Getting Paid As An Influencer or Creator
Most jobs out there don’t force you to ask questions about when it’s okay to work for free or not. However, the Creator and Influencer industry is unique in a lot of ways…including the notion of “working for free.” Being a brand ambassador is one of the pieces of the industry that brings this up because a brand ambassador program often may have the benefit of free products, but it doesn’t always have a monetization incentive.
At Sidewalker Daily, we work with Influencers and Creators to help them monetize their social media and work with brands. We also work on the brand side of the Influencer Industry, consulting with companies on their Influencer Marketing Campaigns. With experience on both sides of the Influencer marketing industry, we understand the ins and outs of Creators getting paid by brands. In this article, we want to talk about the brand ambassador role and give you some tangible advice for turning those offers into paid brand deals.
The Evolution of the Brand Ambassador
Before we get into our tips about how to go from a brand ambassador to being a paid Influencer, let’s talk about the evolution of what it means to be a brand ambassador. Before the Influencer marketing industry really peaked, brand ambassadors were typically a brand’s most loyal fans. What brands would do is think about how to get their fans talking about their produce or service amongst their own groups, friends and network.
For example, maybe a mom-focused brand wanted a PTA mom to talk about their products with other mothers that they knew. Or if the brand’s target audience was college-aged girls, they would set up campus brand ambassador programs—maybe affiliate or discount code style—and ask them to share links and products.
As the Influencer industry grows, we are seeing less and less of programs like this and instead, seeing a big shift—mostly in that these types of brand partnerships are no longer unpaid programs. Each company will run their ambassador program differently, but as “Creator” and “Influencer” increasingly become recognized as viable careers, many people expect to get paid for doing this type of work.
While many Creators who work with us are looking for paid brand deals (that’s one of the main things we help Creators and Influencers with in their business), we also like to note that unpaid brand ambassadorships aren’t necessarily always a bad thing. It depends on what your goals are and where you are in your Creator journey.
How To Pivot Conversations From Brand Ambassador To Paid Partnership
We started this article with a little background on brand ambassador programs because knowing how to pivot conversations from traditional brand ambassador jobs to paid partnerships is a very important skill for Creators who want to negotiate paid brand deals. Plenty of Creators come to us and say “I was asked to be a brand ambassador…now what do I do to make money!?” This is where learning how to pivot comes in.
Not all brands are going to start the conversation ready to pay you your Influencer rate. Many brands do still rely on more traditional methods, and you’re likely to come across a brand in your journey that offers you a discount or free products in exchange for posts. Many Creators and Influencers who want to get paid for their work hear a brand mention a gifted campaign and immediately decide not to work with that brand.
Here at Sidewalker Daily, we coach Creators and Influencers to never walk away at first. You already have a brand’s interest, they’re already talking to you…walking away at that moment is simply leaving money on the table. You’re missing an opportunity to discuss a paid partnership with a brand whose attention you already have.
Of course, there are always going to be brands who won’t be willing to work out a paid deal. However, it’s always a good idea to try. Remember that brand’s are businesses too, and they need to make smart decisions for their own sake. A brand that offers you gifts or brand ambassador jobs might truly not have a budget at all, but they also might have a budget that they’re willing to give to Creators who they think are worth it for their current goals.
It’s up to you to show the brand why they should want to work with you in a paid capacity, and pivot the conversation. Let’s talk about how!
Starting With A Brand Ambassador Role
When we’re talking brand ambassador vs brand Influencer, typically the difference is unpaid and paid. And while accepting an unpaid partnership might not be what you had in mind, there are some times when it can be beneficial to your Creator business. It actually can be a fantastic starting point for getting paid to work with a brand that you love in the future.
When you are a part of a brand ambassador program, it’s a lot easier to pitch. You will most likely already have results that you can show the brand which communicates your value when pivoting into a paid partnership. Let them know about any results you’ve had as a brand ambassador—even if it’s just views on your content. And make sure you use those results to build out a Case Study or include them in your Influencer Media Kit!
After working with a brand for a while, not only do you hopefully have some positive results, you already have a contact at that brand. Sending out cold pitches to brands is most definitely something you can and should be doing as a Creator or Influencer (which is why we have a whole course on pitching to brands), but it’s a lot easier to send a pitch or paid partnership request to a “warm lead.” You’re probably already in communication with someone at the brand, so you have a known contact that you can reach out to. Suggest hopping on a call to discuss expanding your partnership.
Use Your Previous Results To Your Advantage
If you’re a brand ambassador for a company and you’ve had a ton of clicks on the product links or multiple people have used your code after you post, this is amazing data to share with a potential brand partner. If you’ve done paid partnerships while working with other brands that were successful, you can also use this data in a conversation with a brand who has offered you a gifted campaign.
If you just reach out to a brand and ask to get paid right away without communicating your value, they may not be that interested in what you have to say. Instead, emphasize what you can do for them. A great way is showing past results which can help you validate your capabilities as a brand partner. For example, how can you help them make even more sales, get more brand awareness, or achieve whatever their specific goal may be?
Let them know how well your audience has responded to content about their brand or similar brands in the past…and back it up with hard data. Then ask them about working together in a paid capacity. Showing a brand that they should pay you to do your work is much more effective than simply asking them. This builds your credibility and makes working with you seem a lot more alluring!
Work Out Long-Term Partnerships
As an Influencer or Creator, it’s tempting to want to work with as many brands as possible. We get it—it’s exciting to grow and build new relationships! However, many Influencers miss out on paid opportunities by failing to return to the same brands again and again. Getting repeat brand deals is one of the best ways to make more money as a Creator. Plus, it takes some stress off of making sure you’re meeting your income goals because you know you have a longer partnership in place with repeat income.
Some brands have brand ambassador programs that are unpaid, but many brands are starting to have this approach where they work with specific Influencers on a long-term basis in a paid capacity. It’s a win-win for both the Influencer and the brand because it really deepens the relationship and helps the partnership come off as authentic to followers, since there promoting the brand frequently over a long period of time.
This is just another thing to consider when you’re trying to pivot your conversation with a brand from an unpaid opportunity to one that’s paid. Emphasize to the brand that by working with you on a continuous basis, it can help you really connect with your audience about their product on a deeper level. Also, it often takes a potential customer seeing the product or service many times before they are confident in making the purchase. Many companies love the idea of having ambassadors who become the face of a brand for them. Becoming a long-term partern will also give them an exact idea of how much and what type of content you can create for them on a consistent basis.
Creating a plan that helps you get repeat brand deals can take more strategy than it seems. Our Pitching to Brands Mastercourse has everything you need to start pitching with confidence, so make sure to check that out if you’re feeling stuck in your Creator journey and looking to make more money by working with brands.
Send A Proposal To Increase Your Chances
Personalizing your pitches to brands is an essential part of showing a brand that you really want to work with them. And one way to personalize a pitch is by sending a curated proposal. Get specific with your offer and help the brand visualize what exact value you can provide to them and what they can expect from you if they were to move forward with the paid partnership.
A proposal can be for a one-time project, but it’s also an opportunity to create a paid brand ambassador type of partnership. Maybe you create a monthly package proposal that says you’re going to create 2 or 3 posts per month about their products. Or you write out what deliverables and social promotion a brand can expect from you over a 3 month period. Whatever it may be, sending an organized, clear, and specific proposal shows that you’re professional and serious about what you’re doing. We teach you how to create a proposal that will impress brands as well as show you examples from real Creators in our Pitching To Brands Mastercourse.
Sending a well thought out and professional proposal can definitely give a brand a sense of security in working with you, and help them justify a paid partnership with you over a regular brand ambassadorship.
Being A Brand Ambassador
By no means are we saying that being a brand ambassador is ever the wrong thing to do. Everyone has different goals as a Creator and we totally understand that its a case by case basis. With that being said, we’re huge advocates for getting Creators and Influencers paid for their work, so we really hope this post helps you start pivoting some of those gifted and unpaid brand opportunities into paid brand deals.
As a quick recap, here are some key takeaways from this article:
1) When a brand first mentions gifted or unpaid brand ambassador options for working with them, don’t immediately say “No!” Always try to have a conversation about potentially getting paid work. You never know what opportunities will open up if you strategically position yourself with a brand.
2) Starting with a brand ambassador role may be a great way for you to get your foot in the door with brands you love or actually use all the time.
3) Use your previous results with working with brands or being a brand ambassador to create a Case Study and a Media Kit to showcase your value, talent and influence to brands. Show them why working with you in a paid capacity is beneficial, valuable and can produce results.
4) Focus on the benefits of long term partnerships in your conversations to get brands to consider a paid brand ambassador style relationship.
5) Send a proposal outlining what you can offer a brand to establish your credibility and make a solid plan.
Feel like you need some help reaching out to brands or strategizing about how to pivot from unpaid to paid partnerships? Book a one-on-one call with one of our Influencer experts and we’ll come up with a gameplan to expand your partnerships and help your Creator business grow!