- On Instagram, it may seem like the hashtags #ad and #sponsored are ubiquitous.
- Brand sponsorships are the number of influencers earning revenue on social media.
- Dozens of influencers told Insider their strategies for getting sponsored.
On Instagram, more than 18 million posts have the hashtag #ad. Over 4 million have #referred.
Sponsored posts are the number of influencers who make a living. Some make it six figures or more.
Take Emma Cortes, who started a fashion blog in 2014, for example. When she signed her first brand partnership as a part-time content creator in 2016, it was an unpaid brand ambassador, she told Insider.
Fast forward six years and Cortes is a full-time influencer and has made over $300,000 in one year – with less than 50,000 Instagram followers. Most of that revenue came from deals with brands, she told Insider.
Learn more about how Cortes earned over $300,000 in annual income
But getting that first brand deal can be tough for influencers. So how did they do it?
Insider interviewed dozens of influencers who have worked with a variety of brands — from Nissan to Lululemon to Credit Karma — about how they secure brand deals on Instagram.
Some creators use third-party influencer marketing platforms like Fohr or Izea. Others find strategic ways to get a brand noticed, like marketing agencies or a company’s employees on LinkedIn. And Instagram itself is getting in on the action with a new designer brand marketplace where partnerships can be struck through DMs.
More established influencers often have talent managers or agents pitching, negotiating, and securing those sponsorships for them. For example, JaLisa Vaughn-Jefferson, a lifestyle influencer with 275,000 followers at the time, landed $700,000 in brand deals in mid-2021 with the help of her management company. (Learn more about how she built her influencer business.)
Check: Insider’s interactive database of top managers and agents representing some of social media’s biggest stars
But even for creators just starting out — with less than 10,000 Instagram followers — there are ways to get sponsored. Many “nano” influencers begin by working with brands as ambassadors (like Cortes did) and share affiliate links that demonstrate they have the ability to draw customers to a brand.
Some brands, like Dunkin Donuts or jewelry brand Mejuri, are known for their partnerships with micro influencers.
Read: 7 great brands that work with micro-influencers on Instagram, TikTok, and more.
To help content creators better understand how they can get promoted on Instagram, here’s a compilation of our coverage of how influencers get brand deals.
Getting the pitch right is key
Whether it’s via email or Instagram DM, what influencers include in a pitch can make all the difference.
“I like to use the word ‘offer’ instead of ‘collaboration’ to remind micro-influencers that you have to give the brand something of value,” nano-influencer Julie Tescon told Insider. . “You can offer whatever the brand would normally pay for.”
Christian Di Bratto, a talent manager who works with creators, told Insider that pitch customization is key. Di Bratto had signed $327,000 in brand partnerships in 2022 when Insider interviewed him in November. He shared the pitch he sends to brands to close deals with his clients. (Read his argument.)
Here are 13 examples of how influencers pitch brands, from the exact pitch they send to unique strategies:
- Tori Dunlap, a personal finance influencer with 613,000 Instagram followers (and 1.7 million TikTok followers). She shared two models she uses to showcase brands on Instagram.
- Nick Cutsumpas, a plant and lifestyle influencer with over 60,000 followers. It offers branded content packages for long-term partnerships.
- Ashley Jones, a micro influencer with 50,000 followers on Instagram. She shared her starting rates for brand deals and how she introduces brands to DMs.
- Emma Cortes, a fashion influencer with 44,000 Instagram followers. She shared the email template she uses to turn gift offers into paid offers.
- Lillian Zhang, a TikTok micro-influencer with 21,500 followers. She shared the exact TikTok DM she sent the brand to introduce herself.
- Alexa Curtis, an entrepreneur and micro-influencer with 20,000 Instagram followers. She shared 5 tips for writing successful pitches.
- Gigi Kovach, a lifestyle influencer with 14,000 Instagram followers. She shared the 200-word pitch she uses to reach out to brands.
- Florence Williams, a beauty influencer with 13,000 Instagram followers. She sends a detailed 14-page proposal to brands when presenting paid collaborations.
- Khadijah Lacey-Taylor, a nano influencer with less than 10,000 followers. Here’s how she launched brands by showcasing her video content on Instagram.
- Julie Tecson, a nano influencer with around 7,000 Instagram followers. She shared three types of pitches she sends to brands.
- Laur DeMartino, part-time content creator and full-time student with around 5,000 followers. She uses LinkedIn to find brand contacts and includes a 9-page media kit when showcasing brands.
- Jalyn Baiden, a skincare influencer with 4,000 Instagram followers. She explained how to write a simple DM that can lead to a paid sponsorship deal.
- Amber Broder, a skincare nano-influencer and full-time college student with around 2,300 followers. She shared how she pitches brands as a content creator with a focus on her engagement rate.
Media kits help demonstrate what an influencer can offer a brand
“A lot of people might think, ‘Oh, if you have a thousand followers, nobody’s going to pay you for that,'” Kayla Compton, a lifestyle nano-influencer, told Insider. “But if you have a very engaged audience and you can target people really well and have a good connection with your audience, brands will pay for that.”
She – like many other influencers – uses a media kit to help show brands how even with a few thousand followers she can still drive engagement.
Here are 13 examples of media kits that influencers use to get sponsorships:
- Alexa Collins, a lifestyle influencer with 1.2 million followers. She shared her 8-page media kit.
- Justine Jakobs, OnlyFans and adult content creator with 460,000 Instagram followers. She shared the 4-page media kit she uses.
- Eric Stoen, a travel creator with around 330,000 Instagram followers. He shared his one-page media kit.
- Natasha Greene, food and lifestyle influencer with 138,000 followers on Instagram. Here is the 9-page media kit she uses.
- Joel Bervell, medical student and content creator with 118,000 Instagram followers. He shared his 2-page media kit.
- Macy Mariano, an Instagram fashion and lifestyle designer with around 100,000 followers. Check out his 9-page media kit.
- Jade Darmawangsa, a tech and creative YouTube company (382,000 subscribers) with 52,000 Instagram followers. She shared her 4-page media kit.
- Tess Barclay, a Toronto-based designer with around 5,600 Instagram followers. Here’s the latest version of his one-page media kit.
- Lauren SoYung Lim, an influencer 26,000 Instagram followers (and 130,000 TikTok followers). She shared the 9-page media kit she used to showcase the brands.
- Gigi Robinson, a creator with around 16,000 Instagram followers and 134,000 followers on TikTok. She shared the 17-page media kit she used to secure brand deals with Amazon and Tinder.
- Jen Lauren, a YouTube nano influencer with 4,000 subscribers. She shared her simple 3-page media kit.
- Jour’dan Haynes, a nano influencer with 5,900 Instagram followers. She shared her 3-page media kit.
- Kayla Compton, a nano-influencer with a few thousand followers. Here is the 8-page media kit she uses.