The importance of aligning with the RIGHT brands, not every brand.
If you’re looking to have a long and prosperous career as a fitness, health or wellness influencer, it’s important that you align yourself with the RIGHT brands (not every brand) at each stage of your journey.
So how do you decide what gets a resounding “YES!” or is gently let down with a “Maybe sometime in the future.”?
If you’ve managed to amass a considerable following with your social media accounts, it’s likely that your inbox is being flooded with collaboration and partnership requests from small business, companies, large-scale brands or even fellow influencers. They may be offering a free product in exchange for a mention or even a creative collaboration to showcase their new service, where you get paid!
So should you say yes to everything that comes your way?! Definitely not! Now, this may seem counterintuitive to some, especially when you’re early on in your influencer career but the truth is that the companies and brands you choose to align yourself with at the beginning, will have an impact on who you work with later.
Now you’re probably thinking “They’re only giving me a packet of free protein bars!” or “A cute activewear crop top!” But there is more to consider before saying “Yes” to the free Organic French Press.
If you want a long-term career in the influencer space, you need to start thinking of yourself as a brand. I would argue that it’s the most important factor in your decision-making process.
Brand is one of those almost intangible elements that differentiate the highly successful influencers from the rest. It’s what they stand for, what they believe in, what they share – it’s who they are.
So ask yourself:
Does this collaboration align with my values? Beliefs?
Will it provide me with opportunities to network?
Will this partnership enhance my personal brand and reputation?
Will I gain or lose credibility?
Will they help me grow my personal brand?
Will they allow me to remain authentic and produce content that is inline with my personal brand? i.e. Tone of Voice, Messaging, Style/Creative of content?
Your community has been built upon the foundations of your personal brand. They are in large part the reason for this opportunity and it’s important to understand whether this collaboration will allow you to continue doing what you love - creating amazing content and sharing it with like-minded individuals.
So ask yourself:
Does my community want to see this type of content from me?
Am I still adding value to my community with this collaboration?
Will I be able to reach more people and grow my following?
More importantly, will it increase my exposure to the right kind of people?
You might receive collaboration requests from companies that clearly align with what you’re doing in the fitness, health and wellness space, i.e. nutrition companies, active wear brands, supplements and vitamins however you will get requests that are a bit left of centre such as aromatic diffusers, furniture and baby formula companies – it happens!
It’s not uncommon to see fitness, health and wellness influencers delving into these new product categories. Often, you’ll find that your audience also purchases these lifestyle products but what you need to remember is that YOUR audience has followed you for a specific reason and it’s often because you’ve positioned yourself as an expert within your niche whether that be yoga, pilates, kettlebell training, powerlifting or nutrition. You community returns to your page to see this content.
Consistency in your messaging is key. If you add a random heating and cooling product placement into one of your posts, people may begin to question your authority, authenticity and your motives. Communities are tight and they will forgive a lot, just don’t make a habit out of it and think about where it fits with your personal brand.
Ultimately this is a business arrangement. It might be short-term (i.e., one-off post) or long-term (i.e. brand ambassadorship) partnership and each will come with its own form of compensation.
We’ve named a few below:
Free products and services
Referral/discount codes for your followers
What’s most important to recognise is the opportunity beyondthat of the financial compensation. What additional value will you derive from this arrangement that goes beyond the money?
Example 1 - Network effects:There may be an opportunity to collaborate with a brand that has ties to a bigger brand. This collaboration may not be paying as much as you’re accustomed to but it will help you gain access to a network you didn’t have access to before.
Example 2 - Credibility:A business approaches you with an opportunity to create a new product that would provide your community with tremendous value and help add credibility to your brand, positioning you as an expert in your field. You may not be able to afford to do this on your own but it aligns with the long-term goals for your personal brand so you take this opportunity and learn from it.
Alternatively, a company may approach you with an outrageous offer that could afford you an early retirement on your own island. Obviously, this shouldn’t be taken lightly but if the short-term benefit (money) is coming at the expense of the long-term benefit (building your career), I would urge you to consider it carefully.
So ask yourself:
Would I still consider doing this collaboration or partnering with this company if the money wasn’t as good?
Will the short-term benefit still allow me to achieve my long-term goals?
Is the compensation fair?
Does the value of the partnership exceed the financial compensation?
As an influencer, you are your own brand and business. One game that no-one ever wins is the ‘Time for Money’ trade. i.e. You get paid an hourly rate based on the work you do. This traditional form of business always has a ceiling and there isn’t a way to get through it. While your hourly rate may go up over time, the number of hours in a day is always capped so you want to make sure you don’t fall into that trap.
Like I mentioned above, understand the true potential of the opportunity presented to you and the benefits derived for your time - value. Think beyond the time vs. money exchange if your goal is to be an influencer that goes the distance, not just for the moment.
How much time and energy do I need to invest?
What will this collaboration involve? Will it take up days, weeks, months?
Is this an initial investment or an ongoing investment?
Am I willing to sacrifice these 2-3 days [insert time frame] for what can provide me with an ongoing income stream?
Will this opportunity help me reach my goals faster? More efficiently?
How to tackle ALL those questions
So now we’ve presented you with a whole lot of questions but how are you doing to answer them all?!
Ultimately, the purpose of this exercise is to determine whether there is brand alignment between yourself and the company. You want the partnership to make sense for both yourself you’re your community to ensure that your time as a fitness, health and wellness influencer has longevity and prosperity.
So let’s take a tiny step back. The best way to answer all these questions and create clarity around whether this partnership is a good or bad idea for you is to first focus on yourself and what you want to achieve.
Define your goals
Setting goals provides you with a framework to make decisions. Each decision you make should be in line with achieving your goals. If you’re trying to navigate the influencer world without this kind of loose plan, it will make these decisions harder. I’m not saying you need to have it all figured out but some structure will help keep you on track.
Focus on both short-term and long-term goals ensuring your short-term goals are aligned with achieving your long-term ones.
Understand your current position, that is whether you’re just starting out (beginner), slowly gaining influence within your niche (micro-influencer), have a substantial following (influencer) or if you’ve established a strong and sought after brand (borderline celebrity). Acknowledging where you’re at in your career will help establish these goals and they should be different at every stage. The tactics that help you reach one milestone, i.e. 1000 followers, will be different to the tactics you use to achieve 10,000. Your goals should evolve with you.
Now that you have your goals sorted, ask yourself:
“Will this [insert opportunity] get you closer to your goal or will it take you further away?”
When you get approach by a business or brand, do your research before responding to their request.
Take a look at their proposal, their website, social accounts, Google search them and see what comes up, if there are any articles or reviews. Ask around too! If they claim they’ve worked with certain individuals or companies before, speak to those people and find out what their experience was.
Other questions to consider are similar to those they would have undergone in selecting you in the first place, so make sure you can answer them in return:
Who are they?
What do they do?
What do they stand for? Values/Beliefs/Vision/Mission
Do I believe in them?
Do you have any hesitations? If so, what? Can they be overcome?
What type of content are the posting?
What messages are they broadcasting?
What’s their community engagement like?
Asking them why they want to partner with you is also something I’d recommend. Each business will have their own reasons however you can then decide whether their motives align with yours.
Additionally, you’ll uncover many things in your research that may result in questions. Don’t disregard a company completely because you’re unsure of what you’ve found. Give them a chance to explain so you can set the foundations for a wonderful partnership.
We’ve given you a whole lot of food for thought so now it’s time to look at all those proposals and decide on the best move for your career. Best of luck Loopers!