Social Media Marketing

How to Get Paid Brand Deals with a Small Follower Count

Despite popular belief, You don’t need 10,000 or more followers to get started with gifted or even paid collaborations with brands! Companies are now acknowledging that nano-influencers have a lot of value in the social media marketing world. Many accounts with less than 2k followers are participating in great campaigns. However, getting noticed by the right brands — excluding the shady bikini or sunglasses accounts that want to “collab” by offering lackluster discounts– is not always easy. I’m here to share my whole experience with how I’ve worked with 40+ brands (gifted and paid) in less than 1 year. I have received free products in exchange for social posts, participated in PAID sponsorships, and have been featured on a few Instagram profiles with larger audiences! I have done this without sending a single pitch to any brand and I hope this post is helpful for anyone testing the waters. 

Before I tell you my tips & tricks, here is some background about my experience and how I started this less than a year ago! Ever since the middle of college, I was all about taking aesthetic pictures and creating content. Whether it was selfies, outfit looks, or going places, I always loved capturing these moments to share with my friends. 

One day I went to an event after work at a jewelry store and snapped a picture of one of their rings. The company that hosted the event reposted my photo to IG and a week after the brand offered to send me a necklace in exchange for a social media post. Eventually, the jewelry company asked me to officially work with them and the rest is history. Since then, I have worked with various clothing, skincare, hair and makeup companies such as Olehenriksen, Marc Jacobs, Mejuri, Revlon, Goop, Shea Moisture, Carol’s Daughter, Vital Proteins and more! 

Here is a snapshot of my wellness account profile and bio

#1 – Know Your Niche and Set Up Your Profile 

Defining your niche is very important. This lets companies know what your Instagram and content are all about. Whether you want to create content for fashion, beauty, lifestyle, fitness, health, food, cars, etc you want to make that very clear. I personally can’t stick to one niche so I’m running two accounts – one is focused on Wellness and the other is focused on Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle

Once you know your niche, you want to make sure your profile meets certain standards to be able to catch the eye of brands. Here is a list of profile must-haves: 

  • Public Profile that is a Creator/Business Account 
    • Only business accounts have access to user analytics and many companies require that you send over screenshots of your analytics, especially for their paid campaigns. 
  • IG Name Format that is SEO friendly
    • Name + Niche or just Niche 
    • Examples: Bahynah | Fashion & Lifestyle or Holistic Wellness
  • Professional Email in Bio – Not just the button!
    • Most Influencer Partnership Teams are using a desktop at their office to search for you, so having it in your bio is just as important as having the email button enabled! Your email should be professional for obvious reasons. 
  • Uniform Highlight Covers
    • This ties your profile together and makes it look professional. 
    • TIP: Have a highlight for every topic you discuss on your page, and if you want, have a highlight for PR/Collabs too. 
Here is my feed before brands started to reach out to me

#2 – Post Quality Content + Use Hashtags

In the influencer world content is king and without great content on your profile, you will be overlooked by brands. Your Instagram profile is basically your portfolio + resume to brands. For anyone starting out, post high-quality pictures of products you already own with great captions. Be sure to tag the brand and use appropriate hashtags. Make sure that your feed is curated and cohesive. You want your profile to look good at first glance to draw in someone’s attention. Doing this lead to my first major gifted campaign. Also, I will be coming out with a hashtag cheatsheet (hashtags help brands find you and grow your following) soon so stay tuned! 

Overall, having an aesthetic feed does give you an advantage. The first thing that brands tell me when they reach out is how they love my content and feed. You don’t need to have a specific theme (branded colors, logos, etc.) or use the same exact filter every time. Just make sure that your pictures look good together. 

Here is my current feed – my photos are not identical but they flow together

#3 – Be Consistent

Consistency is key! It is important to show brands that you post regularly and have an engaged audience. I try to post at least every other day. Being consistent is important for growing your audience too keeping your followers interested in what you have to say. The truth is, IG favors accounts that post more so if you cannot upload an infeed post, make sure you post something in your story that day.

#4 – Create a Media Kit + Know Your Rates 

When a brand reaches out to me via email, I always send them a copy of my media kit (if I accept the collab). Not only does it look more professional to have a media kit, media kits also are a way for the brand to remember you and keep you in mind for future campaigns. 

Canva is a great tool for beginners, but I made my own custom media kit in Photoshop. There is no correct format for a media kit, but it should have: 

  • Quick Bio 
  • Demographic/Audience Info
  • Stats (Engagement Rate, Follower Count) 
  • Links to All Your Social Media 

#5 – Join Influencer Networks 

Influencer networks are a great way to land deals. The Agency/Network does the work of pairing you with potential campaigns and when I was starting out it helped me understand the types of brands and partnerships I was attracting. Some great networks are: 

  • Influenster – You get free beauty products in exchange for completing social media posts, reviews, and surveys. The more campaigns you participate in, the higher the likely hood of being chosen for another! Totally recommend this for beginners.
  • InfluenceHer Collective – You can make about $200-300 per post! I recommend having your profiles buttoned up before applying, it is a little harder to get into this network. I applied twice and did not get in until I had at least 1k followers, a business account, and a blog.
  • Fohr – Has paid and gifted campaigns that are matched to your profile. Fohr provides stats, demographic data, and engagement rates. Fohr has a one-sheet that you can download send to brands. Please note- Fohr recently has come under scrutiny for their unfair payment rates.
  • Trend: You can make about $30-70 per post. Its Invite Only so DM me for the referral code to get in!

Hopefully, this information is helpful for anyone just starting out! By doing all of these steps I was able to passively get brand deals offered to me. I have recently started pitching to brands myself and will be sharing how I do that soon so be on the lookout! 

Do you have any other social media tips for newbies? If so share them in the comments! 


12 thoughts on “How to Get Paid Brand Deals with a Small Follower Count

  1. Shakerra Joseph says:

    Thanks so much for this girl! I will definitely be saving this and checking back over the weekend to use some of your recommendations. I’ve never heard of some of them. Also, you current feed it amazing!! 😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

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