Spotlight: An Insiders Guide To Influencers and Starting Out On Your Own
The influencer trend has grown exponentially in the past few years, with more than 75% of brands set to implement influencer marketing in 2017. It is finally being recognised as a valid marketing channel by big brands across the globe and shows that the power really is now in the consumer’s hands.
Entrepreneur and expert in influencer marketing, Victoria Jones, saw huge potential in the industry way before most:
“I’d often attend launch parties where I’d meet bloggers who said they loved blogging but didn’t know how to turn it into a full time job. That’s when I saw an opportunity for championing these bloggers and helping them turn their blogs into fully-fledged businesses.”
Victoria tells us more about starting a business in a niche industry and top tips for women looking to follow their passion and move away from the comfort of a 9-5 job...
At CSK we’re obsessed with the morning routines of successful women! Do you have one and what’s involved?
Yes, it’s often a struggle but I drag myself out of bed at 5 30am to do Built By Dylan’s Bondi bootcamp. I love exercising in the morning because it sets me up for the day and helps me stay energised and focused. If it’s hot I usually go for a post-workout ocean dip too.
We’re also a big fan of inspirational quotes. What words do you live by?
“Work hard, play hard.”
It’s something my dad used to say to me when I was growing up and it’s stuck with me ever since. I think it’s important to put your heart and soul into everything you do and that should apply to your career and personal life so you’re purposefully living.
Another quote I love (and one my dad swears by) is, “when one door shuts, another one opens”. I’ve had many setbacks throughout my career and this has helped me to remember to stay positive when times get tough. It’s definitely true that good things come from seemingly negative situations - I believe it’s a way of the universe pushing you in the right direction.
You started the The Insiders back in 2014 and are already working with some of the country's top brands and influencers - can you tell us about the company and what you inspired you to set it up?
I’ve spent most of my life working as a journalist which I absolutely loved but always had a niggling feeling inside me that I wanted to start my own business but was never quite sure what it would be. The moment came to me when I was Lifestyle Editor of Yahoo!7. I’d often attend launch parties where I’d meet bloggers who said they loved blogging but didn’t know how to turn it into a full time job. That’s when I saw an opportunity for championing these bloggers and helping them turn their blogs into fully-fledged businesses. It was also timely because that’s when brands were starting to move away from traditional advertising and towards creating content with influencers who had more engaged and trusted audiences.
The AANA recently updated the Code of Ethics, with the new guidelines forcing influencers to declare sponsored content as paid advertising. How has this affected The Insiders and how you work with influencers?
Interesting you should ask as I just spoke on a panel at the Mumbrella CommsCon about the best practice for this. I think transparency is key, being real and authentic is how influencers have built trust with their audience so it’s important they clearly communicate when a post has been paid for or not. We recommend saying #spon or #sponsored on instagram posts and ‘Brought to you by’ or ‘In partnership with’ on blog posts. I think influencers should be proud of the brands they partner with so should declare it.
I say to influencers and brands that as long as the branded content is engaging, informative and offers value to the audience then it shouldn’t matter when it’s sponsored or not. Having worked with brands such as Woolworths, Diageo, Arnotts and Volkswagen we’ve been able to test what works and our results prove branded content performs just as well if not better than editorial content. This is because our influencers work even harder to produce it. Brands have also enabled our influencers to produce even better content because we have bigger budgets to produce a video series, plan an event or push the message out to an even wider audience.
Starting your first company can be very challenging. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far?
Back yourself. When I started the business I undervalued my time and experience because I was grateful anyone would want to work with me but I’ve learnt you have to believe in yourself. You also have to be resilient and trust your instincts. It can also be really lonely running a business and you don’t have a boss telling you you’re doing a good (or bad) job all the time. If you’re doing something you’re passionate about and stay true to your values you’ll win out in the end.
What are your top tips for other women starting a company?
- Be brave - it doesn’t have to be perfect and your business will evolve but you need to start somewhere so define your niche, identify the business opportunity and start building your brand.
- Surround yourself with a support network. There’ll be naysayers and people who’ll knock you back so you have build a strong network to lean on for advice and encouragement when times get tough and you feel like giving up. I’m launching a ‘Fearless Females’ community group with Kate from Be Your Brand so we can all empower, educate and enable women to support each other on their entrepreneurial journey.
- Use all the digital tools available to begin and grow your business to keep costs low:
- Squarespace is simple for non-techies to build a website and looks great
- Canva makes designing your own logo easy
- Grum is awesome for planning and scheduling your social media content
- MailChimp and Survey Monkey helps you communicate with your customers and track feedback.
What do you love to do when you’re not working?
Yoga helps me to wind down, as does a glass of wine. I also love cooking and have been lucky enough to pick up some tips and tricks from the inspiring food influencers in our network. Nagi from RecipeTin Eats is my daily source for delicious recipe ideas and MKR winners Sammy and Bella are always sharing their kitchen hacks. When I feel like a night out Alex Adams from Eat Drink Play keeps me up-to-date with the hottest new restaurants, bars and experiences.
Do you have any tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle whilst running a successful business?
I think physical and mental health is so important. Riding my bike to work gives me time to run through my to-do list on the way in and wind down on the way home. Taking some time to relax and switch off from the millions of things running through my head is key. So a bath (often with a glass of red), eating nourishing food or laughing with friends helps to ground me and often generates new space and ideas too. It’s also important to take time out to celebrate the little wins as you often forget to give yourself a pat on the back because you’re busy working towards the next thing.
What’s next for The Insiders?
I’m starting to run workshops and ‘lunch and learn’ sessions to educate brands and small businesses on how they can work more effectively with influencers and establish authentic partnerships. I also have plans to launch a 6 week training program for influencers and women wanting to start a business so they can learn how to establish, build and grow their brand. I believe if there’s more people in the world earning a living doing what they love rather than stuck in a soulless job they hate the world would be a better, all round happier place.