These days it seems like everyone either is an Instagram influencer—or wants to be one—and it’s easy to understand why. The average price of a sponsored post is $300. And rates only go up from there!
Even Micro-Influencers Can Get Sponsored on IG
Newsflash: Even if you have a small account right now, you can make money from Instagram. You might be what’s known as a “micro-influencer.”
Micro-influencers are a segment of the Instagram influencer population that is typically defined as having a low amount of followers when compared to the big players. They retain the identifier of “influencer” because of their success within a niche, and for having an engaged audience.
How do Brands and Companies evaluate Potential Sponsors?
While most brands usually look for numbers first, they’re now starting to realize the implications of working with micro-influencers whose audiences represent a more exact match for their target demographics. From a budgeting standpoint, they can also understand the benefit of working with micro-influencers, as the most popular Instagram influencers charge much higher per post. Even small businesses with limited budgets are wising up to micro-influencers as a low-cost, high-reward marketing tactic.
It would seem that working with popular Instagram accounts actually puts brands at a disadvantage when comparing the ROI between the two situations. This is in part because Instagram accounts with millions of followers get less engagement.
Hopefully, you understand that just getting started on Instagram or having low numbers doesn’t necessarily put you out of the running. But there are a lot of other factors you’ll need to consider before securing your first sponsored post on Instagram.
And now with the new Instagram sponsored posts features available for brand + influencer collaboration, this is even more important than ever.
Without further ado, here are some tips to get your first sponsored post on IG:
Branding is Everything
Influencers become popular because people associate them with something specific. The idea is that an influential Instagram account focuses on one thing, and does a really good job of doing this.
As far as what an influencer is specifically known for, it may be the kinds of photos they post, the style of photos in their feed, a theme or cohesive look, or the things they do in their daily life. Some influencers break into several categories (ex/ lifestyle influencers can venture into travel, food, fashion, etc). The important thing is that there’s still some way of knowing that post is distinctly theirs.
Grow Your Following
How to specifically go about growing your following will depend on your industry, audience, and even your personality. Regardless, consider adopting the following Instagram best practices to help when you’re getting started:
Hashtags categorize content and make them more discoverable. It was found that content with at least one hashtag gets up to 12.6% more engagement. You can add up to 30 hashtags per post, but TrackMaven has found that 11 is the most optimal number.
Include a mix of both branded and unbranded hashtags, but be careful not to use hashtags that are too broad. Because most people use them, there’s a chance that your post won’t get seen. Think strategically in terms of hashtag use, and get ideas for the best from hashtag guides.
When you feature content with products from a brand you like, tag their Instagram page so that when they like your post, it will be discoverable to their followers. Besides that, it catches their attention. If they like your posts enough, they will re-gram your posts on their page, which also gives you exposure to their audience.
It’s important to note that when you do this, you are aware of the quality of the images you’re tagging brands in. These images, and your feed as a whole act as a portfolio of the future work you will produce for them!
3. Improve Your Feed Appearance
As an Instagram influencer hopeful, you have to work on the coherence of your feed so that people will want to follow you. People won’t follow you just because you were featured on a prominent brand page, they will follow you because you have awesome content.
More often than not, people follow an Instagram page because it boasts of a certain aesthetic they like or can relate to. Here are some things you can do to improve your Instagram feed appearance:
Create a specific theme or mood:
Theme: think in terms of Instagram accounts dedicated to cats, babies or the beach.
Mood: A certain look or feel the feed inspires, like dark, colorful, washed-out pastel.
Align your color scheme with the mood you picked.
Use high engagement filters. Studies show that filters/presets generate the most response or engagement.
You can purchase high-quality filters here that will help to create your own Instagram Feed.
4. Use Geotags
Instagram allows you to add a geotag to every post, which shows physical places associated with your post. This allows users interested in a place to see what other people have posted about it. If your photos are interesting, people may look through your page and decide to follow you.
5. Don’t Neglect Your Engagement Rate!
Reply to comments on your posts, and visit your followers’ pages to leave comments on their posts as well. You can also opt to join Instagram comment pods, which are secret groups where people message each other when one of their posts go live.
From there, members like and comment on each other’s posts, which increases engagement for all members.
Use social media agency EndlessFollow. The agency will increase your engagement by showing your post on the explore page organically.
Don’t be Afraid to Pitch Paid Sponsorships to Brands
Another way to let brands know you’re interested in working with them is to directly pitch them a partnership opportunity.
Before hitting up your dream brand, you can start by looking for smaller brands where you think there may be a mutually beneficial partnership. Although smaller brands may have smaller budgets, they are usually open to collaborations for trade to get word of their brand out.
These smaller brands also have less influencer competition, representing an easy in for someone just getting started. If you’ve worked with multiple small brands, larger brands will eventually take notice and get in touch with bigger opportunities.
Apart from looking for smaller brands, you should look for brands that are clearly investing time, energy, and money into their Instagram presence. Look for brands that post consistently with high-quality content, run contests, or invest in ads.
Even better, find brands that are clearly already working with influencers. To do this, look at the Instagram accounts of other influencers in your niche and see who is sponsoring their posts. Reaching out to those brands, who are already investing in influencer marketing, will give you the highest success rate.
The process for how to get sponsored on Instagram when pitching to brands involves:
Interacting with their posts and using their hashtags. If you do it often enough, some of them might take notice, especially if you have a decent follower count and engagement.
Sending them a direct message (DM) saying that you love their brand, have some ideas for a collaboration, and specifically call out why you think it would be a good partnership for them. Ask for their email or contact number to talk more about it, as communicating purely through DM can seem unprofessional.
It definitely goes down in the DM, but things can get lost in there, too. Don’t get discouraged if the brands you reach out to don’t respond to your DMs. They probably just don’t check them or are bombarded with so many that yours just got lost. One way to make sure they check their DMs is to comment on a recent photo of theirs and actually say: ‘ Check your DMs!’.
Alternatively, you can go about contacting a brand “the old fashioned way” by finding their email and reaching out. Many companies have their email information included in their profile, but if not, you can usually find an email on their website.
However, these “all-purpose” email addresses can also get cluttered. If you can, find the email of the actual person that manages their social media. LinkedIn can be another great place to connect with this person, just search “[company] Social Media Manager”.
Once you have an email, send a pitch letter, stating:
Who you are
What you do
Where you’re from (if relevant)
What industry/niche you operate in
Notable achievements in the field or why it makes you an expert (if any)
Important data such as figures (# of followers, average engagement rate)
Your pitch and why you would be a good fit for the brand
If you haven’t sent a pitch letter to a brand before, consider a structure similar to this:
My name is [name] and I run the Instagram account [hyperlinked @name]. My account foc