Are influencer platforms even worth it? Should I spend my time applying to them and trying to find campaigns on influencer platforms? Which ones are the best influencer platforms to focus on?
If you are looking to work with brands, chances are you have come across one of the many influencer platforms out there. You may have even joined a few. If you have, there’s a good chance you are getting emails or texts or maybe both from them with opportunities to work with brands.
Influencer platforms can be great, but they can also be a huge waste of your time. As an influencer, your time is probably limited anyways with running your social channels and possibly a blog plus pitching brands, negotiating with brands, planning content, shooting content, etc.
If you are just starting out, influencer platforms can look incredibly appealing. Maybe you even have been able to get a couple of gifting exchanges through them or your first paid collaboration.
So how do you know if influencer platforms are right for you? How do you know what to watch out for? This complete guide to influencer platforms will help you figure out if influencer platforms are worth your time, which ones are the best influencer platforms, and things to watch out for before taking that attractive deal you just found.
ARE INFLUENCER PLATFORMS WORTH IT?
Yes and no. It really depends on who you are, where you are, and how big your audience is.
Influencer platforms tend to work best for beauty, fashion and lifestyle influencers. Because these products are priced lower to begin with, the brand will pay more for them to be advertised. With travel brands, it is a lot harder to get a hotel to give you a few free night and pay you on top of that.
That does not mean you can’t do well on platforms in other niches. If you are in travel, you will probably find travel products offered on platforms. If you are lifestyle, you can really work with most types of brands which means they can be profitable for you.
The biggest thing, as always, is to make sure the brand is a good fit for you and your audience. If you are a travel influencer, it becomes a lot harder to look authentic posting about beauty products all of the sudden. Make sure you don’t get caught up in the deal and forget about your personal brand.
As far as where you are, if you are U.S.-based, influencer platforms are made for you. If you are not U.S.-based, there will be fewer opportunities for you.
Because most influencer platforms are based in the U.S., they tend to work with influencers who are also based in the U.S. Even if you have a large U.S. audience, they probably won’t ship the product outside of the U.S. for you to advertise it. If you have a U.S. address, you might be able to work around this, but it will still be more difficult.
One platform for creators outside of the U.S. is Tribe. The problem with Tribe is that you must buy the product and pre-shoot the content and then hope you get approved. If not, you are out the time and the money. If you are picked, you will get paid for the collab. Because of the number of people applying though, there is a small chance you are picked.
As far as size, most influencers with over 100K followers are not using platforms. They are usually negotiating through PR agencies, managers, or on their own. At that point, brands are often reaching out to them instead of them having to constantly reach out or search out deals.
Platforms are best for those between 10K and 50K followers who are U.S. based. Even if you have less than 10K, you can still have some luck on platforms if you have an engaged audience that fits what the brand wants.
There are some people who make good money from platforms. Often these are fashion and beauty influencers with 10K – 50K followers based in major U.S. cities with a U.S. following. If this describes you, get on platforms. If not, you will need to do a little more research to see if they are worth it for you.
BEST INFLUENCER PLATFORMS
If you are going to try platforms, there are two I recommend as a manager: Activate and Popular Pays. Again, both of these are best for U.S. based influencers.
Activate is constantly growing. They continually update offers and have a well-laid out platform. Activate emails you new collabs that might be a good fit for you and makes it clear where and how to apply.
Another pro for Activate is that they have a manager login. This is great if you are working with a manager or if you start working with one down the line. As a manager, I can log in, pitch for my clients, and respond to messages so that it is one cohesive team instead of the influencer trying to pass everything on to me.
Activate is one of the only ones doing it right, but another option is Popular Pays. Popular Pays is also very well-laid out and the brand deals are handled very well.
If you are going to try influencer platforms, these are the best influencer platforms to try out. With every influencer platform though, you need to be aware of some red flags and things to consider before working with them.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR WITH INFLUENCER PLATFORMS
Influencer platforms, even the best ones, aren’t without their red flags. There are some things you need to consider when working through an influencer platform instead of pitching brands yourself.
The first one is a major one and is true of most platforms. If you start working with a brand through an influencer platform, you can’t work with that brand again outside of the platform unless they approach you.
That means that if you work with a brand you love through a platform, three months later you can’t pitch them through email. You can only work with them through the platform. The only way you can work with them outside the platform is if they reach out to you or if a PR agency representing them reaches out to you.
Another major issue with platforms is that many of them ask you to pre-shoot content. If you are spending the money and the time to create the content over and over again without getting picked, it can be very expensive. Plus, you may end up with a lot of products you aren’t loving if you don’t think about brand fit.
There is also the time factor. That ends up being a lot of time you could have used engaging with your audience, pitching brands without pre-shooting content, or even creating content you love that isn’t for a collab.
Usage rights are another big thing with influencer platforms. Most require one year of 100% usage rights. Normally this is something I charge a lot more for usage rights than for a single post on social media. With platforms, this is already included in what they are paying, and they won’t let you charge extra for those rights.
This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but you need to know what they are getting from you. If you agree to post one time on Instagram, but then they get to use that image anywhere and however they want for the next year, you need to be aware of that. You have to decide if that is worth it to you for what they are paying or not.
Always be sure to read the fine print. This is the case for every deal you do, but especially on platforms. You may end up giving them the rights for boosting or whitelisting, so make sure you read the fine print and know what all they can do with your content.
They often don’t put all of these terms and conditions in the deal itself. Sometimes it is a general platform policy or hidden in the fine print. You could normally charge a lot extra for some of the things they include as part of the deal, so know your worth and decide if it is worth it to you.
Sometimes influencer platforms limit your creativity as well. Brands can be very specific on their creative brief. This locks you down for how you can shoot the content and may limit your ability to post content that is authentic to you. If it looks like branded content and not your usual content, your audience is less likely to engage. Make sure to read the creative brief first and pay attention to the rules for what you can do and can’t do with your photos.
In addition to limiting creativity, they often take their time to pay you. Platforms usually operate on net 45 to net 90 which is hard as a creator. It is also usually through PayPal which is another issue as PayPal sometimes takes fees out of it that they do not cover. This is especially true if you are outside of the US and need to convert the currency.
Really, if you are outside of the U.S., influencer platforms are pretty terrible. They can be great for nano and micro influencers in the U.S., but outside of the U.S., there aren’t good options. You can spend your time applying, but they are not likely to choose you. Some won’t even let you apply for jobs if you don’t have a U.S. address.
Even if you do apply, they are likely to say that you don’t have the demographics for the campaign. This might not be the case – it might be because they realized you are outside of the U.S. and don’t want to ship the product to you.
Unfortunately, working with brands is harder in general if you are outside of the U.S. when it comes to products. This is because the most marketing money in the world is in the U.S., so brands want to advertise within the U.S.
Another issue with platforms is that there are a million of them. Having to check them daily and remember which deals are on which platform and check up on them can get overwhelming. Using these platforms can be very time consuming and confusing.
Your email can get filled up quickly with daily email updates and messages about collab opportunities. If you are signed up for 10+ platforms, it gets hard to keep track of which deals are on which platform.
The application process is usually long, so it can also be time consuming and some of them get somewhat confusing as well. Then there is the part where you may go through all of this work and not even get picked. You might fill out 10 applications a day and only get approved for one or two a week.
If you are spending hours a week on the platforms and not getting many (or any!) deals, it ends up being a waste of time for you compared to what you could do with that time.
You can always try them, but pay attention to how much time you are spending to find the deals. If you aren’t getting many deals or are only getting a few small deals, your hourly rate is dropping each time you spend time on the platform.
Finally, you give away your ideas for free on influencer platforms. When you apply, you often give them your ideas for the content or campaign. Because of the number of people applying, you have a small chance of being chosen. However, they can like your idea and take it to use with other influencers. If that happens, you get nothing for this great idea you had.
Overall, influencer platforms tend to be a waste of time. However, there are some good options out there, and they may be a great fit depending on who you are and where you are based.
It doesn’t hurt to try a couple out and see what you think, but don’t go into it expecting to make a lot of money. Like I mentioned earlier, it is only specific types of influencers with a specific type of audience who are based in the U.S. who can sometimes earn good income through them.
If you are struggling with pitching brands and think influencer platforms are the way to go, we have lots of resources available to help you out including tips for what to include in a pitch email (sign up below to get it right away!).
Boost Society is also now offering a one-of-a-kind small group coaching program that goes into more depth about the behind the scenes of the influencer business, giving you the tools you need to act as your own manager.
In the coaching program, I cover things like negotiating contracts and deals to know up front if it is a good deal or not, what contract terms mean, what to look for in contracts, etc. I also give you examples of contracts you can use to help you understand contracts better.
This is not teaching you how to be an influencer or how to grow on social media but how to negotiate from gifting to paid partnerships, how to read and understand contracts, how to pitch brands, how to build long-term partnerships and more. You can check it out here!
If you aren’t quite ready for that, you can still get our free tips for pitching brands below!
Subscribe to get your FREE “12 things to include in a pitch email” PDF & to get more tips and tricks from Boost Society!
For more Influencer tips, check out these posts:
- How to Work with Brands and PR Agencies
- How Influencers Really Make Money
- What a Good Brand Collaboration Looks Like
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