Brand Deals for Influencers 101: Scoring Your First Collab

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | May 23, 2024

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Being a social media influencer is nothing short of a dream job for many of us mere mortals. From scrolling through their posts, content creators look like they live a glamorous, carefree life and have fun making content. But behind the scenes, it’s a lot of hard work. No one talks about how difficult it is to land a brand deal, especially for smaller influencers. So, we’re diving into everything you need to know about brand deals for influencers getting their foot in the door.

While brands are mostly the ones scouring for influencers for campaigns, creators put in a lot of the legwork, too. They need to know how to play the game and make themselves visible to their dream brands for collaborations. In this guide, we’ll show you how to score brand deals. We’ll also fill you in on partnership prices, common collaborative posts, and more!

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What Are Brand Deals for Influencers?

Brand deals or sponsorships are paid partnerships between a brand and an influencer. In this collaboration, the influencer typically promotes the brand and its product on their social media platforms. They can do this through photo posts, videos, product reviews, podcasts and more. The goal is to increase brand awareness and engagement and paint the business in a positive light to their followers.

For borrowing their influence, brands will compensate influencers through a monetary fee or other types of perks. These include affiliate marketing links, free products, exclusive access to the brand’s sales and membership subscriptions, and more.

Influencers seek out brand deals because it boosts their prestige and credibility on the platform. When well-known brands work with creators, they basically validate the influencer’s fame and status in that niche. It also boosts their visibility, allowing them to grow their page and increase their follower count.

Overall, it’s a win-win situation for both the brand and influencer. Plus, having an additional income stream in your job as a content creator never hurts!

A camera phone on a tripod filming a woman doing her makeup.

What Does a Collab on Instagram Usually Look Like?

Collaborations between creators and brands come in many forms. Influencers sometimes work on an entire campaign with a brand’s big product launch or collection. Other times, one sponsored collaborative post is enough to gain traction from the brand’s target audiences.

But more often than not, a collab on Instagram will fall under two types: a co-created product or sponsored content. Let’s take a deeper look into each type of partnership

Co-Created Product Launch

The crème de la crème of brand deals is launching a product co-created by you. Instead of simply promoting their brand on your socials, you can produce the product alongside the brand. The influencer is actively involved in the process, from product development to marketing and design.

The influencer’s involvement is valuable because they add something unique to the line. For example, a fitness brand might collab with an influencer and create gym equipment in the content creator’s favorite colors. Or maybe a makeup line will partner with a creator on eyeshadows perfect for their signature glitter-filled looks. Typically, influencers name this line or collection of products after themselves.

This kind of collab typically becomes a huge hit. It combines the business prowess of the brand and the personal touch of an influencer. So, fans of both brand and content creator can’t wait to get their hands on the products!

And when it’s time to promote the product, the influencer takes center stage. The brand will feature them in all of its official promo materials. They will also tease and promote the collab on their social media platforms to excite their fans.

Sponsored Posts Promoting Products

Most brand partnerships fall under the second type of collab—sponsored posts. When a brand sponsors a creator’s content, it sends an influencer the necessary resources to create and post promotional content. It’s then the influencer’s job to come up with aesthetically pleasing content that showcases the brand. These posts are usually a small part of an entire influencer campaign or major project.

There are many kinds of sponsored posts on Instagram. Here are just a few of them:

  • Product review videos where the influencer shares their experience using a brand’s offerings with their followers.
  • Photos or videos showing how the influencer uses a brand’s products in their everyday life. Examples include OOTD photos for fashion brands or sunscreen for a video of a day at the beach.
  • How-to videos to teach their followers how to use the brand’s products.
  • Challenge videos where the influencer plays a game that incorporates the brand’s products. They then tag other people to participate in the challenge.

Instagram’s stringent policy requires all brand-sponsored content to display the “Paid Partnership” label on top of the post. This feature also requires the content creator to tag their partner brand. That way, the name of the brand appears on the post as well. Instagram does this to protect the consumer and ensure the utmost transparency regarding paid endorsements.

A woman filming herself while showing the fine details of a sweater.

Brand Deals for Small Influencers vs Mega Celebs: What’s the Difference?

Not all brand deals are created equal. Each influencer campaign has its specific objective, after all. And depending on that objective, a brand has to decide whether to work with either small or big creators.

Mega-influencers with millions of fans can deliver benefits different from those of micro-influencers with less than 100k followers. It’s even more different when you add a nano-influencer with less than 10k followers into the mix.

Whatever type of influencer a brand activates for a partnership depends on numerous factors, from their budget to target audiences. However, they always have to be aligned with the campaign’s marketing goals. But just how different are brand deals for small influencers vs those for mega-celebrities? Let’s take a look.

Partnerships With Mega-Influencers Is for Visibility and Brand Awareness

A mega-influencer is defined as someone who has 500k to millions of followers. This massive following makes these online celebrities the perfect people to help with brand awareness campaigns. They can deliver very high reach because of their follower count. So, if a brand needs as many people as possible to see its content, it’ll tap these heavy-hitter influencers.

Mega-influencers are also known to work with content creation teams and managers behind the scenes. This is because when you’re super popular on social media, you become too busy for everyday online operations. Having a team like that to back you up is an asset when you’re working on major campaigns for brands.

Although these influencers have a wide reach, smaller influencers typically engage more effectively. They’re awesome for more commercial projects that rely on scale but not for talking directly with their followers. While they’re terrific for driving brand awareness, maybe skip out on them for campaigns for conversions and audience engagement.

Brand Deals for Micro-Influencers Are All About the Engagement

Brand deals for micro-influencers are pretty much the opposite of those for mega-influencers. These smaller influencers might not have the wide reach a creator with celebrity status has. Instead, they have a small but tight-knit audience that they engage with excellently.

While micro-influencers are famous in their own right, they’re not as overwhelmingly busy famous as celebs. That’s why many of them are still able to converse with their fans in their post comments or DMs. They’re seen as more genuine and accessible, making them like a real friend. Micro-influencers are known to have a strong, solid, authentic relationship with their followers, who trust their brand recommendations.

So, if you want to engage your target audience in conversation and sway their purchase decisions, micro-influencers are fantastic. They’re also well-suited to local campaigns or projects within a specific hobby or niche.

A woman recording herself in front of a phone and a ring light while eating pizza.

How Much Do Influencers Get Paid for Brand Deals?

With people shifting their careers to content creation, you may wonder how much influencers get paid for brand deals.

Influencers’ rates are based on many factors, such as their follower count, engagement rate, and a campaign’s scope of work. Other things that can dictate the price include exclusivity rights and how successful the influencer’s previous collaborations have been. It’s never a one-size-fits-all rate, especially since some influencers are more skilled at producing creative content.

But generally, mega-influencers will charge more for their wide reach. They’ll also have more complex negotiation processes, which can take a toll on smaller companies. Meanwhile, micro- and nano-influencers might charge significantly lower. They might even accept brand deal payments through free products and samples.

If you’re curious as to how much exactly a sponsored post costs, here’s a ballpark figure for you. According to Impact Tech, a micro-influencer might charge between $2,000 and $8,000 for a sponsored post. A mid-range creator can charge $8,000-$20,000. And a mega-influencer with celeb status can charge upwards of a whopping $45,000 per post!

A young woman sitting in an office chair with dollar bills flying around her.

How Do Influencers Look for Brand Deals?

It’s natural to wonder, “How do influencers look for brand deals?” Do content creators just sit around and wait for calls from top brands?

Influencer outreach typically happens when brands reach out to creators via email or direct message to offer a partnership. The process is so common that many brands have influencer outreach email templates to recruit potential influencers quickly.

However, many influencers take matters into their own hands and reach out to brands directly. They’ll email marketing teams from all the brands they love, asking about influencer programs they can join.

Creators usually have something like an elevator pitch when they reach out to brands this way. They’ll introduce themselves, link the brand to their Instagram profile, and express interest in collaborating. They might also share tons of other important information about their career as a content creator. These include a full media kit, reach and engagement metrics of their recent posts, and a creative portfolio.

You can reap plenty of benefits when doing direct outreach to brands. But it takes a lot of courage, patience, and diligence to do it in the hopes of landing sponsorships. There’s always a risk of brands not responding to your emails or getting flat-out rejected. Yikes! It’s truly not for the faint of heart.

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How To Get Brand Deals Without Reaching Out to Businesses

While emailing brands directly to ask to collaborate can be super effective, it’s not up everyone’s alley. Many content creators prefer to land their sponsorships organically. They rely on their merit and entice the brands to come to them instead of seeking them out themselves.

They do that by curating, improving, and attending to their social media platforms to ensure they’re prime candidates for campaigns. It also requires being more active on platforms where brands and creators meet to work together potentially.

Do you want to land sponsorships in a more organic way without having to reach out to brands directly? Here are our tips on how to get brand deals with zero outreach by focusing on your content and career.

Create High-Quality Content Within Your Dream Brand’s Niche

Brands are always on the lookout for influencers who create high-quality content with stunning visual aesthetics. It won’t make sense to hire even the most-followed influencer in their niche if they’re not good at creating content.

So, if you want to be noticed by brands, always deliver high-quality content. Stay relevant by following trends and experimenting with different formats to keep your content fresh. And, of course, use high-resolution photos and videos that are appealing to the eye. At the same time, make sure your content still looks authentic and relatable.

Aside from making your posts look pretty, make sure you demonstrate your expertise in your niche. Post valuable, insightful content that actually helps your audience. This shows brands that you’re an expert in your niche, meaning you can sell products and get people to listen.

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Optimize Your Instagram Profile for Easy Influencer Outreach

After catching a brand’s attention, you need to ensure that they have open lines of communication with you. How else will they let you know that they’re interested in partnering with you for a project?

Optimize your Instagram profile for easier contact by putting your contact information on your page. If you have a Creator profile on Instagram, utilize the “Email” button feature. You can also leave a link to your portfolio, media kit, and other important websites in your bio. Remember to include a CTA for potential brand partners. Something simple like, “Shoot out an email to [your email address] for sponsorships!”

Collaborate With Other Influencers

Another great way to catch brands’ eyes is by collaborating with other creators in your niche. This is a tell-tale sign that you’re well-ingrained in your niche. It makes you look more like an expert and active member of the community. So, brands will see you as the perfect candidate to promote their products to targeted audiences.

Collaborating with other influencers also widens your reach. This might make you more discoverable to brands looking for partner creators.

For example, let’s say a tech brand wants to work with a specific tech influencer. While doing an audit of that influencer’s page, they see a bunch of your collaboration posts with them. They visit your page and see that you, too, are a terrific influencer for the project you had in mind. If they’re looking for multiple creators for their campaign, there’s a huge chance they’ll book you for it, too.

Working with others also shows potential brand partners that you have experience professionally collaborating with others. It tells them that you know how the process works and you can work within a team. That’s important for brand teams that only want a smooth influencer collab process, thereby increasing your chances of landing deals.

Two women doing each other’s makeup.

Attend and Network at Industry Events

If you have the chance, attend as many industry events as you can. Getting an invite to these events isn’t common for smaller influencers. So, don’t miss out on the opportunity if you do. Networking at these events is a great way to put yourself on the map (or your dream brand’s contact list!).

Plenty of brands attend these events to mingle with industry giants and expand their network of influencers they can tap. By attending these events, you can rub elbows with brand owners who might be interested in working together. Even if they don’t have projects currently running, introducing yourself means they might reach out to you one day.

Join Trusted Influencer Marketplaces

Lastly, we highly recommend joining an influencer marketing platform or marketplace. These online platforms are a convenient way to connect with brands looking to work with influencers for their projects.

What’s awesome about these influencer marketplaces is that they cut out the tedious task of reaching out to brands. All you have to do is sign up to be part of the platform’s influencer database. You can share your audience demographics, engagement rates, follower count, niche topics, and more. Then, the platform will notify you if a brand likes your profile and wants to collaborate.

Not only are these platforms awesome for connecting with brands, but They also make the rest of your work as a brand influencer smoother and easier.

Many influencer marketing platforms are one-stop shops for brand collabs. You can communicate with brand teams, submit content for approval, and even get paid all on the platform. It’s super convenient for any busy influencer looking to book more and more brand deals!

Score a Brand Deal When You Establish Yourself With Tons of Followers

Brand deals are a lot of fun to work on. You get free stuff, make creative content, engage audiences, and expand your network and collab portfolio. The best part is that you get paid for all of it!

But you do need to put in some elbow grease to land your first collab. You need to build up your page, optimize content, reach out to brands, or perhaps join popular influencer marketplaces. If you follow all of our tips above, you’ll find brands knocking at your door to collaborate in no time.

That said, brand deals for influencers don’t appear out of thin air. You have to hustle to get your first partnership offer. To get noticed by the biggest brands, you must establish yourself on Instagram and have a solid fanbase.

That’s where Path Social comes in. Our team can help you narrow down your target audience and promote your content to them. This gives you targeted reach for your page and tons of new followers aligned with your intended audience. Coupled with high-quality, engaging content, you’ll attain a significant following and get those brand offers fast! Start growing your page today!