If you're looking to become an Instagram influencer, one of the best perks you can hope to receive is free promotional clothes from brands looking to promote their products.
I'll go into detail about some of the best ways to make this happen, no matter where you are in your influencing journey.
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This guide serves as a general overview of how to start collaborating with clothing brands.
The results will often include free clothes, at least as part of your agreement with brands and other companies that you promote.
The first step in collaborating with clothing brands is to become a decently notable Instagram influencer.
This doesn't mean you need to have a ton of followers!
But it does mean that you'll need to have at least a few thousand followers, as well as (this is important!) a theme or style that you represent, otherwise known as a personal brand.
Here is a super important concept to understand. It's one that can make all the difference when convincing brands you're worth sending products to.
There is a big difference between creating a 'popular' IG account and creating an influential brand.
After all, it's called "influencing" for a reason!
Far too often, when we see aspiring influencers start out, they're far too concerned about follower count and other oftentimes meaningless stats.
Here's an example to demonstrate the difference between true influence and running a so-called 'popular' Instagram profile:
Influencer A is very careful about the types of products that she promotes. In fact, she doesn't even really post that often in the first place.
But when she does, she has a very high engagement rate.
Her followers are true fans that identify with her.
Every time Influencer A promotes a product, 10% of those who see the post actually purchase the promoted product.
As a result, the brand sells 100 units (10% of Influencer A's 1,000 followers is 100).
10,000 followers, to be exact.
Plus, Influencer B's posts seem to get way more likes than Influencer A's posts.
Influencer B, however, is ONLY concerned with growing his follower count.
As a result, he posts cheap (i.e. not authentic) content that someone scrolling through their feed will look at for all of 1/2 a second (or maybe even less).
Because he's all about the benjamins (and not all about his brand), Influencer B will promote whatever crappy product is offered to him.
Even if he hates the product, he'll halfheartedly attempt to push it to his followers (who weren't that interested in him in the first place).
Because Influencer B doesn't have a strong brand, only 0.5% of those that see his promotional posts will buy a product.
The result? The brand promoting their product with Influencer B only sells 50 units. (.5% of 10k followers is 50)
Even with SIGNIFICANTLY fewer followers, Influencer A still helps brands sell more units.
With just a 1k follower count, Influencer A is able to, well, influence a lot of those followers in ways that brands find valuable!
If you're anything like other aspiring IG influencers out there, odds are you want to get that shiny blue verification checkmark.
What better way to let brands know that you're worth sending the product to than being recognized by Instagram itself as a verification-worthy personality?
But don't just take it from us – Promo Panda recently helped IG superstar Sammyy02k get officially verified by the platform.
While Sammyy was already a successful full-time influencer years before she was verified, now that she is verified, her sponsored post rates will probably jump even higher.
"I wouldn't say verification is an absolute must-have, but for someone like me, it's a great addition to my brand."
Having solid branding outside of social media may help brands see you as a professional, someone who engages fans through multiple channels.
Part of building a positive online reputation is having a decent website, for one thing.
Getting interviewed in a niche online magazine or blog may also help brands find you.
If you're visible online, that's just one more reason for brands to believe that you're worth free products.
Promo Panda can help you build an online reputation that ensures your efforts on Instagram have the greatest chance of swaying brands looking to give away free products in exchange for promotional posts!
Niche can be everything on a platform like Instagram.
Understand the culture of your niche so you can be sure to use the right hashtags; this will help your posts circulate and engage more users.
Other than that, you'll have to buy Instagram ads to see any sort of real growth.
Ads aren't something we recommend for most influencers, however, as they can be expensive (not to mention ineffective) unless you really know what you're doing.
The great news here is that even a small account can do wonders for your branding and convince brands that you're worth sending products to.
While large follower counts are typically necessary to negotiate lucrative cash deals with brands, if you're just after free clothes, many brands are happy to oblige if it means they won't have to go out-of-pocket to pay for a sponsored post.
You're already starting a business, but building your brand shouldn't feel like work.
These photos should be of you doing what you love, so you'll need to ask yourself an important question before taking any photos and really diving headfirst into the promotion.
Do you enjoy doing what you do?
If you answered yes to this question, then you're golden.
You can create a feed that reflects your brand and promote it as much as possible, but you'll always need to stay true to your brand and personality as much as possible.
Try to avoid over-the-top filters, and instead keep your eyes on your photos to create an authentic feeling for your Instagram account.
Remember, it's just a photo.
Your photos shouldn't take up too much of your time. Don't get caught up in making the perfect image, but rather on creating a quality image that reflects your personality with an interesting theme.
If you're a foodie and love to cook, a good selfie can use your favorite restaurant or meals to enhance the photo.
Or, if you're a fashionista who loves the latest trends, don't forget to add one or two looks that your feed can sell. You can also create an engaging caption that can bring your followers in and entice them to follow you.
The more engagement you receive, the more followers you'll receive.
As your audience grows, you'll be able to take your audience from followers to real friends. Real friends will become loyal fans.
Finally, as you build a follower base and gain a loyal fan base, brands will begin to approach you for partnerships. They may one day even become your biggest fans and will use your pictures on their own social media platforms.
Remember: every clothing company that uses influencer marketing is different.
This means that the terms of their agreements with influencers they partner with will differ from one another, too.
Sometimes, getting free clothes will be part of the agreement.
In fact, depending on your profile, some brands may even be interested in a simple exchange: one of your posts (with one of the brand's products) and, in return, you the influencer get to keep the product free of charge.
If one of your main goals as an influencer is to get free stuff, be willing to get complimentary products in exchange for cash payment.
Stories are temporary and therefore worth much less than posts. However, they can still be valuable to brands.
Typically, Story deals will involve a series of shoutouts or plugs in your IG story. They tend to be billed by time, i.e. by the week.
Most Story deals are about 3 weeks long, with at least one shoutout via IG story per day.
Reels are personalized video feeds introduced by Instagram in 2020.
If you use Instagram analytics and find that your posts are frequently added to users' reels, you should be sure to mention this value-add to brands when negotiating.
Video views by way of reels can add up, and follower counts alone won't necessarily let brands know your true reach.
Nailing your first promotional collaboration (and your first set of free clothes!) can take quite a bit of energy. Don't forget to take a break every now and then to recharge.
Make time for family and friends, too. You need to disconnect from Instagram and other social media platforms as much as possible.
Once in a while, spend some quality time with your friends and family instead of constantly scrolling and replying to messages.
The worst thing you can do is get addicted to Instagram. It's too easy to follow every post and start checking your account way too often. But by not scrolling or engaging with your followers, you'll be building a stronger following and keeping your social media presence real.
You don't have to be an artist to build a successful brand on Instagram. You can be whoever you want. You can even follow in the footsteps of some of your favorite models, bloggers, and influencers while posting your own lifestyle and beauty tips.
You can create your own hashtag and have fun with it. You can do the same with your Instagram photos and make them your own.
Just remember, while Instagram may be "all the rage" right now, you have the power to start or continue your success any way you choose. Use it as a place to connect with your audience, or ignore it altogether. It's entirely up to you.
We hope that you'll take these tips to heart and get started building your own brand that might earn you some free clothes faster than you can say, 'I'm an influencer!'