To Start Off...
I have not been around as long as some, but I have noticed some stuff and made some observations. I was chatting to a friend of mine and many other friends involved with social media, and we seemed to get to many of the same conclusions. I thought it was time to resurrect the blog as well. If you want to a be successful social media influencer, do the exact opposite of these seven points here below, and this should stand you in good stead in the great social media jungle.
1. Assume your photos have no value
Your photos are valuable. Perhaps even very valuable. That’s why companies want them. I'm talking about direct commercial value. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be interested.
The primary failure of most photographers is not understanding the value of what they create. Successful social media influencers know how to value their work. When you value your pictures, you won’t give them away so easily. You will demand appropriate payment for them. It all starts here.
Once you embed this into yourself deeply as a content creator, the rest will fall into place much more quickly.
2. have zero respect for the places you visit
If you see fraud and don't call fraud, you are a fraud.
When you visit a place, it is your responsibility to educate your self about the laws and regulations. Don't violate them. This is a tragic problem in Iceland, where many have gone illegal off-road driving and irreversibly scared the landscape. There has been some disgusting behaviour here, and in other places recently and its very sad.
Promoting and glamorising (in a flashy video or other shots) bad behaviour only makes it more likely that others will do the same. Do not be that person/group. Ignorance is not an excuse.
Stay on the road. If you want an adventure, there are some incredible and very difficult "roads" in Iceland. Driving over and destroying moss and pristine sands and pretending to be adventurous and on is cowardly. Don't be a coward.
3. Work for product only
How many times have you heard the line: “we can only pay you in product, not in cash” or better yet, “we are paying you, we are paying you in product”.
Why are companies so willing to pay you in product? Many companies will rely on your ignorance of how this really works, and will depend on you to use a value interpretation. You see that $150 watch? It probably cost $15 in direct production costs to make. Let that sink in. This means that when it looked as if your shots were worth $150, you actually sold them for 1/10 of that.
Now, are you really going to trade 2 sponsored photos and potentially a folder full of photos for a $15 watch? I hope the answer is no.
Why not make a proper deal with the company and earn some actual cash AS WELL AS the product? After all, you can’t do the job without the product. A product is not a replacement for cash, it is the supplement to it.
And who wants loads of stuff piling up after a tonne of projects? Aren’t we on Instagram always going on how wonderful it is to be free on the road and not be tied down by material possessions? Oh yeah, I forgot. Most that talk is empty, platitudinous rubbish. Go figure.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this. Maybe you really need the product. Maybe it contributes to something greater like your general aesthetic/look and feel of your lifestyle and profile. This makes the case a bit better. Even so, endeavour to work for cash. Always.
A healthy and successful collaboration should always evolve, but it has to start off on the right footing. You can't just work for free with the view that you might get paid at some point in the future.
4. Do free sponsored posts
It takes a long time to develop an engaged following on Instagram. You go out, you travel, you spend money on travel, and perhaps a small fortune on your gear that you shoot with to get that creamy bokeh from those 1.4 lenses.
And now you are giving up your precious feed space to promote a product, and you were not even paid for it/didn’t get anything of substantial value out of it? Do you know how ridiculous that sounds?
Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t give up your hard earned feed space for nothing.
How much to charge?
Basic formula: 1 to 1.5% of your following, in dollars.
Succussful Social Media Influencers charge for sponsored content, and they charge a lot, believe me.
5. Screw over other creatives
When you work for free, for cheap products and give away your hard earned feed space for free, you’re ultimately undermining your primary objective: to be successful a social media influencer.
It’s a modern day Greek tragedy.
Also, you’re ruining it for/screwing over everyone else who is actually earning their livelihood from this by driving down the value of this work and therefore the price.
Prices of social media work will support themselves instead of being competed downwards if everybody demands a price for their work across the board.
Then, there will be those people that will say: “yeah, but I just do this as a hobby”. To those people, I say, why not charge anyway? Did anyone ever complain about having too much money? Since when was that a problem? Uh, like, never. *crickets*
6. Be a lousy negotiator
Companies will got away with as much as they can get away with. And so will everybody else. This brings into question the balance of power between the negotiating parties.
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the brand has some kind of advantage over them because they are bigger (in size and followers) and have something to offer that they really don't have.
What power do they really have? Probably none. Don't fall into the small numbers trap and sell yourself and your precious creativity for free.
It is particularly difficult to stick to this in the beginning, when you are still growing and don't feel like you have much of a footing. You really want to work, and are hungry for projects. Many companies will exploit your hunger.
To be a successful social media influencer, stop and ask yourself: who is really gaining from this? Then, take appropriate action.
7. Never discuss anything with your friends/other creatives
Your friends (many of which may be fellow creatives) can help you a lot on your journey. In fact, you can help each other a lot if you discuss your common problems, especially your rates.
What do you gain by keeping rates private? The most obvious thing is your privacy, but the cost is that you have no other information from your compatriots. If you share information, you are much less likely to get the bad end of a deal. If used constructively, it should ultimately boost everbody's prices.
To wrap up
Stand. Your. Ground. Know. Your. Worth. Don't. Do. Dumb. Stuff. This is the best strategy to see you through the social media minefield.
Got any thoughts? Share them with me below in the comments and get the conversation flowing. There are loads of nuances to this discussion, and I can’t cover them all in one post. I admit that I have probably missed out some important points, so please fell free to add them and chat to me and anyone else.
Goodbye for now and until next time! What will I write about? God knows, whatever I feel like!
A quick introduction to yours truly...
For those that may be tuning in for the first time, I am Joe shutter: a blogger, photographer and photo guide based in Reykjavik, Iceland.
I always go the extra mile to get the shots and get off the beaten track to my special off the map spots in my Land Rover Defender. If you are interested in a photo workshop/tutorial whilst in Iceland, get in touch!