I’m writing this post from the perspective of a marketer and a micro-influencer. (If you didn’t know, I am a digital marketing manager full-time. I have hired influencers and have been an influencer for brands such as Coca-Cola, Capital One (see post), Dropbox (see post), Comcast Business, H+R Block, and Neutrogena.) Before you get consumed by how to make money blogging, how to monetize your Youtube videos, or getting paid to work with brands in general, you need to really ask yourself: what am I bringing to the table that the brand can’t bring themselves? Ask yourself, for real. Because hunnnaaayyyy, existing isn’t enough of a reason to want to get paid. If you don’t have anything to offer such as a very active follower community or at the very least impeccable pictures, now isn’t a good time to start pitching. (Consider joining Squad Goals if your social channels aren’t where they need to be.)
In order for you to successfully work with brands and land content partnerships, you need to understand what brands and publicists find valuable and what they are focusing on in a particular season. For example, by reading social media blogs you will notice that in 2017 brands will be focusing on real-time video content. Therefore, you would pitch a content partnership focused on a Snapchat or Instagram Live takeover, not a sponsored blog post. Staying updated on industry trends will help you craft pitches and provide brands the content they want and need most. You have to fill a void. Lucky for you, 2017 is the year of the micro-influencer.
So what exactly is a micro-influencer? A micro-influencer is a content creator (blogger/youtuber/photographer) or social media user who has 10,000 followers or less. If you have been freaking out about how to grow your social media following, you can relax. You’re at an advantage this year, as brands are becoming more and more aware of the power of micro-influencers. Here’s why you’re a hot commodity and the benefits you should be highlighting in your pitches.
Why Micro-Influencers Are The Next Big Thing
You’re the cheat code.
The one thing that marketing teams are after is reach. They pay influencers with huge followings to promote their product in front of their huge audience. The gag is: you will show up in your friend’s and family’s feeds way more than Kim Kardashian ever will. Why? Because that’s the way the algorithms on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are designed. “We see micro-influencers get an average of two-to-five times more organic engagement per Instagram post, compared to those with more than 100,000 followers,” said Chris Gonzalez, CEO of social ad platform, Gnack. “Their content will be organically performing better on the platform due to the inherent superior engagement.”
You’re also more believable than any celebrity, and that is what you must always use to your advantage. Studies have shown that influencer marketing performs 11 times better than traditional advertising. Therefore, your favorite brands are rushing to get their products into the hands of real people with real connections. Micro-influencers tend to have a niche and a narrow focus, which makes them even more trustworthy to their audience. If you ever needed a reason to stay in your lane, this is it. Being a “beauty influencer that focuses on women of color with acne scars” isn’t too specific. It’s a niche that helps a specific group of people solve a problem. That’s more valuable than any huge, yet diluted, segmented audience. (If you need help narrowing your niche, there’s an exercise in Make Yourself Marketable for you.)
If you present yourself properly, and have been building your personal brand, brands should be knocking at your door -- or at least answering your emails. Here are a few things you'll need to land a brand partnership, and what brands look for when considering you for a collaboration.
What Brands Look For In Influencers
Visibility in the form of traffic and/or followers
Content and comment quality on your blog and social channels
Engagement and interaction with your unique audience
Original, high-resolution photography
Authority via a personal brand or professional affiliation
A media kit outlining all this information
A good pitch
First and foremost, brands will pay you for something they cannot garner themselves. Brands will pay for an element of exposure and the credibility of the cosign. They aren't about to waste their time paying you for something they can do themselves. They're either looking to increase exposure to an audience they don’t have access to, or they need the credibility from being associated with an influencer like yourself. A brand may partner with you in order to reach a certain group of people based on location, demographic, ethnicity etc. For example, they may want to connect with millennials in Atlanta or women of color in the US. Knowing what kind of visibility you can provide a brand in both the quantitative (traffic, follower, unique page views etc.) and qualitative (race, age, gender, location) sense is important in selling yourself. We will dive into how this affects what you charge as an influencer in just a second.
Engagement Ratio and Content Quality
Likes and comments are easy to buy. Therefore, brands are doing their due diligence to ensure engagement, followers and comments are authentic, especially on Instagram. There are many numbers and ratios floating around on what is the bare minimum you need to work with brands. What I’ve found from various articles on influencer rates, is that 1 – 3% engagement is what you need to make the cut. Which in English means, if you have 10K followers, you should have 100 – 300 likes per photo. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but you will be surprised how difficult that is when followers are bots. (Yep, that was me throwing shade at all the people with 50K followers and 23 likes per photo.) Brands are also paying attention to comments. Are you able to influence action and initiate conversations with your followers? Are people asking where they can buy, tagging friends, and leaving thoughtful comments?
Before you even worry about engagement, are you producing content consistently? You should be posting on Instagram at least 5 days a week, Twitter daily, and your blog at least once a week.
When it comes to your Instagram or blog, your photos need to be on fleek. I wrote a whole blog post and guide on how to take better Instagram pictures here. I won’t sit here explaining this for too long, but your blog and channels need to look the part. Invest in a premium Wordpress template, non-corny stock photography, and a basic photography class. At the very least, get a consistent backdrop and invest in a good blogging camera for your photos. Your visuals are going to be a big factor in whether a brand wants to be associated with you or not.
A personal brand
You will be paid for your skills and expertise, but you won't be paid because your highlight is on fleek, and you can pose on the sidewalk in a nice outfit. Remember that credibility of the cosign I was talking about earlier? Being an authority and having your opinion respected is important to influence people. Your audience will trust your recommendation if you're credible and have built your personal brand. A brand will pay you to make that recommendation to your audience. In order to move your audience to action, you need an area of expertise, personality, and authenticity.
A media kit and a good pitch
Your media kit is a one to two page outline of everything I mentioned above. It is the resume for your blog and personal brand. It summarizes everything from your social media and traffic to your past collaborations. You can find amazing media kit templates and examples online. (Here are 10 media kit templates for you.) You will need one to start a conversation with any brand, and it’s a lot easier to make than you think.
What should you charge as a blogger or influencer?
Your fee is determined by the size of your audience among the other things that I mentioned above. From my research and my own rates, I created a basic formula to figure out what you should charge as an influencer. Ready? Your starting rate should be $20 per 1K followers.
(Your Follower Count / 1000) x $20 = Your minimum rate
(Your Follower Count / 1000) x $50 = Your maximum rate for sponsored blog content
(Your Follower Count / 1000) x $35 = Your maximum rate for sponsored social media posts
That’s it folks. If your blog has 10,000 unique visitors per month, charge between $200-$500 per sponsored blog post. If you have an Instagram following of 6000, you can charge between $120 and $200 per post. Why a range? Because there are a few factors to take into consideration that would make sponsored content worth more such as:
Just posting content vs. creating the content
Long-term campaign vs. a one-time post
Inclusion of links, hashtags or tagging of accounts vs. just brand mentions
You need to see what you are comfortable with and negotiate with the brand. It’s not so black and white, but at least the influencer rate and fees formula above can give you a baseline on how to price your content and set your rate.