Guess who’s back? Back again. The Em Files are back, tell a friend! After a five month hiatus, I figured it was time to get back on the horse. For those of you who are new to The Em Files, WELCOME! You’ve stumbled across my free series on Instagram growth and engagement. (What’s engagement you ask? Head on over to this post to find out.) I began this course last October to let you in on all the Instagram secrets that no one ever seems to want to share. Because I believe in COMMUNITY OVER COMPETITION. So without further ado, this week’s topic has been widely requested – How to Become an Instagram Influencer.
PART I will cover the basics like How many followers you need to be an Influencer, How to build your portfolio, and How to create a media kit. PART II is going to be a bit more in depth discussing topics such as How to effectively pitch to brands and How to figure out your rates.
What is an Influencer?
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? You see it mentioned in people’s Instagram bios, blogs, and stories but what exactly is an Instagram Influencer?
They are users who have an established credibility and audience. And because of this they can persuade others by virtue of their trustworthiness and authenticity.
In fact, according to Influence Central, consumers have ranked Instagram Influencers as the 6th most effective at impacting purchases. Why is this the case? Because a recommendation from someone you follow on Instagram is like a recommendation from a good friend.
How to Become an Influencer
So you want to be an Influencer but aren’t sure where to start. Believe me, you are not alone! When I first dipped my toes into the influencing waters, I had SO MANY questions and so little information on how to begin. Thankfully, there were several Instagram friends who helped me along the way. (Love ya Kate and Cara!) Don’t be afraid to reach out to those that you admire and respect for advice! Whether you want this to be a side hustle or your full time job, below are several tips on how to get the ball rolling.
1. Lay the Groundwork
First and foremost, there are a few basic things you need to accomplish before becoming an Influencer. I like to call this step laying your groundwork. You have to build your following and your engagement. Not sure how to do this? Click here for some tips and tricks! I know what your next question is going to be. How many followers do I need before I can become an Influencer? The answer is…. well, there is no straight answer! You may have 1K followers or 10K followers when a brand first reaches out to you. Keep in mind that they want to partner with Instagram users that have built a strong connection with their followers. Why? Because consumers are more apt to buy a product that you recommend if they trust you. How do you show that you have a strong connection?
- Post consistently to your feed and stories (At least once a day)
- Answer as many comments as you can (Preferably all of them)
- Share information with your followers even if it isn’t for a collaboration (IE: Sales currently going on)
With that being said, I’ve had companies turn me down at 30K followers and partner with an account with 5K followers instead. It’s all about finding a good fit. Can you effectively promote the brand? Do you share a similar aesthetic? Will you get the company a high ROI (Return on Investment)? Focus on the following things before moving onto the next step:
2. Test the Waters
Here’s a great tip for those of you just starting out. Before you begin approaching big companies (Yes, you’re going to be doing that and I’ll teach you how), start small… SMALL SHOPS, THAT IS! Quite often makers conduct “Brand Rep Searches” where they look for accounts to help showcase their products in a real life setting. Apply! It’s a great opportunity to build your portfolio while learning more about networking, deadlines, and deliverables. Do several of these to really get a handle on how to effectively create content for brands.
Fun Fact: Last March I applied to be a brand rep for Cassie from Modern Clementine. She chose me despite the fact that I had less than 4K followers. It was the first collaboration I ever landed! See? It’s not always about the numbers. It’s about who you are as a person and if you have an engaged following.
Can’t find a brand rep search? Reach out to your favorite small shop and ask if they’d be interested in partnering up. Keep in mind there is a certain etiquette to follow when contacting brands. We will be going over this in Part II of the series!
3. Build Your Media Kit
You wouldn’t go to an interview without a resume, right? The same goes for being an Influencer. Many brands ask for something called a “Media Kit,” which normally includes: stats across all social media platforms, previous collaborations, and your rate sheet. Now before the panic sets in, I’m going to let you in on a little secret, sign up for Zine.co. It’s a free site that allows you to create your own media kit that you can share with companies. Do this before reaching out to brands! That way, if they ask for your media kit and rates, you’ll have them readily available.
4. Reach Out To Brands
You have increased your following and engagement, built your resume by working as a brand rep, and created your media kit. Now what? Don’t just sit around and wait for opportunities to fall into your lap. While you’re doing that, there are Influencers who are proactively seeking jobs and partnerships. The early bird gets the worm, my friends! Not sure how to get in contact with a brand you want to collaborate with? E-mail is always the best form of communication. Often companies have their e-mail address directly in their Instagram bio and with one quick click you’ll be sending out your pitch in no time! Sometimes it’s not that simple. If a marketing contact isn’t easily accessible, shoot the brand a DM via Instagram. Explain that you are an Influencer looking to collaborate and that you’d like to know the best contact to send a more in depth e-mail to.
Pro Tip: Don’t reach out to brands just for the sake of collaborating. Make sure this is a product that you need and can stand behind. As I’ve said before, your followers can smell a fraud from a mile away and if they sense that a sponsorship isn’t something you truly believe in, they’ll drop you like a sack of bricks. Protect your credibility, as an Influencer it means everything.
Stay Tuned for Part II
Want to learn how to effectively pitch to brands that you reach out to and how to get paid as an Influencer? Stay tuned for Part II of the series! Be sure to comment below with any questions you have on this week’s post!