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6 Reasons Why Brands Aren’t Paying You & How to Fix That

Sep 12, 2022

Your Influencer Coach & Fellow Content Creator

I'm an Instagram influencer coach and lifestyle content creator based in Arizona. I help others live out extraordinary lives through my influencer career advice, travel guides, and life hacks.

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Now getting the brand deals you want? This post is for you!

Let me guess: you’re a current or aspiring influencer aware of the money-making potential in the online space.

You know that one of the best ways for influencers to make money is to get brand deals, but you have no idea where to start with that. 

Or worse: you’ve already tried to pitch to brands, but the only response you ever receive is crickets *chirp chirp*.

Let’s fix that! This post will dive into the top 6 mistakes influencers make when they want to get brand deals.

The end goal: by discussing these now, you’ll avoid these mistakes (or fix them) and have a better shot at landing brand deals.

But before diving in, we need to discuss why brands aren’t paying you right now.

This blog was written by influencer coach Dani Rodriguez

Why Brands Aren’t Paying You 

“Hey, Dani! I’m trying to book clients for influencer work, but no one will pay me—what’s going on?”

Unfortunately, there are a ton of reasons for this. While I may not be able to dive into your specific situation entirely, I want you to know that I had this problem at the start of my journey!

When I first decided that I wanted to make money as an influencer, I would send out multiple emails per week. 

Almost 90% of them would either be ignored or replied to with a “Thanks, but no thanks!”

However, I quickly realized that my main problem was sales: I had NO idea how to sell myself successfully.

Your problem isn’t the Instagram algorithm, and it ESPECIALLY isn’t other influencers you think you’re competing with—the influencer industry is worth BILLIONS.

You have to be able to sell your services and show these brands the value they’re getting.

Companies hire influencers to market their products.

Brands need to know that:

  1. You can deliver quality content.
  2. You have the audience they want to market to.
  3. Your audience (their customers) cares about your content.

But that can be a lot for influencers to figure out on their own, and mistakes are sure to happen. 

So let’s finally go into influencers’ top mistakes when getting brand deals and how to avoid them.

instagram influencer feed and profile

P.S. After this post, you’ll need to read my complete guide on how to get a paid Instagram sponsorship—it has even more pitch tips!

Top 6 Mistakes Influencers Make When Getting Brand Deals

Mistake #1: You don’t have examples of your work

It’s one thing to pitch to brands and tell them what you can do; it’s another to have examples of your work to show them.

The fix: create a portfolio.

Creating a portfolio will take your brand pitch to the next level. This is the first thing you should do before you send your next pitch.

But what should go in a portfolio?

Your portfolio should be full of the kind of content you want to get paid to create.

For instance: I have a portfolio chock-full of User Generated Content, blogs, videos, and content from previous campaigns. 

I love using this to pitch to brands.

See, the folks who work for the brands we pitch don’t always have time to sort through allllllllll of the content we post on social media.

example of a paid sponsorship on Instagram

A portfolio of your best work will help them see your capabilities. Better yet, it’ll help them imagine what’s possible for a future brand campaign with you. 

Mistakes #2: Your pitches aren’t well written

When was the last time you looked over a pitch you sent to a brand?

If you’ve sent out multiple pitches without much success, it’s time to rethink your strategy.

What are you sending potential clients?

Is your email pitch 6+ paragraphs going on and on about who you are?

Or is your pitch two sentences?

Are there multiple grammatical errors?

When you email a potential brand sponsor, you’re asking the person on the other end of the screen to stop what they’re doing and turn their attention to you.

So you have to ensure you’re doing an excellent job of getting to the point, selling yourself, and making your offer very clear.

Because when you DON’T do those things, you risk brands ignoring your email.

I made this mistake with a popular travel backpack company I pitched when I had about 5,000 followers.

I knew I could get paid even with a small following, and while it scared me, I wanted to shoot my shot with pitching.

So I sent the backpack company a pitch email, had a call with them, and after ALL that effort, they still didn’t want to work with me.

Rather than give up, I took some time off pitching and reviewed what I sent them.

I realized that my offer wasn’t clear at all. I had kept asking the brand to work with me and send me $$$ without actually conveying why I was the influencer they needed.

So after a few months, I pitched them AGAIN, making my offer clear. And guess what: they wanted to work with me!

Once I had a pitch that worked, I rinsed and repeated it for more pitches I sent.

“Yeah, but Dani, I still have no idea what to say in my pitch. Help?”

>>Check out my Influencer Pitch Vault<<

The Pitch Vault is a bundle of brand pitch and negotiation email scripts, all in a fill-in-the-blank format you can customize to pitch your dream brands.

My clients and I use these scripts to land paid deals with companies like Adobe, American Express, Marriott, and Alaska airlines!

And as a bonus, when you get access to the Vault, you’ll see a replay of a pitch audit I did with some of my coaching students.

The replay will help you see exactly what you should consider when you’re getting ready to pitch brands and make them pay attention. So click here and snag the Pitch Vault!

“But what’s inside?”

Glad you asked! Here’s what you get lifetime access to:

  • (17) Fill-In-The-Blank Scripts: D.M. templates, brand pitch templates, follow-up emails, hotel & AirBnB templates for free stays, sending your rates, turning a free product offer into a paid deal, upselling brands.
  • An email transcript that details HOW I pitched and landed a 4-figure brand deal using the tools I provide you in the Vault.
  • Tips for preparing for brand deals and action items to complete beforehand, so you send pitches that get replies!

Stop wasting time writing pitches from scratch! Instead, click here to grab the Pitch Vault!

Mistake #3: You’re not following up

You have to be diligent and follow up with brands.

A HUGE mistake I see influencers making is that they reach out to a brand once, and if they don’t hear anything, they move on.

There’s so much money in the follow-up!

When you choose not to follow up with a brand, you leave a potential opportunity on the table.

Because here’s the thing: the dream brands you’ve wanted to work with, whether in the wellness space, fashion, travel, cars, home goods, etc., are all run by people.

And usually, companies have a small team, or one person, in charge of influencer relationships.

Can you imagine how busy this person probably gets?

Following up helps ping your inquiry to the top of that person(s)’s inbox.

It’s like a little tap on the shoulder.

And, wanna know a secret?

I’ve had to send a follow-up email to almost every company I have ever worked with: Mazda, TripAdvisor, Eddie Bauer, Marriott, Travel & Leisure, REI…

It’s just part of the deal!

And some of those contracts have been worth upwards of $16,000.

That’s a lot of money to leave floating around.

Just because a brand hasn’t gotten back to you immediately doesn’t mean they’re deliberately trying to ignore you.

But you’ll never get your chance to work with some of your dream brands if you keep cutting communication after one email.

I wouldn’t suggest following up daily, but a follow-up email is never a bad idea if you haven’t heard something in a week.

FREE TOOL: Media Kit Checklist—20 Things Your Dream Sponsors Look for. Click here to download!

example of a paid sponsorship on instagram

Of course, this doesn’t guarantee you’ll hear back, but it increases the likelihood.

Mistake #4: You’re not sending your pitch to the right person

Finding brand contacts became a never-ending obstacle I had no idea how to overcome.

How could I spend all this time crafting the perfect pitch just to have no one to send it to?

I would scour brands’ websites for support emails (support@, info@), hoping that I could send my pitches there and they would somehow reach the right person…

It seems logical, right?

Yeah, that didn’t work, either.

I imagine if you’ve ever tried pitching a brand, you’ve run into the same issue—finding the right person to contact. It’s all about who ya know in business (as they say).

Well, you can try the whole support email thing, but what started moving the needle for me was asking for the right contact.

Revolutionary, I know, but you’d be surprised how many influencers don’t ASK brands for an email address.

We’ve already covered this, but companies (for Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, etc.) typically have a person dedicated to sourcing and hiring influencers for campaigns.

So you need to find the specific person you should pitch to.

TOOL YOU’D LIKE: The Influencer Pitch Vault—click here!

I recommend sending brands a D.M. asking for the right person to email.

Mistake #5: You’re not asking for feedback

The next time you pitch a brand and they email you back with, “Sorry, we’re not hiring influencers right now,” 

Or “We’ll keep you in mind for the future,” 

OR the oh-so-scary, “thanks but no thanks,” I want you to do the seemingly impossible…

Ask them why.

Ask these brands what you can do in the future to increase your chances of working together.

As them what they look for in influencers they work with and what you can do to better your chances at landing a brand deal in the future.

This might be hard and seem like a pointless task, but if you never understand why someone gave you a no, you’ll never be able to grow.

I did this with a backpacking company I wanted to work with (yearrrrrs ago).

I was brand new to the influencer game and desperately wanted this outdoor company to sponsor me.

I pitched them and even had a phone call with them.

I thought I was a shoo-in. But, nope. They still didn’t want to work with me.

I was pretty confused because I thought I did all the right things.

But rather than let the sale go, I asked them why—”What can I do to work with you in the future.”

And I was pretty surprised by their answer! They told me they loved my pitch, but at the time, their policies only allowed them to work with influencers with at least 5,000 followers.

I had around 3,000.

That information was VITAL to me landing this deal and was a game-changer for my strategy.

I immediately went into growth mode, creating content more frequently, improving my photo editing skills, and focusing on engaging with my community as much as possible.

So rather than pitch, pitch, pitch, I put my head down and did the work to grow—I figured that if I could hit the 5K mark, I’d be able to land a brand deal with this company AND other clients.

I was right! 

Of course, this didn’t happen overnight.

But doing the work taught me a lot about the dos and don’ts of growing on social media and shaping my future strategies.

When I reached back out to the backpacking company, I got a 6-month brand deal with them—my first long-term partnership.

This whole growth venture took about a month. And that month’s worth of work turned into 6-months of pay. So I’d say that’s a great ROI!

The moral of the story is that if you want to make it as an influencer, you need to…

a) Accept that you won’t land every paid brand deal out there

b) Be prepared to hear “no”

c) Not let the no’s stop you—use them as an opportunity to better yourself

Read Next: How to Pitch to Brands for Dream Collabs

example of a paid influencer brand deal on Instagram

If growing sounds like something you want to do with your social media pages, I recommend checking out my blog on organically gaining followers.

Mistake #6: Your profile isn’t cutting it

Believe it or not, sometimes, brands aren’t paying you for sponsored deals because your profile and content aren’t what they’re looking for.

GASP

Let’s say you always post fashion tips, but it’s your DREAM to work with a car company like Porsche…

How likely are your chances of getting hired if you’ve never posted a single piece of car content on your feed?

Probably not very high.

Or suppose you’re a wellness influencer and DESPERATELY want to work with Gucci fragrances. What’s the likelihood they’d hire you if all you share are smoothie recipes?

Look, there’s nothing wrong with having a niche and sticking to it, but if you’re shooting to work with brands WAY outside your scope of content, you’re probably wasting your time.

If you have a dream brand sponsor you’re gunning for, do your homework on them!

First, look at the brand’s profile and see what influencers they’re already working with.

What kind of content do those influencers post? 

Now back to the brand’s page: what products are they heavily marketing?

Do you use those products? Have you posted anything that signals to the brand, “Hey! I use your products!”?

Additionally, are you posting the content you want to get paid to post?

Going back to the previous example: are you posting fashion content, but you want to get paid to post car content? How can you change that?

What about your bio?

Does it paint a clear picture of what your brand is all about? When a company looks at your profile, can they quickly understand who you are and what you post?

Perform an Instagram audit with your dream brand in mind. Try to put yourself in their shoes, looking at your profile as if you were looking for influencers to hire.

>>Click here to access the Pitch Vault<<

Get fill-in-the-blanks templates for pitching and negotiating brand deals with your dream companies!

Now, if you find that you are NOT posting content that aligns with your dream brands, you need to change your content strategy!

Your Next Steps

And there you have it! Those are the top 6 common mistakes influencers make when landing paid brand deals and how to avoid them.

Before your next pitch, review this guide and see if there are any strategy adjustments you can make to increase your chances of success.

Here are a few more resources you’ll find helpful: 

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I'm a burrito loving explorer who got fired from corporate America and turned that into my dream career as a photographer and blogger. Now I'm here to help you explore life's magic. Thanks for stopping by!