Have you ever wondered how this content creator got to work with this brand or how in the hell is this blogger is traveling around the world for free and getting paid for it? Maybe your buddies with some other content creators and you get general responses or nothing at all when you ask what works for them. It’s as if no one wants to spill the beans about the one thing everyone else is trying to do. Why? Competition. But the Influencer market is constantly evolving so what worked yesterday won’t work tomorrow. Because of this a lot of content creators send a ton of bonehead queries, complain way too much, and end up missing out big opportunities because they don’t get how this all works. As someone who manages collab campaigns and as a content creator who works with brands all the time, I compiled a list of the 6 biggest mistakes I see content creators make.
1. You Have No Clue How This Works and Who’s Running Things
You’re interested in collaborating with a brand but you’re not too sure who the gatekeepers are and who you need to touch base with. Even more annoying, you’re not quite sure how this all works behind the scenes. Well, allow me to explain:
There are two entities that oversee collaborative campaigns and connections. It’s important to know this so you know why some things work and some don’t:
Publicity firm or Marketing agency – This outside entity gets paid for the sole purpose to find you, the content creator. How did they find you? Simple. They use automated programs to search out keywords like “blogger”, “photographer”, “model, etc. They do the same with locations. This little nugget of information is actually why it’s important that you use keywords in any of your social bios. In some cases they may designate these tasks with team-members. These team-members are usually interns or assistants doing manual searches, gliding through your Instagram profile to see if you fit their needs. Keep in mind, I said interns or assistants. Not CEO’s, the payroll department, or even anyone with authoritative power.
The In-House Social Media Manager – The in-house SM Manager is the toughest gatekeeper to get past. Why? Because they are incredibly busy with their day to day tasks of social media management: engagement, curating posts, and even dealing with your countless queries (and follow ups, LOL). Most of them don’t even have the time to respond or seek you out because they are already overwhelmed by their workload. Imagine getting 10-20 queries a day from people wanting to work with your brand. You just simply wouldn’t have time to respond to every single query. In some cases when they do they may immediately pass in a polite way or pass you along contact info to another team-member. Keep in mind, Social Media Managers also don’t have the final say if the said brand wants to work with you or not. They have to present you to their team and get their feedback before approval. So there are a lot more checks and balances than you may be aware of.
Now, you know who the gatekeepers are. What do they do if they do find you are or you reach them with success. They put your names and information in a huge database. If they reach out to you vs you reaching out to them the truth is in nearly most cases… no, they really are not really huge fans of your work. No, they didn’t really find your content captivating. They just want to get you on board to whatever campaign they are managing as soon as possible. Usually each campaign is looking for 15-20 content creators. As soon as they get what they need, that’s a wrap. Also, at this point, that’s when they take a closer look at your content.
2. You Don’t Understand Why They Won’t Pay You
The name of the game when it comes to marketing is keep the spend low and deliver on a larger ROI (Return on Investment). What does that REALLY mean? That means the number one goal for brands is to get YOU to create content on their behalf for free. In most cases, of course for them providing you products in exchange for spreading the word. But, because this is such an overcrowded market, some really don’t even have to do that. This is why negotiating can be difficult from both sides. You want as much money as you can get and brands want to spend as less money as possible. So, now you know the truth. Don’t pout about it. Understand how this works so you can adapt your game. You might have received crafty outreach messages or responses to your inquiries about getting paid for content with the good ‘ol “startup with no budget” or “we just ran out of budget”. In some cases that’s true. In other situations, it’s not and there are even guidelines and written instructions on how to respond to you if you ask for pay. So how to you get paid? There is usually a small budget to work with and they spend it on quality content creators (I’ll get into that in a second). Typically, this type of content creator has 100k+ followers, creates sizzling content, and has a proven track record of working with high-level brands. A smart thing to remember, is to know your value and always want to think of cost of time and the value of the brand you’re negotiating with to agree to terms.
3. You’re Not A Quality Content Creator
You read blogs like this, watch countless YouTube videos on how to grow your following, long debates with fellow content creators, and even iron out a tight schedule of content. But you’re just not growing the way you want and not getting the responses you want from brands. Why is that? This is where you take a critical look at the value you are presenting. On the other side of this, this is what brands typically look at: your content, number of followers, and comments. What’s the most important? Comments. Why? Because it proves your work reaches an engaged audience and alleviates concerns of bought likes/followers. Yes, we all know you can buy comments too but, out of the three this is the one we all look at the most to see if you’re the real deal or not. What’s a secret weapon to put you over the top? Your analytics and proof of success. If you create a media kit with those two things it makes a world of difference. It’s the biggest mistake I see content creators make. See brands want to work with you because your content is like a commercial for them. So if Daniel Wellington hires you and sends you a check along with a free watch they hope that your creative posts will bring them more revenue in sales and bring more followers to them. That’s what all of the brands want from working with content creators. So let’s say you don’t REALLY know your impact when you do influencer campaigns. Then you should stop everything you’re doing right now and find out. Yes, it’s okay to reach out to brands you previously worked with and ask if your content helped with sales at all. In fact, they like that quite a bit even if they don’t respond. It shows you genuinely care about the brand and there may be more opportunities for you in the future. Numbers don’t lie and it’s what we’re all looking at so use them to your advantage.