Instagram Fashion Influencer Gives the Scoop on Collaborating with Brands

You no longer have to guess what goes on in the minds of social media influencers. We got together with travel and fashion blogger Zlatina Jekova to pick her brain about her experiences as an Instagram influencer. Read on to learn how she grew an organic following from scratch, which brands she partners with and more!

1. What are the key things someone beginning as a fashion influencer should know?

You should be prepared to work extremely hard in order to succeed in this competitive and niche industry. 

In order to make it as a fashion influencer, you not only have to be original, you have to be prepared to devote all of your time to the job. This is why it’s absolutely crucial for you to be passionate about what you’re posting or writing about. If fashion and photography aren’t your things, then I wouldn’t recommend pursuing a career as an influencer. The path to becoming an Instagram influencer is not an easy one, which means you have to make it worth it in the end by being true to yourself.

If you’re certain you’re ready to take on the challenge of becoming a social media influencer then the best piece of advice I can give is to not compare yourself to others. With so much competition on social media, this can be easier said than done. But I do think that to be happy in this line of work you need to remember that every person has their own strengths and weaknesses. Success is not copy paste - what works for someone else may not work for you. If you remember this it’s easier to be who you are.

Having such a high profile you’ll get a lot of criticism from people and comments that aren’t always written with the best intentions. You have to have thick skin and learn to not take the comments too personally. I never block people, they have their own right to think and comment on whatever they want. I have made the decision to be a public figure and as such, I have to be able to take criticism as well. I always try to get the point of other people and sometimes it might be the case that there is a good reason behind their criticism.


2. You’ve grown your audiences from 0 - 720,000 on Instagram and received 4 million views on all of your social media channels combined. Could you tell us a bit about how you went about growing your audience? Any tips for influencers just starting out?

That's right! But it’s important to note that this growth didn’t just happen overnight. Growing an audience on social media takes a lot of hard work and requires strategy. It becomes even more challenging when you’re balancing your full-time day job with content creation.

To become an influencer you’ll need to accept that you’ll have to donate all of your free time to building an audience - that’s the hardest part. Gaining traction on Instagram takes more than just posting nonstop. You also need to create your own network which can consist of other social media stars from bloggers to YouTubers. You can start out by liking posts, commenting, and producing content for influencers in your niche. Eventually, you can build a relationship that can create awesome content opportunities such as cross-collaborations or takeovers which can help build your following in a natural and organic way. 
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But at the end of the day, you also have the ability to turn your social media interactions and partnerships into real relationships. Having a network you can reach out to can make all the difference in this line of work. The connections you have with other influencers allow you to have a community you can relate to on a personal and professional level. You get advice, exchange some shared experiences, and even just vent. 

3. Can you talk about an interesting influencer project you worked on that you’re proud of?

There are a couple of projects that I am really proud of, but a recent one that comes to mind is the charity project I worked on with TKMaxx. I joined their efforts, together with other influencers and celebrities, to support the UK Red Nose Day charity initiative. I am proud of this campaign as I managed to use my social media influence to spread the word about this great charity campaign and help raise funds for it! I am a strong believer in the idea that influencer should use their popularity to promote such charity initiatives! They should use their influence to set an example and try to make the world a better place for all of us.

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4. What does your typical day look like?

I don’t actually have a typical day! 

The way my day unfolds really depends on where I am. I spend at least one-third of the month traveling, but there have been some months where I’m traveling for up to 20 days. One of the perks of being a travel influencer is being able to collaborate with hotels and travel agencies that usually cover costs in exchange for coverage. Of course, not everything is paid, there are plenty of trips that come out of my pocket.

When I am on the road I spend most of my time creating content and exploring the city I’m in. I make it my job to seek out hidden spots and write about them on my blog so the audience can have some cool tips and destinations to visit when or if they ever travel where I’ve been.

Sometimes, I get in touch with hotels and restaurants in the area and ask if they wish to collaborate. Usually, I get a positive response which results in a mutually beneficial relationship. I would say that finding places on my own is the only way to ensure that my tips are genuine and the places are really worth visiting. I love providing advice on what to eat what to see, and where to shop, it’s one of the things I enjoy writing about the most!

When I am at home, I spend most of my day in front of the computer. I catch up on emails, edit the content I’ve captured while traveling, schedule upcoming posts, and of course plan for my upcoming collaborations and trips. 

5. You’ve worked with more than 150 brands, including huge names like Tommy Hilfiger and Hard Rock Cafe. Could you tell us a bit about what the process looks like for a fashion influencer going into a partnership with a brand?

Getting yourself into serious partnerships with huge names like the ones I have worked with is certainly challenging. It becomes even more difficult if you’re coordinating these collaborations on your own, without the help of an agent or agency.

When I was just starting out, I was tagging brands I was wearing in my post to get visibility. I’ve also contacted marketing teams asking about collaboration opportunities, however, this was usually a dead end as the teams already had an idea of who they would like to partner with. To get my name out there I first started collaborating with smaller brands, which were more than happy to work with me. And little by little I was able to grow trust and eventually had the credentials to work with bigger names.

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I can’t stress enough how important it is to stick to your own personal style when collaborating with a brand - no matter how big they are. Though sometimes it can be difficult to turn down an offer, it’s important that you choose a partnership wisely, no matter who the brand is or what they sell. 

When I’m approached by a brand, the first thing I do is look into the brand’s style, tone of voice and values to ensure that they are aligned with my style. Of course, agreeing is just the first step in your partnership. Once you get the contract you’ll need to make sure that you read each and every part carefully. All influencers should be aware that they don’t need to sign the first version of the contract. Don’t hesitate to make amendments or adjustments if there’s something you don’t feel comfortable with. As an influencer your most important asset is your community, so everything you do needs to be authentic or you put your reputation and everything you’ve built at risk.

Also, you should always be punctual when it comes to deadlines and make sure that you are completely aware of the required deliverables before creating the content. Sometimes, it might be the case that you have a great idea about the content you want to create for the brand, but what they truly need is completely different content. 

6. You’re not only present on social media, but you also have your own fashion blog La Elegentia. How important would you say it is to combine your social media efforts with blogging? Is it a must?

When I started blogging, it was extremely important to be equally present on the web as well as on social media.

I would say now, things have changed a little. You see more and more people who got their start blogging, only present on social media. Social media has become so ingrained in people’s lives, it’s much easier to be found on these channels vs the web where keywords can triumph over great content.

Luckily, I still get significant web traffic on my blog which can always translate into building followers on social media authentically. I still try to publish posts on my blog as much as possible and share links through my social media posts to provide more context about my experiences or travel tips.



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