How to get Sponsored on Instagram
Ad – In collaboration with Samsung Austria
As a professional content creator working with various brands over the past three years, I will share a full step by step guide on how you can get sponsored on Instagram and start collaborating with the brands you’ve always dreamed of working with!
Using the guide below I was able to not only close one-off and long-term collabs on Instagram, but also for example got signed by Samsung Austria as a Brand Ambassador. So be aware that using the principles below and honing in on your skills, you might find yourself collabing with big brands and companies you love!
DISCLAIMER: This guide is not for everyone! If you’re looking for a quick hack on how you can trick brands into working with you, this won’t be for you. However, if you’re willing to put in the work, create value for your audience & collaboration partners and are ready to become a full time professional content creator, keep on reading!
Rule #1: Don’t start Instagram/Social Media just for collabs & money!
In my opinion this is the most important thing to know before jumping into the entire topic – don’t start an Instagram channel with the sole goal of getting collabs and earning money!
“Why? It’s lucrative and booming.” – you might think to yourself. While all that is true, just creating content to get paid for ads won’t get you very far. Yes, you might actually get some collabs going but in general it will seem pretty un-authentic. Also, without a strong “Why” and deeper reason for creating social channels, you won’t have the power to push through the beginning phase or times where things are not going as planned.
So before starting the journey, ask yourself: “What exactly do I want to share on my channels? What’s the purpose of my content?”
Fact is, that if you focus on your own content, on offering value to your audience and on creating high quality content you will attract brands automatically which will want to work for you!
Grow an Audience
There is no way around this. If you’re looking to collab with brands on Instagram, you will have to put in months and years of work before getting sponsored on Instagram. While you don’t have to have millions of followers, in my experience brands get interested when you hit 10,000 followers and above. However, if you have a very niche audience that is highly engaged, you can even start collaborations if a couple of thousands of followers.
Don’t let this intimidate you! If you’re in the content game not just for the money, but are actually passionate about creating your content, then chances are you will enjoy the process until you’re ready to work with brands. I’ve put in hours of work into my social media channels every day for a at least two years before getting sponsored on Instagram – and trust me, if I can do it, you can too!
Make your content interesting for brands
In order to get sponsored on Instagram, you need to make your content interesting for brands. Keep this in the back of your head while building up your online brand.
“Interesting for brands” in this case means creating high quality images and an Instagram gallery where brands would like to see their products integrated!
Don’t get this wrong though. Create content that is valuable for others and that is in line with your passions and topics – this always needs to be the focus of your content!
For me for example, it’s fitness, traveling and business. It’s what I do on a daily basis and love creating content around. The picture I post are high resolution, shot with a DSLR camera and edited to give it an upscale look. So when brands see my gallery, it doesn’t just look like someone posting random pictures, but instead looks appealing and therefore interesting for brands to think about placing their products there.
These days there are lots of people jumping on to the train and posting impressive pictures in great quality and by that growing an audience on Instagram. In my experience, you need to have a way to stand out so that you have better chances of getting sponsored on Instagram.
“How do I stand out though?” is a fair question you might ask yourself. In fact, there are many ways to do this!
Some questions you can ask yourself to see how you can stand out:
- Do you have a specific niche that you can cover better than anyone else, for example Low Calorie Fitness Desserts?
- Are you someone known outside of Instagram?
- Are you the only person in your country talking about topic XYZ in your native language?
- Does your Instagram Gallery have a unique color code that no one else rocks better than you?
You see, the options are endless. In my case for example I’m known in Austria for winning Mister Austria and later another global title of Mister World Europe. With that, I was able to get verified on Instagram and now have a unique mix of Professional Content Creator + Celebrity Persona that I can offer and pitch to brands while standing out.
This doesn’t mean that the only way to work with big brands is having some recognition offline. A good example is my girlfriend @carina_berry who combines highly aesthetic food pictures in the fitness niche with a unique rainbow color code – no other food blogger has this sort of combination at the level she executes, which is why she can stand out and brands are keen on sponsoring her work.
Get noticed! Tag and Engage with Brands you’d like to work with
You have a good Instagram presence and a way to stand out. Now you’re ready to get noticed (chances are that by now some brands might have already noticed you by now but you can always increase your own luck ;)).
There are different ways to do this, below I’ve listed some ideas for you.
Examples on how to get noticed by brands:
- Tag them in pictures that are in line with their content (e.g. tag gym wear brands in your gym photos)
- Reach out via DM – make sure to make it personal and appealing!
- Email them – Emails can easily be found either directly on the IG page or online
- Visit trade fairs and Influencer Events! Talk to the brand managers and create personal relations. This one is very powerful and often overlooked – leverage the power of personal relationships!
- Get intros from friends who work at companies you would like to collab with
- Advanced: Cold Call companies and ask for their Social Media Manager
You see, there are endless options on how you can get noticed. If you’ve created an Instagram Channel of value, create good content, stand out and use the above mentioned ways to get noticed, you’ll be talking to brands in no time!
Make sure it’s a good fit
If you have a substantial following, chances are that some companies will start emailing you that are not a fit for you at all. What I mean by this is that you shouldn’t try to get sponsored by every random company just because they offer it to you.
In my case, I decided to work with Samsung Austria long term because there is a clear product fit when it comes to my personal brand. As mentioned above, a big part of my content is Fitness so it was a no-brainer to consider working with a brand that is known for high-end mobile devices such as the Galaxy Buds or the Galaxy Watch Active. Both of these devices were easy to authentically embed into my native content (while e.g. preparing for the upcoming Mister World Competition). Plus, as a content creator I need devices that support that and the Samsung Phones are perfect for creating stories, posts, videos etc. and therefore constantly in use in one way or the other on my channel!
So if your content is all about men’s fashion and a whey protein company wants you to promote their supplements, this usually is a bad fit and no value is created on either side. It would look unauthentic and even if the company is willing to pay you for the advertisement, you’re better off not taking the offer to stay in line with your content.
Take it step by step (don’t rush long term sponsorships!)
Sometimes people ask me how to close long term sponsorships with big brands. My answer is always the same: “Think of it as a relationship. You wouldn’t walk up to a girl/guy and ask them to marry you right away, right? So take it step by step.”
Step by step in this case means not trying to pitch long term sponsorships right away. Why? Because there is no proof of concept yet. Neither sides know if the collab will actually be beneficial for both sides, if the content is what the brand is looking for, and if you actually enjoy the products so that you want to promote them long term.
An example of taking it step by step would be:
- Reach out and ask if you can test some of their products
- Feature their products in your stories/posts for free
- Send them the created content and thank them for the products
- Offer them a paid sponsorship for e.g. 2 posts and 2 stories (multiple sequences)
- If both sides are happy you can start discussing a long term sponsorship of 3-12 months
Circling back to my sponsorship with Samsung Austria, it started as naturally as it could be. We were in touch casually for a couple of months because I followed the previous steps: 1) Grew an Audience that was interesting for the brand, 2) Stood out with my content and 3) Got noticed and multiple people in the company were following my Instagram Account.
Samsung Austria then asked me if I would be interested to be part of a campaign that included me testing a new device and taking part in an Influencer trip where I would create content for the brand – the event was called “One Charge Challenge” and it gave us the opportunity to see how we like working together. Basically, it was the proof of concept of working together and seeing if we feel it’s a mutually beneficial situation.
A few months passed and I kept in touch with them, also mentioning that I would be open to future collabs or a long term sponsorship if that is something they’d be looking for. We then decided to do another one off campaign to then launch into a long-term collaboration after that.
Know your worth
When you’re at a point where you’re negotiating with brands, it’s crucial to know your worth. It’s absolutely ok to start off with product sponsorings, but as you grow your craft, invest more time into your content and your audience, you’ll have to start charging what you are worth.
The first step to this is to be sold on yourself, realizing that the more effort you put into your content and social channels, the more value you can also offer to the brands in return!
Think about it this way – as a professional content creator and influencer you’re basically all of the below, all in one:
- Creative – you plan out content & create campaign ideas
- Model in your posts
- Influencer with Reach Online
- Content Creator (you take picture/videos)
- Post-Production – Editing content and making it ready to post
- Social Media Specialist – you not only post, but promote your posts & make sure it gets good reach online!
My tip is not try to put hours on your work but always focus on the value that you can offer to the brand. What is it worth to have all of the above in one person to help the brand get their message out? What value can you deliver with your skills?
Watch my full video on this topic in YouTube:
Be professional & overdeliver
How to get sponsored on Instagram always starts with one thing: Being professional. You don’t just want to be the next guy/girl with an Instagram account vaguely approaching brands and say something like “hey, do you want to sponsor me?”
Think of yourself as a professional content creator and act that way. In the end, it’s a creative job which also requires business sense and professionalism. By that I mean that you deliver content on time, use the hashtags you agreed on, reply to email in a timely manner and so on.
Overdelivering is key to strengthen business relationships and making your customers (your collaboration partners) happy! In the case of Samsung Austria for example I started off by creating a content plan in Google Docs, shared it with the respective managers in charge and asked to have a meeting so that we could talk through the year and agree on the content we’d be focusing on for the next months. Actions like this show that you’re not just another “Influencer”, but that you actually take your job seriously and know what it takes to create content that your partners are happy with!
Another way to overdeliver is to support your collaboration partners as much as possible when it comes to organizational tasks.
Ask yourself the following:
- Can you provide them with content screenshots to make it easier for them to track the campaigns?
- Does it make sense to create a shared Dropbox or Google Drive folder so that it’s easier to collaborate and exchange ideas?
- Are you sending invoices on time but also delivering on time?
Always be professional and think of yourself as a business partner with a strong expertise and with that value that you can provide to your collaboration partners!
If you haven’t yet, make sure create a professional media kit which is always a great way to introduce yourself to brands. More on this in my YouTube video below:
Final Thoughts on how to get sponsored on Instagram
So as you see, there is much more to getting sponsored on Instagram than just posting a picture of products your receive – it’s a process to get to a place where you’re interesting for brands to work with and then executing correctly!
It can be tedious at times and definitely isn’t “easy”. But then again, nothing is “easy” that is worth having, always remember that! Put in the work, focus on providing value to your audience and your partners, and enjoy the ride!
Hi, I’m Alberto Nodale.