“Jenna, How Do I Become a Social Media Influencer?”
I know, I know, you probably roll your eyes when someone posts something on Instagram that says #ad, but first tell me this: if someone offered to pay you $100, $200, even $1,000 to post about their product, would you do it? Chances are you probably would.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how to sponsor with brands and it’s funny that this episode is coming out after we dropped all of our sponsors for this show BUT I want to give you some insight on how to rock the work as an influencer regardless of if you have 5,000 or 100k followers, you likely have something to offer brands and chances are, you could start working collaborations into your work!
But what if I’m just starting out?
You likely have a skill or something you can offer a brand: photography, your style, your audience, the way you write. You have to first understand and own that gift and then get out there and start seeking things out…
Find your niche and run with it, baby!
Okay, now who should I partner with?
It’s safe to say that I get approached for promotions, sponsorships, and collaborations numerous times each day. In fact, I shudder to imagine what my inbox would look like if Caitlyn didn’t exist. First things first from an influencer standpoint, it’s really easy to quickly see if something will be a fit based on the inquiry itself: do they understand our brand, is it aligned with our mission? Did they take the time to understand how I serve my audience?
It’s usually very obvious in that inquiry and helps us to vet out the right ones that we want to send additional information to and politely decline the ones who are clearly not the right fit right off the bat.
Set expectations, baby!
Almost every time a company reaches out to partner, they have a list of rules and expectations. Whether it’s publishing dates, things you need to include in the copy, where the posts will be published, what you’re asking your audience to participate in… there’s a ton of variables from campaign to campaign.
What have I learned? Speak up for what will work for YOU, your business and your audience. I’ve worked hard to only accept sponsored posts for products and companies that I actually use and to protect my audience from feeling sold to. If a company that I’ve never used reaches out, I request the product so that I can give my honest feedback and opinion. There have absolutely been times where I’ve tried it and it didn’t feel authentic so I politely declined (skinny tea anyone?)
There have been times where a company will send caption requirements including a dozen hashtags, links to their site, words I have to use and so on, those are ones I am more likely to decline because as an influencer, I want brands to choose me with the ultimate trust that I know what my audience enjoys, what will make them take action, and how they will respond to my recommendations. I try to explain that this just isn’t how I speak to my audience and will come off as an ad and no one wins in that situation.
Media Kit 101:
Check out the “Partner with Jenna” link on my site. It took me years to figure out how to put together a comprehensive media kit that spells out everything when it comes to partnering with me. A media kit is instrumental (regardless of how many followers you have) because you send them to that link, outline your audience, your numbers, and the cost of partnering up.
This allows sponsors to check out what partnering with me might look like before even reaching out and having that conversation that can sometimes be awkward, it is also designed to attract and repel. To attract the right type of sponsors and repel the ones that aren’t an organic fit!
Product for post “opportunities”
Here’s the thing: is a post on your social media worth more than the less than hundred dollar product you’re getting sent for free? The answer is yes. Sure free stuff is fun at first, heavens, I used to get boxes and boxes of stuff every day when I was accepting product for post but the truth is sometimes it’s just easier to pay for the products from companies you want to support than feeling obligated to post for them because they have given you something for free.
Speaking from experience, it’s a slippery slope and I’ve found after products have been sent companies will get pushy about their expectations for posting. Because of this I no longer accept product for a post, even when people say “no strings attached”. Reason being, they always follow up and want access to the platform I’ve spent years growing. If you’re on the other end of this looking for influencers to promote your work, be mindful of their perspective and try to be reasonable about what you expect for the price of your product.
Okay, You’re #Sponsored. Now, what?!
Make sure to measure how much work and time this type of work is taking you and track the revenue to make sure it’s the best use of your time. We have an ongoing spreadsheet so that I can see what I have committed to, when the posts are due, when I need to send content to the companies to approve and my ultimate goal is no more than 10% of my posts are sponsors. Having a clear calendar really helps us look at the big picture of what we are doing and makes sure that we are always in total alignment with the brand.
The main goal of all of this is not more followers or fame– it is the truest form of “community over competition” by partnering with companies that we know, love, use, and are excited to share with our audience. Now I have to ask- are you next?