The Influencer: How I Started & Tips For Others
The last time I wrote about what it is I do for a living I explained what a social media influencer is. If you haven't read that post you can check it out here! I wanted to share a little bit about how and why I began my journey that led me to this career, how long I have worked at it, and what social media channels I utilize.
I want to start by saying that I believe in community over competition. There are enough brands and funds for everyone in this Social Media Influencer world so I try to be open about my journey, my connections, and what someone can do to help begin or amplify their own presence!
Let's take things back four years. I had my Facebook and Instagram (of course, like the rest of the world!) and loaded it up with cell phone photos of Emily who was about six months old then. Life was all about her and that's all I ever posted on any platform, duh! I had just purchased my first DSLR camera in the Fall of 2014 and set up a little blanket outside our house, forced my husband to change into matching clothes, and attempted to take a couple family photos. Of course Emily was dressed super cute and I ended up posting a photo of her wearing a headband from a shop I found online. Well here is the beginning... That shop reposted my photo on their Instagram and tagged me. I didn't know what was going on and didn't even notice they reposted my photo until a couple weeks later and the photo had one 1000 likes on it. I was in shock! I totally felt famous for two seconds and kept going back to that reposted photo! Haha! Afterwards I started looking at that shop's page and I began to find lots of accounts for "brand reps". If you don't know what that is, read this. After months of practicing with my new camera, lots of photos tagging brands on my own Instagram page, and LOTS of money spent on small shop/handmade clothing for Emily we had pretty much "made it" in the brand-repping world. Emily had an unimaginable closet full of gorgeous goodies, I had a huge hard drive full of photos of Emily looking adorable (usually next to a white background), and I felt pretty darn good about it! After a year or so of basically having a second full time job doing the brand rep thing, I was starting to get burnt out and took a step back. We became pregnant with Brody and once he was here I slowly started to incorporate more lifestyle type images into our account. I had a good following already from other brand reps and that's what kept my account going but I wanted and needed more followers that were in the niche I was going for.
Brody was a colicky baby for three and a half months and once he was better I began blogging as an outlet for me. I loved being able to remember little things about our family and have a place to share more than one photo of our family without feeling obnoxious! As my photography got better I began to hear about the word collaboration. That was new to me and it took me some trial and error to learn what it really meant. For me that meant a trade would be happening. I'd be getting free product in exchange for photos and promotion on my social channels and/or blog. I loved doing this at first, who wouldn't!? Slowly but surely my accounts started to grow in the niche I was wanting and I was so happy to see my work paying off. Or so I thought.
Enter: Influencer Networks. Now on my blog I don't post ads and I don't use affiliate networks. Affiliate networks are basically where you link products and if someone clicks your link and purchases that item, you'll get a small payout. Honestly I don't feel like I have the time to be linking things item by item that I talk about so that's just not for me. Influencer networks are platforms that a person, the influencer, will sign up for that will bring you and the brands looking to promote their products together. as an influencer you apply for jobs, or campaigns, and if selected you have certain requirements you have to follow for your blog/social media posts. The best part about influencer networks?... You get paid! Before applying you know what the job or campaign will be paying so if you're not into that rate, you don't apply. It took me a little bit to start being accepted for campaigns and I'm so thankful that now I'm able to stay home, work from home full time on my blog and social medias, raise my babies, and make more monthly than I was making while working full-time outside our home.
Ok, so as far as tips go that I can give:
- Find a theme for your blog, choose your colors, and be consistent across all your social medias. If you love bright colors, show it. If you love a more neutral color scheme,e, stick to that. It doesn't mean you can never vary with your content but brands want to know what to expect to an extent and they should clearly be able to see that from your channels.
- Don't promote products or brands you wouldn't normally already be posting about. If the product or brand doesn't fit your style or life, just say no. It's hard in the beginning because you want to take on every opportunity that comes your way. Your audience will be more faithful to you though, if you stay true to you, that IS why they're following you in the first place.
- Once you're able, invest in your equipment. I can't stress this enough. Practice like crazy with your photography or video, whatever you're interested in doing. Practice your writing to be able to showcase your unique voice. I started with a base model Nikon and have since upgraded three times to get where I am. You're not going to be perfect in the beginning and that't ok!
- Invest in quality editing software. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing unedited photos being posted for brands. I totally understand that it's not me feed and it shouldn't matter but even the best photographer with the best eye needs a little editing! Even if it's to straighten a horizon line, or bring down the shadows or something small. Don't over edit either...another no-no. From my experience at least, brands want their products to be represented realistically, so keep the real colors on the items.
If you liked this post stay tuned for the next edition of The Influencer, as I'll be chatting about ways that worked for me to help build your audience!