I recently caught up with co-owner and marketing mastermind behind Boston co-retail space For Now, Kaity Cimo. She runs the space with friend and business partner Katharine ReQua. They opened a year ago and have played home to over 80 brands in that time.
How to Get Sponsors on Instagram From Day One
It’s an open secret that costs for advertising into Facebook, Google, and Instagram ads are skyrocketing. With more advertisers going on board and ad space stagnating, brands are looking into alternative ways to grow their audience. Sponsored posts on Instagram are a huge, new channel for brands. In this post, we share with you how to get sponsors on Instagram from day one.
If you’ve invested lots of time into your Instagram page, now’s your time to shine. Influencers, even with small followings, are getting sponsors on Instagram to pay them a couple hundred dollars per post. According to an interview with Joe Gagliese, one of the co-founders of Viral Nation, a leading influencer agency, you can earn a few thousand dollars per post once you reach micro-influencer status (10,000 to 50,000 followers). Influencers with up to 1 million followers can earn as much as $10,000 per post, while those with even bigger followings can charge 6-digit figures per post.
As a brand owner myself, I’ve worked with countless Instagrammers and have had influencers reach out cold to me. This post incorporates tips from our Ampjar community members, so you can understand the perspective of a sponsor. The key takeaway here is that Instagram sponsorships are possible for anyone, regardless of your following size, if you follow these steps. There’s always a brand looking to spread messaging on their products and services, and are open to influencers or Instagrammers with strong personal brands for Instagram sponsorships.
1. Build a strong Instagram page
Building a strong page is the first step to getting sponsors on Instagram. A strong page will not only increase your following and engagement, which determines how much you get paid per post, but will also help attract brands to your page.
We recommend following these practices to build a strong page that’s ready for monetization:
Find your niche
Whether you’re targeting food, lifestyle, travel, consulting, or fashion, you will need to find a way to stand out. Whether it’s unique sets for staged food photography or highly edited and fantastical travel photos, find your niche and stick to it. Having a unique page will increase the likelihood that Instagrammers pay attention and potentially follow you.
For example, look at Instagram influencer @voyage_provocateur. Every post is scenic, features nature or interesting architecture in a unique, beautiful destination. Images that feature her have her back facing the camera, evoking #wanderlust. Her bio writes “Exploring the world” and her next few destinations. Any Instagram user can understand what her page is about, and avid travelers will likely follow her.
To win within your niche, study what others in the space are doing for their content and experiment with similar formats. Also, ensure that your photos/videos are visually consistent and that your copy has the same tone of voice–after scrolling your page once, potential sponsors should be able to recognize your photo even from the ‘Explore’ page. To help you win at visuals, we’ve shortlisted our top 10 edit apps for Instagram posts and stories that you can try out here.
Remember to comment on other Instagrammers with overlapping audiences and build authentic relationships with them, so their followers can discover you as well.
Use hashtag and geotags
Hashtags are a great opportunity to get access to new followers and potential brands. The best part is that it takes minimal effort and you can use up to 30 hashtags in a post. This tool is great for generating a list of hashtags based on one word, which is helpful for getting new followers.
You should also do some research on brands you like working with and see what hashtags they use. If you own products by them or have a post that’s relevant to what they offer, consider using the hashtags so their team can discover you.
Post regularly and consistently
Posting consistently is crucial for growing and engaging your following. Brands look out for how active your page is before deciding to sponsor you.
Posting regularly on Instagram can get tiring. That’s why we recommend batching in this post about social media productivity. Using a planning or scheduling tool like Sprout Social or Planoly will help you schedule content all at once while ensuring your content looks visually appealing.
Lauren Arboleda (@foodfromtheheart), who is part of the Ampjar community, is an influencer in the cooking space. She participated in MasterChef Latino 2019, develops recipes, is the author of the book ‘Pregnancy from the heart’. Lauren recommends creating a lot of content, such as photos, videos and blog posts that showcase your potential as a content creator. She strongly believes that this is key to getting sponsors on Instagram.
Build a community
Every page on Instagram can be seen as a community, a social network of its own, consisting of the page owner, followers, and following. Every post or story can be seen as a channel for the community to interact around a shared interest in the content. In turn, engagement is the proxy for how strong the community is.
Engagement is one of the key–but often overlooked–metrics of Instagram. Brands running influencer marketing campaigns, however, realize this is a huge predictor of campaign success. In a 2019 report by influencer marketing company Linqia, more than 89% of marketers measured and assessed campaigns by engagement levels. Engagement outperformed impressions, brand awareness, and even clicks and conversions in this survey. We can’t stress the importance of engagement enough.
Need a lowdown on Instagram metrics? We’ve written a guide for you here.
Karla Cola (@karla_cola), part of the Ampjar community, is a fashion brand offering colorful, ethical handmade clothes and accessories. Karla occasionally does in-kind sponsored posts for products such as hair ties, headbands, and dresses. She is picky when selecting influencers: she only works with influencers with the right following. For example, Karla recently sponsored a post with Justine (@murri_mama), she focuses “fashion and indigenous communit[ies]”. Moreover, her following is strong at 17.4k followers, which made her a great choice. Besides getting exposure through each influencer’s community, Karla found the sponsored posts useful for getting high-quality photos that are on-brand and can be repurposed for the website and social media.
2. How to pitch to companies
Half the process of learning how to get sponsors on Instagram is about learning how to reach out to companies and pitch your personal brand.
You may ask: how to get sponsors on Instagram? The first step is to shortlist brands that are suitable for your niche. For those just starting out with sponsored posts, it would be good to reach out to smaller brands (which don’t have the resources to advertise with famous influencers) that will be willing to work with you.
If you are in the fashion space, for instance, look out for boutique clothing or jewelry brands that have strong content that’s aligned with yours. Brands with a smaller following (<10k followers) are more likely to respond to your proposal on social media and are generally open to new ideas, while bigger brands may already have a team actively searching out for influencers.
Here are some ways to build a list of brands to reach out to for sponsored posts:
- Search relevant hashtags (e.g. #beauty, #fashion, #shop)
- Follow a brand you love and other related brands will pop up in the “Suggested for You” section
- Use “Explore” and look under the “Shop” category to find brands who have Instagram stores
Melanie Lionello (@frommylittlekitchen), part of the Ampjar community, is a food blogger who shares simple, wholesome, and feel-good recipes. In doing sponsored posts on Instagram, she suggests making “sure you genuinely like and use the brand you’re working with”. When it comes to creating content, she feels strongly about “content that aligns with your brand whilst highlighting theirs, and slots into your page naturally”. Following these principles can help ensure you keep your followers engaged.
Reach out to brands
Next, take initiative and reach out to brands. If one method doesn’t work, we try another one, until you find something that works for you.
- Direct message
- Influencer marketplaces
To find emails of the relevant contact in a brand, use Hunter–which suggests email addresses within the organization–or RocketReach–which allows you to find a specific person’s email based on their full name. For the latter, you would need to find the name of the relevant person on LinkedIn by searching the company name + the relevant role (e.g. “Marketing Manager”).
We’ve crafted a sample cold email which you can adapt for reaching out to and getting sponsors on Instagram:
Hey [first name of brand owner],
I’ve been following [brand] on Instagram for a while now. I run an Instagram page in [industry] which has been growing quickly over the last few months. I think my followers would love your products, especially the recently released [product A] and [product B].
I’d really like to do an ad for your brand on my feed and work with you in the long-term. I saw your sponsored posts on [influencer A]’s post and think that I could do something similar. If this sounds good, we can discuss next steps via email or a call.
Looking forward to hearing back from you!
[sender’s first name]
Brands love to sponsor individuals who have done their research and can be clear about the value they provide to the brand. This makes it a lot easier for them to narrow down their options for sponsored posts and makes it more likely you can get sponsors on Instagram.
We recommend injecting your own personality into the email so the company has a good sense of your personal brand. The direct message on Instagram or LinkedIn can be modeled after this template.
The final way to reach out to brand is to see what events that brand will be attending. Saw that your favorite online bakery is setting up shop at a farmer’s market? Head down to that farmer’s market: meet the brand owner, introduce yourself, and pitch the idea of you featuring that bakery on your food blog. Face-to-face interaction is powerful as it humanizes your Instagram page and helps convey your authenticity.
If you want to increase the likelihood you get sponsors on Instagram, learn how to use Amplify. The beautiful part about Amplify is that it allows you to easily reach out to brands who want to work with influencers like you. Once you sign up and start sending email campaigns to your subscribers, you can apply to host an ad on your emails from your favorite brands. Keep in contact with these brands, and given they’ve collaborated with you on Ampjar before, they’re more likely to do sponsored posts on your Instagram page. We’re all for collaboration across channels!
Create a package
Brand managers want to see what value you can provide to their brand, and ultimately, their sales numbers. If you want to learn how to get sponsors on Instagram, you need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of these sponsors. Your proposal will be evaluated based on how much unique value you can provide, but will also be compared to other influencers in your niche.
Say you have 5K followers and you are in the relatively crowded food blogging space, and you want to get sponsors on Instagram. You can offer the following in a tailored $100 package:
- An Instagram post (or two) with unique content that they have full permission to reshare
- A link in bio for 3 days
- Three Instagram stories features
- Sharing the Instagram post to your FB page
Do some research on other influencers the brand has worked with, mention those examples and explain how you can produce similar quality content.
While the cost per thousand impressions (CPM) may be higher than traditional social media advertising, brands choose to work with influencers (especially small ones) because followers are more likely to trust their endorsement and view them as authentic. Showing your Instagram performance and audience demographics (location, gender) to the brand can also help them decide if they’d like to sponsor you.
3. How to manage relationships with brands
As with any partnership, working with brands can get messy if expectations are not set from the start. From the outset, you should take the initiative to set the terms of the partnership: is this a once off thing, what you’re going to offer, or when the brand would need to pay you. While some of these topics might be touchy, brands will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to set clear expectations of the partnership.
Communication is key. Once the posts (or stories) are up, drop the brand a nice note (with a link to the content) so they know you’ve launched the campaign and can monitor results from their end. In the 2019 report by influencer marketing company Linqia cited above, more than 52% of marketers lamented that determining the ROI of campaigns is the biggest challenge of influencer marketing. Making it easier for your sponsor to track their returns will help you stand out, no matter your following size. The day or week after your sponsored post has been pushed out, send the brand results from the campaign so they can assess how effective it’s been.
And how do you ensure that brands you work with get good exposure through your sponsored posts? Marayna Baker of Kenzie Collective (@kenziecollective)–an eCommerce store with quirky, colorful accessories–is part of the Ampjar community. She recommends working on 1) a strong image that will cause “people to stop and be captivated by what is in front of them”; 2) a call to action that’s “short, catchy [and] to the point”; 3) interacting with those who have engaged with your sponsored post.
If a sponsored post of yours performs well, the brand you featured is more likely to sponsor you on Instagram again. Even if it doesn’t perform as well as expected, you can always suggest more ideas for improvement–such as copy change, featuring a different product, giveaways or sharing a unique promo–for the next time.
Honest, open conversations with brands will help you build a strong relationship with them, and ensure that you get the opportunity to collaborate repeatedly.
Join Ampjar to find your best customers
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