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How to Get Sponsored as a Small Content Creator

In today’s digital age, influencer marketing has become a cornerstone of brand strategy, with particular emphasis on micro-influencers. These individuals, though they may have smaller audiences, wield significant influence.

And while navigating the landscape of influencer marketing can seem daunting for small content creators, with the right strategy and understanding of the market dynamics, even creators with smaller followings can attract lucrative sponsorships. 

Here’s a detailed guide to getting sponsored effectively:

Understanding the Landscape

In the world of digital marketing, influencers are often categorized based on their audience size. Nano-influencers typically have between 1,000 to 10,000 followers and are known for their highly engaged, niche audiences. Micro-influencers have a following of 10,000 to 100,000 and offer a good balance of reach and engagement.

These smaller influencers are increasingly preferred by brands, with 44% of brands opting for nano-influencers and 25.7% choosing micro-influencers, according to recent studies.

Why Brands Prefer Micro-Influencers

  • Hyper-Targeting: Micro-influencers often have a well-defined audience demographic, making them ideal partners for brands looking to target specific consumer segments. This precise targeting helps in delivering more relevant marketing messages that are likely to result in higher conversion rates.
  • High Engagement and ROI: Engagement rate (likes, comments, shares) is a critical measure of how well audiences interact with content. Micro-influencers generally boast higher engagement rates than their more famous counterparts—5.5% on Instagram and 3.5% on YouTube, compared to just 1.5% for larger influencers. This high engagement translates into better ROI for brands.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Many small and medium enterprises operate on limited marketing budgets and find that micro-influencers provide more bang for their buck. Their fees are typically lower than those of larger influencers, yet they often deliver comparable or superior results due to their higher engagement rates.
  • Brand Alignment: With a vast pool of influencers to choose from, brands are more likely to find micro-influencers whose values and aesthetics align closely with their own, ensuring a natural fit for their products or services.

Optimal Timing for Seeking Sponsorships

Choosing the right moment to pursue sponsorships is crucial for content creators. Initiating this process too early can be counterproductive; while it's tempting to leverage every opportunity, a premature approach often results in minimal interest from brands, potentially diverting your focus from the essential task of building your audience. Conversely, delaying sponsorship efforts too long can mean missing out on valuable opportunities that come with brand partnerships, such as increased visibility and potential revenue streams.

It's vital for content creators to establish a robust and engaged audience base before reaching out to potential sponsors. Here are some benchmarks to consider to determine if you're ready to seek sponsorships:

  • Video (YouTube): Aim to have at least 25,000 subscribers and an average of 10,000 views per video over the last 90 days. These metrics demonstrate to sponsors that your content consistently attracts viewers, making you a reliable partner.
  • Online Streaming: For platforms like Twitch or YouTube Live, achieving around 200-300 average concurrent viewers is a good indicator that you have a solid live viewer base, which is attractive to sponsors looking to engage users in real-time.
  • Social Media Platforms: On platforms like Twitter or Instagram, having at least 10,000 followers is advisable. This level of following shows potential sponsors that you have a substantial reach and can effectively promote their products or services.

By ensuring that these metrics are met, content creators can position themselves as appealing partners to brands, maximizing the benefits of sponsorships while continuing to grow their primary audience.

Understanding What Brands Look For in Influencer Partnerships

Our team at Cloutboost has collaborated with hundreds of brands and has developed a deep understanding of the criteria brands use to select influencer partners. Here's a breakdown of what brands typically consider when assessing potential influencers:

Audience Relevance

Brands prioritize influencers whose audience demographics align closely with their target market. This alignment includes not only the basic demographic characteristics but also the relevance and frequency of content that resonates with that audience. Brands also consider:

  • Content Relevance: How often influencers post content that is relevant to the brand’s products or industry, and the audience's response to such content.
  • Competitor Mentions: Whether the influencer mentions competitors, either organically or through paid promotions. 

Performance Metrics

Brands look for quantifiable data to predict the potential return on investment an influencer can offer:

  • Recent Activity: Average views over the last 30-60 days give a snapshot of current interest and engagement.
  • Audience Growth: Increases in follower count or subscriber base can indicate an influencer's rising popularity and influence.
  • Engagement Rate: This metric assesses how actively the audience interacts with content, which is a strong indicator of influence and is calculated as:
  • Active Audience Percentage (True Reach): The ratio of average views to the number of followers helps brands understand how much of the influencer’s audience is regularly engaging with their content:
  • Follower/Non-Follower Views Ratio on Instagram: This ratio provides insights into how well the influencer’s content performs beyond their immediate follower base, which is crucial for campaigns aiming to expand brand reach.

Past Sponsorships

A history of successful collaborations shows an influencer's ability to effectively integrate brand messaging and achieve campaign goals. Brands value influencers who have demonstrated their capacity to maintain authentic engagement while effectively promoting products.

Navigating Influencer Compensation

As small influencers look to navigate the competitive market and negotiate deals effectively, understanding the payment models used in the industry as well as underlying pricing dynamics and market benchmarks is crucial. This knowledge not only empowers influencers to make informed decisions during contract negotiations but also helps in selecting the compensation structure that aligns best with their content style and audience engagement levels.

Here are the most popular payment models:

CPM (Cost per Mille):

CPM is a payment model that compensates influencers based on the number of views their content receives and is usually used for video content. It is calculated per thousand impressions, making it suitable for influencers whose content consistently attracts high viewership. This model rewards influencers for broad reach rather than direct sales or conversions, emphasizing the importance of visibility and audience size.

Cost per impression (CPI):

With the rise of micro-influencers, brands are realizing that CPM isn’t always the best way to measure value and may use CPI instead. CPI is a less common term that can sometimes be used interchangeably with CPM in discussions and refers to the cost for each individual impression of a sponsored content. 

*In the broader marketing context, CPI more typically refers to "Cost Per Install," especially relevant in app marketing, where advertisers pay each time an app is installed.

Cost per viewer hour (CPVH):

CPVH is a payment model primarily used for live streaming content. In this model, the compensation is based on the total viewer hours accumulated by the streamer. For instance, if a streamer is paid at a rate of $1.00 per viewer hour and streams for one hour to an average of 1,000 concurrent viewers, they would earn $1,000 from that session.

Flat Fee:

This is a straightforward payment model where influencers receive a fixed fee for their participation in a campaign. The rate is agreed upon in advance and does not vary with the campaign's performance. This model is particularly appealing for influencers who prefer financial predictability and simplicity in transactions.

Flat Rate + CPM/CPI/CPVH:

Under this hybrid model, influencers are compensated with a base fee plus a performance-based component that depends on the number of impressions their content generates. The CPM/CPI/CPVH portion is typically capped, which means there is a maximum limit to what can be earned from viewership. This model benefits influencers who have large and engaged audiences and can generate significant impressions.

Affiliate Marketing:

In affiliate marketing, influencers earn a percentage of sales resulting from their content. This performance-based model directly ties earnings to the influencer's ability to drive actionable results, such as sales, from their audience. It is well-suited for influencers who have highly engaged followers likely to follow through on purchasing recommendations.

CPA (Cost per Action):

CPA compensates influencers for specific actions taken by the audience, such as sign-ups, or installations. Unlike CPM/CPI, which focuses on impressions, CPA ties the compensation directly to measurable user actions resulting from the influencer’s content. This model is ideal for influencers who have a strong influence on their audience’s purchasing decisions and can drive direct responses from their promotions.

This knowledge also enables influencers to better understand the value they offer to brands, ensuring fair compensation for their efforts and influence.

Setting Pricing as Small Influencer

For influencers looking to monetize their platforms effectively, understanding how to set competitive and fair pricing for sponsorships is crucial. Here’s a detailed guide on determining a fair rate and calculating a flat fee based on your content's performance.

How to Determine a Fair CPM, CPI or CPVH?

The rate is influenced by various factors:

  • Market Standards: Rates are largely determined by prevailing market rates, which can fluctuate based on supply and demand dynamics within the advertising industry.
  • Vertical: The industry niche or vertical you operate in can significantly affect rates. Different industries have varying levels of competition and audience engagement, which directly influence how much advertisers are willing to pay.
  • Platform: Different social media platforms have different average rates due to varying audience demographics and engagement behaviors. For example, video platforms like YouTube might have higher CPM rates compared to Instagram due to the longer engagement times with videos.
  • Content Format: The type of content you produce (e.g., long-form videos, short clips, blog posts) also impacts rates. Longer content that keeps viewers engaged for more extended periods typically commands higher rates.
  • Geography and Language: The location and language of your audience also play a role. For instance, content targeted at audiences in high-value advertising markets like the United States often enjoys higher rates.

Examples of rates variations:

  • In the gaming niche in the U.S., the average CPM for a long-form video (10-20 minutes) can range between $50-$80.
  • Conversely, in the financial sector, which often attracts premium advertisers, the average CPM for similar long-form content can exceed $100.

Calculating Your Flat Rate

To calculate your flat rate for a campaign, you need to consider your average viewership and the appropriate CPM for your content type and audience. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Calculate Average Views: Determine the average number of views your content receives over a set period (typically 30 days). This metric should be based on recent data to reflect your current audience size and engagement levels accurately.
  2. Apply the CPM Formula:
  • Divide the total number of views by 1,000. This conversion is necessary because CPM rates are priced per thousand views.
  • Multiply this figure by the CPM rate relevant to your content type, vertical, and audience demographics.

Example Calculation:

Suppose you average 30,000 views per video over 30 days, and the applicable CPM rate for your gaming content in the U.S. market is $60.

This calculated flat rate can serve as a baseline for negotiating sponsorship deals, ensuring that you are compensated fairly based on your content’s ability to attract and engage viewers.

Preparing for Successful Influencer Sponsorships

To successfully attract and secure sponsorships, influencers need to carefully prepare their online presence and outreach materials. 

  • Maintain Consistent Content Production: 

To effectively engage and retain your audience, it’s critical to maintain a regular content publishing schedule - posting 3-5 times aweek on Instagram or TikTok, 2-3 times a week for YouTube Shorts and weekly for YouTube long-format videos. This consistency helps in keeping the audience engaged and demonstrates a committed online presence to potential sponsors.

  • Profile Optimization:

Additionally, ensure that each of your social media profiles is finely tuned for sponsorship opportunities. This means having a clear and concise description, using relevant keywords that highlight your niche, and including an easily accessible contact email. These elements make your profiles more discoverable and approachable for brands looking for partnerships.

  • Create a Detailed Media Kit: 

Assemble a media kit that acts as your professional resume to potential sponsors. This should include your biography, links to your social media platforms, key performance metrics, examples of successful past collaborations, and direct contact information. Additionally, incorporate a cohesive color palette that reflects your brand identity, ensuring the kit is visually appealing and professional. A well-crafted media kit effectively showcases your value to brands, making it easier for them to understand your influence and reach.

  • Develop Structured Pricing Packages: 

Create a clear, structured pricing strategy with tiered options to accommodate various sponsorship levels and budgets. These packages should outline what sponsors can expect at different investment points, helping to streamline negotiations and clarify expectations from the outset.

This strategic preparation ensures influencers are viewed as professional and serious about their collaborations, greatly enhancing their chances of securing beneficial sponsorships.

How to Find Your First Sponsor?

Securing your first sponsorship as an influencer is a significant milestone that requires a strategic approach. It's not just about reaching out randomly but about building relationships with brands that align with your values and content. 

Step 1. Compile a Comprehensive List of Potential Sponsors:

Begin by assembling an extensive list of potential sponsors, ideally numbering in the hundreds. Include not only the products and services you regularly use but also those used by your friends and family. This approach ensures a natural alignment between your daily life and the brands you might endorse. For instance, if you frequently use a specific time management app or your pet loves a particular brand of food, these companies could be potential sponsors. Tips:

  • Monitor Brand Campaigns. Stay updated on the latest influencer campaigns by monitoring brands on social media, particularly through hashtags. This research can help you identify which brands are actively engaging with influencers and which campaigns have been successful.
  • Focus on Small to Medium-Sized Businesses. While your audience is still growing, it’s strategic to target small to medium-sized businesses. These companies are often more willing to partner with emerging influencers who have highly engaged, niche audiences.
  • Target Key Decision-Makers. Identify and connect with the individuals within companies who have the authority to approve sponsorships. In smaller companies, these might be the Marketing Managers, CMOs, or PR Managers. In larger organizations, look for the Influencer Manager, Community Manager (B2C), or Partnership Manager (B2B).
  • Utilize Professional Networking and Databases. Leverage platforms like LinkedIn or specialized databases like Apollo.io to find and reach out to these decision-makers. These tools can provide valuable contact information and insights into the professional backgrounds of the people who manage partnerships and influencer relations, facilitating more targeted and effective outreach.

Step 2. Craft the Perfect Pitch for Potential Sponsors

Crafting an effective pitch to potential sponsors is crucial in securing partnerships that are mutually beneficial and aligned with your brand identity as an influencer. Here’s how to refine your approach to ensure your pitches resonate with targeted brands:

  • Customize Your Approach: Begin by tailoring your pitch to each potential sponsor. This means addressing specific needs and referencing their recent campaigns. Dive into their past initiatives to understand their marketing rhythm and preferences. This demonstrates your genuine interest and understanding of their brand.

  • Simplicity is Key: When making the first contact, keep your pitch concise and focused. Avoid bombarding potential sponsors with excessive information. Instead, clearly articulate how you can add value to their brand in a straightforward manner.

  • Employ the ROPE method to structure your pitch effectively:
    • Relevant: Ensure your pitch aligns with the brand's current goals or recent campaigns. Show that you understand their market and how your content can support their objectives.
    • Organic: Highlight the natural fit of your content with their brand. Demonstrate through your existing content how seamlessly their products or services can be integrated, enhancing the authenticity of the promotional activity.
    • Proof: Include examples of past successful collaborations that showcase tangible results. This could be through engagement metrics, conversion rates, or anecdotal evidence of campaign successes.
    • Easy Execution: Make it clear that working with you is straightforward and beneficial. Outline a clear, executable plan that shows you can manage campaigns efficiently, ensuring minimal hassle for the brand.

Outreach Email Template

Subject: Looking for Partnership to Help Advertise [Product]

Hi [Product Team], 

I’ve gone through several [category] brands, and [Product] clearly stood out for me [explain why]

I manage a YouTube channel with X subscribers, where I focus on [describe your content focus], which aligns perfectly with [Product]. For a glimpse of how I engage with similar products, please check out these videos: [link to specific content related to the product]. 

In the past, I've collaborated with brands such as [Brand Name] and [Brand Name], where we've seen not only positive engagement but also significantly boosted traffic/sales, demonstrating the impact and reach of my content.

I have developed some exciting content ideas specifically for [Product] that I'm confident will resonate with my audience and drive substantial interest and interaction. I would love the opportunity to discuss these ideas with you and explore how we can work together.

Could we possibly schedule a call later this week to discuss this further?

Step 3. Play the Long Game

Building relationships with brands often means staying persistent. You might need to reach out several times—sometimes three or four—before getting a response. Show that you're in it for the long haul and open to multiple collaborations over time, as this can lead to lasting partnerships.

Understand that marketing campaigns and budgets are often planned well in advance. If you have an idea for a specific seasonal campaign, such as a New Year's promotion, initiate discussions early—preferably at the beginning of Q3. This foresight allows brands to consider your proposal during their planning phase. 

Engaging with Brands via Influencer Platforms

Another method to secure sponsorships is to register on influencer platforms. These are specialized marketplaces where brands search for influencers for collaborations. Such platforms are an excellent resource to discover sponsorship opportunities tailored to your specific niche. There are various platforms available catering to different social media channels and content specializations. Some examples include: 

  • YouTube BrandConnect. Initially known as FameBit, YouTube BrandConnect is a self-service platform that helps brands and YouTube content creators collaborate on branded content campaigns. Eligible U.S. creators with over 25,000 subscribers can sign up for YouTube BrandConnect directly through YouTube Studio, which also features comprehensive campaign management tools
  • Scrunch - is a data-driven influencer marketing platform that is designed to enable brands and agencies to discover the right bloggers and social media influencers. Scrunch has one of the world's largest influencer databases with over 20 million profiles and billions of data points.
  • Brands Meet Creators is a free platform that connects brands with creators for user-generated content and creator partnerships. Brands can use the platform for influencer relationships or UGC, and the goal is to help UGC creators find more paid clients and brand deals. 
  • Grin is a comprehensive influencer marketing platform designed to empower brands to elevate their presence by harnessing the influence of micro influencers. GRIN equips micro-influencers with the tools they need to scale their outreach, manage relationships more efficiently, and measure the effectiveness of their campaign

Each of these platforms offers tools and opportunities tailored to smaller influencers, helping them find and grow their brand partnerships effectively. Additionally, there are many more platforms out there that cater specifically to micro-influencers, providing a variety of options to suit different needs and niches.

You Received a Response, What’s Next?

You've heard back from the potential sponsor? Exciting! But it's not the end, as you are now competing with other influencers for the deal. Here’s how to stand out and increase your chances of securing the partnership:

  • It's very important to carefully examine the brand's content guidelines and the terms of the contract. Make sure to clarify any gray areas to ensure you fully understand what is expected of you and the parameters of the project.
  • Develop your content strategy to closely align with the client's campaign objectives. Adapt your approach to better serve the campaign’s needs, such as driving sales or repurposing content for different platforms or contexts.
  • Now is the time to suggest innovative content ideas that can set you apart from other influencers. This shows initiative and can make your offer more attractive to the brand.
  • Ensure you reply quickly and professionally to all communications. Showing your interest and maintaining a professional demeanor can significantly impact your relationship with the brand.
  • For the first few sponsors, consider offering lower rates to build your portfolio. This strategy can help you secure initial deals and gather success stories and testimonials for future pitches.

Navigating Contract Pitfalls in Influencer Agreements

When entering into contracts with brands as an influencer, there are several crucial aspects to consider to protect your interests and future opportunities:

Content Rights

Always ensure that you retain the rights to your content. If a brand wishes to acquire the rights for usage, this should be explicitly stated in the contract, detailing where and how the content will be used—be it on the brand’s social media or in paid advertising—and for how long. Ensure that any transfer of rights is accompanied by appropriate compensation.

Exclusivity Clauses

Be cautious of any exclusivity clauses that restrict your ability to collaborate with other brands, particularly competitors, for a specified period. Such clauses can limit your opportunities and should be clearly defined and agreed upon. Understand the scope of the exclusivity—is it limited to certain products, a specific industry, or all competing brands? Make sure these details are transparent and manageable in relation to your career goals.

Typically, larger organizations will use their standard contracts, which might not always consider the unique needs of an influencer. It's important to review these documents thoroughly or consult with a legal professional to ensure that your interests are adequately protected. At the same time, smaller brands may not have their influencer contract templates, and it would be advantageous to have your own template that protects your rights by default.

Conclusion

Contrary to some beliefs, viewers do not inherently dislike sponsored content. When done correctly, collaborations with brands can lead to more diverse content, benefiting both creators and their audiences. Subscribers generally understand and support sponsorships as they signal growth in a creator’s career. These partnerships also introduce viewers to new products and services, often with added discounts.

By following these guidelines, small content creators can effectively attract and secure sponsorships. This not only boosts their earning potential but also enhances their visibility and influence within the digital marketplace.

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