Episode 019: How I Secure Interviews and Collaborations With A Small Following

 

April 2018, I returned from a yearlong social media sabbatical. Over the next eight months, I spoke on a panel at High Point Market, appeared on four interior design podcasts, launched a virtual conference, secured sponsored collaborations with over half a dozen brands, and put into motion launching a brand new podcast with founding sponsorship. 

A year later, I was chosen alongside 9 others to be part of the Design Bloggers Tour, established new brand partnerships, while growing existing relationships, wrote my first soon to be published book, and am preparing for new opportunities that at the time of recording, I can’t discuss yet. 

I share this with you because while I am immensely proud of those accomplishments, what I am most proud of is the circumstances under which I hit these milestones — with a small number of followers/subscribers across all of my social channels. We often hear about the pressure to have high numbers as social proof, but there is something to be said for the micro-micro-MICRO-influencer who, as the saying goes, is small but mighty! 

So how did I do it?

On the blog, I shared the techniques that I’ll be mentioning on today’s show. It’s been one of our most popular blog posts, which told me it was something I had to talk about, not just write about. Nothing I did was contingent on my numbers, so whether you have 1,000 or 1,000,000 followers & subscribers, there are a few key things you should be doing to boost your visibility and brand attractiveness, and that’s what we’re getting into today. 

 
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Your talent is your influence

Did you listen to last week’s episode? If you did then you know it was all about the power in being an influencer, if that’s something you want. If you listened between the lines, then you would’ve also picked up on the fact that “influencers” are expected to evoke emotion and inspire action from their audiences, whether it’s to spark a conversation or sell a product. 

When pitching myself, whether it was for a partnership or an interview, I made a point to share how my skills and unique position as an online interior designer and content creator could be valuable to their audience. 

If you listen to almost any of the previous guest episodes on the show, you’ll see that’s what they all also have in common — their ability to leverage their talent for more than just providing a service. 

I am certainly not the only e-designer or blogger or podcaster out there, but I leaned into these roles, while also highlighting how it would align with their objectives. It wasn’t about my agenda, which is clear, but I had to first and foremost, let whoever I was pitching know that my presence would serve them. 

Getting the yes is what serves me. 


Pitch with intention or not at all

On the show when I hung out with Morgan Molitor, she made a point of saying she loves getting a no because it’s just another chance to pitch again…and again…and again. 

Challenge accepted. 

When someone tells me they were rejected (or ignored) for a pitch, it’s usually because it was a very generic and broad approach. You’re reaching out to them remember? Getting rejected, like Morgan said, is a chance to do better and if you didn’t the first time, hopefully by the second or third time around,  you give them an irresistible reason to work with you.

No matter how lucrative an opportunity may look on the surface, I only pitch when it’s in alignment with their brand and mine. I cater the pitch to meet their specific needs. 

Believe me when I say there are lots of brands, sites, shows, etc.  I’d love to pitch for one reason or another but fact is, no matter how much I may love them, it doesn’t mean they’re an automatic fit for my plans or vice versa. 


Get over yourself…and your numbers

For the longest while, my imposter syndrome was directly ties to my numbers — I have a small audience, so I must not be that great. Truth is, we all have to start somewhere, and most businesses understand and, more often than not, they respect the scrappiness of starting from the bottom.

If you scroll back far enough, you’ll find that even your fav large influencers had an audience that was the same size as yours now. Yet, months or years later, they’re thriving! You won’t grow if you continue to use your number as a handicap. 

What other numbers can you start to leverage?

Being a small creator or new designer is not what makes you special, so instead of fixating on numbers that were completely out of my control, I shared my client count, affiliate marketing income, projected sales, and other quantifiable data to close the deal. Those numbers were not only more impressive but more indicative of what I really bring to the table. 


Research & know your target from all angles

I’m a nerd — it’s no secret — so researching is second nature to me. And pitching requires lots of research, long before even reaching out to anyone for anything — their previous partnerships and campaigns, current content initiatives, product offerings and target audiences, brand values and messaging objectives, and the most overlooked piece of research — the right damn contact!

And spoiler alert —they’re going to research to holy heck out of you too! 

I can’t tell you how many times, I’d see brands I pitched in my story views or how they’d reference something on my site or a Google search result. There is power in being well-informed and prepared for any potential objections.


Brag on yourself…even just a little

As Rachel Moriarty said in our chat, “bragging” is social proof! 

Brands want to know who you are and all the wonderful things you do. Why not tell them? With every pitch I submit, I share my idea and where I could see our partnership going, but I also share about myself as a toddler mom, military wife, soon to be published author, podcast host, featured design blogger, brand ambassador and whatever else that will add to my credibility. 

The key is only sharing what is relevant. 

For a writing opportunity, what else have you written? 

For a speaking appearance, where else have you spoken?

For a sponsored collaboration, who else have you worked with?

Even where you may not have explicitly had the same experiences, what have you done that aligns with what you’re trying to do. This calls for a lot of self-reflection, will be worth it as you start to find more value in what you’ve done, making it easier to share…and brag about.


Show of hands if you have a publicist.

I can’t see any of you but I’m willing to bit a small amount of money that no one’s raising their hands. Most of us have to be our own publicist, hype man, and media team. One of the courses that will be coming to The Influence Directory will be Pitch Your Influence, focusing explicitly on how to optimize your influence, no matter your audience size.  

My background in advertising and public relations has definitely come in handy, but it also came down to remembering that I am the only one that truly knows what I bring to the table, so I am the only one that can sell what I bring to the table. 

In the same way that we present and pitch ourselves to clients, we have to be ready and willing to doing that with publications, brands, and whatever other rooms we want to be in. 

For this most recent One Room Challenge, I was blessed to yet again work with major brands that I’d only dared to work with. Those relationships did not just fall out of sky. I have God given talents and it’s my job to tell other people about them. So I did. And it was worth it, each and every time!

What is your unique influence?

Own it…then pitch it like you mean it. 



I’d love to know where you land on the topic, specifically how comfortable (or uncomfortable) you are with putting yourself out there to be seen and featured for your talents.

While you’re listening to the episode, take a screenshot and tag @thedesigninfluence on Instagram or Facebook so that we can keep the conversation going or drop your thoughts in the comments below the corresponding post. 


THIS EPISODE IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE INFLUENCE DIRECTORY.

The Influence Directory is an index of courses designed to help you maximize your expertise and influence. From software to strategy, tools to tactics, I have pooled my knowledge and resources to help you learn, connect, and thrive on your designpreneur journey.


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