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As some of you guys know, I’m a full-time blogger. I also still haven’t hit the 20K mark on Instagram (I’m close, but no dice). And you know what? I’m not stressed about this fact, at all.
In the last six months alone, I’ve partnered with Estee Lauder, Colgate, DSW, Walt Disney World, NYX Cosmetics, Neutrogena and Bed Bath and Beyond for campaigns — just to name a few. Do I have a gazillion followers? Nope. Am I considered to be a microinfluencer? Absolutely. I think the most important lesson about blogging is that quality > quantity. Here’s how you can attract brand collaborations, even with a smaller following.
Brand Collaborations – Microinfluencers Are Having a Moment
Ever feel the need to do a loop giveaway? Feel the pressure to maybe buy followers? Are you frustrated that you can’t cross that next Instagram milestone? Relax, my friend. Instagram is pretty massive right now, and everyone can get a piece of the pie. In 2017, I saw myself doing a lot of sponsored projects that involved both a blog post and an Instagram post. Sadly, I have to admit that the focus for 2018 is no longer on websites, and moreso on the ‘gram (still — don’t ditch your site though). Microinfluencers are very sought after at the moment, because of their higher engagement rates and bigger ROI. For the price of working with one macroinfluencer, a brand can work with a large group of microinfluencers, which could be more mutually beneficial in the long run. So trust me: stop spending hundreds of dollars on those giveaways, and focus on building an engaged audience.
Brand Collaborations – Content is King
First things first: let’s look at your actual content. Instagram is a pain in my behind — I’d rather just produce content for my actual website, TBH, but brands are heavily focusing on IG right now, and I’ve gotta go with the flow. I may not be the biggest fan of the platform, but I do have some sort of strategy behind what I’m doing, and I plan out my content pretty carefully. Even though I work with photographers, I am the creative mind/producer behind the shoot. I pick out the location, decide what props to feature, dictate my own poses, etc.
It’s important to keep things fresh on your feed and to not produce the same exact content over and over. I’m always scouting new shoot locations in town and figuring out new ways to visually tell my story. If you’re taking an OOTD pic in your backyard over and over again, it may be time to freshen things up and brainstorm new shoot concepts to keep your audience engaged and make brands’ heads turn.
Brand Collaborations – Fill an (Influencer) Void
What’s the best way to attract brands’ attention? Have an engaged audience, high-quality content, and lastly: fill a void in the influencer-sphere. What makes you different? What makes you unique? Figure out how to translate this into your images and captions, and define your little corner of the internet.
What’s my “thing?” I like to show my personality with my images and captions, I’m known for always smiling, I love a healthy dose of color, I’m candid about mental health issues and I like to integrate travel and fashion. The coolest part about blogging is that you can be yourself. Don’t feel the need to copy someone else’s formula for success. Just do you!
Brand Collaborations – Who To Work With
There are dozens of influencer marketing agencies that specifically work with microinfluencers — that’s a win for us! However, all of them vary. Some of them only offer product only, which is a great option if you’re just starting out. Some offer smaller payments, and some have pretty decent sized payouts. I don’t work with too many networks now, however, I still work with Collectively, Ahalogy, InfluenceHer Collective, and TapInfluence.
At this stage in my career, I prefer to work directly with PR companies rather than some of these influencer marketing networks. I find that by working with a PR company directly, I can negotiate my rate and earn more than if I partnered with a network. Personally, I think that hashtagging my photos with #DCblogger over the years has helped me get on brands’ radar. I would highly encourage you to start using a location-specific hashtag on all of your photos if you live near a major city so that you can be discovered by brands a bit easier!
Brand Collaborations – Know Your Worth
Working for product is cool when you’re first starting out. It helps you gain experience, and can help you build your portfolio. Occasionally, I still do work for a product or experience if I think it’s worth it/if it’s somewhat of an even trade.
I have to be perfectly candid: one of the reasons I disliked moving to Philly is because a lot of brands don’t seem to respect influencers and compensate them fairly. The local offers I received here were kind of absurd: local PR firms would ask for a ridiculous amount of work in exchange for a product that *might* be valued at $50-100. I’m talking several days and hours of work, here. Nope. After speaking to some of my other friends in the industry, I think some influencers are afraid to be “blacklisted” by a company if they decline a collaboration, which could be farther from the truth.
If a collaboration isn’t mutually beneficial, stand your ground. Try to negotiate it, or politely decline it if need be (emphasis on the “politely” — no need to show a ‘tude!) It hurts the industry overall if some of these PR firms think they can start to use influencers for free photography and marketing. Help yourself and the industry by knowing your worth!
Before entering into any sort of agreement with a brand, I would make sure that they don’t try to throw in a clause where they own a perpetual license to your photos — you can read more about this here, and why it’s damaging to you as a content creator.