Updated: Sep 2
"I have 20K followers and smaller creators earn way more than me", "I send out pitch e-mails every week but brands barely respond and don't want to work with me." and "How can I find paid collaborations?? I have enough followers but I struggle compared to other creator friends."
The comparison game is brutal in this industry. Having a lot of followers doesn't mean a lot anymore in 2022 and brands seem very limited with their budget. Affiliate program link after affiliate program link and it is hard to find long lasting partnerships. This is your guide that will explain to you what brands are looking for in content creators in 2022. Let's start!
"Everyone can buy followers nowadays. This number does not count anymore."
I hate to break it to you but brands got burned so often over the past 2-3 years that they don't trust your follower number anymore. 10K or 100K seem impressive and I know how much work it is to gain so many organic followers but that's not what brands look out for anymore. Instead they always check your...
Average Engagement Rate
What percentage of your fans like, comment on, or share your posts? Are the comments high quality, and do they contribute to the discussion? These quality encounters are worth so much more than a vast number of silent followers. Brands want to make sure they work with an active community that will click on the links they provide and who purchase their products at the end of the day. Here is an easy (and free) engagement rate calculator. I use it all the time to check on my clients.
How you present yourself on Instagram says everything about your brand — and your likelihood of recruiting brands to sponsor you. Social media managers want to see that you have built a brand for yourself with consistent image types, colours, copy, and hashtag use. This shows that you have carefully thought of how you present yourself online and that they are going to work with a professional who will meet deadlines and can understand and implement their guidelines.
This clear branding also gives brands an idea for what the paid post will look like if they decide to hire you as an influencer. They can see how their products will be presented and make sure that it matches their own promotional goals.
Consistency, Professionalism and Reliability
Influencers that stop posting for a month is an absolute no-go for brands. The algorithm in 2022 is about quantity > quality and brands are looking for creators who follow weekly trendy and are fast in their reaction.
They are also looking for partnerships that could last for the long-term. Brand managers want to find content creators who are easy to work with and understand the needs of the company. If you are serious about working with brands as an influencer, then you need to put your best foot forward. Be professional in your communication, fulfill your side of the agreement (check the guideline before you post, submit content beforhand etc.), and quickly respond to brands when they need you. This level of professionalism will go a long way even if you only have 2K followers. Trust me I just landed a $1,650 campaign with 4K followers just because I follow these tips and am as professional as possible.
P.S. Don't think your high follower number and cool content is all you need to get paid collaborations. It’s not uncommon for brands to find an influencer in the right niche with an ideal audience size and demographic type but refuse to work with them because of a lack of professionalism. Don’t lose business because of something entirely in your control.
You can fake a lot nowadays but not your demographics. Many brands even ask for screen recordings so you can't photoshop your numbers.
Companies looking for influencers in a certain niche want to make sure that the followers you connect with match the audiences they want to reach. For example, an interior-focused furniture brand will likely find influencers who are new home owners or who run interior design blogs. It doesn’t make sense for that furniture company to reach out to teen bloggers or food and fashion accounts who have no need for their products.
As an influencer, you don’t want to try to make everything happen for the money, meaning you don’t want to work with brands that aren’t a good fit for your audience and don't match your feed. The best relationships are the ones where you already use the products (or similar products) on a daily basis and can vouch for their quality.
Past Influencer Campaigns & Partnerships
If brands are already interested in collaborating with you, then you are likely to attract additional companies who also want to bring you on as an influencer.
Brands often look at the types of products that influencers promote to see what kind of niche they are in. For example, a beauty-focused influencer that promotes skincare products will likely know when a concealer is too oily or genuinely helps cover acne scars. This influencer is more likely to attract makeup brands because they recognize her expertise and value to other companies.
As you develop your influencer experience, build up a portfolio of brands that you have worked with, along with a media kit. Share your previous partners in the kit and in your pitch e-mail. Trust me, this is gold!
I hope this article opens your eyes a bit more and makes you understand the process behind the scenes better. Try not to compare yourself with other creators. You can have the exact same aesthetic, follower count and still get completely different collaboration deals. A lot of factors influence how brands reach out to you and if they want to work with you at the end of the day.
Put in the work and be flexible and you will get paid as much as them!
There are a few more things brands look for in influencers. Like this article if you want a part II.