You have Instagram, take decent photos, use a lot of products, and are wondering why companies aren't knocking on your doorstep to take their products for free.
There's a lot that goes into brand-influencer collaborations, especially on the brand side of things. Brands are using more and more of their marketing budget on digital marketing specifically. Part of that budget includes influencer cost.
It's the brand's job to decide how much of their budget is spent on influencers specifically, and what exactly they need (IG post, twitter posts, blog review, etc.) that will help their brand awareness and, ultimately, conversions (sold products).
This is where you step in.
It's not about you getting free stuff. It's about you contributing to the growth of a brand when it's mutually beneficial.
Here are some things to consider when reaching out to companies OR responding to companies that have reached out:
First and foremost, is this a product you genuinely use?
If it's not a product or service that you would use without a collaboration, then can you be genuine in your posts about it? Don't waste your own time AND the brand's time if it's a no. Politely decline and move on.
Does this brand flow with your design aesthetic?
If you take all gym photos, and the company is a trail-focused brand, that photo won't look authentic and natural on your social media platform. Look at the brand's social platforms in comparison to yours. Would you need to change your entire "look and feel" to fit their product into your page, or does it fit well with your style?
Assuming both of these questions are answered with "yes", let's get down to the real talk.
What platforms do you have and how far is your reach?
Instagram? Tumblr? Facebook? Twitter? Blog? Snapchat? Youtube?
If you're reaching out to a brand for potential sponsorship/partnership, be ready to tell them all your platforms (with handles) and reach for each one. You are selling yourself by suggesting that you can add value to their marketing campaign. Being one-note (only having Instagram, for example) isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can certainly cut out a lot of sponsors that are more active elsewhere.
Spoiler: Instagram is not the be-all end-all. Be on the lookout for my post about best social media platforms to have as an influencer, and the case against IG.
What's your engagement rate?
It's not just about how many followers you have, it's about how much they are actually engaging on your page. Engagement rates tell a brand how many people are actually SEEING your posts that could potentially have product placement or a review.
What constitutes a "good" engagement rate greatly varies across social media channels, so don't stress this, but know those numbers.
What's your strength?
Do you take amazing photos of active movements?
Do you hit the podium in races often? Are you a great writer? Super funny?
Know your strength in the social media world and sell the brand on that.
It's great that you hit the podium a ton, but if you aren't suggesting that you'll wear their XYZ during the race then it doesn't help them. It's awesome if you have a massive engagement rate on dog photos, but if they aren't dog-oriented it doesn't help them.
Is this adding value to both you and the brand?
If you take nothing else from this post, take this question. An influencer-brand collaboration only works successfully if it's mutually beneficial. It's not about "getting a good deal". It's about feeling like you are helping a company while growing your own personal brand. Free stuff is great, if it helps you with your goals. Discount codes are awesome, if it's something you would be purchasing anyway and believe in. Paid posting is awesome, if it's how you want to handle your social media life.
Know what you're committing to, know the time it takes to get the right photos or review thoroughly. CARING makings you a great influencer for both, brands, and your following.