I’ve gotten to know several of the women in our beauty influencer community over the past few years. The vast majority of you are balancing your 9-to-5 job either in a corporate job or as a beauty professional, while also learning how to create content and earn income as a beauty influencer.
The influencer marketing industry is still fairly new. I have been working on blogger programs since 2011 when I worked at Attention Global. In the seven years I’ve worked in online beauty, a LOT has changed. There’s so much that can be unclear or confusing about becoming a beauty influencer, especially when our industry can be so hush-hush about fees, partnerships, contacts and how to “get in.” I’m in a unique position because I’ve worked in three separate areas within digital beauty:
- I’ve worked as an influencer manager where I design influencer campaigns for brands, hire bloggers for sponsored posts, write their contracts, and negotiate their fees.
- I’ve worked as an online beauty editor where I hired bloggers as contributing writers and featured bloggers for press hits.
- I’ve worked as a beauty influencer myself! I’ve written brand content, hosted beauty events with brands, and have been hired by beauty companies to speak at conferences. Recently, I have even been contacted by brands to write sponsored posts on my business blog, Beauty Goes Digital.
Throwback to my blogger days! Here I am hosting an event with Sally Beauty (while very preggo! That was a long day!)
It’s been a long journey, but I am so in love with the work I get to do each day! I’m eight years in and am still obsessed with all things digital beauty. I’m SO passionate about our community and helping as many of us grow, learn and win… together!
3 BRAND PARTNERSHIPS FOR NEW INFLUENCERS:
There are several types of brand partnerships, but in the beginning of your beauty influencer journey, these are the three partnerships I suggest you start with first:
- Sponsored Content: You create a social media post, YouTube video, or blog post to review or show yourself using the product.
- Social Media Takeover: You take on the role of a “host” for a day (or longer) on a brand’s social media pages.
- Event Host: You attend a beauty expo or conference with a brand to drive engagement in-person at an event.
When you are confident that you can deliver (and OVER-deliver) amazing content and engagement for brands, you can begin reaching out about partnerships.
It’s important to note that in the very beginning of growing your influencer business, you should consider doing brand partnerships for free. This means you are posting for the brand without making money, but you do get free products. When you’re starting out, your goal is to build engagement, develop your style, define your niche, and grow your numbers. It’s also critical that your first get your foot in the door and build a relationship with brands.
Here’s my story as an example so you can see I’m not asking you to do anything I haven’t done myself! When I was a college intern at Essence back in 2004, I earned a stipend of $500 a week. But before I got that internship, I shadowed the fashion director and I also volunteered at Fashion Week without getting paid. That unpaid experience provided real, up-close-and-personal evidence that I was a hard worker who had a passion for style and journalism. I only had to work for free for less than three months before I landed my DREAM internship at Essence. (It also came full-circle when I was hired full-time at Essence in 2011!) Looking back, I wouldn’t change anything about my journey and I am SO glad I offered to work unpaid to get in the door.
My journey as a blogger took a similar path. When I started growing my personal Instagram page, it was purely because I loved beauty products and wanted to share them with my audience. A brand would send me a package and if I loved it, I shared it! From there, I began getting offers to review products and host events for a fee.
When you’re starting out, begin by posting high-quality content using products you already use and own. Open up your beauty cabinets and press record on the camera, boo! Show off your very BEST skills and think of these posts as your “unpaid internship.” Ask yourself: “If a brand were to view my Instagram page or YouTube channel today, would my content reflect my very best talent as someone they could hire as an influencer?” These unpaid posts are essentially your “influencer resume” so your content needs to be excellent in order to open the door to work with brands!
WHO DO I CONTACT AT THE BRAND?
Once you have consistently created awesome content on your own, the next step is building relationships. Again, using myself as an example, I hustled — H-U-S-T-L-E-D— to make connections with anyone and everyone to get my foot in the door. Your career as a beauty influencer is no different. I’ve been on MANY conference calls with brands where the marketing director or partnerships manager will confirm a deal with an influencer who has has a great relationship with the team, even if she has FEWER followers than another blogger we were considering.
I highly recommend that you attend beauty events in your city, or even in a nearby city if you can make the drive or train ride. This is the BEST way I have personally been able to connect with brands and open the door for partnerships. When you meet someone in person, there is something more memorable and meaningful about that connection (versus doing a cold email intro or sending a DM on Instagram). There are so many beauty expos, conferences, brunches, pop-ups, conventions… you name it! Someone at these events knows who to point you to as a contact for their PR or influencer programs, so be sure to network, network, network! Do a search on Eventbrite and you’ll see hundreds of events pop up! When a beauty company sponsors these events, there is always someone on-site who either works for the company or has been appointed by the company to manage the activation.
Here I am working at the Creme of Nature booth at the Ubiquitous Expo with the lovely Amber Janielle! I coordinated social media for this event (hence the fanny pack for my 2 iPhones, portable charger, iphone ringlight and my arsenal of gadgets!)
Once you have strong content and a contact with a brand or PR manager, you can start the conversation about additional partnerships. Again, keep in mind that it’s okay to post in exchange for products when you are just starting out. I’m also going to recommend you post for free if you have taken a hiatus (meaning you have not posted consistently for several weeks or months) and are trying to get back in the swing of things. If your page has been ghost for a while, it’s going to take TIME for the algorithm to re-recognize your page and start showing your posts to most of your followers.
WHO MAKES DECISIONS ABOUT INFLUENCER PROGRAMS?
Let’s talk about WHO makes decisions about the influencer programs. Every brand has its own way of structuring the team that handles influencer campaigns. Some beauty companies handle influencer marketing in-house (which means the company has its own employees handle it). Other companies hire an agency or consultant to handle influencers. These agencies can be PR agencies, social media agencies, influencer agencies, freelance consultants… or a mix of all four.
In general, here are the job titles you want to look for at a brand. These are the people who handle influencers:
· PR coordinator/ account executive
· Influencer marketing coordinator/manager/director
· Marketing coordinator/manager/director
In order to find the exact job title for a company you want to pitch, do a search on LinkedIn. You can search by company name (for example you would type in “Birchbox” or “Origins”) and then sort your results to find people who have current roles at that company. Be sure to also search for the brand’s parent company! (For instance, Origins is an Estée Lauder brand. Pantene and Olay are owned by Procter & Gamble.) LinkedIn will not always give you their contact information, but at least you will have their name and job title. It’s up to you to network and get creative to find their email address! It’s a grind, honey!
Please note: some people may not mind if you contact them through their personal social pages as long as you are PROFESSIONAL. Do not slide into a brand manager’s DM’s all willy nilly. Be PROFESSIONAL. Do not be a bug-a-boo. I’ve received DM’s like this and I always respond as long as you are polite!
Hi Nicole! I found your company via LinkedIn [or I saw your recent post from the Creme of Nature event..something showing PROOF you did your research] and would love to connect with you regarding supporting your client’s marketing campaigns as an influencer partner. I love [insert brand name] and have used their products for years! Would it be possible for me to send you an email to learn about any blogger openings you may have coming up? I appreciate your time and would love to follow up via email if you don’t mind! Thank you! Best wishes, [Insert Name and email address]
You should be able to get a feel for someone’s page and use DISCERNMENT to know if it’s okay to contact them via DM to ask for their email address. If you find a brand manager who has a personal page with mostly photos of their children or date night with her hubby, eh…. they probably don’t use their page for business. But if someone has tons of posts at industry events or promoting their work from their job working with brands, then I’d say go for it. Fortune favors the brave! Again, use discernment and bring your A-game.
GET MORE HELP WITH PITCHING BRANDS!
By now you may be thinking, “Whew, Nicole, that’s a lot girl.” And I would agree with you! It’s a LOT of work. You are building a beauty influencer business. You are not “just a beauty blogger.” Your content is part of a strategy that corporate beauty companies use to market their million and billion-dollar brands. In order to become a TOP beauty influencer, you must put on your business thinking cap and start working on your content like you are running a company! (In fact, several bloggers are now sending invoices under LLC’s, y’all! I’ve seen it with my own eyes.)
I would LOVE to go even deeper on this topic with you in my FREE guide on how to get started working with beauty brands!
Click below to instantly download it… and get a free pitch email template that you can use to contact brand managers.
Got questions? You know I would LOVE to answer them! Drop ‘em below and I’ll be sure to respond.