5 mistakes influencers make when working with brands


Instagram tips

Editor's note: This article is written by Kahlea Nicole, an influencer turned business coach with over 22,000 followers in her Instagram community.

Having helped hundreds of Instagram creators improve their content strategy and land better deals with brands, I’ve noticed several common mistakes over the last 7 years.   

When it comes to brand collaborations, there are all kinds of decisions and moving parts in the process of bringing the content to life. Sometimes you don’t even realize how the seemingly small choices you’re making are having a huge negative impact on the relationships you’re trying to build with brands. 

The good news is these mistakes are easily avoidable. The bad news is, you may be making these mistakes already and had no idea you were even doing it. 

Continue reading to identify these easily avoidable mistakes and learn how to become a stand out creative to the brands you’re partnering with. 

1. You say "yes" to any partnership opportunity that presents itself 

When you're working on an ad for a brand, one of your goals should be to make that content blend so seamlessly into your organic content that your community doesn't even realize it's an ad. 

This is why partnering with brands that align with your own brand is so vital. There may be many brands that want to work with you and are willing to pay well, but you have to ask yourself if collaborating with them is within the integrity of your own brand. Ask yourself:

  • Do your values and the brand's values align? 
  • Can you support their mission statement? 
  • Is their product, service, or experience something that resonates with you personally? 
  • Can you think of 3-5 different ways you could naturally talk about the brand to your community?

These are the kinds of questions you want to consider as you decide whether or not to take on a new collaboration opportunity.

While it can be so exciting to get a new partnership inquiry in your inbox, not every brand is going to be the most aligned fit for you to work with. And that’s okay. 

Remember: A ‘no’ always makes room for a better ‘yes.’

2. You’re not being professional with the brand 

A cartoon character falling with a question mark above

Brands not only appreciate professionalism, but expect it if they're hiring you for a campaign because they’re essentially hiring you for a job. A job they’re counting on you to take earnestly. If you're not professional while working with the brand, one of two things (or both) may happen. 

First, it will make a brand question if you're really taking the opportunity seriously. Even if you’re only working with brands as a side hustle or hobby at the moment, treat it as if it were a full time job. 

Secondly, one of the quickest ways you won’t get hired for another campaign with a brand (even if your content performed well), is by being unprofessional. You don’t want to lose potential opportunities over something that’s easily avoidable. 

A few tangible ways you could be coming off as unprofessional are: 

  • Not adhering to campaign deadlines: If you’re sending over content for approval late or not posting when you said you would, that’s a huge red flag to a brand. 
  • You're unorganized: If you’re all over the place with what needs to get done and when, it’s a sign that it’s time to get some partnership systems and workflows in place. 
  • There's a lack of communication or super slow communication on your end: If you’re not asking for clarity on something you don’t understand and that ends up in a miscommunication, it’s far from ideal. Or if a brand is promptly responding to you within 24 hours but it takes you 72 hours to answer, that can be extremely frustrating for them. 

If you’ve done one (or two) of these things, you’re not alone. However, it’s a great opportunity for you to evaluate your room for improvement and make small changes that have a massive impact on the relationships you’re building with a brand.

Did you know 85% of influencer marketers would pay a premium for creators with Instagram insurance?    

3. You don't stick to the creative brief a brand gives you 

A creative brief breaks down the type of content a brand is and isn’t looking for, specific things to say (or avoid) in your content or captions, your degree of creative freedom on a campaign, etc. Think of it as your blueprint to follow for a campaign.

Whenever I talk to my friends on the brand side of influencer marketing, one of the biggest pet peeves they often mention is when creatives don't stick to this blueprint. 

If a brand takes the time to create a brief, it's not a good look when you veer away from it (plus, they can always tell when you do). 

When you don't do what the brand is looking for, it's also extremely unlikely that your content is going to be approved by them and you're going to have to reshoot it. Which is the last thing anyone wants to do during a partnership. 

So hold tight to the creative brief and constantly refer to it during the campaign to make sure that you, and the brand, can remain on the same page at all times.


4. You don't ask for clarification on something you have questions about 

There's a huge misconception that when you ask a brand a question it makes you look dumb or inexperienced, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The reality is asking questions shows you're paying attention to what's being discussed and that you desire to get things right the first time. 

Whether you have a question about the contract, the content approval process, breakdown of the deliverables, the creative brief, etc., don't be afraid to get clarity on anything you're uncertain about. 

The brand will really appreciate you making sure you're all on the same page from the start rather than dealing with a potential huge miscommunication down the line.  

5. You use filters that completely change the look of what you're promoting 

Cartoon character falling backwards

This is super frustrating for brands because not only does it take more time for them to get the content they're looking for, but it's a simple mistake that can be easily avoided upfront. 

As you edit the content you create, take a look at the other edits on the brand’s page or website, and ask yourself, “does my edit of this content accurately represent what I’m promoting for the brand?” 

If it doesn't, be sure to make adjustments accordingly before you send over the content for approval. 

For example, refrain from using heavy filters if you're promoting a beauty service like a facial or showcasing the before and after of applying a certain makeup product. Or, if the product you're sharing has orange packaging, don't change the colors to look more red or yellow instead. 

Get into the habit of ensuring that the edit on your content for brands is a solid representation of what you’re promoting to avoid making a brand unhappy and having to spend more time on a re-edit request. 

Land your dream brand deals

If you’ve made any of these mistakes yourself, you’re not alone! I’ve made all of these (and more) over my 7 years in the industry, so I share these lessons from experience. 

If you struggle in any of these areas, now is the time to pivot and adjust your strategy so you can build the long-lasting relationships with brands you’ve been dreaming of.

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