I have been getting a lot of messages on Instagram about how I got started in the Influencer industry so I thought it was time to do a blog post on it. I want to share my story plus some great ways to dip your feet in. This is my story but it does not mean you have to follow my path or that my path will work for everyone else but it may open the doors and get you to your own path.
A little bit before I moved away from Los Angeles in 2016 I honestly was not trying to be an influencer I was more wanting to get my creative juices out so I started using Instagram to create some fun photos. In no way did or have I ever seen myself as a photographer just someone who wanted to a creative outlet and with it being the age of social media what better way to do that than share it online. I started noticing more people starting to follow me and getting more likes. By more likes, I mean from 2-20 to 40-100. (Not a huge jump but a notch up.) This is also when I started to add hashtags and tagging brands into the photos I was posting.
OnceI moved to Austin I didn’t have a job and you can only apply to so many jobs a day before you go crazy. I hated that fact that I was not making any money even though my husband was making enough for us to be fine I wanted to work. I spend free time watching makeup tutorials on youtube which made me want to explore make up more. I had been using Bare Minerals since I was 14 so I had no clue about what brands were “good”. So when I went to look up reviews of makeup brands I stumbled upon my first official Influencer program.
My First Influencer Program
Influenster is a pretty widely known influencer program on Instagram and to me it was the best way to start learning how to promote products and how to review products in a way that is actually helpful to others. Influenster is a completely free program that has no requirements. Basically you will log onto your Influenster account and you will be given Snaps. Snaps are requested for information on brands you have used.
Example: If you are into Haircare you may get a Snap that says “Which of the brands below have you used their curling creme?” You would then select the brands you have used and then they would ask you to write a review on the product. The reviews must be a certain length and they will ask you to point out specific information for the products like “Where did you get it” or “What type of hair do you have?” so when people see your review they get the most information out of it. The more detailed and the more you review products the better chances you will be select to get a VOXBOX.
Influenster is an amazing program to learn how to review and also how to create “Content” photos. Their VOXBOX comes with instructions on the type of photos, caption, and hashtags they are wanting you to use.
There are tons of things you need to do to create your own brand and it really is hard to nail yourself down in your Instagram bio. I have changed mine many times because I have changed my views and my lifestyle has changed. It’s okay for your brand to change as long as it’s not every week.
You only have so much space in your Instagram Bio so make it count. These are the things I wanted people to know about me and what my account will be about. I recently added “Minimalist in Training” because that is a new lifestyle I am trying to achieve this allows potential new followers to see my profile and follow because my feed doesn’t easily show minimalist lifestyle especially since I just started that journey.
Finding Your Theme
The biggest mistake I think someone can make with their feed is not having a theme. A theme is basically a visual vibe that runs through all your photos. There are tons of ways to do this.
- Pop of Color: Have a specific color that is in every photo
- Background: All photos have the same color background
- Tile theme: Making every other photo a color block or text graphic.
- Boarders: Using the same boarder on all photos
- Dawling Theme: Using editing app to add doodles onto your photos
- Rectangle: Using only Rectangle shaped photos
There are many other ways to theme your feed but the biggest way is through filters packs. Etsy is full of theme filter packs you can buy but you can also create your own through Lightroom or VSCO. I have used many different themes trying to find the best for me. People often will switch their themes out for the seasons which I think works really well because of the fact that clothing colors change with the seasons and a filter pack that worked for bright summer clothes might not work for dark winter clothes.
What Happened Next
After doing some branding to myself I started getting messages from small shops on Instagram asking for me to promote their items. This to me was a sign I was going in the right directions. Working with smaller brands is the absolute best! The first brand to reach out to me was Lily & Oak which is an Austin Local Handcrafter Leather Goods company. The woman who runs the business is amazing and her stuff is gorgeous. She messaged me asking if she could create a custom bag for me to post onto my Instagram.
Working with a small business is a great way for both parties to grow their audience. One thing I will say about being an influencer, yes you do get free stuff and be thankful that people want to send you their creations but especially with small shops try to support them back. After I was sent this purse. I went and bought her newest Tote Bag from her collection because I loved her stuff so much. We still keep in contact about doing more collaborations in the future. The goal should always be to make a good relationship with brands. Don’t be afraid to say no to collaborations with companies that you don’t like their product at the initial approach. Yes, it is good to get experience in working with brands but if you initially see the products and don’t like them it will be really hard to create fun and loved content off of a product you don’t love even if it is sponsored.
Sponsored VS Gifted
Sometimes you will see #Sponsored and sometimes you will see #Gifted. The best way to separate the two is USUALLY Sponsored/AD is the person was paid to promote the item vs Gifted is when they received the item for free (Depending on the contract this is not always the case). Make sure you are going into agreements knowing these important factors:
- Post Number: Confirm exactly how many Instagram post, Instastories, IGTV, or Images they are wanting.
- Image Content: Are they wanting a flat lay, you wearing/holding product, are you allowed to crop your face out, can other products be in the post.
- Caption Content: Is there a sale they want you to promote, specific details about the product, slogan, donation information, etc.
- Tags/Hashtags: Can you have other brands labels in the shot/tag them as well, can you tag other brands in the post, what hashtags would they like added to the post
- Ownership: Knowing if they have automatic ownership of your photos or will they be requesting to repost images.
Transitioning To Getting Paid
I do get paid for some of my promotion now but it wasn’t until recently that I started getting paid for my post. My rate based on my Media Kit currently is anywhere from $20 – $250 depending on how extensive the collaboration is or how much the initial offer is.
Here is the deal. You have to decide what feels right for you. There are still TONS of post I do that I don’t get paid for. I do this for small shops, brands I am passionate about, and products that are higher valued items. Some brands will initially offer you money and great! If they don’t it’s up to you to decide if you want to counter offer. I think Media Kits are the politest way to counter offer. A Media Kit is basically like a headshot/resume for actors but for influencers. You can also use it to set a lot of ground rules of what you are okay with and not okay with as well as your prices based on the factors I listed in the section above. If you want me to do a blog post about creating Media Kits and possibly share some templates let me know in the comments below!
If you are not an organized person and want to be an influencer you better get your butt into organized shape. Excel spreadsheets are my calming tool. I love them so much. There are tons of ways to stay organized but my go-to is Excel. Often there are required dates of posting and even reviews of prior to posting and you must make sure you hit your deadlines so keeping organized is key. I used Google sheets and Google Task to keep me organized on what I need to do and the tracking of my collaborations.
Again, If you want me to go into to detail about how I track my collabs leave a comment below and I will do a full blog post about it with a template.
There are so many more things I feel like I skipped in this post and hope to do a part two with more Influencer programs I have worked with, additional details about becoming an influencer, and starting a blog but it is all too much for one blog post. I feel like this was an EXTREMELY long blog post. Thank you to all who made it this far and remember it’s all about taking that first step and trying. I have been on this journey for two years and I still have no idea what I am doing but I am learning each day. Comment down below if there is anything you want me to expand on in another post or any other topics you want me to cover in another blog post.