Influencer marketing is fascinating. It’s a phenomenon that was powered by technology + social media and we are watching it take new shapes and forms almost every day. I have now been on both sides of the equation: I’ve been a marketer myself – working with influencers, and now I’m an influencer – working with brands. So let me tell you about my bizarre transition!
My interest in marketing started back when I was in high school and I had no idea what profession to choose. Coming from quite a conservative country (where your degree really used to matter) and being the first child, there was a lot of pressure to figure things out. An older cousin told me about marketing during a long flight somewhere and I was hooked straight away – it sounded like the perfect field where creativity met data!
Fast forward a few years: I got an undergraduate degree in Economics and a masters degree in Market Research and Consumer Behaviour. I’ve been a part-time Social Media manager while doing my masters and got a job at an e-commerce startup as the only marketing person after graduating. There was no limit to creativity or exploration in marketing, which I both loved and hated – because you could always work and push yourself more. It’s an awesome thing, but if you’re a perfectionist like me, it also means that you never stop working.
After that startup, I’ve worked in a few more: learning about SEO, launching a new platform in Russia, and managing communities. It all culminated in me starting my own blog and joining Google to work with YouTube Creators. And that’s when I was first exposed to influencers as well as influencer marketing.
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Within the first 3 months at Google, I organised a 3-day training in Paris for a few awesome influencers. I remember that walking down the street with them took forever – because they were taking pictures of what seemed like everything to me. I couldn’t stop thinking “oh this life must be so exhausting!”, while secretly being very curious about what it actually entailed.
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My job at Google involved helping creators grow their channels, teaching them about analytics and guiding them to become more successful. I’ve organised events, workshops, live streams, piloted programs, recruited and trained ambassadors and got involved in projects helping influencers create multiple revenue streams. It was a lot of fun and I’ve learned so much!
To better understand what these people were going through, I’ve started a YouTube channel for my then almost deserted blog. I wanted to become better at my job and more empathetic towards people I was working with, but let me tell you, starting my own YouTube channel was pretty terrifying! Talking to the camera, writing scripts for my videos, dealing with sound issues, finding time to edit and then, when it’s finally published, anxiously refreshing analytics to see if anyone is watching. It was indeed, very exhausting and super time-consuming. How did these people do it while having a full-time job on the side?
However, there were so many opportunities in the field. I was watching marketing budgets shift towards influencer marketing and platforms building features to accommodate that. Travel influencers became the most fascinating crowd to me, as I couldn’t comprehend their lifestyles and how they made money! That was until LiolaLiola joined our team. I watched this incredible girl travel somewhere almost every weekend and then come back with a ton of gorgeous photos. It was her who helped me start growing my own Instagram and gave me the confidence that I can also work with brands one day.
I followed that girl’s advice to a tee and in less than half a year my account grew from around 5,000 to 25,000. Was it magic or some sort of algorithm hacks? Nope, just consistency, community building and tagging relevant groups. I even got my first few brand deals that year, which I was very excited about! I couldn’t believe that somebody would pay me money to post an image.
In 2018 I’ve learned so much: from the awesome communities out there to the value I can bring to brands. I’ve learned how to run my influencer business effectively, build relationships, use data and how to use my marketing background to my advantage.
I’ve worked on over 30 campaigns and my company has earned over $30,000 from brand collaborations in less than 6 months. I’ve had ups and downs along the way, not everything has been easy and I’ve been very picky about the brands I work with – because I want to be able to add value to my audience. But I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved in the last year and I’m excited to share my learnings with you.
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