- On Instagram, it can seem like #ad and #sponsored hashtags are ubiquitous.
- Brand Sponsorships are how many influencers make income on social media.
- Dozens of influencers have explained to Insider their strategies for getting sponsored.
On Instagram, more than 18 million posts have the hashtag #ad. Over 4 million have #donated.
Sponsored posts are how many influencers make a living. Some make six figures or more than that.
Take Emma Cortes, for example, who started a fashion blog in 2014. When she signed her first brand partnership as a part-time content creator in 2016, she was an unpaid brand ambassador, she told Insider.
Fast-forward six years and Cortes is a full-time influencer, earning more than $300,000 in one year — with less than 50,000 Instagram followers. Most of that revenue came from brand deals, he told Insider.
Read more about how Cortes earned over $300,000 in annual income
But getting that first brand deal can be challenging for influencers. So how did they do it?
Insider has interviewed dozens of influencers who have worked with 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 on a brand’s radar, such as promoting marketing agencies or a company’s employees on LinkedIn. And Instagram itself is getting in on the action with a new Creator Brand Marketplace where collaborations can be made via DM.
More established influencers often have talent managers or agents who present, negotiate and obtain these sponsorships for them. For example, JaLisa Vaughn-Jefferson, a lifestyle influencer with 275,000 followers at the time, signed $700,000 in brand deals in mid-2021 with the help of her management company. (Read more about how she built her influencer business.)
Checkout: Insider’s interactive database of top managers and agents representing some of social media’s biggest stars
But even for creators starting out—with fewer than 10,000 Instagram followers—there are avenues to getting sponsored. Many “nano” influencers start out by working with brands as ambassadors (as Cortes did) and sharing affiliate links that prove they have the ability to drive customers to a brand.
Some brands, such as Dunkin Donuts or jewelry brand Mejuri, are known for their collaborations with micro-influencers.
Reading: 7 Top Brands Working with Micro Influencers on Instagram, TikTok, and More
To help content creators better understand how they can get sponsored on Instagram, here’s a compilation of our coverage of how influencers get brand deals.
Getting the right pitch is key
Whether it’s via email or DM on Instagram, what influencers include in a pitch can make all the difference.
“I like to use the word ‘offer’ instead of ‘partnership’ to remind micro influencers that you have to offer the brand something of value,” Julie Tescon, a nano influencer, told Insider. “You can offer anything that the brand would normally pay for.”
Christian Di Bratto, a talent manager who works with creators, told Insider that personalizing the pitches is key. Di Brato had signed $327,000 in brand deals through 2022 when Insider interviewed him in November. He shared the offer he sends to brands to secure deals for his customers. (Read his speech.)
Here are 13 examples of how influencers showcase brands, from the exact promotion 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 templates she uses to showcase brands on Instagram.
- Nick Cutsumpas, a plant and lifestyle influencer with over 60,000 followers. Presents branded content packages for long-term partnerships.
- Ashley Jones, a micro influencer with 50,000 Instagram followers. She shared her starting prices for brand deals and how she pitches brands in DMs.
- Emma Cortes, a fashion influencer with 44,000 followers on Instagram. He shared the email template he uses to convert gift offers into paid offers.
- Lillian Zhang, a TikTok micro influencer with 21,500 followers. She shared the exact TikTok DM the brand sent to introduce itself.
- Alexa Curtis, entrepreneur and micro influencer with 20,000 followers on Instagram. He shared 5 tips for writing successful posts.
- Gigi Kovach, lifestyle influencer with 14,000 followers on Instagram. He shared the 200-word email he uses to approach brands.
- Florence Williams, a beauty influencer with 13,000 followers on Instagram. It sends a detailed 14-page proposal to brands when promoting paid partnerships.
- Khadijah Lacey-Taylor, a nano influencer with less than 10,000 followers. See how she introduced brands by showcasing her video content on Instagram.
- Julie Tecson, a nano influencer with around 7,000 followers on Instagram. He shared three types of pitches he sends to brands.
- Laur DeMartino, part-time content creator and full-time student with about 5,000 followers. Uses LinkedIn to find brand contacts and includes a 9-page media kit when pitching brands.
- Jalyn Baiden, a skincare influencer with 4,000 Instagram followers. He shared how to write a simple DM that can lead to a paid sponsorship deal.
- Amber Broder, a nano skincare influencer and full-time student with about 2,300 followers. She shared how she pitches brands as a content creator, emphasizing her engagement rate.
Media kits help show what an influencer can bring to 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 nano lifestyle influencer, told Insider. “But if you have a very engaged audience and you can target people very well and have a good relationship with your audience, brands will pay for it.”
She—like many other influencers—uses a media kit to help show brands how, even with a few thousand followers, she can increase engagement.
Here are 13 examples of media kits that influencers use to get sponsorships:
- Alexa Collins, lifestyle influencer with 1.2 million followers. She shared her 8-page media kit.
- Justine Jakobs, an OnlyFans and adult content creator with 460,000 followers on Instagram. He shared the 4 page media kit he uses.
- Eric Stoen, a travel creator with around 330,000 followers on Instagram. He shared his 1 page media kit.
- Natasha Greene, a food and lifestyle influencer with 138,000 Instagram followers. Here is the 9 page media kit he uses.
- Joel Bervell, medical school student and content creator with 118,000 Instagram followers. He shared his 2-page media kit.
- Macy Mariano, a fashion and lifestyle creator on Instagram with around 100,000 followers. Check out her 9-page media kit.
- Jade Darmawangsa, technology and business, YouTube creator (382,000 subscribers) with 52,000 Instagram followers. She shared her 4 page media kit.
- Tess Barclay, a Toronto-based creator with about 5,600 followers on Instagram. Here is the latest version of her 1 page media kit.
- Lauren SoYung Lim, influencer 26,000 Instagram followers (and 130,000 TikTok followers). He shared the 9-page media kit he used to pitch brands.
- Gigi Robinson, a creator with approximately 16,000 followers on Instagram and 134,000 followers on TikTok. He shared it 17-page media kit he used to get branding 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 followers on Instagram. She shared her 3-page media kit.
- Kayla Compton, a nano influencer with a few thousand followers. Here is the 8 page media kit he uses.