How To Get A Brand Collab As A Small Influencer
How to get a brand collab or a brand deal is one of the most asked questions from influencers. From nano to macro, all content creators wonder how to secure (another) collaboration or sponsorship with their dream brand.
Understandably, nano and macro-influencers are at different stages of their content creation career, so their experience and goals vastly differ.
Let’s say you’re a small influencer who is looking how to get a brand collab for the first time. Or maybe you do have a couple of them on your resume, but you’re still not at the stage of confidently relying on them as a regular stream of income.
If you, as a small influencer, are sitting there thinking why aren't brands offering you collaborations, then you need to realize… you’re the one that needs to reach out to them in most cases.
Unless you're like a macro-influencer with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers, brands aren't really going to come to you. The reason why is because there are a lot of influences out there. And we are not talking about the market being oversaturated, but rather that the brands are those calling the shots. Just like in any corporate job, there are hundreds of candidates who apply for the same position. It is up to you to show why would you be the best candidate for them.
You would be surprised, but landing a collaboration with a brand as a small influencer is like applying to your dream job's junior position. You need to work your way up, and plenty of things can, in a way, apply similarly to you getting a brand collab as a small influencer.
In this blog post, we are going to teach you:
How to get a brand collab as a small influencer;
How to pitch brands for collaborations;
How does identifying a niche play a massive role in getting a brand deal.
Read on to learn more about scoring a brand collab!
How to get a brand collab as a small influencer
Identify brands you want to collaborate with
Before you go wasting your efforts on sending collab pitches to every brand under the sun, you need to first understand and identify the brands that you want to work with.
There are way too many people out there that would send a message to *ANY* brand, not caring if the said brand is suitable for their audience and niche, or if they even like the brand or not.
That is not a viable strategy. We know it can be daunting to wait for brands to approach you, and we applaud the effort and courage you put into getting yourself out there. However, sending as many messages to non-targeted brands is a waste of time and energy.
It should go without saying that you want to approach brands that you like, follow, appreciate, and your audience could benefit from. Reaching out to any brand under the sun will not ensure you get a higher likelihood of responses. Instead, you’ll be met with more disappointment. Brands know their target audience, so if they see an influencer reaching out that doesn’t fit their market, they will just not respond. At all.
You need to be an actual fan of the brand, you need to truly love their products, and not just because you want to show the brand you’re genuinely interested in them. You have a responsibility towards your followers to be promoting products or services that you honestly believe in, and would use personally.
Your influence is the most valuable asset you have as a content creator. By being a creator who promotes anything offered to you, then you're going to lose your influence very quickly. You don’t want to be a walking sales billboard. Once followers lose trust in your intentions, you lose your influence, which is very hard to recover from.
That’s why you need to make sure that you're only reaching out to brands who you actually care about and you believe in. That’s step one to understanding how to get a brand collab as a small influencer.
Define your niche
This particular phrase has been mentioned over and over again that it almost sounds like a cliche. Nevertheless, it’s true.
You want to make sure that the brands that you're reaching out to and collaborating with are aligned with your niche.
For example, if your account is about home cooking and all your content is about food and recipes, then getting a collaboration with a beauty brand like TooFaced is not going to be a good fit.
If it’s not apparent why then let us explain: you don’t share interests and audience.
When brands are deciding whether or not to work with you, they're looking at whether or not you have a defined niche. Having a defined niche means that you are attracting an audience of people who are interested in that type of product or service.
Using the example from before, a home cooking account would not have a chance of landing a collab with a beauty brand like TooFaced. However, an account that posts beautiful nude makeup looks might do better. Partnering with an account like that could be a very good business decision for TooFaced because they'll be gaining access to an audience who is interested in that specific makeup look.
Success in getting brand collabs as a small influencer is vastly dependent on what you have to bring to the table. That’s why it’s absolutely vital to make sure that any brands you want to work with are aligned with your niche.
Here’s another example. Let's say you are a beauty influencer and you have less than 10,000 followers. If you choose to be a one-size-fits-all, meaning that you do videos for everything and anything under the sun of beauty, it's going to be a lot harder for you to successfully pitch to your desired brands because nothing makes you stand out specifically.
This is where you should niche down even more. For example, let’s say that instead of doing beauty for everyone, you're now focusing on doing beauty specifically for women who suffer from acne. You're then going to be a lot more attractive to companies who also sell to this type of audience because you're basically guaranteeing that about a hundred percent of your audience members are going to be a perfect fit for the brand that you're thinking to work with.
Niching down and being very clear on attracting a specific and targeted type of audience is gonna bring you more leverage when it comes to negotiating with brands. Because at the end of the day, brands care about having a good return on investment. They wouldn't be paying you if they don't think that they're going to make it back by having you promote their products.
Build an authentic audience
Building an authentic audience is another basic element in your quest on how to get a brand collab as a small influencer.
It is pretty simple. Try looking at it from a brand’s point of view.
Imagine having your own company that sells computer antivirus software. Your audience is pretty clearly defined - it is people who use a computer on daily basis and want to protect it from malicious software. Then imagine venturing out to influencer marketing in hopes of reaching a broader audience. If an influencer who has no real audience or a defined niche, and content no one engages with DMs you for a collab… would you say yes?
Chances are you would not. And rightfully so. There is no clear benefit for your brand, and it would be money down the drain.
But an influencer that is a web developer who teaches coding online could be a great fit because their audience would be open to purchasing software that would protect their most important asset - the computer.
You see? To get a brand collab as a small influencer, you both need to share mutual interests. Because think of it. If we are to demand money from brands, we also need to be able to deliver results ourselves. At the end of the day, these companies want to work with you, not because they like you or because they see how passionate you are, but because they can access their target audience through you!
It all boils down to ROI (return on investment). They need to be sure that your audience will buy their products. If your audience doesn’t trust you enough, or even engages with your content, then why would a brand risk potentially losing money by investing in your promotion if the said promotion has slim chances of working out in their favor?
An authentic audience doesn’t mean fake followers
Everyone can buy fake engagement. Everyone can buy fake followers. This would be so detrimental to your growth, reputation, and credibility as an influencer that we cannot stress that enough.
Brands are doing everything to ensure that the influencers that they're working with are truly going to generate more money for them after the collaboration is done. That's why if you truly want to get brand collabs as a small influencer, you need to focus your time and energy on building a real audience.
Now, there is an important note to be made. An authentic audience also doesn’t mean a big audience.
The trend is going towards quality over quantity. That's why small influencers can still be successful and get paid by brands, as long as their audience is real and loyal.
The reasoning why it is quality over quantity is simple. The bigger you get, the broader your audience becomes by all parameters - age, location, gender, interests, etc. Also, larger influencers experience a drop in their engagement, which is the leading reason brands are opting for micro-influencers.
This really goes to show how important it is to not truly build but to understand who is your average audience member.
For example, if your dream brand collaborates solely with influencers from the US, then the likelihood of you getting a brand collab is based on where you and your audience are from. That’s an advantage a smaller influencer has over larger ones - a way more targeted audience.
Leverage your impressions
One of the most important data elements you can use as leverage is your impressions. So instead of focusing on your follower number, try to focus on your impression rate.
Why? Well, it is important to understand that just because you have followers doesn't mean you have influence over them.
By measuring your success via impressions, you can show brands how many times your content was actually seen.
For purely comparison purposes, think of Kardashians, for example. Not all of us actually need to follow either one of them to see their content. User behaviors can differ from just checking up on their content periodically, or having some of their posts pop up on the Explore page. That happens because of the Instagram algorithm. It tracks how many times their post has been seen, aka how many impressions it’s got. If it is popular, the algorithm is going to push it out even more.
So impressions can be very lucrative for small influencers who are yet to build a large following. That’s definitely an advantage to take when looking into how to get a brand collab as a small influencer.
Check who brands collaborate with commonly
Not every single brand out there is yet open to influencer marketing. In the interest of you saving time and effort, you need to vet out brands who are either not doing influencer marketing or don’t work yet with smaller creators.
How can you know that? Simple. You would learn all about it by going through their Instagram page and having a look to see if they work with influencers, and if they do, what is the type of influencer they usually hire.
Here are quick parameters to help you scan a brand fast:
Do you see any influencer brand campaigns on their page?
If so, who are those influencers?
What is the type of content they produce - photo, video, interview, etc?
What niche are those influencers in?
How many followers do they have?
Where are they from?
What is their engagement rate?
Understanding what kind of influences are they working with is a major learning point for you. For example, if your dream brand only hires macro-influencers, and you’re a micro one, then you right away understand what are the conditions you need to fulfill to work with them. Then it becomes a goal to get that collab down the line.
Define your value offer
Put quite simply, a value offer is what the brand is going to get in exchange for working with you.
Even if you’re not asking to get paid, the free products you would get for the collab are not free to the business. This brand has invested money into production, marketing, shipping, etc, so they need to get something in return.
Having a significant amount of followers is not enough by itself, let alone having a couple of hundred. Your value offer is much more meaningful than the number of followers you got. And that offer differs from brand to brand!
There are a few different ways to identify what is the value you're going to offer to your dream brand.
If you’re a small influencer and your stats aren’t your biggest asset, then you might want to think of other ways that a brand could benefit from your expertise. For example, maybe you’re good with photographing and editing, and you can create amazing branded photographs that they can use across their online channels or in future campaigns.
That’s just one idea on how you can leverage other skills to get a brand collab as a small influencer.
Craft a compelling pitch
One of the major obstacles we see to getting a brand collab as a small influencer is not understanding how a personalized pitch goes a long way.
Don’t fall into the trap of “saving time” by copy-pasting the same pitch to every brand you reach out to. If you cannot dedicate a few minutes to researching and tailoring your pitch to that brand, then consider what kind of an impression that leaves on the brand you’re pitching to.
In each pitch you send, there has to be a personalized touch that shows you’ve researched the brand and are truly interested in working with them.
These are the things that can make your pitch compelling and stand:
Show bits of knowledge about the brand that would show them you took the time to research and understand what they do (e.g. they are vegan and cruelty-free, or they eco-friendly, help the poor, etc);
Mention any collaborations you worked on or content you created that are similar to what your desired brand is about. That way you can show how well the content you’d produce for them could perform;
Offer to send them your media kit.
An important note to make is that if you’re pitching via Instagram DM, then you can’t be always sure who is at the receiving end of it. Especially if it’s a big brand.
If it’s a smaller brand, then most likely they have a social media manager who isn’t necessarily an influencer manager. So make sure to ask for relevant content (like email) of the person in charge for collaborations.
Also, make sure you keep track of brands you contacted (like in a google sheet or Trello). Follow up with them once if you don’t get an answer. It should go without saying that your follow-up message should not be just copy-pasted initial offer. The idea is to give them a little nudge, and not spam.
All of the aforementioned things are so crucial and intertwined that success heavily relies on fulfilling each and every one of them.
Now, the hardest steps are defining and understanding what you want to accomplish with your social presence. The rest is modifying your strategy for growth.
If you need help with getting a brand collab as a small influencer, we at Vimma can help you with that in our Collab Clinics. Sign up for the Vimma app and let’s chat there!