What word best sums up our influencer marketing world? Competition or community? Let me guess, most of you chose competition. You probably find yourselves competing daily as a content creator. How come? What if I told you…you’re on the wrong path.
I understand – I fight to sign clients, clients fight to get jobs, brands fight to have the best campaigns. Our industry is built on competition, but what if I told you I wanted to shake things up and challenge this notion of “competition” and replaced it with something I’ve found to be worthwhile, the building of a community.
In addition to comparing yourself and feeling like it is a competition, influencers and content creators are making other mistakes that tie in with these factors. Find the 5 ways influencers and content creators (including bloggers!) are hurting themselves without even realizing it.
1. Not Creating a Sense of Community
The idea of Boost Society was to create a worldwide community where every single influencer, content creator, and talent could come together to support, work, encourage, and meet one another. The idea came to me when it seemed that the social media industry had a negative competition like feel to it. These negative vibes come from comparing.
Comparing is a form of competition that we will dive deeper into a little bit later in this post. Within social media, people may feel like they are constantly comparing themselves and wishing they were this or that. This often keeps people from forming a community with other creators.
They saw their peers as their competitors. I started Boost Society to find a way to kill that negative mindset within the industry and build a society of influencers who all wanted to be friends, support each other, meet one another, and become somewhat of a family. Basically, I was trying to find a way to band together as many talented individuals as possible and create a “Union”. In other words, a group of like minded individuals who come together and stand together as one.
Instead of competing against other creators, form a community. Reach out and engage with others in your niche. Find ways to collaborate together whether it be shouting each other out, taking a trip together, or just starting a group chat where you can bounce ideas off of each other.
In addition to forming a community with other creators, form a community within your own audience. A community is the most important thing you can have on social media. Sarah, aka Salty Luxe, share more about why having a community is so important here.
2. Devaluing Your Talent and Skills
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see in my conversations with influencers, especially newer influencers. This is actually the biggest part of my job – negotiating with brands to get my team what they are truly worth.
When I first started in this industry, I quickly realized that there was a lack of everything that Boost Society represents (support, order, stability, and organization). I came from the television industry, where every company would undercut a competitor, just to land that next job.
For example, in the visual effects industry, I know of Oscar winning companies who went bankrupt before they ever received their award. Why? Because they devalued their own talents for the job. We live in a money driven society. So it is simple, the cheaper your services, the more likely you are to “win” the job
I started noticing the same thing happening within the influencer industry. As an agent/manager myself, the money side of the business is where I thrive. Don’t get me wrong, competition can be great if it fits in the right situation, like how it keeps us on our toes to always be learning and pushing ourselves so we do not get lazy and fall behind. I just don’t think the way we have left it to play out in this industry, is healthy.
The age of the nano, micro, macro, and celebrity influencer is in full effect, and I think a few (not all, as there are hundreds doing it SO RIGHT) brands and PR agencies have taken advantage of that. I realize that some of the nano and micro influencers are doing it to themselves as well, by just being new to the game and not realizing the power they have in the market and where they should be positioning themselves.
Basically, those few PR agencies and brands have “realized” that nano and micro influencers are new to the industry and that most of them (and by most, it is based on the knowledge I have) are just very excited to have a following. They are excited to be able to travel for free, attend special events, receive free product and share their own opinions and experiences.
What has happened is these brands, that used to pay thousands of dollars for television, print, and radio, have found a way to get “FREE” advertising. By free, I mean, in exchange for products, which is ultimately enough for some influencers.
Now all the macro influencers (50K+ following) occasionally have brands asking them to do campaigns or sponsored posts for free. The mindset now in the industry is that if a brand is such a perfect fit, it is your first partnership, you want to impress them and so forth, it is fine to give your services for free.
In some cases, it is (see this post with tips on when to charge and how much to charge for why that is). This becomes an issue when when a macro influencer (which you nano and micro influencers WILL become), tries to quit their job and be a full time content creator or influencer, and they are relying on consistent brand collaborations and partnerships to stay afloat.
Let me ask you this…What are you working towards? To lay it out bluntly…how can there be any growth in your career if you are always offering your services for free at any stage in the game. Why would a brand offer you a job that you are perfect for, if another creator will just do it for free or half price?
Here’s the worst part. You aren’t doing it to each other on purpose. What’s interesting is that the other influencers you are “competing” against are not even aware they are under charging. The skill of knowing how to quote properly comes from community. We know how much to expect to make as a doctor, teacher, bank teller, etc. because that information is shared. There is a standard and it is well communicated.
So as you can see, this is where the competition aspect comes into play. Simply put, STOP undercutting each other, but how can you? You don’t even know you are doing it. The space is so new and there is no system in place to truly help everyone out as a collective. Due to this situation and the fact that influencer marketing is just so vast, brands and PR agencies are reaping the benefits, and getting incredible results for a fraction of what they used to pay for advertising.
3. Feeling You Must Have a Huge Audience to Succeed
There have been COUNTLESS articles written about “the dawn of the micro influencer” and how they can drive more results for any influencer campaign. This article written by Forbes talks about whether micro influencers are the “force of the future”, and this one written by Impact defines what a micro influencer even is and why they are “so effective”.
I don’t disagree (you all are the future), but…you have to learn to value yourself and your audience. This happens in a few ways.
First, learn the tricks PR companies and brands use to try to get you to work for free. Again, sometimes it is okay to do sponsored work for free, but most of the time it is not. Think about the work you put into a single post for a brand. From dreaming up the idea for the shoot to actually executing it to editing the photos to actually posting it with the best caption and hashtags, it can take hours or even days.
If a brand is offering you a $15 product, is your time really worth that? I know it is exciting, especially when it is your first offer, but isn’t your time worth more than that? Think about your hourly rate – if you would not be happy going to work for that rate per hour, it may not be the best fit for you.
Sometimes they promise future work that won’t come. If you are going to work with a brand that is promising future work, make sure you really love that brand. You need to make sure it is worth it to do the collaboration just for this initial collab and not count on future work. If it happens, awesome! If not, make sure you are okay with that. Maybe try to offer less deliverables to show what you can do without having to do as much work.
The worst is when brands try to get you to PAY for their products and then post about it. If they are offering for you to be an ambassador and get a discount on products or even just an affiliate code, again, think about how much you actually stand to profit. Will you make enough to make your time worth it? Why would you pay to advertise for them?
That is not to say that you should avoid all affiliate programs. If you get the products for free or as part of a paid brand deal, make sure you love the product enough to sell it. Make sure it will not alienate your audience. Also, make sure that you are able to make enough to make it worth it.
This is not the same as posting about a product or brand you use and love. That is actually a smart thing to do as they may reach out and want to work together. However, you don’t want to start buying a product you don’t even know if you will like with the agreement that you must advertise it to try to earn an income from it.
One thing you can do for the product for exchange opportunities (if you really are interested in the product and want to try it) is let the brand know you will try it but not guarantee that you will post. If you love it, post it. If not, you are not forced to post about it and pretend you love it.
Another important thing to consider in brand collaborations is if that product and brand lines up with who you are. Is it something you actually want to put your name behind, even if they are paying you a good amount. Is it something your audience will be interested in using?
Believe it or not, some micro influencers have more selling power than influencers with huge followings. If you cultivate a community that supports you, trusts you, and respects you, they are more likely to support the brands you support. They are more likely to buy the brands you mention or visit the places you go.
It is not worth it to lose their trust and their respect to make a little income on a product that doesn’t fit your personal brand. Make sure to think about that before saying yes to a brand deal.
You don’t have to have a huge following to make money as an influencer. If you have a highly engaged audience, brands will see that. Yes, some brand focus solely on the following number. However, many understand that the number of people following you don’t tell the whole story.
4. Diversify Your Income & Your Platforms
When you are just starting out, it is much harder to earn a full-time income from brand collaborations. This is where diversifying can help you earn closer to a full-time wage as a content creator.
First, diversify your platforms. If you are only on Instagram, think about growing a following on another platform as well. You don’t have to have a presence on every platform, so choose one you enjoy.
If you love to write, start a blog. If you love making videos, start a YouTube channel or a TikTok (find out why you should be on TikTok here). If you love talking with others and have an idea tight niche, start a Facebook group to build a community there.
If you have a following on multiple platforms, you have more to offer brands. Instead of just offering Instagram stories and posts, you can offer a blog post, a YouTube video, a TikTok video, a post in your Facebook community, etc. These all increase the amount you can charge a brand for a package deal instead of just a single social post.
Even without other platforms, think about ways to diversify your income both with brand collabs and without them. For example, think of other ways you can help that brand, especially if you have a smaller following. Even if you don’t have a huge reach on Instagram, what other skills and talents can you offer?
Can you offer a review for the product or location? Are you a talented photographer or videographer who can offer photos or videos for them to use in marketing? Could you write a blog post for their blog? Do you have a skill that would bring them value outside of an Instagram post? If you don’t have other skills, start looking for skills you find interesting and learn something new.
In addition to brand collabs, think about other ways to diversify. Christina Galbato is an example of an influencer who has become a CEO from diversifying her income streams.
Consider products you could sell, either digital or physical. Is there a skill you have that you could teach others in a course? Do people love your edits and want your presets? Maybe even create a physical product like a clothing line or a beauty product or an accessory.
This is when it is important to know your audience and how you can provide value to them though. You want to make sure the work you put into the product pays off in the long run.
5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Now that we are a few years into the boom of the influencer industry, we have talented people playing the comparison game. “Why did they get that job and I didn’t?” and “what makes them better than I am?”
I totally understand that some of those comparing feelings have come from the following numbers and the amount of likes somebody’s photo got. On a positive note, thanks to Instagram, it is now impossible to compare yourself with likes in most parts of the world.
However, being a manager who is in the thick of it all day, let me let you in on a little secret – that other influencer getting the job has nothing to do with you or your talent, and everything to do with money.
People are doing jobs for free or for less, and the thing is, some of the PR agencies and brands (definitely not all of them) do not care, because in the end, they are getting what they want at a cheaper price. In the end, there are a TON of amazing brands and PR agencies, trust me, so let’s hope that we all can spend more time with companies who truly see an influencer’s value.
Also, do not forget, there are the obvious reasons that the competition aspect is unhealthy. Don’t let it get under your skin when someone has a better performance than you or if they get a job you applied for or wish you had been asked to be a part of. It adds fuel to the fire when you feel as though someone has copied you or is stealing your style, and maybe even using that style to move to heights you have not reached yet.
There is so much negativity within social media these days, and it is so easy to put people down and hide behind our phones or keyboards. It will only get worse, unless we try to collectively, be better, as a community. If you think of other creators as fellow employees and friends and focus on being happy for them instead of seeing them as the competition, it makes being on social media a more healthy experience.
Sure, if someone no longer inspires you, unfollow them. If you find that someone is having a negative impact on your mental health, step away from that relationship or go ahead and unfollow that account. Do your best not to compare yourself to others and try to keep a positive mindset. Mel Vandersluis gave us her tips for keeping a positive mindset and protecting your mental health in the influencer industry here.
How Boost Society is Changing the Influencer Industry
This is why Boost Society was started, we wanted to get rid of all of this, or at least as much as we can, and stand with these incredibly talented people and push back for proper pay and compensation for the great brand exposure, growth, and sales these companies are receiving. We want to supply our team with an environment of support that starts with us and only expands outwards into our network.
So far, we have succeeded. We have an amazing group of talent who all believe in the same things as us and want to be part of a community of strong and talented people who have the same mindset as they do.
How are we accomplishing this? Well, we have a WhatsApp chat where our team can talk, plan meetups, bounce ideas off each other, send interesting articles or videos, basically everything you could ask for from a support system. We have also started taking team trips, with Egypt being a massive success, where we were able to bring people from all over the world, some who have not met before, to travel to a new country and experience, collaborate, expand their audiences, and enjoy a trip together.
We have provided a space where questions, curiosity, and issues can be resolved. Maybe someone else has experienced what you are going through, and their advice can be shared so that we can all learn together and feel that support.
We know we can change this industry for the better, and we know there are tons of talented people out there who are interested as well. Step by step, hopefully we all can start to make a conscious effort to be more supportive and collaborative with our peers.
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Share in the comments an experience you have had in the influencer/content creator industry, negative or positive, and how it has affected you. I am sure there is at least one other person reading this blog that has been through the same, and that comment might make them feel a little less lonely.
For more information about collaborations, check out these posts:
- How to know when to charge and what to charge in brand collaborations
- Tips and tricks for working with brands and PR agencies
- The truth about working with brands from an influencer perspective
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