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Instagram Influencer Marketing: The Top Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Working with Brands

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What could be better than being paid for posting on Instagram?

Instagram influencer marketing can provide seemingly unlimited opportunities. Among the many perks? Monetary compensation, complementary products or services, and overall increased exposure on the platform.

However, establishing yourself as an effective influencer on Instagram requires strategy and hard work. You need to build a platform, establish a niche, and gain the kind of following that makes you attractive to potential sponsors.

Unsure of how to get started? This post will help you on your journey.

So, You’re an Instagram Influencer

Or maybe you’re not an Instagram influencer yet, but you’d like to be. Curious about how to make money on Instagram?

Before you can become an Instagram influencer, you need to establish yourself on Instagram. This means that you have to be posting consistently and following the best practices for growing followers organically.

It requires hard work and patience, but once opportunities begin coming your way, it’s worth it.

There are Over 1.1M Social Media Influencers Today

It can be difficult to determine how many influencers there are, because who or what constitutes an influencer may depend on who you ask.

However, there are metrics available that can prove helpful in determining how many influencers are out there.

According to the Upfluence search engine, there are 1.1 million Instagram influencers, which means that there are at least this many out there. Are you ready to become one of them?

How to Work With Brands and Make Money

To become an Influencer, you’ll need to get familiar with the idea of working with brands to make money, including what that means and how to go about making that happen.

What it Means to Be an Influencer

Before we go any further, let’s take a brief detour to make sure you understand what it means to be an influencer.

In social media, an influencer is someone who is viewed as having an impact on the actions or buying power of others due to an established level of knowledge or authority with an audience.

Think of it this way. If you read a restaurant review online, the review might only carry so much weight because the reviewer could be anyone.

However, if that same review was written by a highly esteemed restaurant critic, you might trust it more because the reviewer is more established.

Being an influencer is like this. Because you have established yourself as an authority, your opinions and preferences carry weight.

The Top Things To Know Before Working With Brands

1. The Number of Followers You Need To Be Considered by Brands

To be considered for influencer opportunities, you need to have a desirable amount of followers.

There’s not one simple answer to how many followers you need to be considered by brands for sponsorship opportunities. However, often bigger is better. For instance, if you have 500 followers, you’ll be less desirable than someone with 50,000 followers.

Of course, the amount of followers isn’t the only thing to consider: engagement and reach of your posts also matters.

To begin to get an idea of how many followers you need to court brands, research influencers in your field or sector.

2. Your Niche

To be the most effective influencer possible, you must establish a niche. To figure out your niche, ask yourself these questions:

  • What interests you? Choose a type of content that you think you’ll remain interested in and can stick with.
  • What do you know? A certain level of knowledge or prowess is key. For instance, maybe you’re a foodie, or maybe you know everything about fashion. How could your knowledge play into your posting and personal Instagram branding?
  • What are your goals? Think about your goals on Instagram to help establish a niche. For instance, you might want to be known as a lifestyle/entertaining expert.

Think about these things, and try to be consistent with your branding and goals in your posting. In time, a style and niche will emerge.

3. Types of Deals Between Influencers and Brands

What are some of the ways you might strike a deal with a brand? Here are some common setups:

  • Sponsored content: This is pretty straightforward. The brand will compensate you to craft a sponsored post where their product is front and center.
  • Free items / gifts: Another common situation is that a brand offers free products in return for a featured post. For instance, a restaurant might give you a gratis meal in return for a post.
  • Instagram takeover: Brands collaborate with Instagram influencers to have them take over the brand account for a finite period of time, curating content on the brand’s account. For example, luxury makeup superstore Sephora collaborated with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen for an Instagram takeover.
  • Brand ambassadorship: This is a longer term type of sponsorship. When you become a brand ambassador for a brand, you might commit to continued promotion over a period of weeks or months. For instance, you might make a commitment to post about a company four times per month in an organic, natural way.

4. How to Charge Brands

How much you charge will depend on a variety of different factors, including your follower list, what your niche is, and the size of the brand sponsoring you.

Some brands may have an established fee structure, and others may ask you for a quote or your charges.

Consider doing some research for the market rates in your niche, or check out an online calculator like this one to get started.

5. How to Find Brands to Work With

How do you find the brands that you want to work with? Research.

For instance, say that you’re a food blogger. You may seek out opportunities with cookware supply companies, spice manufacturers, food suppliers, and with appliance brands that create cooking appliances.

Look at your niche, and determine what your competitors are finding opportunities. Often, that is a good starting point!

How to Create Engaging Sponsored Content

1. Know the Product

Before you can effectively assist in promoting and selling an item or service, you must understand it.

For instance, if you’re a beauty blogger and you’ve been chosen to create a sponsored post about a new moisturizer, you’d better be familiar with the product and the results.

Familiarizing yourself with the product will help you create more knowledgeable content that is more relevant to your followers.

2. Create Content That is Personal and Relatable

Be sure to choose brands that are aligned with your values and mission so that you can create content that is personal, true, and relatable when creating sponsored posts.

Not only does this allow you to maintain your own standards, but creating content that is personal will seem more natural and less sales-y to your followers.  

3. Sponsored Content Copy

The reason why you’ve become an Instagram influencer is because you have a personality and a style, so let it show in your sponsored posts!

If your caption for a sponsored post is simply a regurgitation of bullet points supplied by the sponsoring brand’s PR company, it won’t resonate with people. Work with the brand to create copy that gets the message across but still maintains your unique voice.

autumn camera fall iphoneSource: pxhere

4. Use High-Quality Photos

Regardless of who is sponsoring the post, the imagery has to be on point. Be sure to showcase the product, service, or brand in a positive light.

For instance, if you’ve been hired to create a sponsored post to increase tourism to a particular destination, be sure to spotlight some of the most appealing and destination-worthy imagery.

Curious about ways to up your photography game fast? This post offers some of our best tips for Instagram photography!

5. The Perfect Number of Hashtags in a Post

You already know that hashtags can help your Instagram posts get noticed. But how many hashtags should you use?

While you can use up to 30 hashtags on a post per the Instagram rules, you probably shouldn’t use that many.

Once again, look around at what other influencers in your sector are doing. If you notice that they’re all using 8-10 hashtags, stick with that to start.

Benefits of Working With Brands

Here are some of the reasons why it pays to be an influencer:

Turn Your Hobby Into a Career

Wouldn’t you love to be paid to pursue your passion? Becoming an Instagram influencer can help make this a reality.

For instance, you may have started your Instagram account to share your love of fashion with the world. If you establish yourself in the fashion niche by gaining followers and attracting the attention of sponsors, what started as a hobby can turn into an income stream!

Grow Your Following

Many new influencers focus strongly on the amount of money they’ll make from a post. But don’t forget, it’s a marketing opportunity for you, too.

When you work with a brand, you’ll be noticed by their followers. This exposure can lead to added followers for your account, which can add up to even more opportunities.

Develop Relationships With Other Influencers

Working with brands can have the added benefit of acting as a platform for networking with your social media peers.

For example, say that you are hired on a campaign by a large national brand along with a team of 5 other influencers.

By tagging each other and reposting each other’s content you can all benefit in various ways, like helping one another gain followers, bringing more attention to the campaign, and forging new social media alliances.

Instagram on iphoneSource: Pexels

Things to Watch Out for When Working With Brands

Just because a brand wants to work with you doesn’t always mean you should. Consider these things before entering a collaboration:

Brand’s Reputation

How is the brand’s…well, branding? Be sure to do a little research into a brand or company before agreeing to work with them.

Just a few minutes spent researching a brand can prove immensely helpful. For example, if just by a quick google search you learn that this company is notorious for late payments and unethical work practices, this doesn’t bode well!

Payment Agreement

Be sure to talk about payment before you post anything on Instagram. Discuss compensation as well as how long it takes to issue payments.

You may need to submit paperwork and get set up in a payment system first. These things can take a while, so be sure to get it figured out beforehand.

Contract Details

Carefully review any contract before signing. There may be specific things that your Instagram posts must include, such as specific language or a hashtag. There may be other things that your posting cannot include, such as any reference to a competing brand.

You want to make sure that everything in the contract feels acceptable, and that you will be able to comply with the terms.


Instagram influencer marketing can be an exciting way to advance your prowess and reach on one of the fastest-growing social media platforms.

Brand collaborations can be beneficial for both parties. They allow the brand to benefit from your expertise and followers and help you transform your hobby into a job.

Remember these points before seeking out influencer marketing opportunities:

  • Find your niche. To become an influencer, it’s important to establish a niche and establish your place in it.
  • Make sure you’re on the same page. Consult with the brand before posting to make sure that you both have the same goals, and that your expectations are clear from the beginning.
  • Stay true to yourself. Don’t work with just any brand. Choose brands that are aligned with your interests and mission statement. Be sincere and honest. Your followers can tell if your heart isn’t in it!

At SocialUpgrade, we can help you grow your Instagram account so that you’ll be more appealing to potential sponsors.

Our unique and targeted approach is based on organic growth, which means that we can help you attain your social media goals in a long-term, sustainable way.

Have you considered becoming an Instagram influencer?

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