Meet Naomi Genota. Naomi is a lifestyle content creator based in Los Angeles. She is also a micro-influencer who has harnessed the power of her tight-knit Instagram community. With a following of just over 30k, Naomi is busting influencer myths and misconceptions, like the need for a large following before landing high paying brand collaborations. In fact, she landed over $7k in brand collabs in one month alone.
She joins Her Life, By Design, to share how micro and nano-influencers can leverage their strengths, pitch with confidence, and land more brand collaborations regardless of the size of their following.
How My Student Landed Over $7k in Brand Collabs in One Month
As a student of both my Influencer and Blogger Bootcamp, I cannot begin to express how proud I am of Naomi’s accomplishments. She is the first student of mine that I’ve interviewed on Her Life, By Design. Naomi has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to pitching to brands and creating content. But more importantly, she seeks to empower micro and nano-influencers throughout their journey.
Growing a Community from Scratch
Like so many of us, Naomi started her influencer career while juggling a full-time job. She first started her account in 2012, posting makeup tutorials and hauls on both her Instagram and YouTube channel. As her account grew, her audience began messaging her with questions about beauty tips or makeup advice. Through listening to her audiences’ wants, Naomi was able to build a tight-knit community on both platforms, reaching 30k on Instagram and 15k on YouTube.
In 2015, she took a step back from her influencer career — focusing on grad school and her engineering career instead. It wasn’t until a few years later that Naomi would have an epiphany. She came to the realization that climbing the corporate ladder wasn’t for her. Instead of working hard towards someone else’s dreams, she wanted to create real change. So she stepped back into the influencer space with new intentions and purpose.
Naomi got clear on her “why,” rooting her passions in helping people live a better life beyond a cubicle. So she pivoted and restructured her niche to align more with her goals and the value she can bring to her community.
Leveraging Your Community as Micro or Nano-Influencer
Naomi landed her first gifted collaboration in 2013 with House of Lashes. The collaboration happened organically after she purchased and posted about the brand on social media. House of Lashes caught wind of her post and decided to send her a few of their products. It was an organic partnership that made sense since Naomi was already a customer. She was the perfect fit for promoting House of Lashes’ products to her audience in the beauty space. She also secured her first paid collaboration for a YouTube video through an influencer platform for $100. Looking back, she now realizes that $100 was way under budget for the amount of work involved.
In 2015, Naomi finally landed her first high paying collaboration. She received an email from a PR agency offering $750 for 3 posts promoting a new show on Oxygen. That collaboration was the turning point for Naomi. Through that experience, she realized her strengths in empowering women. So she sought out to share her knowledge with aspiring influencers who might not know the value of their work.
Naomi advises all micro and nano-influencers to leverage their community and high engagement rate. A smaller following often means that your community is hyper niched down. Remember, your following of under 10k is still incredibly valuable to a brand. Naomi also recommends offering content creation and modeling as a service if your account isn’t ready for brand partnerships. In fact, some of her collaborations with brands like Microsoft came to her when she worked with photographers as a model.
Perfecting Your Pitch
Today, Naomi makes a full-time income (and more) on brand collaborations alone. Her most important piece of advice to influencers hoping to achieve the same results is simply consistency and persistence. “When you’re starting out, you’ll get a lot more no’s than yes’s,” Naomi reminds listeners. Failure and rejection are a natural part of the process. But that doesn’t mean you should go about pitching every single brand until you receive a “yes.” Doing that means aimlessly throwing spaghetti at a wall just to see what sticks.
Naomi advises listeners to be intentional and hands-on with the brands you choose to work with. “You need to create a list of ideal brands you want to work with based on your niche and content pillars.” In other words, Naomi encourages influencers to do their due diligence and ensure each brand partnership is on-brand for both you and the company you’re working with. Before you reach out to pitch a brand, think about whether this brand and their products align with yours and your audiences’ values and lifestyle.
As for perfecting your pitch, Naomi recommends starting small and local before reaching out to larger, more widely-known brands. “Larger brands usually hire influencers for campaigns through PR agencies,” Naomi explained. Instead of keeping your focus solely on brands, she encourages listeners to network with PR agencies. In this episode, Naomi shares her process for establishing relationships that lead to great opportunities. She also dives deeper into her pitching process and how you can strengthen the close by sharing your creative ideas.
Pitching on Influencer Platforms
If you’re a nano or micro-influencer who is new to brand collaborations, utilizing influencer platforms would be a great place to start. A few of Naomi’s favorites include Activate, Popular Pays, Tribe, Shopping Links, and #Paid. Since brands on these platforms are already actively looking for influencers, there’s no need for a lengthy pitch. Naomi encourages listeners to spend 15 to 20 minutes a day on your favorite influencer platform looking for potential collaborations. And if you come across a campaign that will be a great fit for you, keep your pitch short and sweet.
However, if you’re pitching on an influencer platform, Naomi reinforces the importance of reading the fine print before agreeing to the campaign.
“Look at dates, usage rights, exclusivity, and make sure to adjust your rate to fit the deliverables.”
If you aren’t comfortable negotiating your pay rate, you can always negotiate the number of deliverables you’ll be submitting instead. It’s important to take into consideration that platforms like Popular Pays might decline your pitch without giving you a reason why. And when they do, they won’t allow you to send another pitch for the same campaign.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Instagram Growth Strategies
When it comes to growing your following, Naomi asks influencers “do you want fans or friends?” Growing a community of “fans” means you aren’t as reachable. Whereas fostering a community of “friends” means you’re appearing more relatable and attainable. Remember that people want to see your true, authentic journey. They want to see how you navigate your struggles and come out the other side. “People will connect with you more if you show up as your authentic self,” Naomi explained.
As for the best way to grow your community, Naomi says “nurture your community. Listen to what they want from you.” But one thing she strongly advises against is participating in mass giveaways. These giveaways will give you the instant satisfaction of watching your numbers grow. The downside? Your engagement will take a huge dip. If you’re interested in doing a giveaway, make sure that it’s super niched and organic to your brand. Get together with other influencers who share the same audience demographic as you. And don’t forget to make the giveaway prize something relevant to your ideal audience.
What Having Management Means
One of the most common questions I receive from influencers is “when should I hire a manager?” For Naomi, she decided to hire one because she was getting jobs constantly. Instead of trying to manage each brand partnership on her own, she needed a manager to help her negotiate terms and contracts. Taking this off her plate allows her to focus on nurturing her community and creating content.
However, there’s a misconception that hiring a manager means you’ll get more brand partnership opportunities. In reality, a manager is your support system. Even with a manager, you need to do your part to reach out, network, and form relationships. For Naomi, hiring her manager made the difference between working smarter and working harder. Because of her decision, she was able to take on fewer collaborations while raising her rates.
Tune into this episode to find out how Naomi managed to match her income from the previous year throughout 2020 with fewer collaborations. She also dishes on some valuable advice on what influencers need to look for when hiring a manager.
Leveraging Your Strengths as a Micro-Influencer
If you still believe that making a full-time income as an influencer is dependent on the number of followers you have, this episode is for you. Not only has Naomi busted that myth, but she has grown her influence to include digital products and coaching. I am so proud of her accomplishments and the example she’s setting for other micro and nano-influencers. And if Naomi proves one thing, it’s that the value you bring as an influencer isn’t in the size of your following — it’s in the quality of your work and the relationships you foster.
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