Influencer corner with @SequinsInMySalad
Welcome to another Influencer Corner with Vimma!
This time we want to introduce you to Annita Nikole Jeffery aka @SequinsInMySalad! This gorgeous lady features fashion tips to own your style & be confident.
We talk about her experience as a micro-influencer, how she manages to get collaborations, and how has her career taken off both on her own and by working with Ava, our virtual Talent Manager for influencers!
Hi Nikole! So happy to have you with us. Can you please introduce us to what your Instagram is about, and how did you come up with the most fabulous Instagram username @sequinsinmysalad?
Hi, I’m so happy to be here! My Instagram account, Sequins In My Salad, is for women (mostly) who are busy pursuing their goals, whether in careers, family, or life in general. They want to be confident and trendy and have a place where their success is celebrated. I wanted my account to be something that she could go to and felt motivated, supported, and inspired.
I came up with the name during a brainstorming session--I think it was the very last name I came up with. I was bouncing ideas off someone and almost didn’t even mention it. But when I said it out loud I actually loved it. Sequins In My Salad is meant to symbolize that even if a day seems ordinary or mundane (like a regular old salad), there’s really something to celebrate (the sparkle of sequins), no matter how small it is.
Like if I’m having a bad day or feeling down, I’ll stop and name a few things I am grateful for. Even if all I can say is “coffee,” or “it’s sunny today,” that’s enough. Those are the sequins in the salad of the day.
Plus, I just love embellished clothing. Once I told a friend I was just going to throw on something casual before meeting up with him. I showed up in a sequined t-shirt and high heels and he said, “I thought you were going to be casual.” I said, “I am casual. I’m wearing jeans.” That’s kind of how I dress in real life, a little extra.
What would you say - when did your micro-influencer career really take off?
I would say things really started happening, as in, I felt like I was starting to get noticed when I was around 1700-1800 followers. This was about 3 months into really putting in consistent work on my account.
I had already started doing a few tiny gifted collabs in exchange for a post. You know, the ones that it seems like everyone does (LOL). But I didn’t just take a pic and drop a caption “thanks for the gift” like I see a lot of people doing. I treated them like “real” collabs and really thought about how I would present the product to my friend and the type of person my account is directed to.
What did it feel like to do a first brand collaboration?
The first thought was literally, “Is this for real?” I had no idea anyone had remotely noticed me. I checked to make sure the email was actually for me and hadn’t been sent accidentally. I had been just kind of doing my thing, not really expecting much. I didn’t have a lot of followers, so I was pretty surprised.
I was happy, excited, nervous, confused. I didn’t immediately know what to do, so I spent a few days looking around on the brand’s page, other influencers who worked with them, just to get a better feel of the vibe so the post would be consistent with the brand message, but also consistent with MY brand.
What do you think - what helped you get to a point where a brand would choose you for a collaboration?
I think there were a number of things that helped put me in a position to get good collabs. I worked really hard on my branding before I started. I really had a clear purpose to my account, I knew who I wanted to serve and who I wanted to talk to when I posted and then I injected my personality into every post. I invested in a really talented photographer to take some really good shots, so I think that also sent the message that I was serious. Every post I published I really tried to have a story or send a message and not just post for the sake of posting. Then I was active on the platform, engaging with other people, responding to comments, and really trying to connect.
Do you reach out to brands yourself or do they always reach out to you?
I would say that currently, a vast amount of brands reach out to me via DM or email, with about equal parts Vimma and the brands themselves. I do a small amount of reaching out myself as well and plan to do more now that I am learning the best ways to accomplish this.
Vimma definitely helps me with this. When the collab offers come through Vimma, they’re already vetted, so even if I’m not as familiar with a brand, I know they’re legit. I still have a daytime gig, so along with planning content, shooting content (I do shoot some myself), blogging, etc, there are just so many hours in a day. There’s no way I could do this all myself. I seriously doubt I would have the amount and caliber of brand collabs that I have had so far without Vimma.
You joined Ava’s Talent Management program in June 2020 at 894 followers. How did that change the way you perceive your influencer journey?
I learned that by taking certain actions you can get more engagement, grow your following, and put yourself in the position to get noticed. I hadn’t thought about this before. I really thought, probably like most people, that you kind of do your thing and the collabs start rolling in. But like everything, you have to be strategic with your time and behavior to make an impact.
I hoped, and it was the goal, that I would get collabs and make an impact, but I didn’t know how to make that happen. I thought it would be more or less a shot in the dark, but once I started with the Talent Management program, I started to understand that it didn’t just have to be chance or luck. That with guidance and support, becoming an influencer was attainable, and I didn’t have to flop around in the Instagram ocean for years trying to figure out how to ride the waves, so to speak.
What keeps you in the Talent Management program?
I think the Talent management program is excellent.
Even though Ava is a bot, whenever I have a question, a person will answer me without much delay. I really appreciate having a team of people who are on my side and have my best interest in mind. I also love that if I need a meeting, it’s easy to schedule and Outi (the CEO) has always been very helpful. After she helped me with my media kit, shortly thereafter, I got a collab with a fitness company and was gifted a treadmill.
There’s just amazing support available and everyone is so professional and knowledgeable. Plus, the program is really affordable. I haven’t hit it big yet, so... can’t be dropping dough like that, LOL.
What brand collaborations did you manage to get with Ava’s help?
Klerely collagen, Woosh Beauty, Primally Pure ambassador, Michael Todd Beauty, Onzie ambassador, Mike’s Hot Honey, Sunny Co, so far (Tara I was approved for but pending follow up from them). Affiliate opportunity with Jane.
What do you think influencers should pay attention to if they want to create serious careers as content creators?
I think first there’s a shift in mindset that has to happen. A lot of influencers think that they can’t or won’t make it because the market is “saturated” and that there’s competition. But that just means the demand is there. Nothing’s wrong with healthy competition. Just as I had to do, I think aspiring influencers should start by defining their niche, who exactly they want to influence, and why. Really pin down who this person is, what they care about. Then make content and go after collabs that support this.
Then I think influencers should realize that their account is not for them, it’s for their followers. That’s a big adjustment I had to make mentally, to be honest. My account had to evolve somewhat. I had a plan initially, but I found out pretty quickly that my followers responded to certain types of content more than others. So I had to adjust and not be discouraged or let down. I had to realize that was the task, the challenge, the job of an influencer. Based on my target audience, once I got them to my account, ultimately my job was to give them what they needed to hear my message. To be of service. Now I’m getting philosophical, LOL.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions amongst influencers when it comes to landing brand collaborations?
I think the biggest misconception is that collabs just happen. That just by being on Instagram, a brand will magically find you and want to shower you with products or pay you. Or that by just posting a beautiful picture of yourself, they’ll want to work with you. Maybe they do if you have a million followers, I don’t know yet. But landing collabs takes work--you have to perform actions that get you noticed and you have to put out content that people want and need. You’re a fabulous person, but brands don’t automatically know that you’re a fabulous person because there are millions of people out there on Instagram. So you have to help them out. You have to tell them and show them. Sometimes their attention is focused on someone who is not nearly as fabulous as you, so you have to make the first move.
What would you say is important when growing your Instagram account?
I’ve found that the bottom line, you get what you give. It’s so simple and so overlooked. Do you want likes? Give likes. You want someone to read your caption and actually answer your question? You have to do the same. In the beginning, it feels like you’re doing all the work, all the reaching out, but it really does come back, and oftentimes multiplied. If you shout someone out for no reason except to say you love their account, you’ve made a connection, and they are so appreciative. This very often results in what you want--more engagement on your account. If you comment with ACTUAL words, most people are so appreciative that they return the favor. You have to give good energy to receive good energy.
Can you describe your typical content creation day?
I typically do the bulk of my content creation on the weekends or my days off from work. I’m a morning person, so I usually get up at the crack of dawn, if not before. I start by briefly reflecting on the day before and choosing 2-3 priorities for the day. That’s usually pretty loose because to be completely honest, I’m kind of a procrastinator. I have probably thought about what I’m going to write or post about for several days, but then I sit down, choose the pictures, write out captions, and so forth to post to Instagram. Then I spend time thinking about future posts over coffee.
After that, I usually check out Ava for a coaching session to complete or any collabs to apply to. If I’m doing my own pictures, I spend the mornings taking pictures before the light gets too bright and planning content. I know the early to mid-afternoon is my least productive time of the day, so I use the time to check other platforms for potential collabs, obsess over my analytics, run errands, work out, or generally goofing off. Then I pick things back up in the late afternoon and early evening when I’ll write blog posts, fiddle around on other platforms like Pinterest. After dinner, I usually keep working, catching up on things like writing, completing the task from Ava if I need to. A lot of times, I will stay up late, because strangely enough, that’s the time I do my best writing.
What’s your favorite thing about Ava?
I LOVE Ava. It’s so engaging and entertaining. But more than that, I love having specific, actionable tasks so when I go on Instagram, I will be doing something that will make a positive impact on my account. I like having access to Ava at any time of the day, so I can always get in something. I get great ideas for IG stories, so I stay active with those. And I consistently get notifications for new collabs to check out and apply to.
What do you think - can a micro-influencer have a meaningful career as a content creator?
That’s a tough question. I’ve had a great journey so far. As far as making a living, it’s hard as a micro-influencer as it stands now. Even though the word is that engagement matters--and it does--there are still brand managers and PR people who still care more about your number of followers. Their behavior, in reality, doesn’t yet match their words. As a micro-influencer, there are a lot of brands out there who are not willing to compensate you fairly if at all for your hard work. They don’t seem to appreciate the amount of work that goes into keeping up engagement, shooting pictures, planning content, writing content, researching hashtags, etc. There’s a real disconnect.
Now I’m going to go on a mini-rant. I wish it weren’t the case. I’ve had to turn down several collabs because of this. Paying for an item from a brand who approached me for a collab, who then gets access to the following that I worked hard to build, for them to get free advertising and make money off me, just doesn’t make logical sense to me, however small an influencer I am. That sentence probably didn’t make sense, because the concept just doesn’t make sense.
And that’s yet another reason why I have appreciated having talent management as a micro-influencer. I haven’t fallen into these types of pitfalls that are common to micro-influencers. When you’re out there, just trying to make a name for yourself, and have an insecure day, it’s really tempting to just take anything that comes your way. I know I don’t have to do that. I will still get collabs, even though more are gifted than paid collabs at the moment. That’s okay. I’ll get there.
In your opinion, how can Ava help influencers on their journey to Instagram growth and getting brand deals?
The best thing about Ava is Power Coaching sessions. It gives you instructions on specific tasks to do while you’re on Instagram to be seen and increase engagement. It’s definitely helped me to grow my account and I know it’s helped me get collabs because of it. I don’t ever have to wonder what I should do on Instagram that day, because Ava tells me. The activities definitely work.
And I like that Ava just kind of pops to remind me to work on my Instagram because it’s easy to forget when everyday life gets busy. It’s important to stay active on the platform and Ava helps me do that.
@SequinsInMySalad joined Vimma back in June of 2020 when she had 894 followers. At the time of this interview, she's got 5747.
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