What is like to be an Influencer, paid collaborations, and more!
I wanted to write this post for a very long time. I have shy away from it because well...it is or it can a weird, sensitive topic, and I was very scared to be judge. Living a small city like Boston, where everyone knows everyone, it can be hard, specially as an outsider. But at the same time, I have received multiple messages, emails and in person questions on what is like to blog, how do I earn money, and the occasional (well..a lot) "ugh another self called influencer" look.
To be an "influencer" it is a funny thing. It is more work than people imagine, and most of the time for less money. Yes, it comes with good things, like free products and occasional travel, but it also comes with a lot of baggage. Not only the entrepreneurial part, but the constant judgment from others, to pretend everything is fine when someone laughs and judges your job. Among another things. At the end of the day I choose to continue this job, and have to deal with the ugly and enjoy the good bits.
Instead of replying to everyone all the time, I thought of do a little FAQ answering the most common questions I get, and some tips for upcoming bloggers. Don't forget that this is my own point of view and experience. Every single blogger is different, and has experienced things differently. Which means that your blogger friend might have a different point of view or experience.
Let's get started:
How do you make money? and how much do you make, or is it enough?
Let me start by saying that this is a fair question, but also kinda rude. I mean, I don't go around asking how much you earn at your desk job, so why do you? But I also get it. It is a weird job, and well, I don't have a companies salary every two weeks so it is fair that you wonder how I pay for my daily coffee.
So to answer your question, I make most of my income from paid collaborations. Meaning that a company has paid me to advertise their product/service/event on my blog and social media channels. Sometimes, I get invited to host events, or lead workouts, and I get pay from that. Other times I work at photoshoots, and others (very small percentage) I get commission from affiliate links or codes.
How much do you get pay from one post? It depends on what is the brand looking for, if it requires a professional photographer, if they want just one photo, or multiple, or blog posts. Again, it depends. But it can range from $250-$500... or more. I know you want numbers, so there you go.
Is it enough? well...it depends on the month, the amount of campaigns I have done. Some months, yes. Some others....well no. One of my bosses at my first sales job used to say to us "live 3 years behind your wage" - so that's what I do! I live in a very tiny apartment in not the most popular area, but it allows me to pay less rent, which means that I am less stress when it comes to pay my bills, giving me more freedom to play around in terms of sponsorships.
How do you get paid collaborations?
It depends! Sometimes a company reaches out directly to me and my manager (I have a manager, will get more into it later), asking to promote their product, we ask for their budget, requirements, etc. It has to be a company that I will buy things from (if I haven't already), or that I am interested in. Will get into that later as well.
Some other times, I use a product a lot, I tend to tag them on social media and promote them cause I genuinely like it, and I end up receiving an email from them or message asking to collaborate. We discuss budget, requirements, etc.
And some others, I (or my manager) reach out directly to the brand asking to collaborate.
How do you determine how much to charge?
Typically influencers work off of the 1% rule, where the rate is 1% of your IG following (e.g. 21,000 followers = $210 for an IG post). But, because I have a pretty niche following, the pricing can change, meaning is higher than that. So if you are trying to determine your pricing, think about who is your audience, and if is niche and very particular, maybe you can bring your price up.
What are the factors that determine whether a brand is one you want to partner with?
They are many factors, I have to like the product/service, I have to see myself using it (if I haven't already), it has to be vegan (specially food), if possible ethically made, it has to be something my audience like (i.e. I love van living and travel but I know it doesn't do well on my page and my audience wouldn't buy it, so I don't want to waste the brands money if it won't convert). So yes, I think about you!
Is everything you use and promote free, or paid for?
No, not at all. I do buy my own things and promote them if I think it is worth it. I do get a fair of free things to try, but if I don't like them or use them at all, they never make my social media and blog.
I will also disclose when something has been free or paid for, by telling you "i have been invited" or "got this sent" or simply adding hashtags like #ambassador #ad #sponsored - etc.
Just because it has been sponsored though, doesn't mean I don't like it or use it. Again, I only promote things I like, I already use, or I think you might like as well.
Since when have you been making money from blogging?
I started making money from social media since I had around 5k followers, probably even less. I never had the intentions to make money from it, when I started my account on Instagram it was purely to track my BBG progress. But one day, I noticed it other girls getting shit ton of products, and got an email from someone asking me from my media kit and my rate, and I was so confuse, but also a light bulb turn on, and I knew there was an opportunity for me.
Obviously, I wasn't making enough to pay all my bills, it was just to save some cash and spend on vacation. But I was getting paid, which made my realize that it can become a full time job.
How do you know when to ask for money vs free product? How to negotiate?
It depends! (you might be sick of this answer lol)
To be honest, I just ask what is their budget for the activation/campaign, and we will go from there. Sometimes there's brands that I truly love and want to promote without been paid for, because well, I am already doing it. So I'm happy to get some free products in exchange for some shout outs, I mean, who doesn't love that.
I do know my value when it comes to collaborations, and although for some it might seem like "just taking photos", Matt and I put a lot of effort when it comes to creating content. And in my eyes, we both play the role of content creators, photographers, directors, PR, etc. So it is a lot of talent to be pay for. At the end of the day, a blogger social media or website, can be a great outlet to promote a brand. Is it like watching tv ads, but from your favorite friend, aka me (LOL). But seriously.
My manager is better at negotiating than me, but we ask for their budget and see if it matches our rates, and if it doesn't, we ask if we can come to a middle ground. Maybe I can offer something more, like a blog post, couple more mentions, etc. If they say no, ask yourself if what they offer is good with you, and if it doesn't, well, move on.
How can I pitch a hotel or brand to work with me?
This is why I have a manager (among other things, btw she is amazing), because I'm not really good at it.
Some hotels have an email on their website for marketing or PR collaborations, and is easy as emailing asking to collaborate, and what can you offer, your stats, etc. There's a lot of thought behind pitching brands, and they get A LOT of emails. So before you ask for a free night in exchange of a photo on the gram, really think what is your brand about, your stats and if aligns with their brand. Not just because you want a one free night.
I will highly suggest to read a bit more on how to create an email template, and talk to friends that work in the industry, and ask them what they like to see, and take it from there!
Do I need 100k+ following to make a living or to make money?
I don't think so. To me it has to do with YOU, your personality, your "actual influence", your work.
What are you offering to a brand that they don't have, maybe a very specific niche, voice, maybe you work with tons of fitness fanatics and they listen to YOUR opinion more than other influencer, maybe you can host an event for them instead of taking a cute photo for the gram. Always think of what makes you, YOU. What is that you want to say that is unique and how can you offer it to a possible collaborator.
How can I grow my social media organically?
I don't have all the answers, and to be honest, my account hasn't grown crazy in compare to others, but I haven't buy followers, likes, or use weird websites to like photos for me.
Here are some things that have helped me:
- Connect with other accounts: like, comment, watch stories, be honest and truly connect with others
- Share value: wether is workouts, recipes, or tips. Share information that people can use, and come back to you for.
- Stick to one thing at the beginning: Maybe is recipes, or fashion tips. Get good at that, and that only, until you can expand to other topics. Wellness is really broad, try to stick to 1-3 topics for a while, see how that works.
- Create good content: I hate to say this, but it does make a difference. Good photos, are appealing. They don't have to be professional photos, or over the top, but good lighting and similar aesthetics, works.
- BE YOU! Yes, be you! put your own opinion, share a bit of your life, your ideas, your struggles. Be vulnerable, and just be you. They are already way too many food photos and bodies in bikinis out there, what can you share that is just YOU.
Why do you still teach fitness classes if you are making money from your blog?
Yep I got that question before.
Many reasons! I do love teaching my classes, it is a great way to stay connected with the fitness community, I get to be creative with my routines, I get to know tons of you, it makes me more legit as a fitness blogger, and I make extra cash.
Longest I'm living in Boston, or a city with a studio I want to teach at, I will continue to do it. It is so full filling to see so many getting better at it, and taking care of themselves, plus I get to tell my dad jokes ...it is a win-win.
Ps: I will keep this FAQ OPEN, so if you have more questions, send them to me, and I will add them here.