So You Want to be an Instagram Influencer: Part 6, Reaching Out to Brands

With an ever-changing Instagram algorithm it can be difficult to predict what move to make, and when to make it. And that’s just if you’re a product or service-based brand on social media. If you’re an influencer (or working on becoming one), there’s a whole other set of rules you need to follow.

This sixth part of our multi-part blog series on becoming an Instagram influencer is focusing on how to reach out to brands for brand deals, and what you’ll need to get their attention! Here are some topics we’ll be covering:

  • Reaching out to brands

  • How to NOT reach out to brands

  • Scams & red flags

In regards to the information in this blog, we’re focusing on the main types of brand deals you’ll probably come across as you’re starting out as a nano- or micro-influencer:

  • Sponsored posts

  • Gifted posts

  • Brand ambassador programs

Reaching Out to Brands

If you’re feeling like this is turning into a full-time’d be right! If you’re a dedicated content creator/influencer, this CAN be a full-time job. Most successful influencers spend 40-90 hours a week working on their brand, negotiating & emailing about collaborations, working on their media kits, creating content, editing photos & videos, studying the industry, and more.

You have the ability to be whatever level influencer you want to be! Whatever you decide, here are some things you definitely should know, expect, do and have on any level.

Here’s a look into how your conversation might go when reaching out to a brand:

  1. Your pitch email, with media kit (we’ll get to your media kit, below!)

  2. When they respond, ask if there is budget

  3. If they respond positively, send along the your rate for types of content

  4. They’ll most likely respond with a lower number, but don’t be afraid to negotiate! Offer a number in between your rate if you’re comfortable

  5. Request an agreement if they don’t send one

Social Light Tip: MixMax is a GREAT email integration tool that allows you to see when someone’s read your email. That way, you know when to follow up 48 hours later!

Do Your Research

Start by making a list of brands you’d like to partner with now and in the future. Before you do anything else, research them. Google ‘[company name] mission statement.’ See if there’s anything in the news about them - have they been in the middle of controversy that you don’t want to align yourself with?

It’s good to see if a company stands for what you stand for, and to see how they handle PR and negativity.

Once you’ve done some research, scour their website for a contact email! Some companies openly have a contact for influencers, but for others, you may need to put your nose to the ground. Here are a few ways to find that influencer relations contact:

  • Google “[company name] influencer program”

  • Find the company on LinkedIn and search through their employees

  • Head over to Glassdoor

  • When in doubt, email their PR

If you can’t find any contact information, send customer service an email OR...give them a call! Sometimes when you call customer service, it doesn’t give them time to ignore you and, since you’re on the phone, they can’t exactly ask for your media kit to “pass along.”

In your list of brands, add the contact email, who you spoke to, and more. Keep an organized list to maintain professionalism.

Media Kits

A media kit is very important to have, especially if you’ve had 3 or more brand collaborations. If you’re a lifestyle influencer like me (hey, Malena here), you may want to have 2 versions of your media kit - one that has a more humble tone, and one that’s fun!

There are so many designs for a media kit, and there’s so much information out there about what information to incorporate. We say, focus on the most important facts. You can chat more about details in your emails with the brand.

Here are some things I’ve included in my media kit (in order):

  • Photo examples of the type of creative content I’ve done

  • Basic Instagram info: followers, engagement rate, your brand

  • Audience info: Instagram audience (ex: 56% female), age range (ex: 25-34), most engaging regions (ex: US: LA & NY, UK, Brazil)

  • Collaborations: list brands you’ve partnered with. There are so many ways to do this that I’ll touch on below

  • Bio: talk about yourself - include information that you think is important for brands to know about you (more below)

Collaborations, continued:

For listing your collabs, there are a few ways you can go about this:

  • Add the actual image you posted, along with the brand it was for

  • You could list the type of partnership if it’s long-term

  • You can just put the logos of the brands you’ve worked with

Malena’s bio:

“Malena is your classic small-town-raised, big-city-living (and loving) girl! The perfect storm of NYC hustle with LA vibrance & passion, she finds herself eager to learn about and experience, well...everything!

Having moved to LA over 4 years ago, she has been on quite the soul-search. Malena can't help but share her stories of, & love for, her own self-awareness & growth to assure others you CAN make it out unscathed!

"My goal is to use my Instagram for good & maintain authenticity. I love sharing my own stories, but I also enjoy helping spread the word about brands. I can't tell you how many times I was looking for something specific & heard about it through an influencer! That's kind of a beautiful thing. I love influencers who 'look out' for you."”

Google “influencer media kits” to get a few examples and find one that resonates with you the most! When you’re ready to create, Canva is a great place to start. You can even add clickable links within your media kit, in Canva, for easy editing.

Negotiation Lines

Here are a few negotiation templates that are standard in the influencer world, just to give you a headstart:

  • “Given [X, Y, Z], I’d like to propose $xxx.”

  • “Would you be able to do $xxx?”

  • “Based on my [creativity] [engagement rate] [reach] [effective influence] [previous campaigns] [etc], I’d be more comfortable with $xxx.”

Remember, don’t be afraid to walk away! If a brand isn’t willing to negotiate, especially with your deserved base rate, you can definitely say, “I’m sorry, I don’t think that will work for me based on my [analytics] [ROI] [etc]. Please think of me for the future when you have a budget! I love [the brand] and hope to work with you soon.”

How to NOT Reach Out to Brands

  • Do not send them a DM unless they’ve stated that’s socially acceptable

  • Don’t be greedy or stubborn with negotiations

  • Don’t end on a bad note - you never know if they may be interested in you later as you grow

  • Don’t act like you’ve got all the might in certain situations, but again...don’t end on a bad note

Scams & Red Flags

There are a few generic red flags to keep an eye on when brands reach out to YOU. It’s fine to accept partnerships from a brand that reaches out to you, just go through our list of red flags below to see if anything seems fishy.

Here are a few things to pay attention to:

  • If the username looks like this: @brandname.personsname. What this usually means is this company has dozens, if not hundreds, of people to reel in influencers to essentially do their marketing for them.

  • When someone comments, “Hey, DM @brandname! They’d love to work with you,” or something along those lines. If the brand wanted to work with you that bad, they’d contact you themselves, and in a more professional manner.

  • If a brand makes you pay ANYTHING. This is a BIG no-no. Discount code for 75% off a product of theirs so you can promote it? Not even. Keep walking. This is the biggest scam that people fall for. Your analytics don’t matter at this point - if they want to work with you, you deserve to be compensated.

  • Brands that “invite” you to apply for their influencer campaign. If you really want to, that's fine, it doesn’t hurt, but they’re not offering you the opportunity. I get these emails from Crocs all the time.

  • When there’s no contract for Sponsored posts. When it’s an exchange (they send you product for posting), you can’t do anything until the product gets there, so if it’s a scam you’ll just never get the product. However, if you’re getting paid for posting, make sure you have a contract that states the requested deliverables, how much you’ll get paid, when you’ll get paid, how you’ll get paid, and more.

  • Do NOT give out your financial information! Even if you’re doing a paid post. There are plenty of ways to get paid without a brand having your financial information.

Brands that reach out via DM. This is sometimes okay, but take a look at how personalized their message is. To weed out the scammy brands, make sure you have contact info somewhere in your bio. The more legit brands will most likely email you instead of DM.

And one more tip: Do NOT accept anything a brand is making you pay for!

This is such an important one, we had to say it twice.

Keep in mind that figuring out your best formula for reaching out to brands to get collabs is the best route to take.

Social Light Tip: Stay away from Chic NYC / Global Influencer Agency / Global Influencer Agency (their SECOND website)!

They claim to be an influencer agency and are on the hunt to scam influencers out of $150 minimum. They promise massive free Fashion Week perks, invites, seats to shows, product, and more, and never deliver.

Social Light is continuing to do research on this “company” and will be publishing a blog when we feel we have enough information to truly help others from being scammed. In the meantime, read this article from FStoppers on their findings and why people fall for this scam.


Take a look at all of our blogs so far in this series, “So You Want to be an Influencer…?"

Becoming an influencer - an effective one - is definitely not as easy as it was just 2 years ago! And quite honestly...that's fair!

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