My number one most asked question is some variation of “how did you get started?” in regards to my career on social media. It’s kind of a loaded question with a lengthy answer, so I figured I’d dive into that here and offer some tips to help anyone who wants to follow my same path! YouTuber’s have suddenly become the new “celebrities” and people are infatuated on how it all works in this career field, like how we grow a following, how we get paid, how (and why) we get free products in the mail. I’m going to try to fit all these amazing questions into today’s post! I am by no means a huge YouTuber or guru of any kind, but I have been doing this for two years now and have gone through some trial and error and learned so much on my journey so far!
I never had any plans to be a YouTuber and I never actually tried to grow a following on Instagram at the beginning. A little background on me and when my interest in makeup began, I was a sophomore in high school and started really getting into watching tutorials on YouTube after school. I watched a lot of Jaclyn Hill, Graveyard Girl, LeighannSays, and Sarah Hawkinson at the time and was so infatuated with their tutorials, reviews, and hauls. They were how I found out about cool, new makeup products and whenever I saved up the money, I would buy a new piece of makeup they had recommended! So fast forward to me graduated from the Aveda Institute under Esthiology. I had a really horrible experience at that school (we will save that for another blog post..) and I really had no interest in applying to spas or wax centers, so I maintained my part time job at Applebee’s and ended up finding myself with a lot of free time. I was still spending hours and hours indulging myself in tutorials and practicing new makeup looks and techniques, and one day I was sitting in my room, like why I don’t I do this? I spend so much time doing what these YouTubers do, I might as well just put a camera in front of me while I do it! So from there, I bought a camera, made a channel, and uploaded my first video! I never ever imagined it would turn into what it has today.
I was still working at Applebee’s for a full year after starting my channel, and during that year I picked up other part time jobs because I was still living at home, trying to save up to move out. I worked at Bath and Body Works, Ulta, Hopdoddy’s Burger Bar, Palermo’s Pasta House, and World Market during that time, at one point I was working three jobs at once while still uploading and staying active on all my social channels. I had started YouTube for fun, as a hobby, so I was having a blast doing it in between working, I loved staying busy.
My YouTube channel didn’t grow much the first year, I believe I had 10k-15k subscribers, which was a huge deal for me! I really never thought people would be interested in watching me and hearing what I had to say. Instagram wasn’t quite the same as it is now, it was definitely a lot easier to grow and gain a following when I started. I used to post selfies and I’d tag the lipstick or eye shadow palette that I was wearing, as well as the brand of course, in my captions because I had seen a lot of the girls I followed doing the same. A few brands had noticed me, like Wet n Wild, and reposted me on their pages which helped me grow a following! My big push was when I had about 8k followers, I had tagged Katheleen Lights in a photo where I was wearing her Colourpop collab, and she reposted me onto her page and I grew 20k followers that week. It helped me significantly, and really pushed my name out there to brands as well. So funny to think that Kathleen had such an influence in my growth and she has no idea who I am, haha! It was honestly a lot easier to get noticed at the time, now it’s an extremely over saturated market and with the new IG algorithm, it’s so difficult to get people to see your posts. It helps (a TON) to be consistent and post often. Personally, I posted every single day, usually around the same time. Instagram now has insights, if you’re a business account, where you can see when your best time to post is! Extremely helpful. However, I’d advise not flooding your feed with multiple photos of the same look back to back to back… to back. Spread them out overtime, you don’t want to overdo it.
Another question I get pretty often is “when did you start getting PR?”, which is different for every single person, so don’t think that because I didn’t get reached out to until a certain number of followers, that’s the magic number or anything. You can have three thousand followers, but extreme talent and amazing photos that makes a brand want to send you some products. That being said, I had about eight thousand followers on Instagram before anyone had reached out to me. You get a lot of spam emails from tea companies, teeth whitening brands, etc., but my first legitimate email was from Wet n Wild! They were, and still are to this day, my favorite drugstore brand, so it was so surreal to have them want to gift me their products to use and include them into videos. If you don’t already have a business email in your profile, definitely add one so brands can easily contact you. Keep it professional, usually it’s best to just have it as your first and last name.
When I started tagging brands on Instagram, I had no intentions of being “discovered” or reposted, I had just noticed so many others were starting to do it at the time. When I began to get noticed and sent product, I was like okay.. this is cool.. and from there I started to follow a lot more makeup accounts and began posting more ‘makeup of the day’ looks! I began my makeup account January 2016 with 1000 followers, it’s now January 2018 and I am currently at 365k followers! It takes time to build a following, more so now, and some accounts grow faster than others. Everyone’s progress and journey is different, so be patient and don’t give up. I know it seems like it’s all a numbers game and you have to have tons of followers to be noticed and taken serious, but that’s not true! Focus on your art and content and everything will fall into place. Like I said, patience is key.
Since I have grown, I’ve gotten countless comments and messages asking how I “get” brands to reach out and send me items, and honestly it’s just from them seeing my content and wanting me to to post with their products. Of course you can reach out to brands yourself, as well. Most have PR emails listed on their website. However, I feel it’s best for them to come across you organically. Tagging them in your photos, both in the photo itself and the caption, and hashtagging their brand and the specific products you’re using from them is a great way for them to find you. A lot of brand have started creating product specific hashtags so it’s easier for them to see your work, for example; #UDTroublemaker.
Getting products from your favorite brands is an unreal feeling, and I totally understand the allure, but it’s not everything. Definitely do not start doing social media only for the sake of getting free makeup. It doesn’t happen like that, and with no real passion you wont get too far anyway. Brands only send product out to creators to use us as cheap advertisement since we show it off and create looks and do reviews with the products for our audiences. Of course, it’s great for creators as well because we get the products first and can tell our followings about them before they even launch, and it drives people to our channels to learn more. It’s beneficial to both parties. Same thing with brand trips, I know a lot of people don’t understand why brands fly out creators and bring them out for new launches, but again it’s all about the advertisement. They can pay a few thousand dollars to bring 15 huge influencers together, knowing they will snapping and posting about the whole trip and products revealed on the trip to their millions of collective followings, or they can spend millions of dollars on TV and radio ads that likely wont even reach their targeted audience. It’s all about the advertisement and exposure!
Some good information to know, sort of backtracking to brands reaching out to you, a lot of smaller brands will try to scam you at the beginning. If someone is emailing you and telling you to buy their product to review, this is clearly a red flag. When brands reach out to bloggers, it is free and no strings attached. Most will approach you with something along the lines of “We love your work, can we send you product for your consideration?” – meaning, hey we like your content, here’s some makeup to (hopefully) use on your pages in the future. You do not have to post about PR gifts unless started otherwise. If someone reaches out to you and says they will send you product in exchange for a post, that is your call. When I first started, I didn’t even know you could get paid for posting about these items so I did a lot of free content until I started making friends in the industry and they clued me in. I was baffled – I seriously had no idea I could post the typical posts I normally would.. and get paid. MIND BLOWN. Anyway, back to posting for free, that’s fine while you’re still small (if you’re okay with it!), but don’t sell yourself short. You are spending your time creating, editing, and posting this content to your platform, and you should be paid for your time accordingly. Everyone creates their own rates, based on their following, engagement, and the type of content they’re creating. You can check out socialbluebook.com to get a general idea of starting rates. I highly recommend creating a media kit/rate sheet to easily send off to brands when they ask. Not only does it look more professional, but it’s much easier to just quickly attach it to your email, rather than typing out a whole list each time. You can search up templates to make one (try Pinterest), I used the website Canva for mine. Just to clarify though, most brands will just offer to send out product to you, which you can accept or deny, and this is usually for you to just try and consider posting about. You shouldn’t ask for payment if they just want to gift you something.
People always ask how I get paid from social media, like does Instagram themselves pay me to post? How do you make money off youtube? Those are all great questions, I was super confused when I first started. My main income is sponsorships, which is when a brand reaches out to me and says “hello, we are launching x product, can you create a video or photo using this product?” and then we discuss rates. With all sponsorships, you want to make sure you truly like and recommend the product, always try it out before committing to posts. Do not feel like you need to take every offer that comes your way. I also make commission money off of affiliate codes, I’m sure you are no stranger to the Morphe code pushers and understand how it works by now, but if not – a lot of brands offer influencers codes for their followers to use at checkout, which saves the consumer 10-20% off their orders. From there, that 10-20% of money (sometimes more depending on what the brand and influencer have decided on) that was taken off the customers order, is given to the influencer. It’s a win for both parties, the influencer receives support from their following and the consumer saves some money! There are also third party websites like Reward Style that are a great tool to get commission on products you recommend in videos, blog posts, etc. just by using their custom links and putting them in your description boxes for your followers to shop through! Getting paid on youtube is still very confusing to me, I don’t quite understand it and when I look it up, I don’t get a clear answer. What I understand is that you get paid based off of views from ads, so the more people that watch your video and view the ads, the more Adsense money you get. To be completely transparent, even before youtube algorithm with messed up and I was getting decent views (30k-80k) and posting three times a week, I still hardly made money off Youtube. It was never something that I would be able to live off, it barely paid for my groceries! I still liked Youtube because it was fun and I enjoy creating videos. Youtube is a lot less fun than when I started, unfortunately, but if you do have a passion for creating videos and have always wanted to do it, DO IT! Do it for you and because you love it.
My best advice is, if you want to start, start now. You can’t just wait around for the “right time” – there is no right time. Do it because you love it and enjoy doing so, not because you think you’ll get rich quick (you wont) or because you want free makeup. People want authenticity, be genuine and honest at all times. You don’t need fancy equipment, or crazy studio lighting when you first get started. You can upgrade overtime. Work within your means, but don’t half ass your content. Always tag brands and use your hashtags! I wish you all luck on your paths and if I missed any important questions or topics, we can continue the conversation in the comments! I hope this was helpful! If you really do have the passion and drive, you will be successful, there is no doubt about it.