September 15, 2019
I have a confession: every single time I see one of my instagram influencer friends repping free stuff, I cringe to myself. Why are they accepting a product or experience that’s worth maybe $20, when they should be making a few hundred dollars? Any influencer will tell you that it takes a LOT of time and skill to create high quality content that converts sales. Clearly, big brands are making millions off of influencers’ unique ability to get their loyal following community to know, like, trust, then buy the products and experiences they’re marketing.
So how the heck can influencers start making money?
“I already have a strong instagram following and engagement rate. As an influencer, I get tons of free stuff. But HOW do I start making real money?”
I’ve interviewed hundreds of aspiring influencers in the past few months. Not surprisingly, this topic has come up again, and again, and again.
Many creative women tell me they want to monetize their social media and blog—they just don’t know HOW.
The cold, hard truth is this: If you’re not making money, you don’t have a business.
Don’t stress out. I’ve been there and have had to learn the hard way how to make the switch from hobby to side-hustle.
I created a little FREE guide for you to start pitching brands with confidence, which I’ll talk more about later.
Well, they haven’t just worked for me. One of my mentees just landed his first paid $400 contract for the fastest growing municipality in Canada. Needless to say, I’m SO proud!
At this time, I’m a full-time teacher who’s been getting paid for social media since 2013. In this side-hustle, I’ve had the honour of getting paid to work with great brands like Keurig, Recycle BC, Pacific Foods, Save-On-Foods, BC Children’s Hospital Lottery, Kid Approved BC, City of Surrey and Skillshare.
First of all, to tell you the truth, being an influencer started out as a hobby when facebook was in its early days. I love the chance to be creative with photos and writing, and developed a knack for creating conversations and making ideas go viral.
Especially these past two years, being an influencer has been a fantastic way to connect with other creative women and business owners since moving here two and a half years ago.
Believe it or not, one of my first big partnerships was when I had the incredible honour of participating in TWO all-expenses paid trips to Africa because of the ability to create momentum via social media: Kenya with Me to We and Red Rose Tea, and Rwanda with Because I am A Girl and Smartwater. These were truly life-changing experiences and I learned SO much about grassroots community development and global culture.
Indeed, it’s important to note that strategically working for free product and experiences can springboard into paid contracts. As an example, my family has also received a free Endy mattress, as well as free experiences with Steve Nash Fitness, Science World, Vancouver Art Gallery and Fairmont Empress Vancouver.
By the way, when people ask me what an influencer is, I tell them that it’s a new, interactive form of advertising. As an influencer, I’m a public figure and a specific niche (primarily community-minded moms in the Lower Mainland of BC between the ages of 28-40) chooses to follow my stories of giving back, good brands, and family adventures.
Continuing on, I explain that it’s like hosting an interactive online magazine. As a result, companies hire me to take photo and video ‘commercials’ of their products and experiences and share it with my following community as part of their larger marketing strategy.
Certainly, people tend to easily understand that traditional media is often slick, professionally produced and probably not all that relatable to the average person. I mean, how many of us skip over ads or fast-forward/ mute commercials?
In contrast, influencers create their own photos, videos, and write in their own voices so the presentation is more handcrafted, authentic and grassroots.
Without a doubt, the best influencer campaigns include brief key messaging from the brand, and then let the content creator have freedom to present the product in a way that makes sense to them– and to their audience.
Take a moment to think of newspaper ads or television ads, which cost a lot of money. Their downside is that it’s hard to definitively measure how many people even bother stop to read or watch them.
Undoubtedly, with one instagram post, we can get a lot more data. We can see how many followers are from the target audience– age range, geographic location and gender. Insights tell us the quantitative data about how many people have seen the post, along with who has liked and commented on it. And with those specific comments, we have a plethora of qualitative data about exactly what people are saying about the product or experience.
To conclude, influencer marketing is often much more effective than traditional forms of marketing in getting potential customers to know, like, trust and buy from brands.
A word of caution: Despite its rapid growth, being an influencer is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme. There are hundreds of quicker ways to make money. But there ARE a series of steps you can take to streamline your efforts.
Know who you’re speaking to, and what topics they are interested in. Stick to your niche, only say yes to products and experiences that you and your family genuinely love.
Don’t feel bad about saying NO to everything else.
(Before saying yes, I ask myself: Is this good for people and/or the planet?)
Use a consistent preset and pre-plan your feed so it looks somewhat ‘balanced’.
Invest in a good camera, or at least a top notch cell phone. If brands are going to pay you to create content, they want good quality.
You get what you give. Like and comment on target audience pages, and many will return the favour. Brands want real people to know, like, trust and buy from them.
At first, you will be creating content for free products or gifted experiences. Collect 5 logos minimum for your media kit, and remember that more widely recognizable brands give your portfolio more clout.
If you’re stuck on how to start getting unpaid collaborations, there are tons of apps and site that will send you free stuff in exchange for posts. Use these opportunities to build your starter portfolio, and then STOP.
If you want to start getting paid, only use the words “Work With Me” in your bio, media kit, rate card and website. This places the emphasis on the fact that you do REAL work that deserves to be paid.
You now need to create a media kit with your bio, photo, audience description and brands you’ve worked with, as well as a rate card with your prices. (There’s tons of examples online). Start your prices lower and raise your rates every few months, as demand increases and you gain experience.
But there’s one more step.
Now, and only now can you start bringing in the dough!
Lastly, if you’ve made it this far, thanks for following along! Is there anything I missed and you’d like me to add?