MYTH: You need a lot of followers to be successful

Over on my Instagram, Sibrana asked why it is that some brands tell you they have no budget but then you see creators with 100K+ a part of the same campaign? So today’s blog post is dedicated to just that, Does My Following Size Really Matter? Do you need a lot of followers to be successful?

A little background on me for those of you that are new here, or those that just need a quick refresh. I started my influencer journey toward the end of 2018. Burnt out from my toxic Early Childhood Educator job, missing being home with my own child, I decided to actively start posting with the intention of becoming a Social Media Influencer. That’s why my advice always has a “just start” disclaimer. At the end of this last year, 2021, I hit 100,000 followers on Instagram and then joined the creator fund on TikTok after a video went viral and attracted more mamas who wanted to join the influencer journey. 

I’ve been in your shoes. I’m still in your shoes. 

Even at 100k followers, negotiations happen, back and forth emails happen, I don’t just get handed the first rate I ask for (and if I did, it would be my sign that I’m charging too little, IYKYK). 

Why Do Brands Give Creators Such A Hard Time About Paying?

When a brand allocates its budget for the year, part of that budget is created for marketing purposes. Social media, commercials, websites, ads, etc. With social media forever booming, companies and marketing teams have discovered much cheaper ways to make a lot of money. What used to cost them hundreds of thousands for one ad, they can now get hundreds of ads for (heck now they can get ads for free).

You’re the photographer, set designer, model, editor, copywriter, all in one.

They don’t want to pay us. They want to end their year with a green P&L (Profit and Loss) report, meaning they made more than they spent.

Creators are giving away their time and photo skills for a plethora of reasons; they don’t know any better, they are having trouble negotiating, they think they can’t ask because of follower count, you name it. 

So, if a brand knows they can get free advertisement, it’s going to make it that much harder to convince them to pay us. (We win when we all win, we lose when we all lose). 

myth: you need a lot of followers to be successful

How many followers do I need?

I always recommend having at least 1,500 followers with ~50 posts on your page to get the attention from brands. You can, however, negotiate pay at any number. I’ve helped people with 2,500 followers get paid and I’ve helped people with 250k followers get paid. You have to sell yourself.

I talk all about negotiating in my Product To Paid Course and frequently over on my Instagram but if you want money, you have to ask for it. If someone is in your inbox asking for a partnership, they’ve already shown you they think you’re worth it enough to advertise for their company. 

Now, I won’t lie and say it’s not easier for people with bigger followers to get paid. 

Brands want to ensure some kind of ROI (Return On Investment) and some of them don’t realize a highly engaged small audience is worth the same (if not more) than a less engaged large audience. So to them, seeing someone with a million followers, even with a .5% engaged audience, means 5,000 people will possibly be seeing their content. 

How To Make Yourself Stand Out With Your Number of Followers

– First check off every box from my recent blog post on tips to “fix” your Instagram page right now to ensure your feed is catching the attention of brands and new followers.

– Photo quality: there are oodles of creators taking pictures for brands that they aren’t even posting on their account. Truly just content creation in exchange for pay.

– A real relationship with your followers: If you want to pitch with small numbers, be ready to show them what a loyal and committed following you have. 

Don’t Let Brands Take Advantage

Their priority is their P&L, your priority is you. Don’t feel bad for caring about your business as much as they care about theirs. Negotiate pay, negotiate deliverables, negotiate their terms. And if you do end up taking work in exchange for product, I get it. Don’t let brands use and abuse your time and worth by agreeing to crazy deliverables. 

There is always room for negotiation. No matter your size. 

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