Erica Shaw walks into the cafe located in the quaint Belmont Village of Waterloo looking chic in a white blazer and every finger stacked with rings. An impressive first impression for a busy mom of 2 with a full-time job and part-time influencer. Her fabulous outfit translates to her timid yet outgoing and kind personality. As we sit down for a coffee with Erica, we feel eased and the conversation feels more like a catch up with an old friend than getting the inside scoop on what it’s like to be on the other side of the micro-influencer space.
Socialpeeks: When did you start to notice your Instagram traction?
Erica: “Just being a real mom. I don’t talk about having my makeup done, hair done and kids dressed in an orderly fashion, I share the messiness and realness of having kids. It’s not always pretty [laughter]. Some influencers talk about their perfect days filled with folded laundry and tantrum-free Costco trips, and that’s great (hashtag jealous), but that’s not my life. I try to have an honest voice that reflects my adventures of momming.”
SP: How fast or noticeable was the growth?
E: “I think it was all about posting creative photos and sharing my life. I’m a sharer, I get energy from it. I enjoy telling others about my life and people resonate with that. I’m also an early adopter...I like to try new things and check out trends. I started tagging brands on my Insta account when they appeared in my photos (mostly kids stuff) and brands started reaching out through DM wanting to work with me. It’s evolved to fashion, decor and lifestyle products. There’s already a genuine interest in their products and it’s a good fit. Win win..”
SP: How do the different variations of brands differ from one another when reaching out?
E: “Each partnership is different. The bigger brands are more about the reach and exposure. They send product and give you the reigns to work with it to create content. I find they’re interested in lifestyle posts and access to your followers Smaller brands tend to want more commercial photos they can use on their own websites and social channels. Some deals are just one image and the largest deal I’ve done is 10 images (and they want to renew for another 10). I always look to strike a balance between sponsored images and my personal brand.
SP: How do you balance between those two?
E: “ I try to create that magazine editorial feel - kids, fashion, product-based and then spontaneous/lifestyle and then repeat. Almost 80% of posts are either a collab (free product) or sponsored (paid post). I do up to 200 partnership posts per year."
SP: Do you use any tools to help you?
E: “Yes. UNUM for grid style. I love that I can plan out my feed before I post and everything’s blends with my vibe and colour palette giving that consistent look! It also helps plan out the balance between personal and branded content, because I can see my feed before it goes live.”
SP: So, what does your pricing structure look like?
E: “It all depends. There are so many tools out there to determine pricing--from CPM calculators to Social Bluebook. I remember quoting for my first paid post over a year ago and I threw out a number, $150 for 3 images, I thought that was a fair rate at the time. I’ve grown from there but it’s all based on both the size of your following and level of engagement.
SP: It’s smart because a brand would have to hire a model, get equipment, space, and hire the people to organize it all. Whereas through you, an influencer, they get way more for way less.
E: “Yes, exactly. Time is the biggest resource. It takes time to get the perfect shot of, for example, my son’s hand grabbing a toy, with the right lighting, aperture and angle and so on. Some shots happen organically but some take WORK. I’m trying to move to a model of 1 image per deal, which allows for really quick image deals. But I’m finding brands want multiple posts scheduled every 2-3 weeks. There’s always a timeline involved, like you agree and sign, they ship it, you get it, have to take pictures, edit photos (sometimes submit to the brand for approval) and then post. So finding a brand that you’re excited to represent and you get paid for it helps that process. I’ve never had an unsatisfied partner but I do try to avoid formal contracts because the nature of the business doesn’t work like that. It loses the flexibility.”
SP: What aspects about brands would you want to work with?
E: “I often turn down brands because I want the partnerships I take on to align with the brand and image that I’ve built. Brands that I already love are easy to work into my life and photos. Plus they tend to already align with and appreciate my aesthetic. We speak the same language. When things are hard, time-bound and rushed, it’s less preferable. For example, 2-3 images in 2 weeks just isn’t realistic.
We all know that influencer marketing is a direct response to traditional marketing being inauthentic, so being genuine in your approach is key.
Most of the deals that I’m currently booking are scheduled past December [2 months in advance], so having a last minute offer to squeeze in is challenging . Ideally the posts and pictures go out 6-8 weeks after you receive the product.
If you’re good [at influencer marketing], you have a full schedule.”
SP: What do you think the future of influencer marketing looks like?
E: “I think the future for me is that finding that perfect fit. Turning down brands I’m not excited to work with or who aren’t willing to work in the guidelines of my schedule. I want to align with brands that work well with my lifestyle, you know, the products I already buy and post about. Brands are also interested in seeing if I have a blog or not, rather than just social media reach. It adds legitimacy to have a blog or website. It serves as a home base. Influencer marketing may morph into some new social platform, but sharing and marketing will always be there so always good to think past the current trend.
There are lots of great ways to make money creating content. Twenty20 company is essentially a stock photo site where you can upload images and sell for exclusive use. Another one is Revfluence, where you can upload your profile and the people who run it can go and get you contracts with big brands. It’s more of an ‘ebay of influencers’.
Basically, influencer marketing is the wild wild west right now. It’s new and everyone is trying to figure out how to play and what are the rules. ”