Recently, I've received so many messages asking me how I started my blog, tips and tricks to becoming and being an influencer, and how to get started with growing a brand.
To be completely transparent with you guys, sometimes I don't feel worthy of receiving these messages since I take it as a huge compliment because you feel I'm doing something cool. But, I'm still not doing this full time and I've built my brand from the ground up which has been a long, exhausting, exciting project. I've invested in a few different classes like Julie Solomon's Pitch It Perfect course as well as listening to various podcasts to inspire me. I went to school for PR and advertising so branding is my jam which has significantly helped me in building my business. That's also the reason I tell everyone I charge a consulting fee when people want to meet up and "pick my brain."
I'm all for helping people, but I have actually paid (and still am) for my knowledge. I HAVE AN ACTUAL DEGREE IN THIS. And I've done everything 100% authentically. So I do my best to provide some free resources about being an influencer for you guys without giving away all my secrets which is the point of this post. Although, anymore there really are no "secrets" to the way people grow and sometimes it feels more like a free-for-all. Anyway, sometimes you do just have to learn things on your own too and create your own path.
Today, I've sharing a few do's and don'ts of being an influencer. I've learned these since I poured my heart into Trendy in Indy in January 2017.
The do's of being an influencer
1. Find your niche. Before the first of the IG algorithm changes, it was much easier to grow based on post times and hashtags. Now, you have to define your audience by getting specific with your topics. For me, I focus specifically on being a young, married professional living in Indianapolis that wants to teach and inspire through fashion, beauty, and travel. Small businesses dominate my platform because that's where my heart lies.
2. Be consistent. If you are posting once a week, no one wants to follow that. Your goal is the create and share your life with your audience because that's why they are following you. Start with posting once a day on your social platforms, and publish 1-2 blogs a week.
3. Create connection. Your followers want to be able to relate to you through your photos and captions. We attract a tribe that shares similar values to our own so in order to create connection, you may need to do some self-discovery to know what makes you you. We attract what we are, not what we want, but more on that in a minute.
4. Develop a content strategy. You MUST create a strategy. Mine is always changing because my brain goes 100 miles a minute, but at least I have some guidelines I follow that help me. One big tip: create a content calendar.
5. Know your worth and be authentic. This might seem like two separate tips, but they go hand in hand. Don't ever buy followers or likes because it kills your real engagement and destroys the community as a whole. If you are 100% authentic, you should be charging for posts especially if you have over 5000 followers with a 3% or higher engagement rate. The average rate for one Instagram post is a penny per follower.
The don'ts of being an influencer
1. Don't work for free. If you have over 5,000 followers with a 3% or higher engagement rate, you shouldn't be doing things for "free." Clearly I feel strongly about this and the reason for that is because YOU are valuable and so is your content creation. When you work for free, it distorts industry standards and selfishly, doesn't allow people like me to grow my business. Think about it, when a company could work with someone with the exact same stats as me but that influencer works for free, they'd pick that person every time. Also FYI with my marketing background, every company has advertising dollars available, sometimes you just have to grow some balls to explain your value.
2. Don't be an influencer to become Insta-famous. If you're in this because you want 50K followers, to go to cool events, or just so people "know you" then you are not doing it for the right reasons. Plus, Instagram is such a mind game that gaining a crazy authentic following is very difficult.
3. Don't expect to make money over night. Again, you have to grow and establish yourself before you can develop a media kit and set your rates. You'll need to find your niche and determine your tone before you start tp build brand relationships. Brands want to make sure that you align with their organization and target audience. There are plenty of us out there who utilize influencing as a second job and it can be exhausting, but equally rewarding.
4. Don't try to copy everyone else. What I do may not work for you. For example, Olivia Rink is my idol, but her path is much different than mine and that's important to recognize. Keep that in mind as you build your business and stay true to YOU. Define your own path and your own brand.
5. Don't send a bad pitch to a company. "Hi I'm an influencer and LOVE your stuff. I'd love to work with you." This advice I can give from my experience on the marketing side and from what I learned in Julie's class. The above pitch doesn't tell the brand your niche, why you'd be a good fit for them, or what you really love about their brand. There's no connection in that pitch and as a marketing director, I'd delete that message or email and move on with my day.
6. Don't give up. This can be an exhausting side-hustle that you might be trying to turn into your full-time career. Just remember, it's your passion project and you need to keep that in the front of your mind.
Building your following, your brand, being an influencer and establishing relationships takes so much time. You'll get there with passion and perseverance. That being said, I always love when you guys reach out so feel free to ask your questions and I'll do what I can to help you out. We've got to support each other in a world of intense competition.
Cheers to passion projects and the week ahead,
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