EcoVeganGal’s Tips for Negotiating Rates and Achieving True Engagement
Whitney Lauritsen has been blogging for over 10 years, so she’s seen her fair share of influencer trends. From Facebook to Instagram to her podcast to her two books on veganism, the film-industry-employee-turned-wellness-coach has learned the importance of adapting—and has successfully done so to the tune of over 17,000 Instagram followers. Now she has to adapt once more … this time to a totally new account.
“I'm in the process of moving away from my @ecovegangal account,” Lauritsen, who maintains her professional presence on influence.co, which publishes nofilter, explained in a phone call from her California home. After such a long time under the same name, she feels she’s outgrown it. “And it's so tough because I'm trying to find my voice on my new platform.”
Right now, her new account, @whitlauritsen, has just one post and 93 followers. It means after so long learning the ropes and successfully growing her brand, she’s going to have to start over—or, sort of. She still plans to keep running @EcoVeganGal, but the addition of her new handle under her own name makes her feel more “open.”
“It's really tough because there's what I want to say and do versus what I feel like I should do,” she said. “And I end up just not posting anything when I feel that way. So it's been a journey, but I'm pushing myself to get there.”
Ahead, Lauritsen talks about negotiating rates, brand horror stories, and the biggest mistake that influencers keep making.
There’s More to Influencing Than Instagram
Even though podcasting as a medium has been around for exactly as long as blogging, Instagram gets so much more attention. I'm working on a big project right now and I reached out to a bunch of brands to see if they wanted to send products for it, and all they care about is Instagram.
I have at least 10 different income streams at any given time. That could be coaching and consulting. I'm a part of more affiliate programs than I can keep track of. I have had merchandise over the years. I had t-shirts that did pretty well for a while. But I would say sponsorships have been the biggest source of income for me.
Prepare for Your Rates to Change
I had a few friends that were getting sponsored and so we would chat together and I would do research. I made up a media kit as best I knew how, and then would just start pitching brands on these rates. And sometimes they would pitch me, too. And that's really how it's been over time. A lot of the time it's brands saying, “This is our budget. Does this work for you?” And sometimes I'll say, “Yes, absolutely.” Sometimes I'll say, “No, how about this?” And then we'll figure something out.
It's consistently challenging. Things constantly change. My presence on YouTube has changed a lot over the years. The algorithms changed, too, with Instagram. I just did a sponsored post the other day on Instagram and it got embarrassingly low engagement versus my non-sponsored content.
I have the biggest following on Facebook of any platform and the organic reach of Facebook back in 2014, for example, was insane. And I would do a lot of sponsorships there and they were very valuable, but now Facebook, people just rarely ever talk about it as a sponsored avenue. So in terms of figuring out pricing, it has to change because what I'm doing is changing, the platforms are changing. The brands are changing, the influencer world is changing. So you can't stay still with your numbers. You have to always figure it out. [I use] Social Blue Book. Their whole website's about figuring out your rates based on your follower account and your engagement. And now they have resources like helping you write proposals.
The Biggest Mistake Influencers Keep Making
People are so obsessed with fame and getting huge numbers and going viral and it's making me nervous. I've been working in this world for over 10 years. I've seen a lot of huge people crash and burn. They burn out so hard or they get super depressed. Some of the huge names in blogging when I started, they disappeared, they're not doing it anymore.
So I think the big mistake is when influencers pay too close attention to their numbers and try to grow really fast and hustle and all that stuff. It's also not great for brands either. A lot of these influencers have vanity metrics that don't really translate to sales for brands. And then that hurts the whole industry.
Brands Should Trust Influencers They Work With
I had this disaster type of relationship earlier this year where [a brand] offered me a really low rate. I said yes, because I was so excited about their products. But after I said yes, they kept sending me more and more requirements that were never presented up front. And I ended up feeling just resentful and not good about it. I don't think it helps me as a creator. I wasn't able to put as much heart and joy into that project because I was trying to please them.
I think a lot of brands don't trust the influencer. They look at them as somebody that can give them exposure. Try to set every expectation up front and have contracts and as much in writing as possible. Also I've learned not to over-promise. I'd rather under-promise and over-deliver.
True Authenticity Is the Key to Engagement
Post something that really resonates with you. The problem is that now that authenticity has been talked about for so many years, some people fake authenticity. So it has to be true authenticity, like really coming from the heart. But if you're doing that just to get engagement, it's not going to last that long.
The posts of mine that recently get the most engagement are when I just post quickly and they're not contrived. It's kind of blurry and the lighting is not great and I'm not wearing any makeup, you know? The best way for engagement is being unattached to whether or not you get engagement, just post something that you want to post.