This post is an excerpt from our Authentic Marketing Conference in Los Angeles. The conference was a rich environment for brands and influencers to openly discuss tactics for authentically building a strong following.
Here are the experts who contributed to this blog:
You all started your content with a passion in mind, versus trying to make money. It seems like that is where it needs to start from, would you agree?
I really just wanted free clothes when I started, (laughter) but no, there was a passion there too, to share what I was wearing with my readers and then it evolved and I loved it more and more. The clothes, yeah, that was great but I don’t blog because of the clothes. No one blogs for the free stuff. They blog because they love to share what they’re doing. You can tell when a person has passion with their blog because it is so much work that I don’t think people realize: nights, evenings, weekends, holidays we don’t have anymore, but we love it and you’ll burn out if you don’t have a passion for it. –Laura Yazdi, Influencer
If you set out with an intention and a message and put the art first, that’s when the audience will come. –Cole Kilburz
I think a lot of times, in the beginning, people are too focused on the following side of things. Everyone wants followers right away and they’re not concerned with, “What am I saying?” And, “What am I doing that’s of value?” So, for me, I started doing photography and filmmaking like 10 years ago because I love doing it. I didn’t even know the word influencer when I started. So, I think that if you set out to be an influencer, you’re kind of like setting out to be fast food. You’re trying to, you know, not really do anything. But if you set out with an intention and a message and put the art first, that’s when the audience will come. –Cole Kilburz, Influencer
Let’s talk about money and social influencers.
I think it’s kind of tough because it’s not like buying a cup of coffee with a set price. Every job is different. I think for me, I was way more scared to talk money in the beginning than I am now. Because at first it’s like this thing you almost dance around, but now it’s just like a simple question. What’s your budget? Because, then based on that budget, I can tell you what I can offer you for that. If you have more money, I can offer you more posts. As a photographer, I can offer you more actual collateral photos, videos, whatever it might be, so by you telling me your price, it lets me tell you what I can do and we can negotiate from there. I also think everyone’s pretty open to negotiating too, so nothing’s ever written in stone, once you say something. –Cole Kilburz, Influencer
Negotiation is key in this industry. –Laura Yazdi
Negotiation is key in this industry. That’s part of why it I love it. I get to be creative and I get to negotiate deals. Some bloggers are scared to talk about money. I’m not. There are so many factors that are included when I’m going to work with a brand. What is the product that they’re offering me? What is their social media following? If they’re huge and they’re willing to repost me, I’ll accept a little less money for that. Or if they’re much smaller and they don’t have as big of a budget, then I’ll do a package deal. Those are great because it works out best for the brand and for the influencer. –Laura Yazdi, Influencer
What is a package deal?
A package deal would be like I have one where I’ll do a giveaway, and a sponsored post and a social media promotion across all my channels. If you don’t have a big budget, I highly recommend offering a giveaway for the influencer’s readers. Our readers love to get free product and it’s not something that they get daily. So, it depends on what the brand has to offer, who the brand is and how much they want from us. –Laura Yazdi, Influencer
Also, I want to mention: we like short contracts. It’s like you want an Instagram post, why do we need to have a 20-page contract? That’s beyond me. You just need a 2-pager, and then I’ll sign the thing and we’ll get it going. –Thania Peck, Influencer
Are you brand friendly? How do you think about that?
Observe the etiquette that you should as an entrepreneur, that will resonate with everyone and people will want to work with you. –Thania Peck
The thing about being brand friendly is… being friendly. No one in this industry, regardless if you have a million followers or if you have five followers, you have to be friendly to every single person. Be nice, remember people’s name. Observe the etiquette that you should as an entrepreneur, showing up as a good person and people will see that, that will resonate among everyone and people will want to work with you. They will jump at the opportunity to be a part of whatever you have going on. I can’t stress that enough. –Thania Peck, Influencer
My whole thing on my Instagram and my blog is just being positive and being encouraging. I don’t want to just showcase my style and present cool clothing to my followers, but I want to be encouraging to them. So, I guess that’s how I would be brand-friendly. –Kait Warman, Influencer
I think we use the word authenticity a lot and if you’re authentic to yourself and to your creative style then that voice is going to resonate with certain people and certain brands. And so, what’s really cool is when you get approached by a brand that likes you for you and what you do. The collaboration becomes very effortless because you’re already on the same page right from the beginning. So, I think that just having kind of a vision for what you want to put out in the world and then following through with that, in general, is going to attract the right people to work with. I know for me, a lot of the brands I work with, they’re not just like ‘these brands’ or ‘these companies’, they’re my friends now. Like those are the people I care about and think about and it’s really cool. –Cole Kilburz, Influencer
Brands should focus on working with influencers who are targeting the same audience as them. –Rosa Crespo
It’s really important for brands to do proper research. Now there are a lot of tools that can help brands approach the right influencers for their campaign. For example, with SocialBlade you can determine an influencer’s target audience, who they’re following, the age range of their following, and see if the influencer would be a good match for your brand. Sometimes brands will reach out to influencers because they have a big following but it’s not just about followers. Brands should focus on working with influencers who are targeting the same audience as them. –Rosa Crespo, Influencer
What’s the brand collaboration where you learned the most? Or maybe something from a campaign that shaped the way you collaborate with brands?
If I care about the brand and I’m passionate about the brand, I’ll want to work with that brand. –Kaitlyn Warman
I think my favorite collaborations now are the ones that support smaller businesses. I really love seeing and partnering with smaller businesses to help them grow and flourish. Especially when they don’t have as much of a larger budget. Because, in my mind, even if they don’t have as large of a budget if I care about the brand and I’m passionate about the brand, I’ll want to work with that brand. Those are my favorite newer collaborations, brands that I can really connect to, that you make a really great personal relationship with their team, the people you are working with and you really love and enjoy promoting the product. –Kaitlyn Warman, Influencer
When brands really get that collaboration with influencers right, the power in terms of building the brand can be incredible. –Brian Nickerson
When brands really get that collaboration with influencers right, the power for the brand in terms of building the brand can be incredible. So, getting that relationship right can be really valuable, not just for the influencers and their fans but also for the brands. –Brian Nickerson, MagicLinks