Our next Insider Influencer Insider is Jessie Barber of @minipennyblog. Jessie is based in Chicago and has an amazing sense of style. Find out what Jessie has to say about being an influencer, working with brands & publicists, and more!
What are your thoughts on the term influencer? (If you prefer another title, what is it?)
I actually prefer the title “influencer” over “blogger”. I think it speaks on a broader scale and feels a little more professional
Tell us a little bit more about what it means to be an influencer/content creator in today’s brand marketing world?
It’s definitely flattering that people and brands I respect want to partner with my voice to discuss products or ideas that I like. I love seeing marketing shift away from what is considered “traditional” and moving into a social influencer market. It’s crazy being in the midst of it all — I’ve been blogging for almost a decade and the change has been extreme over that time period!
What do you like most about Social Media (Specifically Instagram)?
I love Instagram! Communicating and connecting with people in a visual format works best for me. I’ve always paid attention to photography and styling. That combined with IG’s simplistic format makes it a great way to connect with others who are interested in similar things.
What do you like the least about Social Media (Specifically Instagram)?
I despise the new algorithm. My traffic has tanked and I’ve been struggling to find out ways to improve again. Also, I can spot a fake partnership from a mile away – fit teas, flat tummy teas, and the like. Sometimes it does feel like everybody is in on the game and it can be easy to forget that there’s room for a lot of influencers. I wish Instagram had a more shoppable format and that all features were available to all Instagrammers rather than brands or verified accounts.
Can you walk us through what a normal work day is like for you?
Four days a week, I’m a cosmetic tattooer. I make my own schedule and work with clients out of a private studio in my neighborhood. My other days vary — I keep a lot of To Do lists to keep track of what I need to write, photograph, or organize on what days. My days vary so much that it’s hard to pin down what a “normal” day is like!
Can you talk a little bit about your experience working with publicists? The importance of those relationships?
I have had good and bad experiences. When I find a good publicist that is pleasant to work with, I do what I can to continue those relationships. People in the industry can sometimes jump from campaign to campaign or company to company, so having those connections is beneficial to both when publicists move onto other endeavors!
What do brands tend to get wrong when working with influencers? And what are the top things brands should know about working with you/them (your tips & best practices)?
I think the worst thing that brands do is snub bloggers who request to be paid for our time and work. I’ve had countless major mainstream brands be flat out rude about paying influencers. At the end of the day, brands should recognize that if they value the content and reach of an influencer, they should compensate that person’s work with payment. The promise of “exposure” is, at this point, a laughing matter among creatives.
How can a new or emerging brand make themselves stand out to you?
I love working with small brands and I read every email that comes to my inbox. My best advice is to get to the point — I get a lot of emails that are extremely general by asking if I’d like to work together but never include what product or campaign they’re promoting. Being personal and professional is key!
When working with brands, what do you look for? Is there anything you wouldn’t do?
I work with brands as long as they fit my narrative. I’m pro-woman, I have a slightly edgy style, and I’m an artist. If something isn’t designed well or it just doesn’t fit with my normal content, I won’t work with them.
Would you say that you have a niche? If so, what is it?
I’m not sure if I do or not — a lot of agencies have me in that “edgy” category because of the hair and tattoos and piercings. I’m pretty much okay with that, but I like to believe that I am outside of that definition as well.
How do you measure your success? How do you quantify your results for brands?
It’s been harder lately, as it feels like engagement has been down across networks. I use a lot of tracking links when social sharing posts with partners, and also keep an eye on social metrics across networks. Using affiliate links gives me a good tool of tracking what product links are clicked on and eventually purchased through.
How do you determine what you charge brands for your work?
I have a basic pricing structure that varies depending on the brand. I tend to charge local brands less than major corporations.
What’s your favorite part about what you do?
I’m my own boss and make my own schedule! I’ve had the amazing opportunity to meet great people and go great places because of my blog!
How do you think this career path has changed you? (Has your style changed at all, have you traveled more because of it, etc.)
It definitely had a major impact on my career! I ended up working in social media for a major fast fashion corporation, I’ve traveled a lot more, and I’m become more comfortable in my skin. All of this things have shaped who I am and I’m so happy and grateful for the experience.
Where do you think the influencer space is going? What’s next?
I’m not sure where it’s going, but I am so excited to find out! There are so many young people coming up with great app and network ideas, that I’m sure the next step is something I haven’t even considered.
Quick Qs- Rapid Fire!
- What is the one fashion/beauty item that you can’t live without? High waisted skinny black jeans. I get mine from Madewell and live in them.
- What is your favorite Phone App? Instagram!
- If your life was a movie, what would it be called? What Day Is It?
- What’s an Instagram photo you would never post? I never post anything that I’m not personally involved with creating in some way.
- Pizza or tacos? Tacos!
- What brand(s) are you LOVING right now? I’m forever obsessed with Madewell, Need Supply, Saint Laurent, and Diablo Organics
- One reality that people don’t realize about being an influencer? I’m not “weirded out” by people approaching me in public and telling me they follow me on Instagram! People are super shy but I’m totally normal — it’s flattering to meet people who follow me. They’re the reason I’m able to do what I do!
Check back regularly for more, and feel free to contact us for consideration to be included in future Influencer Insider interviews!
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