If you are a movie buff like me, then you know that sequels are almost never as good as the original. However, this is not the case for The Em Files – my free series on all things Instagram. Part II is ALWAYS better than Part I! It’s the meat and potatoes. The Nuts and Bolts. The Actionables. Before you dive in, make sure to check out How to Become an Influencer Part I, to learn about building your portfolio and creating a media kit. Today we’ll be discussing all things brands – the best ways to reach out to them and when you should get paid. So grab a cup of coffee (or maybe a glass of wine) as you take the next steps to becoming an Influencer!
Come From a Place of Service
Before we continue, it’s important to take a moment to self reflect. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to be an Instagram Influencer?” If the answer is to get free stuff, then you’ve come to the wrong place. Because first and foremost, this job is about serving brands. Not the other way around. You are entering into partnerships, affiliations, and collaborations. Which means you now have a responsibility to represent this company to your fullest ability. Being an Influencer isn’t actually about YOU. It’s about introducing your followers to the brands that you believe in. You are the vessel. The liaison. The new and improved billboard. Treat this job with the utmost respect and integrity if you wish to keep it.
Generating your Rates
With that being said, this is a job which means you should be getting paid for your work. Would you hire a painter, provide them with all of their supplies, and then say, “By the way, that product is your form of compensation.” HELL NO! Creating content is no easy feat. It requires styling, photographing, editing, captioning (Is that a word?), posting at peak times, and tracking your insights. There is value in what you do, which is why 39% of brands are increasing their Influencer marketing budgets this year. Yes, there are budgets just for Influencers!
Which brings me to my next point – pitching to brands is part of your job. Do you know how often I hear, “I don’t ask for compensation if I’m the one to reach out to a brand.” WHY NOT? If you actively sought out a position would you then turn around and say, “No need to pay me!” when they offered it to you? Keep this in mind: When you settle for free product you make it 100 times harder for full-time Influencers to get paid. This is why educating you is SO IMPORTANT. Someone else’s livelihood could depend on it.
So you may be saying, Emily this is all well and good but how do I determine my rates? Remember when I introduced you to Zine.co and it blew your mind? Well hold on to your noggin because this might be even better! Meet my friend Social Bluebook, the Kelley Blue Book for Influencers. Join as a creator and connect your Instagram account in order to get suggested rates for sponsorships. Another rule of thumb is to charge 1 cent for every follower you have!
Reaching out to Brands
You’ve messaged a brand on Instagram and gotten their contact e-mail, now what? It’s time to send them a pitch e-mail! What is that you may ask? A pitch e-mail is a brief correspondence offering your services as an Influencer to a brand. The aim of the pitch is to produce a collaboration that is beneficial to both parties.
The Best Times to Send an E-mail
Remember when I talked about peak Instagram posting times? Well, the same applies to pitch e-mails. To ensure that your message is read and replied to, it’s best to send it early in the morning mid-week. According to Entreprenuer.com, Tuesdays at 10 am yields the highest open rates.
What do you do if several weeks pass and you haven’t received a response? Send a follow-up email. It’s easy to get lost in an inbox filled with hundreds of other pitches. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the company a second time! For example, on 6/26/17 I emailed Allmodern with a campaign proposal but never head back. On 7/23/17 I sent a follow-up. Five days later, I received a response and became one of the first Allmodern Partners with less than 30K followers. (At the time I had 14.2K!)
Pro Tip: If you sent a follow-up and still haven’t heard back, take that as the brand’s way of saying no thank you. And consider yourself lucky! Because no response is much better than an email telling you all the reasons why you’re not a good fit. 😉
The Best Subject Lines
We’ve all been there – fingers hovered over the keyboard as we’ve thought long and hard about exactly what to write in our subject lines. The struggle is that they need to be clear and concise yet descriptive enough to relay an enticing message. You want to stand out in a sea of messages. Often your subject line will determine whether your email is opened and read. According to marketingsherpa.com, the golden rule to subject lines is 9-14 words. My most recent?
Collaboration: How Emilyeveryday sold 162 _____ Products in 2 Months!
What did I do here?
- Let them know right off the bat that this was a collaboration opportunity
- Introduced them to who I am
- Tailored the subject line to their brand
- Showed them how I have already serviced them
What was the outcome? First thing the following morning, this brand replied stating that they’d love to add me to their PR list and touch base in regards to their upcoming launches.
The Best Pitch Approaches
Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! It’s Tuesday morning, you have your marketing contact, and you’ve typed out your subject line. Now what should your pitch e-mail consist of? There are two ways you can approach a pitch:
Pitch emails aren’t just about asking for free product. You need to do your research. Does this brand have a blog? How many years have you been following their blog? Are they running a campaign for Mother’s Day? Do they support a specific cause? Find out the answers to these questions and then mention them in your email. For example, “I’ve been following your brand since it launched in 2014 and I love that part of your proceeds are donated to rescue organizations.” Bingo – by complimenting them you demonstrated that you understand their message.
Too often we approach pitches by talking about ourselves. “I’d love to collaborate and feature your light fixtures on my Instagram for the One Room Challenge.” How is this helpful to the brand? How will this spread their message? What benefit do they get from being featured on your Instagram? Remember, your job as an Influencer is to serve these brands! Explain how you can help them. “My blog was recently featured by HGTV and with an 187% increase in readership, this would be a great opportunity to write a post about ‘The Best Light Fixtures for Under $100’ featuring your brand.” Doesn’t that sound better?
Press Send and Don’t Look Back!
There you have it, friends! You are now ready to send your first pitch email. So attach your media kit, hit send, and don’t look back! If you are sending these messages with the right intentions to the right brands, you’re bound to start landing collaborations. Which means, congratulations – you are well on your way to becoming an Instagram Influencer!