It’s no surprise that you want to become a paid Instagram influencer — heck, the average price for a sponsored Instagram post is $300 , and if you become more successful, like yogi Rachel Brathen , you could earn $ 300. 25,000 per post .
But the idea of having your posts sponsored might seem laughable to you. You’re not posting pictures of skydiving in Australia – you’re posting pictures of your brunch. However, you may be more commercial than you think.
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Instagram has become an incredibly popular channel for brands to promote their products. In fact, Influencer Central found that consumers consider Instagram the sixth most effective at influencing their purchasing decisions.
The popularity of Instagram can make you feel like the platform is already crowded for you to stand out. But here’s the thing – brands are quickly realizing the power of regular people to promote their products. Micro-influencers, or people with a small following compared to big players, see the most engagement from their audience .
Think of it this way: I’m going to rely on my best friend’s advice over Kim Kardashian’s when shopping for a product. I trust my best friend, we share similar interests and I know she is genuine with her advice (no offense Kim…).
It’s the same concept for micro-influencers – with the right strategy, your audience will start to see you as one of their true friends. The more they trust your advice when making purchase decisions, the more likely you are to be sponsored.
Here, we’ll show you everything you need to do to get sponsored on Instagram, even if you don’t have any followers right now. Read on to get started, or click on the links below to jump to a specific section of this article.
HOW TO GET SPONSORED ON INSTAGRAM
- Define your brand.
- Know your audience.
- Publish consistently.
- Use hashtags and geotags.
- Tag tags in your posts.
- Include contact information in your bio.
- Paid sales pitch sponsorship.
- Know your worth.
- DEFINE YOUR BRAND.
You will see the best engagement if you are able to define your niche. Do you want to post content related to food and health or focus on fashion? Whatever the case, it’s important to establish your brand.
Aside from the type of content you post, branding has a lot to do with your overall aesthetic. How do you want to style your posts? What is your message? To further solidify your brand, you might consider creating a cohesive feed theme (use these feeds as inspiration ).
Specificity is the key. A good influencer’s posts are distinguishable and unique – when a user is flipping through your feed, they will be able to pause and acknowledge each time they see a post from that influencer. As she continues to see similar content, she will come to trust this brand as an expert in the field. If the influencer suddenly and randomly changes course, the user may no longer understand or trust the content.
Also, you might want to connect your Instagram brand with an online presence. Creating a website with a similar aesthetic and message is a good way to do this – the more you unify your social media accounts, the easier it will be for brands to distinguish how you can help them.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
Knowing your audience is key to convincing a brand to work with you. It’s mutually beneficial for you too – if you understand your audience, you’ll be able to correctly identify which brands will be most successful in using you as a sponsor.
Start by gathering the basics – what is the gender, age, and geographic location of your core demographic? Which of your posts do they like best? What time of day do they respond best to content and what can you infer from this?
The demographic information you collect will help you launch brand partnerships. Brands want to know who they can reach if they work with you. Explaining “You’ll make it to your mid-thirties, working women, mostly from New York, who tend to use Instagram first thing in the morning and prefer fitness content” is certainly more powerful than saying, “You’ll reach women.”
CoSchedule gathered research from 14 studies to identify how often you should post on social media sites. For Instagram, they found that you must post a minimum of once a day, but you can post more than three times a day.
CoSchedule also found that 8:00 am to 9:00 am and 2:00 am are the best times to post.
To increase the number of followers, it is essential that you post at least once a day. Instagram’s algorithm favors fresh, new content, and you don’t want your audience to unfollow you or forget about you for lack of consistency.
However, you will need to find what works best for you and your audience. Maybe your audience feels bombarded when you post three times a day, or maybe they prefer. Maybe your audience engages more with your midday posts. It will take some trial and error, much like Instagram metrics tools , to figure this out.
USE HASHTAGS AND GEOTAGS.
Hashtags make your content more discoverable, therefore, they are necessary to increase the number of followers. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post, but TrackMaven found that nine is the ideal number to increase engagement.
You will want to use hashtags that are as relevant as possible to your content. You’ll also need to check that the hashtags you use aren’t broken or banned (take a look at this list of banned hashtags if you’re not sure).
It is critical that you choose hashtags that are not too broad. #Healthyliving, for example, has over 20,000,000 posts, while #healthylivingtips has only 13,000. The less competition, the easier it is for your content to be discovered.
By looking at a hashtag page, you can also get a deeper sense of what types of content your post will face. #Healthylivingtips can typically feature posts with food recipes, while your post is about cycling – this can put off using that hashtag.
Geotags are just as important, but for a different reason. Geotags can help people find you if they are interested in a certain location. This helps you gain more followers and also attract brands interested in reaching a certain demographic. For example, maybe a boutique sees you posting California-area fashion tips often, and it’s looking to attract people from that region – it’s a win, a win.
IDENTIFY TAGS IN YOUR POSTS.
Okay, now you’re officially ready to start reaching out to brands. You’ve defined your brand and audience and created some authentic, quality posts. You should now have a good idea of what types of businesses would benefit from partnering with you.
It’s important to start small. If you’re interested in skincare, don’t go straight to Estee Lauder — instead, try tagging small skincare start-ups you’ve already seen on Instagram.
Start with small tags and tag them in your descriptions. Engage with your audience by responding to comments like “Where can I get one?” or “How much?” and the brand will soon see that you have proven yourself a suitable sales partner.
INCLUDE CONTACT INFORMATION IN YOUR BIO.
Consider your bio a chance to signal to brands your interest in becoming an influencer. Include an email or website so they can contact you, and include a press kit if possible.
For example, @tzibirita doesn’t waste your bio space. It includes your email and website, and even adds a title – “content creator”. Brands will have no doubt that she is open to doing business with them.
Also, you should use a website or blog as your chance to expand your brand and demonstrate your versatility. Consider adding a press release page to your website so brands can take a look at your services. Once you start sponsoring brands, you can add them to this page so brands can see that you have experience as an influencer.
PROMOTE PAID SPONSORSHIPS.
There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to brands and offering your services. With the right pitch, you can land a few gigs without waiting for brands to find you.
Look for brands that clearly invest time and money into their Instagram presence. You can start by researching which similar influencers in your industry already sponsor. Remember, it’s okay to start small. Working with smaller brands will allow you to build a portfolio.
Once you’ve selected a list of brands that might want to partner with you, send them an email. In your pitch, briefly and clearly describe who you are, what you do, and any achievements you have in the field that make you an expert. Then explain why you are a good fit for the brand and include data like follower count and average engagement rate.
Alternatively, you can consider sending a DM to a brand directly from Instagram. It’s certainly more relevant to the job you’re competing for, but it can get lost if a brand gets hundreds of DMs a day.
KNOW YOUR WORTH.
Make sure you know how much you’re going to charge when the marks come to you. The industry standard is $10 for 1,000 followers , but it can also vary depending on how many likes you get per post. Also, as you grow, you can charge more.
While you want to have a minimum set, you can negotiate to encourage brands to pay more. Maybe for $300, you’ll include five Instagram story posts and a link in your bio to their website for 24 hours. You can use other Instagram features to sweeten the deal.
Once you’ve set your pricing structure, you’ll need to know how to sponsor a post on behalf of the brand you’re working with. Now keep in mind that there are two different types of “sponsored” posts: those for which brands pay Instagram and those for which brands pay another user .
Confused? Here’s what I mean:
WHAT IS A SPONSORED POST ON INSTAGRAM?
A sponsored post on Instagram is paid by the poster to reach a wider audience. There are two main types of sponsorship: In one, a brand creates a post and pays Instagram to have access to a custom audience. In the other, a brand sponsors another Instagram user – often referred to as an “Influencer” – who creates a post that introduces the brand in some way.
Here are more details about each sponsored post type:
PROMOTED POSTS AND ADS
Like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, Instagram comes with a native ad management platform. Advertisers can use this tool to customize an audience – using attributes like age, gender, location and interests – and invest a specific amount of money to get their post in front of Instagrammers who identify with that audience.
The thing to remember here is that the advertiser is making and publishing the post. They are paying Instagram for the audience they want to access, but the post is theirs to create.
Paid sponsorships occur between a brand and another Instagram user. Typically, this user has a personal brand and attracts a target audience of their own. This user is often referred to as an “influencer“.
That person can then use the steps explained earlier in this article to find and work with brands that appeal to a similar audience. When they find a brand that wants to sponsor them, they can charge that customer a certain amount to create a post that highlights their product or service. Think of it like social media product placement; Just as a company can pay a TV show to have its brand of soda on the counter at the end of the series, it can also pay a person on Instagram to put the same soda in a photo on their Instagram feed.
Of course, there are more creative sponsorship ideas you can come up with – I decided to use a cliche.
Influencers are similar to Instagram’s ad manager in that they both appeal to an audience that brands wouldn’t otherwise have access to. However, the differences in this type of sponsorship are that the brand pays the influencer – instead of Instagram – for access to its audience, and the influencer – instead of the advertiser – is the one who creates and publishes the post.
USING #AD AND #SPON HASHTAGS
Over the past couple of years, brands have come under fire for hiring influencers but not making it clear to the public that those influencers were getting paid.
Department store Lord & Taylor, for example, settled expenses with the FTC in 2016 after paying 50 influencers to wear a dress in their posts without the hashtag #sponsorship or #ad.
Influencers should use hashtags #ad or #sponsored on posts they are getting paid for, but these tags leave some uncomfortable marks because they make the post look inauthentic.
In 2017, Instagram launched a paid partnership feature to combat this issue – if you tag a brand in a post and the brand confirms the relationship, the ad will be tagged at the top with a “paid partnership” label. This also helps the brand collect data on campaign performance.
It’s critical that your followers know if you’re being paid to promote a product. Ethics aside, this can destroy the credibility of your account if you get caught and lose everything you’ve worked hard to build – namely, an authentic and trusted community.
If you really don’t want to post #ad or #response, there are a few ways around this – for example, Airbnb created the hashtag #Airbnb_partner, to signal a paid partnership without using the word “ad”.
Ultimately, being sponsored on Instagram isn’t easy – it takes time, effort, and perseverance. But if you work hard to differentiate yourself in the industry and connect on a personal level with your followers, it can be extraordinarily rewarding.