On Instagram, more than 21 million posts have the hashtag #ad. Over 5 million have #sponsored.
Sponsored posts are how many influencers make a living. Some make six figures or more from them.
Take Emma Cortes, who started a fashion blog in 2014, as an example. When she signed her first brand partnership as a part-time content creator in 2016, it was an unpaid brand ambassadorship, she told Business Insider.
Fast-forward and Cortes is a full-time influencer and earned more than $300,000 in a year — with under 50,000 Instagram followers. Most of that revenue came from brand deals, she told BI.
Read more about how Cortes earned over $300,000 in yearly income
But getting that first brand deal can be challenging for influencers. So how have they done it?
BI has interviewed dozens of influencers who have worked with a variety of brands – from Nissan to Lululemon to Credit Karma — about how they secure brand deals on Instagram.
Some creators use third-party influencer-marketing platforms like Fohr or Izea. Others find strategic ways to get on a brand’s radar, such as pitching marketing agencies or a company’s employees on LinkedIn, or using tools on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Even Slack groups can be a “gold mine” for finding potential brand deals.
More established influencers often have talent managers or agents who pitch, negotiate, and get sponsorships for them. For instance, JaLisa Vaughn-Jefferson, a lifestyle influencer with 275,000 followers at the time, signed $700,000 in brand deals halfway into a year with the help of her management firm. (Read more about how she built her influencer business.) Or, take, Achieng Agutu, a fashion influencer with 480,000 Instagram followers at the time BI interviewed her, who earned $1 million in a year.
Check out: BI’s interactive database of the top managers and agents representing some of social media’s biggest stars
But even for creators who are starting out — with under 10,000 followers on Instagram — there are paths to getting sponsored. Many “nano” influencers start off by working with brands as ambassadors (like Cortes did) and sharing affiliate links that demonstrate they have the ability to drive customers to a brand.
Some brands, like Dunkin Donuts or jewelry brand Mejuri, are known for their partnerships with micro influencers.
To help content creators better understand how they can get sponsored on Instagram, here’s a compilation of our coverage of how influencers get brand deals.
Getting the right pitch is a key
Whether it’s over email or Instagram DM, what influencers include in a pitch can make all the difference.
“I like to use the word ‘offer’ instead of ‘collab’ to remind micro influencers that you have to offer the brand something that’s valuable,” Julie Tescon, a nano influencer, told BI. “You can offer anything that the brand normally would pay for.”
Christian Di Bratto, a talent manager who works with creators, told BI that personalizing pitches is key. He shared the pitch he sends to brands to secure deals for his clients. (Read his pitch.)
Here are 14 examples of how influencers are pitching brands, from the exact pitch they send to unique strategies:
- Tori Dunlap, a personal-finance influencer with 613,000 Instagram followers. Check out two templates she uses to pitch brands.
- Nick Cutsumpas, a plant and lifestyle influencer with over 60,000 followers. He pitches brands content packages for long-term partnerships.
- Ashley Jones, a micro influencer with 50,000 followers on Instagram. She shared her starting rates for brand deals and how she pitches brands over DMs.
- Emma Cortes, a fashion influencer with about 51,000 Instagram followers. She shared the email template she uses to turn gifting offers into paying deals.
- Maesha Shonar, a lifestyle influencer with 58,000 followers across Instagram and TikTok. Read her 3-page template.
- Dominic Schlueter, an 18-year-old podcast host with 37,000 Instagram followers. Read his email template.
- Diti Goradia, an investment banker and fashion influencer with 34,000 Instagram followers. Read her email template.
- Rayquan Smith, a college football and track-and-field athlete with 20,000 Instagram followers. Read the email template he used to score NIL deals.
- Alexa Curtis, an entrepreneur and micro influencer with 20,000 Instagram followers. She shared 5 tips for writing successful pitches.
- Gigi Kovach, a lifestyle influencer with 14,000 Instagram followers. She shared the 200-word email pitch she uses to reach out to brands.
- Florence Williams, a beauty influencer with 13,000 Instagram followers. Read the 14-page, detailed proposal to brands when pitching paid collaborations.
- Tyler Chanel, a sustainability and lifestyle micro influencer with 13,000 followers. Check out how she uses a rate calculator to help negotiate brand deals.
- Khadijah Lacey-Taylor, a nano influencer with under 10,000 followers. Here’s how she pitched brands by showcasing her video content.
- Julie Tecson, a nano influencer with about 7,000 Instagram followers. Read three types of pitches she sends to brands.
- Jalyn Baiden, an Instagram influencer with about 5,700 followers. Read two templates she used to land her first partnerships.
- Laur DeMartino, a part-time content creator and full-time college student with about 5,000 followers. Check out how she uses LinkedIn to pitch brands.
- Jack Betts, a college athlete with about 5,400 followers. He shared an email template that has gotten him NIL deals.
- Amber Broder, a skincare nano influencer and full-time college student with about 2,300 followers. She shared how she pitches brands by emphasizing her engagement rate.
Media kits help demonstrate what an influencer can offer a brand
“A lot of people might think, ‘Oh, if you have a thousand followers, no one’s going to pay you for that,'” Kayla Compton, a lifestyle nano influencer, told BI. “But if you have a very engaged audience and you can target people really well and have a good connection with your audience, brands will pay for that.”
She — like many other influencers — uses a media kit to help showcase to brands how even with a few thousand followers, she can still drive engagement.
Here are 13 examples of media kits influencers use to get sponsorships:
- Alexa Collins, a lifestyle influencer with 1.2 million followers. Read her 8-page media kit.
- Justine Jakobs, an OnlyFans and adult content creator with 460,000 Instagram followers. Read the 4-page media kit she uses.
- Eric Stoen, a travel creator with about 330,000 Instagram followers. Read his 1-page media kit.
- Natasha Greene, a food and lifestyle influencer with 138,000 Instagram followers. Read the 9-page media kit she uses.
- Joel Bervell, a medical school student and content creator with 118,000 Instagram followers. Read his 2-page media kit.
- Macy Mariano, a fashion and lifestyle Instagram creator with about 100,000 followers. Read her 9-page media kit.
- Jade Darmawangsa, a tech and business a YouTube creator (382,000 subscribers) with 52,000 Instagram followers. Read her 4-page media kit.
- Chase Griffin, a UCLA quarterback with 36,000 Instagram followers. Read the 2-page document he sends to brands.
- Lauren SoYung Lim, an influencer with 26,000 Instagram followers (and 130,000 TikTok followers). Read the 9-page media kit she uses.
- Gigi Robinson, a creator with about 16,000 Instagram followers and 134,000 followers on TikTok. Read her 17-page media kit.
- Jour’dan Haynes, a nano influencer with 5,900 Instagram followers. She shared her 3-page media kit.
- Tess Barclay, a Toronto-based creator with about 5,600 Instagram followers. Read her 1-page media kit.
- Jen Lauren, a YouTube nano influencer with about 4,000 subscribers. Read her 3-page media kit.
- Stacy Kim, a travel and fashion influencer with 3,400 Instagram followers. Read her 1-page media kit.
- Kayla Compton, a nano influencer with a few thousand followers. Read the 8-page media kit she uses.
Read the full article here