that point, you have to start thinking about it as a business if this is something you want to do full-time.
The Freefall doesn't work
Let's say you receive $100 worth of makeup - then it means you worked for $100. But you can’t use that $100 to pay for food, rent, your car, or anything else.
Unless this is just a hobby, you have to figure out a way to monetize. If this is something you just want to do on the side forever, then that’s great. But if you’re spending your nights and weekends on this - I believe in getting paid for your time.
You may be cheapening your brand
Your current strategy of accepting all products and working with ALL brands may be cheapening your brand. For example, what if a huge makeup brand wanted to work with you, but they notice that you have been working with tons of makeup brands and they only want someone who works with a select few?
There’s a reason why big brands work exclusivity into agreements. If an influencer promotes everything that comes their way, then how can the audience trust that a. the influencer actually believes in these products b. decide which of the products to invest in?
Decide if this is a hobby for you or if you want to build a profitable business.
If you like to post and receive free product occasionally but don't want to invest any more time into your brand - it's a hobby. If that's what you want - great! If you'd like to make your brand even bigger, than it's time to take action to plan your next steps.
Think about which brands you want to work with and attract.
One of my dream brand collaborations was with Nike. It took three years of being an influencer for them to reach out to me. In the meantime, I’ve worked with other fitness brands and established myself as a fitness and lifestyle influencer, which led to them reaching out to me.
Get clear on how much money you want to make as an influencer
Ok, here come the math. If you want to make $1,000, $3,000,$5,000, $10,000 per month - how many brand deals do you need to secure to earn that much? Based on your goals you can reach out and pitch to brands as necessary.
Will this help your brand in the future?
Is the brand similar to other brands you want to work with? If so, it's something great to add to your media kit that will show other similar brands that you bring results.
Will this product help your audience and is it worth telling them about it?
If you're a beauty blogger, will your audience connect with a new tech product? Probably not. Decide if the product will provide VALUE to your audience before peddling something they don't care about.
Is this a product you would buy yourself and recommend to others?
If you're promoting a product that you don't believe in - it will show. In some instances, companies will send you free product without contacting you first and of course you are under no obligation to promote in any way.