If you want to become an influencer and start collaborating with companies, keep reading! I share my journey as an influencer so far and all that I've learned. Hopefully this can help you get started :)
If you've been following me on Instagram for awhile, you'll know that I haven't been doing this for a long time. In fact, my first collaboration wasn't even until around April of this year, so I've only been doing this for around 9 months. I'm still very new to this influencer world and I've been learning as I go. This time last year I had a little over 1k followers and was just starting to blog. These pictures below are from some of my very first legit collabs.
I sat back and watched as some friends of mine got into all of this, but had no idea where to begin. I'm thankful for the people that have shared their tips on how to get started, but there's honestly not a lot of people that actually share about it. I think a lot of people want to keep their success to themselves (which is totally fine!), but it's so helpful to moms like me that want to get started but literally have no idea what to do.
You might not even know what I'm talking about when I say influencer or collaborating and that's just fine! It wasn't long ago that I had no idea about it either. When you hear influencer, think blogger. Instagram is HUGE right now for bloggers and a lot of people call themselves influencers or content creators.
I'm going to be completely honest with you guys about my experience so far. I'm sure this is all very different for each person that does this and the way I do things might not work for everyone or there might be better ways to do what I do. So please know that as I'm sharing my experiences and how I've done things, I'm not perfect. I'm constantly trying to learn how to do things better and find resources.
A lot of the collaborations that I do are from companies reaching out to me. They'll either reach out to me through a DM on Instagram (check your filtered messages!) or they'll email me (check your spam folder! I've had tons of collab emails go in there). If your account isn't set up as a business account, I strongly suggest starting there. There are TONS of useful tools once you switch to a business profile on Instagram. It also helps companies when you have the option to email you on your profile, which is one of the features of having a business profile. That's how a ton of companies have been able to contact me and it's helped a ton. Here are some of the tools you get when your profile is set to a business profile. :)
At first when I started all of this, I wanted to say yes to every opportunity that came my way. But now I check out the company to see if the product(s) they want to collab on are actually something I'd be interested in and would honestly recommend to you guys. I don't want to advertise something that I don't even like just because it's free. That's just my personal preference and a rule that I'm glad I made for myself :)
Also, don't think that you need to have a ridiculously large amount of followers to collaborate with companies. I know it can be intimidating when there are accounts with 20,000+ followers that get these amazing collab opportunities and they have amazing engagement on their pages, but not every company is looking for accounts with thousands and thousands of followers. So take some comfort in knowing that you can collab with companies with any number of followers.
I won't lie though, it can definitely help if you have a large following. That's just the reality of the Instagram world. A lot of it is about numbers. And to be honest, I have gotten jealous of the amazing companies some of my friends have gotten to work with since they have a large following. I try to stay in the mindset of being thankful for any opportunities that come my way when I start feeling the jealousy come on. I encourage you to try and stay in that mindset as well and not compare yourself or your content to others. You are unique in your own way. Remember that companies will want to work with you because of YOU.
There are also great tools out there to connect you to companies to collab with. You should sign up for Heartbeat, that's the company I use the most. It's super easy! It's just an app you download and when there are new campaigns, you apply for them and you'll be notified if you are accepted into that campaign. Most of them look like a company sending you a product in exchange for a post (all instructions for that post will be sent to you) or it may be a paid campaign. The nice thing about using Heartbeat is you can apply for the collabs you'd be interested in and you're not forced to do anything you don't want to. Keep in mind if you are going to use a company like Heartbeat though, there are rules you have to follow.
You usually have a timeline for the when the posts are due and like I said, you'll be sent instructions for the post. That usually includes things they want mentioned in the caption like certain hashtags or tagging the company. It's nice because you have a lot of freedom with these campaigns. Most companies want you to stay true to your style, how you post and interact with your followers. There are also campaigns where they require you to post an image they'll send you, but I don't like signing up for those ones because then it wouldn't go with my feed, but that's just a personal choice.
There are other apps like Heartbeat out there, but I've honestly just stuck with this one since it's so user friendly. I've had a lot of great opportunities with them. So check them out because it's a great way to get your foot in the door with collaborations. But, the other most popular one I know of is Influenster. I'm sure there are more out there that I don't know about, but I have been happy with the amount that Heartbeat brings in so I haven't branched out yet.
On top of the companies that reach out to me and using Heartbeat, I also reach out to companies every now and then. But I told you guys I was going to be honest about my experience with all of this and most of the time, I get an email that says they aren't looking for any more collaborations at the time or that they'll send my info to their marketing team and let me know if they're ever interested in the future. So I typically get a 'no' when I reach out to companies, but that's okay. I don't let that get me down because some of the bigger collabs that I have gotten were from me being willing to reach out to the company and luckily they said yes!
When wanting to reach out to the company you want to collab with, you can usually DM them on their Instagram page and they'll send you the info for the person you need to contact or you can head to their website and look online for collab info. Since collabs are so popular nowadays, most companies have either an application on their website for you to fill out or they provide an email for you to reach out to.
That is really all I have been doing so far to reach out to companies. Just the other day I woke up to quite a few emails about some collab opportunities but then there are times where I don't hear from any companies for a bit. It definitely comes in waves and I could probably push harder for more, but I'm comfortable where I'm at right now. :)
And all of this might seem super fun and easy, but it is time consuming and can be challenging. There are deadlines that are sometimes demanding. Thankfully a lot of companies are pretty lenient about posting timelines, but there have been some companies I've worked with that want you to post ASAP about a product and that can interfere with your current collabs or it might not really give you the proper time to test out the product so you can provide an honest review which I don't like. So don't be afraid to speak up if you're not comfortable about the timeline and remember that you can always say no. Be realistic with yourself about the workload you can take on. Don't put too much on your plate.
And like I said before, it really is time consuming and takes a lot of work. It's more challenging when kids are involved because you want to provide good photos for the company, but we all know kids don't always want to cooperate. I try to take our pictures when the boys are in good moods and have full bellies and a lot of times I bribe them too. Next time you see some pictures of the kids for a collab, just picture me saying "If you take a picture, we can go watch Thomas! What about candy? Smile and I'll get you a candy when we're done." Hahaha. Sometimes that's just what you gotta do. So try to be smart about when you are taking photos with your kids and don't wait until the last minute like I often do ;)
I will also say that it helps if you have more than just an Instagram. A lot of companies like if you have an active blog, Pinterest, Facebook page, etc. The more you have the better! You don't need to have all of those, but it could definitely help you get more collabs, so definitely something to keep in mind.
This can definitely lead to an extra income but that can take awhile. I'm not at the point where I'm making money left and right from this. More often, I receive products in exchange for posting. I have had paid collabs and I could probably get more if I went at all of this a little harder, but like I said before I'm at a comfortable place right now. So I guess just keep in mind, you get out of all of this what you put into it. Someday it would be awesome if I'm making a nice income on the side for our family by doing this and I think that will be a goal of mine for the future.
You can also really pursue the blogging side of things and use affiliate links to make money. I've thought about doing more of that, but I just haven't put a lot of effort into blogging lately. It's nice knowing that's something I could do down the road though. Lots of options and opportunities with all of this!
Once you do start collaborating, I think it's nice to go above and beyond what the companies ask for. Most of the time the companies I work with only ask for Instagram posts, but I often like to share on Facebook as well and recommend their page/product if it was something I was impressed with. I like to send extra photos over and the sooner you post about the collab, the happier they'll be.
This might all seem super overwhelming, but it really is a lot of fun. I've had a lot of wonderful opportunities since I began doing this and what's funny is a year ago I don't think I would be where I am. I had no idea how to even start or what to do. Lately I've been trying to research more to learn how to improve what I'm doing, especially since the online world is constantly changing. So go into this with an open mind and find what works for you.
But I also can't stress enough to stay true to yourself. Post what you want. Don't be a copycat. Be creative. Be YOU. Don't let this all take away from what you like posting and sharing with your followers. It's easy for people to have a pretty feed, but I think what helps people stand out is when they are genuine and stay true to themselves online. That's how we connect with each other best and make genuine relationships and connections.
I also want to mention a couple mommas that have been kind enough to share with the world about their tips and things they've learned along the way with collaborating and being a social media mom, as my friend Stephanie puts it. I've learned so much from both of them and promise that you'll enjoy following them as much as I do.
Stephanie over at Honestly Mommy is so hilarious and creative. She puts so much thought and effort into her collaborations and she is definitely one of my biggest inspirations. I can't remember how I found her page, but I'm so glad I did. She is true to her name - she's honest all the time about motherhood, about marriage, and of course about being a social media mom. Check out her Instagram and give her a follow and also check out her blog. She has soo many useful posts that have helped me and I'm sure will help you too.
Also, one of her pieces of advice that she shares with moms who want to collab with companies that I absolutely love and agree with: Take "DM to collab" out of your bio! She brings up a wonderful point that if a company wants to work with you, they'll reach out. Instead, use that space to talk about what makes you unique and stand out to a brand. Everyone can put "DM to collab" in their bio, but that's not going to make you stick out. She talks more about this on her Instagram, you can find it if you go to her highlights and click the one that says 'IG Mom.'
Then there's my friend Bethany with Waves and Lilacs. She also blogs and shares soo many helpful things on her blog and Instagram. Go give her a follow and check out some of her super useful blog posts like this one where she talks about how to work with companies and another one of my favorites where she talks about ditching engagement pods. She's so down to earth, creative and I love what she brings to the Instagram community. You'll love following her. Especially since she shares so many amazing tips. :)
Those two are some of my favorite women to follow and learn from. They didn't ask me to include them in this post or share about them, I just genuinely appreciate them and all they have to offer.
I hope this was helpful for you all and I appreciate you taking the time to read through this if you made it this far.
Don't be afraid to DM me or comment with any thoughts or questions you might have. And I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on collabs and what you've learned along the way since I'm always wanting to learn more! #communityovercompetition
Thanks so much for checking out this post!