Welcome back to Influencer Interviews! This week we have interviewed Catarina Mello, otherwise known as @professionaltraveler on Instagram. We have been working with Catarina for over a year and have had some incredible success working with some huge brands, including Adobe, GoDaddy and Conair, to name a few.
Catarina has obviously had her fair share in brand partnerships and has a lot of knowledge of the process and what it is like being a part of one. Read on to read her answers to some of our top questions.
Tell me a little bit about yourself, why you became an influencer and how you found your own voice in the saturated influencer world?
Hey everyone! I’m Catarina, a travel and lifestyle content creator based in San Francisco. A little over 3 years ago I was searching for a creative outlet and decided to combine my biggest passions — travel & photography — and design my own career as an influencer and online entrepreneur. Two and a half years later I quit my job at Google to dedicate myself to my business full time.
I found my voice when I let go of my filtered self and started being myself. ‘Just be yourself’ is a piece of advice I had read and heard a million times before. However, I thought it didn’t apply to me since I wasn’t trying to be anyone else. The truth is, it’s not only about trying to be someone else but about not being your full self. Once I allowed myself to be real, be vulnerable and, above all else, not be perfect — that’s when I found my voice.
What do you wish someone told you before becoming an influencer?
I wish I knew how lonely this career can be. In most jobs, you have coworkers and other peers to talk to, work with, or get a coffee. This is a pretty competitive industry where you’ll be working alone most of the time. Make friends with other influencers early on so you can count on them!
What do you think is something brands struggle with?
I think some brands struggle with letting go of creative control. Marketing departments at big companies are used to having total control of their brand’s message and visuals.
In influencer marketing, you can’t just give someone the exact words they should say and the exact graphic they should post — that’s not how it works. It takes time to adapt to this new channel and to understand that the most successful partnerships are actually the ones that are co-created and feel authentic.
What do you wish brands knew about working with influencers?
A lot of brands do know this, but I wish all brands knew the amount of work that goes into each post and the value of it. For each photo you see, there are countless hours of planning, shooting, and editing. Not to mention all the hours invested in learning new skills, networking, the financial investment and so much more that goes into it.
How do you maintain an authentic voice while partnering with brands?
Make sure you actually love the brand or product and being authentic will be effortless. I do extensive research on the brand and test their products and services (if I’m not already a customer).
I only agree to partner with brands I truly love and are a good fit for my brand. It’s much easier to share your real opinions and be authentic when the product or brand fits so organically into your content!
Have you received backlash from your audience for posting certain brand partnerships? How do you cope with it?
Luckily, never. I do a lot of research on brands before agreeing to a partnership and have said no to numerous brand collaborations that were not a good fit.
What was your favourite partnership and why?
It’s hard to pick one — I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing partners. It’s like asking a parent who’s their favourite child 🙂
All of my favourite partnerships had one thing in common: they trusted me and my work, equipped me with everything I needed to know about their brand, their goals and values, and let me free to create my best work.
I want to personally thank Catarina for taking the time to share her story and her knowledge about brand partnerships. Please go give her a follow at @professionaltraveler and hopefully you have learned something on how brand partnerships work.
Comment below if you more insights into brand partnerships and some wins you have had either in the past or something coming up!
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