Three years ago I started an Instagram account dedicated to all things beauty and skincare. I had no idea what I was doing, but I wanted a creative outlet. I started posting about my favorite skincare and beauty products. I had a pretty large stash of items that I loved.
As my following grew, I started receiving messages from brands to exchange products for posts on my page. I made a few mistakes along the way and certainly undervalued my work at times. Now that I’m much more seasoned at social media marketing, I thought it would benefit others to give a few tips and tricks to mastering the art of content creation.
Value Your Work
When my account started generating more traction, I began to receive offers of free products in exchange for a post on my Instagram account. As a small account, I was elated! This is a great way to start working with brands and getting some collaboration experience. My advice to a new influencer is to make sure that you’re not being taken advantage of.
Too often, large brands would reach out and ask for multiple deliverables: a post, a video, and an Instagram story. That’s a lot of work on your part for just one or two products. When a brand asks to work with you in exchange for a product, don’t be afraid to negotiate. If they really want you, they will work with you. It’s not uncommon to lower the number of deliverables or ask for some pay on the part of the influencer.
Beware of “Ambassador” DM’s
If a company asks you to be their ambassador, but you still have to pay for the product, are you really their partner? Or are you just a customer? Many times you’ll receive comments like this: “Love your style, babe! DM @OfficialBrandPage to be an Ambassador!” This may feel exciting the first time it happens, but be aware, a lot of these brands will ask you to buy the product at a “special” discount.
If a company really wants you to post about their product, the least they can do is send it to you for free. That’s the bare minimum. Of course, if you love the products and genuinely like them, buy away, but don’t be scammed into buying something to become an ambassador. They’re just trying to get you as a customer.
Those are the biggest takeaways I learned over the course of growing my public Instagram account. Beyond those tips, there are a few websites I’ve used to help make posting and managing my accounts easier.
What it is? Planoly is my control center for everything posting related. It is where I schedule posts, reply to comments, view my analytics, and plan my content calendar. I use it so that I don’t get burnt out.
I take batches of photos and after editing them, I upload them to Planoly, create my captions, and schedule my posts to go out when I’d like them to. They have the auto-post feature, so I can set things to post at 8:30 a.m. and I don’t have to get up to do it. (Sleeping in is KEY).
There is a free version of it, for those of you who are more casual Instagram users. I pay $9 a month for extended resources and larger allowances on posting. It’s really a great way to be efficient and not live on social media. No one likes typing on their phone keyboard. This allows you to use your desktop and laptop to put everything together.
While Planoly has analytics, it isn’t as robust as Fohr. I need to know my engagement rates, rates of growth, and other data. This information is valuable to help me pitch collaborations to brands and show them the value of working with me. The analytics are easy to read and understand and transition easily into a media kit.
The best part about Fohr is that it’s FREE. They gather insights, data, and other helpful things for free. If you don’t have a media kit, it’s a great substitute, as it has pretty much everything a PR/Marketing firm would be looking for. You can direct brands to your page to give them real-time analytics.
It also acts as a back-up of all your content. So once you've posted something, it keeps a copy on their site. In the event your account is disabled or deleted, it ensures not all is lost. My account was disabled for a month due to spammers, and I was able to ensure my content was safe and backed up with Fohr.
When I was just starting out in the skincare blogging world, I relied on my personal stash of products to use for content. There is a point where you may want to start collaborating with big brands to grow. The problem for newbies is that you need collaborations to prove to brands you’re worth collaborating with (it’s like when you want a job, and it requires experience, but you can’t get experience without a job).
BrandBacker has multiple campaigns that you can apply to. For newer content creators, you probably won’t get paid right from the start, but you will be able to have big brands in your media kit that you’ve worked with through Brandbacker. I’ve worked with PeterThomasRoth, June Jacobs Spa, and VersaSpa through this network. It’s a great place to get started. They work with smaller influencers, so it’s great for newbies.
Once you’re up and running, you may start amassing affiliate links, discount codes, and other links that brands will give you to track your audience’s engagement. Linktree gives you one link to share with your audience, which takes them to the list of links you’re hoping they click on. It’s another great free resource for the basic plan, and I personally think the free version is just fine. I have a blog, discount codes, and affiliate links, so my Linktree has it all in one convenient place.
When starting out down the content creator path, it can be intimidating. Hopefully, these resources and tips can help you be successful and avoid the common pitfalls of having a public account.
(Photo by The Savvy Reeder)