Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work and get paid as a Social Media Influencer? Maybe the thought is crossing your mind right now for the first time! Neither my sister Jodie nor I began on Instagram with the intention of becoming Social Media Influencers. But we were passionate about sharing our authentic hearts and our homes. That’s really all it took to get us headed down this road and eventually asking ourselves….How can we become Social Media Influencers? Our stories of success are really a result of commitment and perseverance, and we are here to tell you that if you don’t give up you will eventually reach your goals, whatever they are. And, if you’re interested in doing what we did, taking your passion and turning it into a business then you are in the right place!
In this article we share:
- the stages of becoming a social media influencer
- do’s and don’ts along the path
- how to understand your worth
- the importance of building bridges
- how to negotiate with companies
- developing a media kit, when, why, and how
Key Stages to Becoming a Social Media Influencer
There’s no magic wand to turn someone into a social media influencer overnight. Influencers are made not born. That being said, if you take your craft seriously and go at creating something of value you will succeed faster and farther than if you are not purposeful.
Stage 1: Build Your Brand
Obviously before you can command a fee you must create value. During this first phase you don’t have to worry about negotiating or working with companies or any other distractions. Just work on honing your skills, defining your niche, creating your identity (your brand), and building your following. Jodie and I have many blog posts here ready to share our best advice on how to be successful and how to grow on Instagram. Head to our overview post to learn about the many related articles. We recommend dedicating some time to reading them all which will be like taking a class in how to succeed on Instagram. Begin HERE.
Stage 2: Building Bridges
In your early stages (and throughout your career) it is important to pay it forward. It is vital to spend time practicing your skills, gaining visibility, and “showing the love”. Take time to identify brands that are a natural fit. Where do you shop? What do you show/buy/love? What are your dream brands?
Start showcasing them now! Feature them, tag them, talk about them. Get on their radar. Your goals during this phase are to be seen by them and hopefully be featured by them. You authentically LOVE them, which makes you a perfect fit to work as an influencer for them as you grow. Build the genuine relationship now…it will serve you well down the road. Think of this stage as building bridges! You are laying the foundation for future collaboration.
Stage 3: Know Your Worth
Once you have created a beautiful gallery and have a following you will enter the next stage of becoming a social media influencer, which is when you begin to have value. It is important from this point forward to realize your worth. At any point in your journey you can use the tool Social Blue Book to help give you an unbiased industry standard analysis of the current worth of your brand, specifically the value of one post.
This is a great tool. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be able to get this price for your work, but it is a goal to shoot for. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be occasionally be generous with friends or brands you absolutely love and want to help. But knowledge is power, and it’s better to understand your worth than to be in the dark.
Stage 4: Think Collaboration
1. Go to them:
You don’t need to wait for companies to come to you. You can go to them with proposals! Companies big and small love to hear from their “fans”. They love to hear from people who love their products and want to work with them. The worst that can happen is they say no.
2. Be ready to get “no’s”:
Jodie and I get “no’s” all the time. Our guru teacher told us that you should get minimally 4 “no’s” to every 1 “yes” or you aren’t shooting high enough! Keep that in mind. Also, a “no” today doesn’t mean” no” tomorrow. You are on their radar even more so now! Which means the next time you propose something to them it is more likely going to be a”yes”…how cool is that? Get through the “no’s” to bring you closer to the coveted “yes”.
3. Working for free product:
The early stages of collaboration will be mostly for free product. Companies are 10 times more willing to trade product for feature than they are to pay a fee. Some companies are too small to have a budget for it. But some huge companies have a policy against paying for it. I believe they have the view that so many people are willing to advertise for them for free there is no need to pay for it, which, quite frankly, is true.
4. Build relationships:
This is so important and really goes back to authenticity. Be kind, be generous, collaborate with wonderful people who you connect with on all levels. You can grow together! A small company today might get big one day. You just never know where a relationship can take you. Also, it’s easier for both you and a company to continue to work together once you both know and trust each other. Think of it like any relationship in life, and always be looking long term.
The Finesse of Collaboration
Collaborating is the backbone of being a Social Media Influencer. It is very challenging. There are no real rules, no published guidelines. Honestly, Jodie and I learn more every day. While we definitely have guiding principles and apply what we’ve learned throughout our journey, we take every single case as on its own. We trust our instincts and use our faith and prayer to guide us.
We are constantly caught between a business attitude (after all this is our business) and our hearts for generosity. Here are some things to keep in mind to help you in this department.
It’s important to remember that every post has a cost. If you are posting for “free product” make sure it is something you really want and that you can showcase beautifully so it adds value to your feed. If not, you really are paying for that product. Factor in the time it takes to negotiate, receive, style, photograph, edit, and create a heart-felt post sharing your love. This is time and effort. Is it all worth that “free product”? If you love it then it is. But understand that free product is not really free.
Also, it is important to understand that every post has the power to help or hurt your feed. So if you are posting product that is less than completely in line with your style and vision it can potentially hurt your feed and your authenticity. That is a real cost.
The bottom line is: Be choosy. Just because a company is willing to give you something make sure the “value” exceeds the costs.
How to Decide if & when to Collaborate/Factors for Pricing
We also ask ourselves, what is this worth to us today? To determine this we get very honest with ourselves on the following points:
- how authentically can we share this company?
- how much time will it take to produce, from beginning to end?
- are there any extra costs involved, if so what is the estimate?
- how much time do we have to devote to the project right now?
- finally, what future can we forsee with this company?
Creating a Media Kit
What is a media kit?
A media kit is simply an information packet about you and your brand. It is a prepared document usually containing the following components:
- an introduction of you and your brand
- your mission
- critical stats
- services provided
- packages & rates (or on a separate price sheet)
- contact info
Why have a media kit?
You come across as much more professional. The more professional you appear from the very beginning the more companies view your reliability. Also, having all this information ready to go saves you time and saves the company time in correspondence. Answer their questions, make it all clear so neither party wastes time. Additionally, time is valuable!
Social Media Influencer: It’s a Job
We’ve had numerous conversations with other successful IGers who have, at different times, expressed guilt or a hesitancy to “ask for money”. Everyone is different but if you treat it like a job, dedicate your life like you do to a job, it is a job. Thousands of hours of work have gone into creating our feeds. To turn it into a business takes a mindset and a lot of work. We don’t take a day off.
A famous social media influencer once said, “I can’t pay the bills with socks”. It’s true. I quit my “day job” because pursuing this career was too time-consuming and had to make a choice, one or the other. I gave up an actual paycheck. In addition to forgoing other income, we have costs to offset. A blog is a significant monetary investment to create. Additionally, there are monthly on-going expenses to cover. Paying for continual home decor updates, diy projects, camera costs, phone upgrades, lighting, blogging classes, technical support, hosting fees even photography classes…the lists go on. At a certain point, it becomes essential to make money or decide to redirect your life.
To summarize, navigating the rough seas of social media are tough! When you turn it into a business it adds a whole new level of time commitment and potential confusion. But life as a social media influencer can be intrinsically and monetarily rewarding if well-managed. No two brands are alike and certainly no two journeys are the same. However, Jodie and I hope that the information here sheds some like on these topics and makes yours more successful and enjoyable. Wishing you great success and joy along your path.
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With love & gratitude,
Julie & Jodie
The Design Twins