Moving from gifted collaborations to paid deals as a content creator and influencer can be hard. As both an influencer AND business owner I have experience on both sides of the coin and want to share with you the EXACT audit you can do of your influencer business to reach your paid collab goals!
Prefer to read? Here’s the blog version…
A Digital Nomad Wedding!
Oh my God guys, I am getting married next month. It’s insane how quickly things can change in such a short amount of time in just a matter of months. I was reflecting back to the beginning of this year before Ragz had proposed, before I knew where exactly in the world I was going to be before I knew that we were going to plan a wedding this year and a honeymoon.
Here we are in August. I am going to be married in September, and within like three months time, I will have gone from a girlfriend to a fiance to a wife, which is crazy to think about, but I think it’s such an important reminder to never be so zoned into your present reality thinking that it’s going to last forever, right? If, you don’t know something. If, you are in a phase of uncertainty. If you’re not at your destination yet, know that it is all coming your way and you never know how your life can and will change in the next few months. So yes, I am wedding planning.
We’re having the wedding in England, and we’re going to drive down to Spain for a few weeks afterwards. Then go back to New York for the holidays. And I am currently planning our honeymoon for November, December, and I think we’ve decided we’re going to be traveling to the South Pacific. It’s one area of the world. I’ve always wanted to explore more on vacation and obviously like a honeymoon style, not necessarily stay for an extended period of time. I really want to just relax on the beach, spend time with my future husband, disconnect from social media, disconnect from everything, and really soak in the beauty of the next chapter of my life.
I am thinking Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Originally we were thinking French Polynesia, but there’s just so many different islands, and I was like, how do we choose just one to go to? So I kind of wanna go to one that’s less explored, and as I’m going through this process, again, it’s just incredibly humbling. A, to realize how small we are in this world and how much there is to explore in this world, but also how blessed I am to be able to design this year exactly how I want to, to be able to just fly from New York to the South Pacific for a honeymoon, to drive to Spain next month and really reap in all the fruits of my labor of building this freedom, freedom-based business.
And if you are listening to this episode. I am assuming you either have a freedom-based business or you want to build one, and this is a reality of what you get to enjoy with your time, your flexibility, the choice in where to go, when to go, how long to go for. I would not have it any other way. And just know that if I am able to achieve this from finance, from a very traditional mindset and lifestyle, if I’m able to do it, you are too.
How To Get Paid As An Influencer Or Content Creator
In today’s episode, we’re going to be covering How to Land Paid Brand Deals as an Influencer, creating content and promoting different travel brands, different hotels, resorts. Working with tourism boards was my bread and butter before the pandemic hit. So I did that for years. I was able to secure many large brand deals, and I really think it came from a background of entrepreneurship, finance, working with different businesses around the world and really understanding what makes a good Influencer and what makes a brand want to work with them, versus one where like the brands don’t even respond. And I felt the need to record this episode because a lot of people dm me asking me where they’re going wrong. They’re sending out so many pitches and they’re just not hearing back, or no one is interested and they simply don’t know what to do next.
So in this episode, I want to give you clarity in what you should be auditing in your business to make sure that this is a sustainable business model for you, right? If you want to have and commit to a full-time career in content creation. Then these are very valid things that you really have to think about.
The Travel Influencer Handbook
If you are interested in learning how to build your Influencer business from scratch, this is the Travel Influencer Handbook. It gives background on where I came from, how I got to where I am today, and the steps that you can take to build your travel Influencer business as well. It is in the form of an Ebook, so you can Download and start reading right away.
3 Areas To Audit In Your Influencer Business
The three main areas I want you to start thinking about in your Influencer business, the first is your services. So what services are you currently delivering for your clients? Sometimes when I ask people this, they honestly don’t know, they’ll tell me like, I can post on my Instagram page, and I’m like, yeah, but anyone can post on their Instagram page, right? Like, my mom travels a lot and my mom can post on her Instagram page, but that’s not building an Influencer business. And If, you are also stuck. Like what services can I offer? I want you to put yourself into the shoes of a company that you want to work with.
And I recommend starting with small businesses because once you can help a small business with limited resources, limited budget If, you can test out your services and prove yourself valuable to them, then you can definitely work with the bigger companies with bigger budgets and the ones that are harder to get. But once you build up your portfolio helping small businesses, it’s going to be easier to scale up. So put yourself in the shoes of let’s say a small jewelry company. And as you may know, I am the co-founder of ANDA an Ocean inspired jewelry brand. So let me just take you behind the scenes of what we are currently working on and what kind of influencers we work with.
So as a small jewelry business, my business partner, Annie handcrafts, every single piece we sell, so we buy all of the supplies, the materials, and she literally sits at the desk and makes every single jewelry piece and it takes her, you know, from 15 minutes to half an hour to make each piece. So obviously there is raw materials, there’s labor, there’s all that time that it takes her to make one. And ideally we want to sell that right via our markets, via our social media channels online, and we want to make a positive return on investment. So we really do our due diligence in finding influencers to work with because if we are sending them a few of our pieces and not making sales on them, if we’re sending free pieces and we’re paying the Influencer to create content, then we’re expecting at least a positive return on investment, right?
We’re not expecting them to just post on their page and that’s it. That like end of collaboration. It’s we hope that by them posting on their page, they’re gonna drive traffic and sales to us. And depending on what the contract says, we either want professional photography that we can use on our social media and website or any other type of marketing campaign so that we increase sales. What we don’t want, and we’ve worked with these influencers before, is just like at first we sent them pieces and a, the influencers just wouldn’t deliver. We would get nothing from it. Or they would just send us like a few iPhone photos, like iPhone selfies, and we’re like, okay, cool.
Like that’s nice, but we’re probably never gonna work with you again and we won’t consider you for our future campaigns. So do you see how If you put yourself in the perspective of a business and a business owner? You can kind of see how do I become an Influencer that delivers value and every brand wants to work with me and pay me because I can either drive traffic to them or I can deliver outstanding content. I can create user generated reels for them. Like how can I be of value? And so going back to the original question, if I asked you, what services do you offer as an Influencer, don’t just tell me I can post on my Instagram instead.
The selling point actually is I have X amount of followers on my Instagram who follow me, who support me, who trust me, and they will most likely buy the services that I recommend. It’s not about just writing a blog post and promoting a product or service. It’s about having an audience of devoted readers that really take into account what you are saying and it helps the business and brand. And If, you don’t have that. Let’s say you’re starting from scratch, you don’t need a giant audience, you can still be a value. So your services might look like modeling for campaigns. We have photo shoots for anda, and we constantly need models and the models aren’t all signed.
They are just willing, they align with our values and they are free and they are really enthusiastic. So we hire them for shoots. You can also become a social media manager for the brands. Let’s say they don’t have time to post or be active on Instagram. You can sell your services as social media management and offer value there as a content creator. You can also of course sell your photography, your videography services so that they can use the content for their website, social media, marketing channels, advertisements, but really think about the business and think about how you can shape your offers to be of value.
If, you are putting yourself in the shoes of your client. It’s going to be so much easier for you to land these brand deals than just sending generic emails that don’t get read and don’t get responses.
Credibility & Professionalism
The second area to think about in your Influencer business is your credibility and your professionalism. So again, let’s go back to the on example. Let’s say you own a small jewelry business and an Influencer sends you a DMM in your inbox. Let’s say they are one of 10 who send you messages and you go onto their page. The first thing that usually sticks out is their credibility and their professionalism. Are they an established Influencer? Does the page look like a business page or does it just look like a personal page with a random array of travel photos that are all edited differently?
Do they have a website? (Learn website tips here!) Do they have a portfolio again, like is it my mom posting on Instagram or is it a professional content creator slash Influencer on Instagram? So If you kind of self-audit where you stand on that spectrum, then you can start seeing how other brands perceive you and then shaping your own social media to be more credible and more professional. So do you have features from big publications? Do you have other testimonials of clients vouching for your work? Right? And when we do get pitches from influencers who are asking for either free pieces or for a paid collaboration, we ask ourselves, do they align with our values?
Our values are clearly stated, we are ocean inspired. It’s very beachy, it’s tropical, it’s empowering, it’s elegant. Does this Influencer align with our values? I have another friend, she is the founder of a leather bag company. And so she works with a lot of cowgirls, it’s very on brand for her. So for us it’s like, are you on brand? And as a travel Influencer, when I am pitching to hotels, to tourism boards, I wanna make sure they are aligned. Like I wanna make sure that my followers will want to go there. I’m not gonna promote something that is completely out of line. I’m probably gonna have more success with surf related, tropics related destinations, right?
So know your market and know your own brand very well. For anda, we also ask ourselves, what services do we need at this moment? Maybe they want to create content for us, but we just did a bunch of shoots, so we don’t need content, but maybe we need more models. So whether their services are aligned with what we are currently needing. And so If, you’re an Influencer asking the brand, are there any services that you need? I’d be more than happy to consider whatever it is so that I can help you. Approaching it from that angle could also work. Then we ask ourselves, what is our current budget? If they are requesting something that’s way over budget and we simply don’t have the money for it, we’re probably not going to work with them.
And then the last area we consider, and for you to self-audit is the quality of your work. Do you use professional equipment? Do you have very consistent delivery times? What is it like working with you? Are you just gonna take our product and run and not deliver? Right? What is it that we are expecting and do we expect that you can deliver? Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with the number of followers. If we are looking for content, we want quality. So ask yourself, if I was a brand or a hotel or a business owner, would I want to hire myself? Like would I want to work with me?
Do I operate at a standard where it’s professional? The quality of work is something that people say hell yes to, because if it’s not, then I would start there. I would start with taking courses, practicing increasing your skill level to that of a reputable content creator so that the chances of these businesses saying yes to you are a lot higher. Okay? So after auditing your business in these three areas and you’re like, yes, I overdeliver in my value and my services, I have the credibility, I have the professionalism, my quality of work is insanely high, and I know that I can provide value. I am putting myself in the shoes of my client and seeing what they need and curating my pitches to fit them.
What To Do If You’re Still Not Hearing Back From Brands?
Build Relationships With Brands And Agencies
So if this is you and you’re not getting any paid brand deals, most likely you are not sending out enough pitches. If, you are just starting and people don’t know about you. If these media agencies don’t know about you, it’s gonna take a lot of pitches for you to find your first yes. And the good news is after you hear back from a few, you can offer free value or discounted value so that they establish trust with you and will want to work with you again. The biggest mistake I see nowadays is almost like ego-based, entitled, influencing and content creating where they don’t have the reputable and the proven return on investment, but they are expecting a thousand dollars in payment.
So the value to the price ratio is a little off. And that’s why I encourage you to really build the relationships with the brands. A lot of influencers we work with for anda, we first saw how credible and how amazing they are to work with, and we continue our work with them. Campaign after campaign, we didn’t just say yes to the first person that popped into our inbox, they were more than giving in the beginning, like for a few photographers, they offered to do a free shoot with our jewelry and then now they’re like our designated photographers, right? So same thing with influencers. If, you can overdeliver. People are going to want to work with you again and you’re gonna be top of mind when the paid campaigns come out.
This happened to us in Portugal last year. We reached out to a few local boutique hotels and we got in touch with a media agency and we were like, we would love to shoot your hotel in exchange for free content. Just a few nights stay. And then afterwards, we had such a great relationship with them, they sent us to literally every other hotel in their portfolio. And it all started because I was willing to overdeliver for free. I wasn’t like, you have to pay us a thousand dollars a day because obviously if they don’t know us, they don’t have the relationship, it’s gonna be hard for them to just come up with that budget spur of the moment, right? So again, like think about the brand and the hotel that you are working with because they are their own entity. It’s not just someone there who you’re trying to get paid from. Let’s put it that way.
Play The Numbers Game
Okay, so going back to the numbers game, If, you’re just starting. You want to have as many people on your list of brands, potential brands, and be on as many people’s radars as possible. When I first started pitching, I sent out 10 to 50 emails per day. I knew that my first collaboration, it had to eventually come to me if I was that persistent, even if it was the most random brand, like I knew that it was just a numbers game.
What’s really handy is nowadays there are Platforms and agencies that you can just sign up to as an Influencer and they will email you with other brands that are on their platform who are looking for influencers. So literally, I’ve signed up to every single one of them, and every day I get brands looking for influencers delivered to my inbox without me having to pitch. So some that I use are Aspire IQ. I’ve listed all of these in my hundred plus Platforms That Pay Content Creators. You can purchase that when you purchase a Travel Influencer Handbook, which also by the way, includes my personal media kit and rate card template that I send to brands and hotels that work.
So if you don’t have a media Kit and rate card. Again, that’s professionalism. You want to be presented as a business that is put together, not just a personal page.
Start Small & Local
And then my second piece of advice, if you’re not hearing back, is to start small and start locally. A lot of the big airlines, the big hotel chains, they have a full team managing established influencers. So if you’re just trying to get started, it’s a a lot easier to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond. So start locally, you have a competitive advantage there because not everyone’s going to be looking in smaller areas or lesser known destinations that you may be traveling to.
And there you have it, honestly, If you can craft your pitch, your services, your brand, and optimize it. It just takes one conversation to change the momentum because the first few are always the hardest. And I guarantee you, once your foot is in the door, it’s just going to start snowballing because you’re gonna understand how it all works and how you can monetize.
The Importance Of A Diversified Income Stream
And then the last note that I wanna leave on, just to offer full disclosure and transparency. I’ve been in the Influencer world for many, many years now, and I will say very few of my Influencer friends and people’s businesses who I’ve worked with or studied, very few of them only offer one service in terms of content creation or press trips.
Many of them have diversified their income streams to either start their own line or merch or have coaching or consulting like they offer varied services instead of only focusing on brand deals. And this is because If, you are in any of my programs or in the Business Academy brand deals and collaborations are location and time dependent. You physically have to go create the content, you have to go there. And it’s not entirely freedom-based. It’s so amazing to be able to work with like luxury hotels and tourism boards, but If, you are relying on that as income. It does become more quote unquote work, if that makes sense.
So ask yourself as well, is this going to be your only service that you are going to offer? And is it going to be sustainable? Are you fully committed to becoming a content creator and everything that it entails, right?
So let me know what you are currently struggling with, where you currently are on your Influencer journey, how I can help. The handbook is linked here. I look forward to connecting with you and seeing all of the amazing collaborations and jobs you get to work on around the world. Have an amazing week, guys, and I will see you in the next episode
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