Words by, Igee Okafor
Photography by, Trey Hicks
Answering your high priority questions about Influencer Marketing
1. What Got You Interested In The Fashion Space?
From a young age, I always had a very critical eye for anything that was performance related. I was very attracted to film. Specifically the ones that portrayed old hollywood glamour. I did not realize I would want to be in the fashion space until later in my high school career. It seemed everything I wanted to be a part of included the idea of fashion. I started to follow fashion blogs around the 10th grade. You know, around the time where everyone was trying to figure out who they were and what they can do to really sell it. That's when my interest in the visual aspect of personal style fashion slowly developed. I started to use fashion as a way to tell people about who I was.
I started my own blog in the spring of 2014 and before that, I was contributing to other media outlets that allowed me to cover events or simply state my opinion on fashion/menswear. I did that for about two years I believe, and I joined Instagram in 2011.
2. Everybody wants to be a blogger, influencer, or content creator these days. What is your advice to a budding Influencer?
I say go ahead as long as you have a distinct point of view to contribute versus following the leaders of the pack. Whether it's blogging, Instagram or whatever platform you're on, it's really hard work for the true creatives involved, and in my experience creating content for the last four years, I can definitely say it takes a strong one to stand the test of time. It's very important to humbly stay inspired, have a purpose, and prioritize motivation. I recently wrote a blog post about my advice to young creatives inspired by questions I receive all the time about doing well in the space. You can read it here.
3. How do you increase your following while keeping the growth organic?
Growing my following has just been a steady and long process. It was never something I sought out to do even till today. I prioritize creating the best content I possibly can, and I continue to do my best to share it on every platform I possibly can. Collaborations, engaging with people in my space, going out and meeting people, hosting events and more. All of those factors play into growing. There's an example I like to give about artists, and how sometimes they have to make effort to do other things outside of what they're known for to expand their reach. Look at it this way, there is good music all over the world. Some artists are able to cross over in other countries. Why? Because the music alone can't do the talking. These artists have to travel the world, do radio interviews, magazine interviews, events etc to let people know that they are around.
There is no set answer really. You have to work your hardest and exhaust every opportunity to grow. Support others and engage with the people who support you! Exhaust every opportunity you have to tell people about what you do and why it's relevant to what is going on in today's world. It's all about the effort you make to engage and collaborate with people on more than one platform as long as it aligns with who you are, and what you're trying to say.
4. What should brands know about approaching a blogger, influencer, or content creator?
With brands approaching influencers, bloggers, and content creators, it goes a long way to create intimate opportunities to connect first before working together. There are a lot of brands that reach out without making it a point to research the personality's work, or introduce themselves with the intention to make that in person connection. I believe once that is solidified on a good note, work can commence. I believe it is very necessary to maintain a relationship. Checking in from time to time, and not just when something needs to be done.
5. What is the worst way a brand has asked you to partner with them?
There have been really awkward ways. One of my Pet Peeves ? When the introduction/starting emails aren't personalized to have my name. I see the approach as rude and careless. Respect is important, and starting with reaching out to an interest by their name instead of a meaningless "Hi, There" shows that.
6. What would you say to stodgy marketing executives who say they aren’t sold on influencer marketing?
I mean, I can understand why some marketing executives aren't sold on influencer marketing. As it pertains to bloggers, and influencers, just because people like your photos does not mean they would go as far as purchasing something you endorse. Some endorsements are successful, others aren't. At the end of the day, what your audience chooses to purchase or engage with has to fit what they're dealing with at the time. Their budget, their way of life. That continuously changes, but marketing executives need to understand that when examined carefully, it can be worth the investment. For example, a lot of brands make the mistake of discrediting smaller bloggers, influencers, and content creators, and choose to go with the bigger ones when sometimes, the content and engagement is just as good. That's when brands taking the time to get to know content creators alongside their goals, and plans play into effect. Brands have a lot of power as it pertains to being capable of supporting new talent. Be patient, understand that results take time, take the chance, and see where it takes you.
7. Why is authenticity so crucial to influencer marketing campaigns?
Authenticity is so crucial to blogger/influencer marketing campaigns because as brands and content creators, we want to feel like what we are investing our time in is a part of who we are. It's the reason why people follow our journey, and once that trust is undervalued, it is finished. It's like when high profile "fashion" brands choose to work with individuals who have no idea how to put together a cohesive look aligning with the integrity of the brand only because of the follower count. People will not blur those lines. They notice, and it cheapens the brand perception. Same for influencers and bloggers who take every dollar every brand offers them. I think that creativity and paying homage to the DNA of a brand should always be prioritized no matter the circumstance. We have a long way to go.
8. How are your brand partnerships typically structured?
Typically, the idea is - a brand has a product or service they want me to try out, and promote if I like it. If I enjoy it in a way that aligns with my brand and myself, I tell people about it. If the brand would like me to create content during a specific time frame, they pay for the time spent creating.
9. How many #ads are too many?
I could care less about that if I am being completely honest. I just care that the content created around the ads are true to who the influencer, blogger, or content creator is.
10. What would you say to a marketer who asks how much influencer marketing costs? You don’t have to divulge how much you get paid per post, but is there a range you can share? If not, why?
It really ranges. I have worked with people who receive as much as $10,000 per post. It all depends on the person in question. What is their reach? Do they have time? Are they exclusive to another brand? Do they have a team? How many do they have to compensate for their time? Travel Costs, Food, Transportation, Brand Value etc.
Negotiation is important. The creator, and the brand have to come to a happy medium.
11. Is your blogging/influencing your full-time job?
As of nearly nine months ago, I took a break from working in digital marketing to focus on full time blogging. It has been a huge wake up call for me and a great learning process. It was worth it!
Before deciding to blog full time, I was working for a variety of digital agencies part time. I did my best to always stay busy. However, I reached a point where I just wanted to do things on my own terms. I figured I would start by fully comitting to what I am most passionate about. Content creating through my own perspective.
Currently, that consists of partnering with lifestyle clients to heavily produce digital content through form of wcll curated creative writing, photography, and video production. There are a variety of brands who are always looking for creative ways to promote new product or messaging, and my job is to contribute to that goal.
12. How do you measure your own success when it comes to your content?
I measure the success of a campaign through the responsiveness of my audience. If they're excited, if they're asking about the brand, if they're interested. That to me makes the collaboration successful. When a significant amount of people trust your judgement enough to want to learn more.
Thank you for reading!