Wondering how much work goes behind becoming an influencer? In this article, we will break down the process for unlocking Instagram sponsorship opportunities. Instagram is one of the world’s most visited social media platforms which is why for the purposes of this article we will focus on Instagram.
It’s where everyone’s at, and as a result, brands are increasingly devoting a lot of time and effort into stepping up their Instagram game.
One way they’re doing this is by working with influencers and content creators. You’ve probably seen more than a few posts that feature words like #sponsored or #collab. More than ever, this is an essential strategy for brands to build their presence and forge real relationships with people.
Indeed, 60% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2019. Even better, the vast majority, 84%, think it’s an effective way of building brand awareness.
Even though it seems like sponsorships are all around us, it can be surprisingly difficult to find them.
Don’t worry though - we got you covered! Read below to learn how to find Instagram sponsorship opportunities.
How to Find Instagram Sponsorships
For first timers and not so first timers
First of all, love. They say that you can’t love someone if you don’t love yourself, and this is also true with sponsorships. The very first step to being successful is loving what you do.
If you hate cooking, it’s probably not a great idea to start an account dedicated to food, no matter how nice it looks. Alternatively, if you love interior design, go for it! Start an account where you share your design ideas and inspiration. Do something you enjoy.
The passion and authenticity will shine through in the content you create, your responsiveness to peoples’ comments, and how active you are in general.
Also, if you have a blog that will never hurt. If you don't yet, it's never too late.
Over time, this leads to an engaged community that enjoys your unique voice and style. Rather it’s 3K followers or 30K, this engaged community is the bedrock of striking a sponsorship deal with a brand.
So, you’ve started an account dedicated to something you love and grown it into a community - great! Now it’s time to go on the hunt.
DM Instagram brands
This is the simplest and most direct approach to working with a brand. Just head to their page and hit that message button. DM’s have a character limit, so it’s best to be direct and concise.
Let them know why you’re interested in working with them and what you can offer, such as unique photography, a super-engaged audience, or agreeing to only work exclusively with them for a set period of time.
To increase your chances of getting a response, make yourself known! Drop a couple of likes throughout their posts and leave some comments. If you’re really dedicated, upload content to your own feed and tag them. That will show the brand that you’re truly interested in them and working together would be an authentic partnership.
But here’s the cold, hard truth:
Many brands receive hundreds of messages a day from accounts hoping to strike Instagram sponsorship opportunities, and a lot of times it’s impossible for them to keep up. And even if they open your message, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll work with you, since there’s so much else they need to figure out. For instance, how do they know you’ll post, or where do they mail you products to?
Negotiating these unglamorous but super-important details can quickly become a full-time job. Speaking of which:
Don't want to hunt for Instagram sponsorship opportunities? Get an agent
Athletes, writers, models, actors and many others have an agent. So do a lot of influencers! An agent / agency will find collaborations for you and negotiate the terms, freeing up your time to do things you actually enjoy, like creating beautiful content!
Of course, agencies do come with other restrictions:
First, they need to agree to represent you in the first place. Then, they’ll make you sign a contract where you agree to only work on deals that they bring in.
You’ll also have to pay them, either directly or by letting them take a cut of the compensation you receive for posting sponsored content. And while most agencies have industry connections and relationships with specific brands and that improve your chances, there’s ultimately no guarantee that they’ll land you a gig. At the end of the day, you are your best advocate.
Become an affiliate / Join an Instagram ambassador program
A great middle ground between simply DM’ing brands and locking yourself into an agency is to join a brand’s affiliate or ambassador program. Just about every brand that takes social media seriously (which they all should!) has some type of program in place. You can often find them in their website's footer.
One of our favorite programs is DIFF Eyewear.
You may be wondering what the difference between the two is. Yes, there is a difference.
An ambassador program could be considered a more casual “first step” in your relationship with a brand. It allows you to receive free products, be featured across a brand’s accounts, and a few additional perks like being the first to know of new launches and exclusive deals.
An affiliate program is more formalized. A lot of times there are certain benchmarks that you have to hit, like a certain amount of followers or the right demographic fit.
It also comes with more perks! Most commonly, you can earn a commission on sales that you drive through your posts and stories. That’s right - receive free products and make money.
Many times you’ll also share access to certain parts of your account with the brand so they can run ads and cookie your content. This means hundreds of thousands of people will be exposed to your content. As you can imagine, it’s a great way to dramatically increase your following.
To join these programs, you’ll have to submit an application to the brand, and you may have to agree to not work with competitors for a specific amount of time.
Since it’s a dedicated program, you have much better chances of hearing back than just firing off a random DM, but it also won’t be as expensive and restrictive as an agency.
If you’re curious, just Google your favorite brand and see if they have a link on their site 0 chances are they do. This is a great way to scale finding Instagram sponsorship opportunities. Get creative with your Googling!
Join a curated, on-demand network like Trend
This is perhaps the best overall way of finding sponsorship opportunities and actually being accepted to them!
These networks act as a marketplace where brands are constantly joining and adding campaigns. All you have to do is apply and wait for them to accept you.
But wait - you may be thinking this sounds really similar to the other strategies. However, there’s a few key differences.
Unlike sending a DM off into the void, using a network like this means a brand is actively looking to partner with you and will be reviewing applications. This means you’re almost certain to receive a response quickly.
And unlike ambassador of affiliate programs, you won’t be locked into only working with one specific brand for a set amount of time. These networks give you the flexibility as a creator to work with multiple brands in exchange for individual posts. Even better though, you still receive free product and get paid to post.
And unlike an agency, you don’t have to pay anyone or share your compensation. For instance, Trend is completely free to join and there are tons of Instagram sponsorship opportunities.
It’s really the best of both worlds!
Of course, not all networks are created the same.
The reason leading brands like Lyft, Health-Ade Kombucha, and Smashburger use Trend is because we’re a curated, opt-in network.
This means influencers in the Trend network are passionate about what they do and that shines through in their great content. Remember the first thing I said to being successful? Passion.
A network like Trend is also opt-in, meaning you decide to join and be a part of it.
We’re not some database that just scrapes your information and keeps you on file along with millions of other accounts. We believe in empowering creators for the amazing work you do, and as such treat you with the respect and individual attention you deserve.
The result is that the Trend network is made up of talented creators that want to be there. As a result, brands want to be there too, and they want to work with you.
What are you waiting for? Join today here.