Hello GreyGirlGram BABES! I have a super exciting blog post for you this week!
This is definitely going to be for anyone who’s just starting out on their journey and wants to become a content creator. I’m going to be writing this for baby Han when she was just starting out. I hope some of these tips can help you as you go through your own journey!
Let’s do this!
Okay, so you’ve started your Instagram account and you’re eager to start working with brands! Where should you start?
Find Your ‘Why.’
You might hear this advice a lot, and not know where to start here. Your answer does not have to be perfect, and it’s going to change a lot! When I started, I wanted a creative outlet. I wanted to inspire people. I wanted friendship and community. Yes, I wanted to work with brands, but that wasn’t my ‘why.’ Your why has to be deeper than making money or getting free shit. Trust me.
Instagram is ALL about community. It’s pretty wild that you can form such strong relationships with people over the internet, but you definitely can (and should!). Some of the strongest influencers I know got their start by randomly DM’ing people, rooting for others, and putting someone other than themselves first.
Let’s use our dear friend Autum Rainn as an example. I started following her when she had around 5,000 followers. She rarely boosted herself up. Instead, she focused on forming relationships, sharing other accounts in her story, and rooting for her community! She spent time having actual conversations with people. And those relationships helped to get her where she is today, 90k followers. Not to say her content isn’t amazing, but her relationship building skills are incredible and definitely boosted her account!
Avoid ‘Engagement Pods’ At All Costs!
If you’re new to Instagram, you may or may not have seen these pods floating around. Maybe someone has invited you to a group that will ‘boost your engagement.’ RUN.
Engagement pods work like this – they usually operate in a third party app that you don’t connect to Instagram (this is because if Instagram caught a wiff that you were using a third party app to engage, your account would be shut down). Every time someone posts, you have to like and comment on their post with at least 4 words or more. If you don’t, they will kick you out of the group.
So what’s the problem with this?
This is fake engagement. If you want to work with brands, this is basically fraud. Although it may help at the time you’re in a pod, nobody in here really cares about you. They are not going to buy anything you’re advertising. This is all FAKE.
Get out of the pods and focus on authentically growing your community. Trust me, it’s going to feel soooo much more rewarding and you’ll thank yourself later!
Up Your Content Game!
Look, your content might suck right now. And that’s ok! My photos were terrible when I first started. I didn’t know what I was doing, or how to edit. I look back now and giggle at baby Han. As time goes by, we learn more and more. Curating exceptional content is hard work, and it takes time and practice.
Sharing some of my early photos below that I thought were iCoNiC at the time. SIGH.
VERSUS my photos now:
I recommend shooting on a full-frame DSLR camera. This will give you the highest quality and the most control over your photos. I shot for years on my DSLR without understanding the camera at all, but it still gave me superior photos.
If you can’t afford one of these cameras, that’s ok! Start small. Phones these days can give you incredible photos. Play around with portrait mode, studio lighting, and wide angle! Practice makes perfect. I won’t spend too much time here, because I have a bunch of other posts about how to take quality photos. Check those out for more!
Editing is everything! Here’s a list of apps you need right now:
- Lightroom Mobile
- PicsArt (this is how content creators add fun doodles and stickers to their photos!)
- AColorStory if you are not yet good at Lightroom and want easy Presets
- Tezza App
- InShot for video
- Retouch for clone stamp and removing unwanted objects
Community Over Competition
We already touched on this, but community is so so so important. Before you even consider working with brands, you need to build up your community. Work up to your first 1000 followers, engage with every new account that comes your way, comment on their first 3 photos on their feed, share their posts in your story, DM them, just make friends! Community is absolutely everything on Instagram. You will NOT succeed without a strong community.
Not sure how to make friends on Instagram? DM someone and tell them you love their content. Comment genuinely on their photos. Respond to their stories. I swear, this is foolproof. Just be a kind human and you’ll fall into a solid community.
Brand Time Baby!
When you think you’re ready to start reaching out to brands, here’s what you should do!
First off, I don’t recommend reaching out prior to hitting 1000 followers. Once you do, I would suggest either reaching out cold to brands or trying out a platform that connects you to brands. I personally found most success on Heartbeat. It can take a little while to find campaigns on there, so be patient. But this is how I got my first paid gig under 2000 followers ($10 baby!).
You can also reach out cold to brands. I keep a list of brands I like in my phone, and whenever I want to do a reachout, I take a look at the brands I have saved. You can either do some research to try and find an email (I recommend) or reach out via DM asking them for an email you can reach out to.
Keep the reach-out simple and short. These brands don’t care about you, and they’re very busy. ALWAYS show value to them and let them know that you want to help them out by showcasing their product. Play into your skills as well! If you take amazing product photos but don’t have a big audience, then maybe offer to create content for them to use. You can get paid a lot for this!
Check out some of the work I did for a new launch over at EOS! They paid me to create content, but I had no posting requirements:
I thought I’d leave a couple of my basic templates for you to try out! Remember to tweak these to give them your own voice.
I hope you’re having a lovely day. I’m reaching out to you regarding a brand collaboration! Do you have a social media marketing address I can reach out to? Thank you!
Hi (Name of Social Media Rep)!
I hope you’re having a great Monday. I’m reaching out to you regarding a collaboration!
Your (PRODUCT) is so classic and unique, and my following on (IG HANDLE AND LINK IT!!) turns to me for tips on which brands cater to all shapes and sizes.
What are your current marketing needs? Are you free to chat this week?
I look forward to collaborating!
Pro Tips- ALWAYS link your social media in the email. Don’t make them do any extra work! Pay attention to how I’m putting the brand’s needs before my own. By saying “your product is so classic and unique” instead of “I love your product” it makes it more about them. Their needs come first! I also like to include a photo showcasing my skills in whatever field the brand is in. If I’m reaching out to a jewelry company for example, I will include a small photo that I shot for Mejuri, showing off their product.
If you’re nervous to reach out to brands, don’t be! Speaking as an influencer manager at a fashion company, when an influencer EMAILS ME something like this, it’s like winning the lottery. Don’t make the brands find you, go to them!
Another great way to get on a brand’s radar is to tag them in photos and stories! I was tagging Athleta in my stories, and they quickly reached out for a brand collab. It’s easy to do and can definitely reap the benefits.
In the influencer world, time is everything. So don’t beat yourself up if you’re not working with brands by month 3! It takes time, and you really want to build up a solid social media presence before monetizing your IG. You got this!!