We started a shoe brand from scratch and have met lots of people, heard lots of absolute nonsense, and been asked for lots of money. And we've paid it. Then we realise our mistake, say we'll never do it again .. and promptly do it again because SURELY this time they must be the one. It's usually the same slippery culprit with slick hair and fancy shoes, but they're not always so easy to spot. God, this sounds like a dating blog. But honestly, there are parallels.
We were new to the shoe business which is notoriously hard to crack and we found it hard to find people we could trust, particularly the more we got our fingers burnt. We have a brand people love and customers buying Sloafers from all over the world. But we are more than gorgeous shoes and great instagram posts - the most helpful thing we can do is share our experience.
Whatever your startup is selling, there are common rules that apply. Even if shoes aren't your thing, take the free advice. And if shoes are your thing, check out our collections at www.sloafer.com
5 tips for working with influencers and bloggers
I met Jaime Tung (@angloyankophile) early in our Sloafer journey. I hadn't used instagram before so I thought I'd sign up, get a household name to wear my shoes, and sell out overnight.
But it takes years of work to become an overnight success. I wasn't afraid of hard work. I was on instagram all the time - but it's hours of your life you'll never get back and I didn't know how to do it. Without any guidance, you're throwing your precious time into the fire.
Don't instagram in bed. I shot gorgeous flat lays, wrote great posts trying to engage with people, tried to get the right hashtags, researched and contacted influencers. I then stared at my notifications as NOTHING HAPPENED. It kept me awake (the stress and the blue light). It was like waiting for a boy to text you back. Ok stop.
I became a real life insta-twat trying, awkwardly, to make everything a great instagram opportunity. It just wasn't me and it took me a while to realise I could get great shots that weren't the atypical insta shot of parading around a beach like I was in a Pirelli calendar shoot. I do my shots in private - hence the flat lays in the safety of my kitchen and me Sloafing up my staircase!
I got responses with eye watering price lists for collaborations - some of the charges would have obliterated the company. But this isn't an influencer bashing exercise. Instagram is very much a shopping site. With brands competing for customers, influencers are great for marketing which equals sales, and sales equals money. So why wouldn't an influencer charge if so much money is going to the brand? And for some brands, those prices aren't eye watering. There is - in instagram as there is in dating - someone for everyone.
For a small company, I was going too big. I was going to people with a following so large they probably didn't handle their own accounts. It took me probably too long to realise that it was all about starting a relationship and that micro influencers are the way forward - the #under20k hashtag is a great starting point.
Bloggers are real people, so talk to them like they're real people. When you scroll through the instagram page of the right person, sure you think "what a gorgeous home" or "what a gorgeous dress" but you also need to think "I'd love a cup of tea and a chat with them."
Find your kind of person, because your brand is all about you. If your message to them flows easily and you hit send without squirming and reading and re-reading, they're right for you.
I interacted with Jaime because I liked her and was genuinely interested in her. If she'd been in the same postcode we'd probably have gelled at a mum group.
I asked Jaime why she was happy to collaborate rather than just take our shoes, wear them once, do her post and forget about us. I keep getting lovely surprise tags in stories where Jaime is wearing our shoes - this means we really did choose one awesome lady and this is a relationship not a transaction.
'Not only do I have a personal affinity for Sloafer as a brand and product, but I have a lot of admiration for Lucy's entrepreneurial spirit and drive!' Jaime Tung.
BALLET PUMPS AND BAD ADVICE BRINGS YOU
"Five Top Tips for working with Influencers and Bloggers."
1. Choose an influencer/blogger who fits in with your brand - the digital landscape is saturated with influencers and bloggers - it can be difficult to decide whom to work with! But use the Explore function on Instagram and find influencers who encompass the ethos and values that reflect your brand. Is their voice authentic? Do they engage with their followers?
2. Numbers aren't everything - although it might be tempting to solely approach influencers who have hundreds of thousands of followers, you might find it a more rewarding experience to go with someone who has a smaller, curated following with a niche interest and regular engagement.
3. Be as clear as possible in your initial email/message - describe your brand/product in a quick summary and explain why you think it would be a good fit for the influencer/blogger you're approaching. Be clear about what you expect: a blog post? An Instagram grid post? Or two? Instagram Stories?
4. Avoid disappointment by managing your expectations and providing a timeframe - if you need content to be produced in line with a product launch, notify the influencer/blogger of this timeframe in advance. Check in with the influencer/blogger in the lead-up to the launch to ensure he/she has everything he/she needs to produce the content expected of him/her. Similarly, give the influencer/blogger a reasonable timeframe in which to produce the quality content you expect - a minimum of two weeks from receipt of the product.
5. Remember that the influencer/blogger is providing a service and compensate them accordingly - whether by payment, gifted products, or a combination of both, influencers and bloggers spend a lot of time creating quality content that they (hopefully) want you (and their followers) to be happy with. Compensate them accordingly. It isn't fair to simply provide samples and ask for them back without any payment in return, or to offer a paltry fee for creating content that takes hours (and years of experience) to craft.
A massive thank you to the amazing Jaime for this advice which we really hope helps you. You can find out more about Jaime at www.angloyankophile.com
Next up, a blog for working mums. In lockdown in particular, how do you cope when you're trying to work from home and chase two children around - one eating gravy granules out of the jar, and one crying because you won't let him hide in the oven. 2020 has been tough for mum owned businesses, and we are here to help!