Henry Adams, an historian and descendent of U.S. President John Adams, once said, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
Think about that for a moment. Teachers work with their students and help them to gain knowledge, experience and a foothold on the rest of their lives. Those students, in turn, go on to pursue diverse careers.
All of those new professionals create and engender influence of their own, perpetuating their original teacher’s influence (and her teacher’s, and her teacher’s teacher, and so on).
You could compare it to ripples caused by a pebble tossed into a pond… except the ripples never stop. Instead, those ripples are influenced (split or bounced or deflected) when they impact “infinite ripples” from other pebbles.
The more pebbles, the more complex it gets until we no longer see the patterns. Underneath it all, though, lie the ripples that we send out, ongoing results of the impact our teacher-pebbles have had upon us.
It’s a shame we don’t think about the importance of teachers in those terms. Let’s agree, though, that teachers have a tremendous influence on us all, and ultimately therefore upon our world.
You, as a successful blogger and content publisher, are in the same position. Every time you publish a blog post YOU are having an impact on your readers. You’re influencing them in a number of ways — ways that often you cannot measure.
Sometimes the influence is obvious, like when you convince a reader to try a product you’ve recommended as an affiliate. You can measure traffic, signups and sales.
But what about the 85% of your readers who don’t take a measureable action? How many of them learn from your writing and make a change in their lives in some way?
How many are inspired by you?
That’s the influence that you have, and it spreads farther than you can imagine. Now, please excuse me as we move from the philosophical to a more practical subject….
Let’s talk about how you’re going to leverage that influence.
Leveraging Influencer Status
Once you’ve established your platform and audience, you have tremendous opportunities as an influencer to work directly with brands.
But first, there are three things you need to do.
1. Create a Professional, Unifying Online Presence
It’s important to understand that brands are going to look at you differently than your individual followers and readers.
A reader will be looking at you like any other person. You are simply someone who knows your particular area of expertise. They know that they can learn from you and engage with you directly.
Brands, on the other hand, may develop a personal relationship with you, but at some level will always view you from a business perspective. So it’s more important to convey a professional brand of your own (don’t confuse that with your “consumer” brand – you can be highly irreverent when B2C, but keep it “pro” when you deal B2B).
First, make sure that you review all of your social profiles’ consistency and accuracy of information. Your name, title and bio should be the same throughout.
Second, make sure you’re using a professional profile image that’s similar across the networks.
Note that these days, there’s really no such thing as a “personal” social network. You may choose to only use Facebook for sharing with friends and family, but that doesn’t mean a prospective business partner won’t take a look at your profile.
If you want to share personal information that’s only for your friends and family to see, make sure that you select the appropriate audience when creating an update.
For instance, whenever I’m sharing a new article that I’ve written or some other information that’s business-related, I share to Public on Facebook. But when I’m sharing pictures of my family, I usually select Friends which means that only people I’m connected with on Facebook will see the post.
If you’ve connected with other businesses and colleagues on Facebook and want to continue to keep some posts more private, you can create one or more Lists for specific groups of friends to share to.
2. Be Selective in Your Relationships
This might be a tough lesson for you to hear.
You can’t accept every single offer and gig that comes your way.
If you do, you run the risk of taking jobs that will hurt you and your brand in the long run.
Whether it’s a piece of sponsored content that’s a poor representation of your professionalism, a display ad that’s not a good fit, or a project that you’re going to hate working on — they all do more harm than good.
Let’s take the sponsored content as an example.
Working with brands and accepting sponsored articles is something I do on my personal blog regularly. Sometimes they provide the article, and sometimes I’m commissioned to write it for them.
Recently, a brand submitted an article to me that I simply couldn’t accept as it was currently written. Full of grammatical issues and poor writing, I gave them the choice of editing it themselves or paying me to work on it. They chose to edit it themselves and we had to go through another round of revisions before I was satisfied.
You are not obliged to accept work that would damage your brand or reputation. So, even though I was being paid to publish that content, it would ultimately reflect on me and my brand once it’s live and people read it. I am always acutely aware of the following
If I publish a great article, people share it and thank me. If it’s garbage, I risk losing readers permanently. Or, to return to our opening metaphor, future ripples are a little weaker and raggedy (until I return to my usual level of quality). And hey, I’m proud of my ripples! 😉
In other words, accepting deals that aren’t great means you could potentially harm your influence and impact future deals.
It’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way, as no one was around to tell me years ago that it was a bad idea to accept articles that didn’t meet my standards.
Here’s another perspective to consider.
If you’re just beginning to work on leveraging your influence, you should consider working up deals with other brands for less than what you think you’re worth.
Wait, wait, wait… stick with me here for a minute. I’m not suggesting that you do this for very long. But the fact is, if a business is looking to work with you, one of the first things they might do is see if you’ve worked with other brands in a similar fashion before.
You see where I’m going with this? If you’ve never published sponsored content before, that might make brands think twice about approaching you.
If that’s something you want to get started with, it might be worth it to give a heavy discount initially so that you can develop demonstrated experience with that technique.
Then, as you progress, don’t feel bad about raising your rates. You certainly want to get to a fair rate as quickly as you can. You might also consider setting a high rate initially but then offering discounts to your initial clients.
3. Go Active
Finally, once you’ve ensured that you have a professional brand image universally, and have a few monetized deals under your belt, it’s time to go on the offensive.
Sitting back and waiting for brands to notice you is not going to reap the kind of reward you’re looking for. And cold calling other brands you might want to work with will prove to be a waste of time as only a small fraction (maybe!) will even respond.
Instead, sign up for Trafeze.
Trafeze is a network that helps brands who are actively looking for influencers. We accept only a small percent of applications and you join because you are specifically looking for deals. Those two facts makes Trafeze a huge time-saver for businesses looking for solopreneurs with both high traffic and the respect of a target market that is the same as yours.
Create a free listing that describes your website, social presence, and target audience.
Brands that are interested in working directly with influencers like you will search their niche, find your listing, and reach out.
You state from the outset the kinds of deals you’re looking for, whether it’s display ads (not recommended – the others are much higher-paying), sponsored content or even joint ventures or partnerships.
Once that initial contact is made, it’s between you and that brand when and how you proceed. Trafeze provides a streamlined process for you both, helping you both to get to WIN-WIN quickly. Aside from that, Trafeze steps out of the picture, without an invasion of privacy, and with nary a fee or caveat in sight.
Unlike eBay or AdSense, where you pay to work on their platform and make less for your efforts due to hefty fees, and where you have no privacy, you are the one it total control, the one who decides to proceed or not, for free.
Ready to start monetizing and leveraging your hard-earned influencer status?