Collaborating with brands is probably one of the coolest things about being an influencer.
I know I talk about this a lot, and I’m sure a lot of other influencers do too. But it really is just such a cool part of this gig. However, it’s not always glamorous. Aside from wearing a million hats per day, there are days where you need to play both good and bad cop with brands. This is not the “fun” part of my job, but it’s undoubtedly something influencers have to deal with when you’re working with brands. If you’re relatively new to the influencer space, always remember it’s not as perfect or easy as it seems. Luckily, I just signed with an agency, so now I can immediately send inquiries to my manager, and only be looped in once a deal was reached.
I’m just speaking on the influencer side of things, but there’s a few things I’ve either witnessed first hand or heard from industry professionals about the miscommunication that sometimes happens when influencers and brands work together. I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while so that I can reiterate that not everything is perfect in the digital space, and to maybe help future collaborations go smoothly!
Brands/agencies don’t communicate the expected results
When I receive a request from a brand about a possible collaboration, most of a time there’s a brief overview of the campaign. After the negotiating and contract reviews, brands will typically send me a campaign directive filled with artistic direction, hashtags to use, and key messaging. But I’ve never seen a campaign directive that stated what the actual expectation is. No problem, right? Welllll…let’s skip to the next part of this post.
Influencers don’t ask the right questions
James Nord of Fohr really, really put this into perspective for me: “Influencers aren’t asking the right questions”. When I’m working with a brand, I’m essentially working for them. There’s obviously something they want from me. Is it sales? Is it “swipe up” clicks? Is it brand awareness for a specific campaign? Well, how the heck should I know unless I ask? This is a partnership. You’re very much supposed to ask ALL of the questions before signing a contract with a company. You want to make sure you ask all of the questions that ensure you’re creating successful content for the brand so that they’ll want to work with you again. If you’re up front about being uncertain about the end results, SPEAK UP! It’ll be so worth it.
Brands don’t recognize influencers’ worth
I think brands are doing a much better job at this in 2018. I’m speaking for myself and my business, but most brands are definitely willing to pay nowadays. But how much? Yes, this year I’ve taken on a few campaigns that paid less than my typical rate when I really wanted to work with a brand. To me, that’s worth it. I understand not having quite a big enough budget to meet my rate, but for the most part, I haven’t had a huge issue. For other inquiries, I’ve definitely turned down completely unpaid or really unfair rates. I’ve been offered $14 FOR AN ENTIRE BLOG POST. I’m sorry…WHAT? And that just really shows me that they have zero respect for my time and my content. NEXT.
Influencers feel entitled
We’ve all heard the horror stories of influencers. It’s horrible, and gives influencers a terrible reputation. I don’t think there’s too many of those types of influencers, but one bad apple affects us all. Back when bloggers first began working with brands, it was really on a “gifted” basis. We thought it was so cool to just be in contact with brands. Now, it’s expected. Influencers expect brands to just jump on board and send said influencer whatever their little heart desire. Over the years, I’ve realized that this isn’t how it works. You need to prove yourself to a brand if you reach out to work together. Why should they send you products or pay you money just because you asked? That’s not how a collaboration is supposed to work. You’re supposed to be able to bring something to the table in order to help that brand.
Brands (sometimes) fail to pay on time
Much like any company, there are times when invoices just don’t get paid on time. It’s probably one of the most unfortunate parts of my job. But I actually understand this because I’m the one that deals with invoices for our fabrics, samples, and development during my 9-to-5. There’s so many moving parts before an invoice can be approved and paid. So I definitely can see how it happens. And then if you’re working with an agency, the brand needs to pay the agency before paying you. It’s a shitty situation (especially if someone is doing this full time), but again, it’s part of the business. Some influencers do enforce a late fee in their contract, which I also totally understand. Gotta do what you gotta do to get paid for your work.
Influencers Need To Consider Their Audience
Have you ever looked at an influencer’s feed and just saw #ad after #ad after #ad? There are definitely times where deadlines overlap and you have no choice but to post back to back sponsored content. I think, now more than ever, influencers need to be aware of their audiences on their blog and social media accounts. Our readers and followers are very, very smart. They know when an influencer is 1000% doing something for money. Sure, they all want recommendations for products and services, but they certainly don’t want us shoving it down their throats 5-7 days a week. That’s why I like to limit the amount of sponsored content I have per week and per month. It’s just really overwhelming: Not only for the person seeing it in their feed or on their computer screen, but also for influencers. And if you’re promoting similar products/services, that definitely does not look good to the brands you’re working with (be careful with exclusivity clauses!!).
All in all, it’s a whirlwind trying to put together sponsored and organic content in a way that just flows naturally. It’s every blogger’s dream, and something I think we can say we all strive for: the “perfect” balance. There’s so much that goes into a collaboration, and these “mistakes” made from both the brand and influencer side are great ways to better yourself as an influencer/blogger/content creator and businessperson.