Managing nearly 30 influencers through my company, Coastline Creatives, as well as being deeply entrenched in the community, I can confidently say creators are worried. Major events cancelled, travel postponed, and brands re-evaluating their marketing strategies means lost revenue for many influencers. In the wake of this reality, I decided to put together 12 ideas of how we can work on our businesses, while the tectonic plates of the influencer industry continue to shift.
Get back on LinkedIn. Bet you didn’t think that was going to be my first point! Reality is… LinkedIn is killing it on organic reach at the moment, and a lot of the content you blog about, or share on other platforms can (and should) live here, too. There is a big misconception that this platform is only for “business”, but if the large majority of your connections are in the beauty industry, sharing your post featuring your skin care routine will likely get a few clicks. Take advantage of high click-through rates and share any content you think is relevant to your connections. Speaking of connections, send out requests to contacts at agencies and brands that you have worked on in the last year. Send a personalized request letting them know you really enjoyed working with them, and maybe update them on some topics you’re planning on focusing on for the next couple of months. Also, follow those agencies and businesses, so you can stay up to date on when they announce new clients and recent campaigns. Lastly, join relevant groups for industries you talk about or work with often. This could be the “Foodies” group, which boasts 21k+ members, or “Fashion & Lifestyle Industry Professionals Worldwide” which has over 260k+ members. Once you’ve been added to those groups, start sharing your content there as well. (Feel free to add me on LinkedIn, too!)
Get serious about Pinterest. In the last two weeks, I’ve taken it upon myself to be more serious about syndicating my content on Pinterest and curating boards that I think my followers would be interested in. In two weeks, I’ve grown from 25k monthly viewers to over 100k! My Pinterest boards have also all been key word optimized, and I’ve created a cohesive look and feel to my boards. Now is also the time to dive into Canva and start creations 7-10 pins for every blog post you’ve published… ever! Once you’ve created literally hundreds of pins, sign up for TailWind (here is a free month trial!), and start scheduling your pins. If you want to use the platform to its full potential, get other creators to sign up and create a “Tribe”, so you can start cross-promoting each other’s content, and maximizing your efforts. (Send me an email if you want to join the Coastline Creatives Tribe!) My girl, Siffat, of Icing & Glitter, also put together an awesome post on how to grow you Pinterest following. Check it out here.
Revamp your media kit. One of the most important tools to sell yourself to brands and agencies is your media kit. Now is the time to give that puppy a face lift! Here are the top things you should consider adding to make yourself more marketable to brands:
- Testimonials from marketers regarding past brand collaborations. When you reach out, remind them of the impact that you had (with as many metrics as possible), and ask if they would put one to two sentences together on your work together. (Take it one step further: ask them to also endorse you on LinkedIn with the exact same language.)
- Analytics that aren’t just vanity metrics. Yes, it is important to share follower count and average impressions per post, but also include other performance metrics that are meaningful for brands: average number of swipe-ups on posts, sticker taps, and website clicks.
- Recent brands you have collaborated with. Did you just work with your dream brand? Add their logo to your kit. Bonus points if you break the brands out into different categories, so marketers can quickly hone in on relevant work.
- Topics of focus for Q2. I like including life events and topics that I’m focusing on so brands can imagine themselves folding into my editorial calendar.
- Any follower verifications. I include that my Instagram account is Fohr verified on my media kit – it is a good way to reassure brands that your following is authentic.
- Demographics and affinities of my followers. Pinterest is an amazing resource for learning about what your followers and audience cares about. Add some of these anecdotes about your audience to further encourage your prospective collaborators that you have your finger on the pulse of your followers and are constantly keeping them in mind when you post.
Develop a case study. Have you worked on any longer-term collaborations recently? Create a deck that shares the entire collaboration process and showcases the outcomes of your efforts. You can include everything from the campaign mission, mood boards for content creation, the actual content creation process, performance metrics from published content, and anecdotal evidence of impact (comments, DMs, and re-shares). If you haven’t worked on any long-term brand collaborations, did you take a trip recently where you published a series of content? You can build a case study around this, too! Share the posts you did for hotels, restaurants, and local businesses. Feel free to get creative with this document – brands will just be appreciative you’re thinking about your content critically and are putting all of your data in a digestible format.
Start to build an email list. At my agency, we send a monthly update to our agency and brand partners on new additions to our roster, life events, upcoming travel, and links to past partnerships. This is a great snapshot to be able to send to their team that they can easily circulate among their team to see if anyone is working on any relevant campaigns that can plug into these different aspects of our influencers’ content. For your personal channels, considering sending emails that have the same points – you could even include a download link to the case study you created. Another thing that would be awesome to include in here – other influencers who inspire you! This is an awesome way to spread the love, introduce your contacts to new creators, and build a community. If you’re more interested in building an email list for your followers to get updates on your content, that’s cool, too! Solicit emails from pop-ups on your website, using the “Questions” function on Instagram stories, or just asking them to slide into your DMs if they would like to be added.
Share how coronavirus is impacting you. Leverage your niche expertise to talk about the intersection of COVID-19 concerns and you primary content silos. Are you using different beauty products because your hands are drying out from all that hand washing? Maybe you’re using a particular delivery services for restaurants you love. For my travel peeps, talk about booking travel way in the future, or what your favorite airline is doing to promote sales and bookings. Coronavirus is impacting nearly every aspect of our lives at this point, and if you’re the first to write a post on any of these topics… you’re putting yourself in a good position for increased blog traffic and establishing thought leadership in the spaces you care about.
Create awesome editorial content. In that vein, there is still a desire to read about things other than coronavirus. Some of my favorite bloggers are sharing seasonal outfit picks, recipes (food bloggers, get on this!), and their bedtime routine. Have you been putting off writing that city guide, or a recap of your favorite podcasts you’ve been listening to? Everything that you’ve been back-burnering is now fair game. Also, don’t be afraid to link to, talk about, and highlight brands that you would like to work with in the future!!! If there is a brand that I would love to collaborate with, I try to blog about them first. Now is the time to do the heavy hitting and build brand affinity with your audience, establish brand loyalty, and share what you love about certain brands, so you can leverage that for when you pitch them for collaborations in the future.
Get your affiliate links right. Have you been lazy using your affiliate links? I hear you! It’s tedious. While affiliate commissions may be small, it’s better than nothing! E-commerce is up 52% – yes this is largely for supplies and health-focused products, however, people will be shopping online more and more as people are limiting time spent outside of their homes. Prepare your channels and content with affiliate links when you inevitably start getting more traffic to your site from all of the other work you’re doing to drive viewers to your content. I chatted with my gal, Elona, who shared a few of her tips: “Skimlinks, Amazon and Groupon are my go to programs. Skimlinks is essentially a chrome toggle that allows you to generate custom links from sites that pay out (Skimlinks has the most extensive list of programs that I know of). Amazon payout is relatively small but it increases in a tier format so the more items you sell, the higher the collective % return. Groupon has a high rate of return, especially on local deals (I believe it goes up to 15%).” If you have some time, check out her blog! She creates unique travel industry content, and even leverages her background in finance to share her money saving tips.
Get ads on your blog. Elona also brought up another good point – clicks are your best friend. If you have a blog with decent traffic already, it’s time to start capitalizing in other ways besides just the content you create yourself. Her top tip: “Companies like Mediavine and Shemedia (25K min UV requirement) can generate thousands of dollars in ads from clicks.” Not leveraging your viewership in passive formats like ads is leaving money on the table.
Support other influencers and creators!!! Now is the time to lean on your community. Like their shit. Share their posts. Re-pin their content (refer back to my thoughts on Pinterest.) Want to get really fancy? Create a Facebook group or thread where every member can put one reasonable ask on the table. Maybe you ask for people to fill out a short survey on some content ideas you have. Or, you can ask them to share on of your recent static posts to their stories. Another option: ask folks to share a fun IG story template you created. The options are endless! And for the love of god, get creative with your asks – simply asking people to like your content is so 2017.
Get that passive income stream going. On my walk to work today, I listened to the latest Goal digger Podcast – “344: Stop Trading Time for Money Today”. Jenna Kutcher spits some serious truth in this episode, and the timing could not have been better. Doing the up front work to create “passive” income streams is crucial for scaling your business. You only have so many hours to give in the day, so start brainstorming what sorts of “skills, talents, assets, knowledge, guidance, or superpower[s]” you can leverage to establish a passive income stream. A great example of someone who I think does it incredibly well is Sarah Fennel of Broma Bakery with her Foodtography School. While you can’t go from zero to hero overnight with this tactic, it’s a great practice to identify needs gaps in your industry and think critically about your business.
Follow up on late payments. Do you have payments owed to you that are past due?! First off, you are not alone. One of the downsides of being your own boss is you have to be the salesperson, creator, editor, client service professional, and bill collector. While budgets have been recoiled due to so many event cancellations, now is the time to reach out to those brands and agencies who are halting spends to remind them that they. owe. you. Asking for the Accounts Payable contact from a brand or agency isn’t unprecedented, and they’re used to people knocking down their door for payments. Don’t be shy! Have you been getting radio silence? It might be time to bite the bullet and file a small claim. Head to your local government Small Claims portal and file online. The initial $75-$100 might be a pain, but that cost gets applied to the balance owed once they pay.
Hot damn… that’s a long list. You’ve got a lot to work on hustler, so get going.