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I had a serious earworm at this year’s BlogHer conference in New York City — a Kanye West remix featuring Jay-Z with the lyric, “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man.” Only, I was subbing in “woman,” of course. My inspiration? The powerhouse content creators who make influence their business. 

Entrepreneurship and business-building reigned supreme at the conference, which brought together more than 1,500 bloggers, social media influencers, and entrepreneurs for two days of inspiration and education.  Not surprising, the most popular panel was “Learn How to Optimize Your Business from the Women of Influence,” which put well-known influencers Grace Atwood, Hannah Bronfman, Michaela Podolsky and CeCe Olisa on stage to talk about ways to scale an influencer business—from establishing multiple revenue streams to maximizing the lifespan of your content.

Top ways for you to be a better influencer business 

Everyone was learning, sharing ideas, and looking for proven strategies, and there was advice to be gleaned from every conversation. Here are some of the most interesting ideas that are useful to every influencer:

  1. “Give yourself permission to play without an MBA”

“I thought success as a student predicted success as an entrepreneur,” said Sarah Jessica Parker in response to a question from She Media’s CEO Samantha Skey. “I was stung by the realization that you don’t have to have been a good math student to be a good business person.”

2. “Don’t be solicitous, be transactional” 

Top bloggers recommend engaging with brands from a position of parity. You have value to offer, not a favor to ask. 

3. “Information is currency”

The more you know, the more leverage you have. Do your homework about brands to discover their goals and the business metrics that matter to them. Find out what other bloggers with similar content and follower counts are getting from their deals. Armed with facts, you can negotiate a fair contract for yourself.

4. “You don’t lose any ground by asking.”

Ask specific yes or no questions to avoid any ambiguity in your partnership terms. Even when you get a “no,” you at least have a place to negotiate from.  

“Will you send out a photographer?” “Will you be covering production costs?” “How many approval rounds will there be?” Especially around production and approval processes, you need firm answers.

5. “Consider all payment models”

Bloggers with smaller audiences tend to think flat per-post rates are the best pricing model. After all, it’s predictable. But what you can charge for that post will be based on your audience size, not necessarily the quality of your content or its impact. A performance model can often get you more bang for your blog, especially if you work with advertisers who pay for upper-funnel contributions vs. just last-clicks. With the right full-funnel attribution model, high-quality, highly engaging work suddenly becomes very lucrative—regardless of your follower count.

And finally, a rock-solid piece of advice from the queen of NYC, SJP: “Summon courage you think you don’t have and a boldness you might not think you possess.” 

Good advice in any profession, don’t you think? 
Start your bold pursuit of partnerships by joining Impact’s Partner Marketplace (it’s easy!), and get discovered by top brands and advertisers who are looking for your specific skills, style, and audience. Make it all happen by going to impact.com/influencer-partners.

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