So, what’s the difference between a collaboration and a sponsorship anyway? When working with brands, it can become tricky to figure out exactly what they're offering. Here are three different ways you can work with brands at any stage of your brand's growth.
The 3 Different Ways to Work With Brands
Brand collaborations are usually unpaid, but product is typically provided. Sometimes they ask you to buy the product or give you a discount code, but this is generally something to avoid unless they give you product for free. Why should you pay THEM for your hard work?
Partnerships may be paid or unpaid; the term can be vague and you may need to ask the brand for clarification on what they're offering.
This is our big goal as influencers - a paid deal where you are offered payment for promotion services on your channel.
What Should You Focus on If You Have Fewer Than 10k Followers?
The #1 thing you should be doing...
We are seeing a strong increase in influencer marketing these days. Is it possible to become a full-time influencer and still be able to pay your bills?
As an influencer, your product is your audience.
Brands pay to get in front of your audience - this is why it's so important to be crystal clear on who your audience is. If a brand isn't sure of your audience, why would they waste money promoting to the wrong people?
This can include branded content sponsored posts on your blog, Instagram, YouTube or other social channels. The benchmark rate is about $100 per 10,000 followers, though this is not set in stone.
This is where you promote a brand's product and receive a commission if your audience buys through your personalized link.
There are two types of products - physical and digital. Physical would include something tangible like...
One of the most-asked questions I get is this:
"How much time does it REALLY take to be an influencer?"
There's a decision to be made here. The most successful influencers are the ones that commit the time and push through. Think of it like a business -because it is!
Maybe you want to try it out for a month and decide to quit - that's fine, but it will be a HOBBY for you instead of a BUSINESS.
Now if you want to create your business, you will probably not see a return until you've grown your following. I started getting collaborations with brands around 2,000 followers and brand sponsorships around 10,000 followers. These numbers DEFINITELY are not set in stone - members in my Influencer Academy are getting sponsorships with fewer than 10,000 followers - it depends on the brand.
I recommend spending ONE HOUR per day working on Instagram to my students for consistent growth....
I’ll be honest with you, it’s not an overnight success! It’s something you really have to put time and effort in if you want to do it.
That said, it’s certainly not impossible!
These are the top 5 strategies on getting to your first 10,000 followers:
Strategy #1 Post every day
This is not a secret! Most successful influencers post every single day, some more than once a day. It’s not magic, it’s consistency! It’s about showing up daily for your audience and attracting your target followers. The trick to doing this is to plan ahead so that you’re not always worrying about what to post that day.
My favorite tool to schedule my Instagram content is PLANOLY and you can plan out how your grid will look, it’s a really fun too to use!
Strategy #2 Stay on brand
Make sure you’re not just posting for the sake of posting. Staying on brand means that your content aligns with your brand’s core values and serves a purpose.
If you’re just starting out as an influencer, you may not be able to get paid brand deals yet but you may be able to do some collabs, meaning get free products and featuring them in your channels. It really depends on a lot of different factors including your audience, brand, content, and engagement.
So if you are just starting out, I definitely recommend doing as many collaborations as you can even if you’re not getting paid yet, so that you build up your portfolio.
Here are the 5 steps to pitch to brands as an influencer:
1. Do your research.
Look for brands that have the same audience as you, because those will be the brands that will want to work with you.
You can also find brands who have already worked with influencers before because influencers tag them in their sponsored posts.
2. Find the contact.
So you’ll want to contact someone on the PR or marketing team. You may be able to find the PR contact in a recent press release or through the agency website....
You've seen it on your feed as you're scrolling on Instagram.
An influencer adds #ad or #sponsored when they're promoting a brand.
So...how does that actually happen?!!
Well for one, brands are looking to work with influencers every day so if they notice you and want to work with you, they'll reach out.
As an influencer, you can also reach out to them.
There are different ways to work with brands:
Collaborations: This is when you receive free products, event tastings, etc. from brands. There is usually no payment involved here in addition to receiving the free product or experience
Partnerships: This term is used in different ways sometimes for collaborations or paid sponsorships
Sponsorships: This is usually a paid partnership where a brand offers compensation to an influencer at a flat fee in addition to receiving free products and/or experiences.
When you are just starting out, you want to aim for collaborations.
Brands may reach out to...
Instagram is not just about how many followers you have anymore! It’s about engagement.
So first off, what is engagement?
Engagement is simply how much your audience interacts with you.
It’s measured by the number of likes and comments that you get.
So to calculate your engagement rate, you’re going to add up the number of likes and comments that you have and divide that by the number of followers and multiply by 100.
Yes, it requires a bit of math!
Some like to average out their engagement number throughout their last few posts.
So why is engagement so important?
Brands look at engagement to see how active and responsive your audience is.
This way, if they do want to work with you and for you to promote their products and services, they can gauge how much your audience is interested and if they will buy whatever it is you’re selling.
When you work with a brand or sponsor as an influencer, you are providing advertising services for them.
Another thing to know...
The amazing thing about the time we are in that you don't need much to start out. When I first began, I had my blog and a Twitter channel. Focus on your main platform and a secondary platform to avoid overloading yourself.
I would recommend every influencer to create a blog or website because it is a channel that you own. As much as we love Facebook and Instagram, if they disappeared tomorrow so would all of your content.
When you start as an influencer, you need to decide who you want to learn from and how much information you want to take in.
The influencer industry is just that - an industry. Avoid making mistakes and get to a successful place a lot faster with a mentor who can provide trainings and information on best practices.
I use Google Sheets for everything. Planning your editorial calendar is so easy to do and accessible...
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...
A major goal for any influencer is to get sponsorships with brands that you feel passionate about. What's holding you back from achieving this goal? There's ONE thing to change as an influencer if you want to start getting brand deals and growing your brand.
If you’re just starting out as an influencer your main focus should be on who your audience is, helping that audience and growing that audience. As you do that, you will naturally attract brands that want to work with you. There is NO SHORTAGE of brands out there, and many of them want to work with influencers.
Initiate the conversation
Who says that you need to wait for brands to come to you? Start reaching out to brands, pitching to them to get free products, event invites, and restaurant tastings to build your portfolio.
You can charge for your services
As you grow more of a following, you can start charging for your services.
Think of it as your...