In the new age of social media, we have seen massive changes when it comes to how the world works, and the ways we are influenced. But the question is, how do we become the ones with influence? How can our lives inspire and motivate others to live similarly? As social media platforms become arguably the strongest marketing tool for many industries, these companies are beginning to take a less-than-traditional outlet to promote themselves. Brands are starting to lean on online influencers and content creators to promote their products – and it’s absolutely working.
A content creator is someone who uses a specific medium, (in our case, social media), to create and share material to build their own personal brand as well as promote companies that they may work with. These social media gurus can promote anything from fashion labels to TV streaming platforms to educational services.
Find Your Niche
So, how do you get started? What is the first step on your journey to social media stardom, invitations to influencer events, and even making money? Find your niche! When you’re just starting out, it’s very important to pick the focus of your content and stick with it. What interests you the most? What kind of content do you like to engage with on Instagram and TikTok?
Maybe you love watching and filming “Get Ready with Me” TikToks, so you want to focus on beauty. Perhaps cooking is your very best skill, and you want to share snaps of all your delicious meals on the ‘gram. Go for it! Just start. Because the second step is to fake it until you make it. Once you start to post like an influencer, you’ll become one. No matter how big or small your following is. In fact, a lot of brands look for creators with smaller followings and good engagement rates from their audience.
You’re probably thinking, “That’s cool, but how do I actually land collabs and partnerships with my dream brands?” I am so glad you asked!!! As an influencer just starting out, you’ll need to learn how to pitch yourself to these brands. Be patient; you’ll have to start small and work your way to the top. If you’re unable to land a collab with your favorite brand, find smaller ones in the same industry that you love, and work with them.
You can contact brands through Instagram DM or through their email, which you may be able to find on their websites or Instagram! Simply message these companies with a pitch about who you are, what kind of content you make, and why you’d love to work with them. It would also be beneficial to include your media kit.
Build Your Brand
Don’t stress, let me explain. A media kit is essentially a package of information that you can use to pitch yourself for potential partnerships! It should include a description of the creator, (you), your social media statistics, your social media platforms, your contact information, the brands you’ve worked with in the past, and, of course, examples of your lovely content.
Another tip is to saturate your platforms. If you have a fun TikTok you love, save it without the watermark and re-upload it on Instagram Reels to reach a larger audience! The more you use different platforms, the more traffic will be driven from one to the other. You also want to be sure that you’re posting often – consistency is key. Your following and engagement will surely grow if you’re pumping out content around the clock. However, with that being said, never sacrifice quality for quantity. I can assure you that your followers would much rather see a high-quality, well-made TikTok tomorrow rather than a sloppy, rushed one today.
A common concern with posting consistent content is that you may not have time in your week to create content several times. And this is why we love a good content day. If you’re unfamiliar, a content day is when you use the free time that you have in one day to create content that will last you much longer! With this, you’ll be able to spend your time focusing on your other obligations but be posting content on a regular and steady basis. For example, a fashion influencer’s content day would consist of packing up three outfits, driving to three separate locations, and shooting each look. They could then post photos from each look every other day, and have content for the entire week!
Network, Network, Network
And let’s not forget that success in the influencer industry also relies heavily on networking. It’s important to build relationships with other creators, whether that means online or face-to-face. Not only do you have a friend to lean on for support along the way, but you have someone that you may even want to create content with! Having you featured on another creator’s platforms can be a great way to gain a larger audience, and land more brand deals.
There are so many ways to meet people in your industry, but the biggest and best is influencer programs. This can include campus ambassadorships, agencies/networks, brand representative programs, and more. These communities may allow you to network and join a community of like-minded creators. A specific example of this would be Victoria’s Secret PINK’s Campus Representative program.
Every year, VS PINK offers an application to college students in the U.S. and Canada to become one of their campus reps for the upcoming school year. Only two reps are chosen from each school, and these two reps curate a team of five students to be their campus team. This is currently a program of 250+ students, one of which is me! This program allows students to not only be a direct link between their university and VS PINK, but to network and grow relationships with the hundreds of other reps in the program.
Advice From An Expert Content Creator
I had the chance to sit down with someone who came before myself in this program and is now a full-time content creator with a combined audience of over 163.9k followers across TikTok and Instagram. Sarah Cuervo focuses on fashion, beauty, travel, and lifestyle, and has had the chance to star in a Coach ad, work with brands like Cynthia Rowley and H&M, and attend influencer events with Revolve, Alo Yoga, Social Tourist, Dior, and more.
Emma Blazis: I know you’ve been a content creator/influencer for a few years now, so I just had some questions for you about your journey and your experience within the industry. Firstly, when did you start creating content for your platforms, and really taking social media seriously?
Sarah Cuervo: I started content creating my first year of college, so about four years ago. I had just gotten to a new school, a new city, a new place, and I applied to so many fashion-related and creative clubs and didn’t get into literally any of them, which was such a slap in the face! I decided I wasn’t gonna let that stop me, and I’ve always loved taking pictures so I basically started just taking fun pictures and “taking it seriously.” I would pull the most random outfits out of my closet trying to make content from nothing. I also started connecting with lots of girls in my town, not even influencers, but just other girls who liked taking pictures. It pretty much evolved from there.
EB: What communities/networks/positions/ambassadorships did you participate in that you would say benefited you and got you to where you are now?
SC: So, the first company that took a chance on me was Victoria’s Secret PINK. Applying to their campus rep program was absolutely huge for me because that’s where I got to refine my content creation skills. Opportunities like those that are not only fun but provide you with ways to constantly become better at your craft are so important and that’s why I really love that program! Another one that really helped me that I recommend is being a TikTok campus rep. That one was super relevant because I was a TikTok rep during the quarantine era when TikTok was really exploding, so I got to learn a lot on the backend which was so helpful.
EB: What is your biggest accomplishment in the content creator industry thus far?
SC: Okay, so there’s a few. This is the sentimental one. The network of people that I know is such a huge flex for me. Not only are they good, genuine people but I look up to them so much as well. To be surrounded by people that motivate you is so rare. It’s so rewarding to be in contact with the people that I know, and a lot of times people ask me how I get so many opportunities, and it’s not even about the number of followers, it’s about the people that follow you. I think often people get so caught up in a numerical value rather than focusing on a target audience.
My other flex is obviously getting the chance to model for Coach because I’ve never ever seen myself as “that.” Growing up Hispanic, on the curvier side, and having curly hair, I genuinely did not have any representation of myself to look to. So to see myself in a Coach store and being able to be that representation for a mid-size curly-haired Latina is so rewarding for me. The next one would be being able to meet Charli and Dixie D’amelio at a brand trip for Social Tourist. I think it’s such a dream for anyone to meet influencers who have just done so much in their own regard, and to be able to meet them just felt really full circle. I’m also a D’amelio stan so it was definitely meet-and-greet behavior.
Growing up Hispanic, on the curvier side, and having curly hair, I genuinely did not have any representation of myself to look to. So to see myself in a Coach store and being able to be that representation for a mid-size curly-haired Latina is so rewarding for me.Sarah Cuervo
EB: What advice would you give yourself at the start of your ~social media~ journey?
SC: I would say to not be so hard on yourself if you’re not seeing results immediately. It’s so important to not be so reliant on instant gratification and to really be in it for the long run. It’s all about baby steps in this industry. There is truly so much growth happening that you can’t always see at the time, so just taking it day by day and celebrating the small wins will really get you far.
EB: Finally, what is one tip, trick, or maybe secret that you can share with those just starting out on their content creator journey?
SC: So I think something that really helped me grow is not sticking to one particular style of content and being super experimental. Sometimes people tend to box themselves in and don’t allow themselves to focus on other things because they think it may not excite their audience. But your platform is your platform for a reason! You’re supposed to explore and express yourself as you grow and change and your content should reflect that. If you want your platform to be as eclectic and ever-changing as your life is, then so be it. Never ever box yourself in. Make your platforms as authentic as your life.
If you want your platform to be as eclectic and ever changing as your life is, then so be it. Never ever box yourself in.Sarah Cuervo
One last tip I have for you is to use your resources, Sarah being one of them! She, along with many other creators, has tons of content on her platforms that guide you through the process of becoming a successful content creator. And listen y’all. The truth is, being a content creator is about just posting whatever you want!! There are people out there that want to see and engage with your content. Becoming an influencer requires you to have the mindset that you already are one. The dream is yours, you just have to take it.
Featured photos by Sarah Cuervo
This story was originally posted on September 5, 2022.