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Tips for Successful Partnerships From an Advertising Professional

If you’ve ever wondered how an advertising professional views online content creators, this interview is for you! Kate Terentieva is an art director, who has been creating since starting a mental health blog on Tumblr in 2008. Kate founded KATEMOB in 2020, a consulting agency to help creators build an unforgettable personal brand. In addition, Kate launched the Kindly Gifted Podcast this year to share industry secrets with creators to help them better understand the business of creativity.

Q: What do you wish content creators knew when it comes to being on the brand side of an influencer partnership?

Kate: "I learned pretty early on that those of us working brand-side aren't taught to respect creators as professionals. This type of respect comes from knowing the hustle (fun fact: I was a content creator for most of my creative career, so I get it) or having a close friend/relative who's an influencer and understanding what it really takes to do this job. Within the last few years, we've seen a significant shift in the fact that ad agencies & brands are realizing that creators skyrocket brand awareness and sales goals a lot faster than other advertising efforts, so the opinion has shifted from "oh silly kids on the internet" to seeing creators as human billboards. It still doesn't necessarily count as professional respect -- just a recognition that creators can grow a brand faster than any other advertising investment (ex. sending Mikayla Nogueira your makeup line knowing that it'd sell out quicker or featuring Addison Rae in a movie knowing overall Netflix streams will rise or making Bretman Rock the cover of Playboy to bring a huge wave of Gen-Z followers). My goal is to help you be valued as a member of the creative industry, so that when you interact with a brand, they don't just see you as a follower count. Rather, they'll see you as someone who thinks strategically, understands the power of a good idea, and is able to communicate that idea to the brand's target audience. That's what I do for a living, and my goal is to give you the creative knowledge & confidence to stand out from the crowd. I actually tackled this topic on Episode 11 of Kindly Gifted Podcast: Brands aren't paying you what you deserve (or are they?), where I shared what brands ACTUALLY pay you for and what actionable strategies you can take to grow your creative skillset."

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve when seeing influencers ads?

Kate: "Great question. There's a lot. And I don't blame the influencer -- there's a lot of gatekeeping in the creative industry, so the advice and help you're getting isn't anything new, yet people have the audacity to charge $5K-10K for programs that regurgitate the front page of google. One of my favorite quotes about creativity comes from Jef L. Richards, an advertising professor at Michigan State University -- "Creativity without strategy is art. Creative with strategy is called advertising." Read it again. So, my biggest pet peeve would be not being intentional or strategic about your idea. That's how we end up with the same thing over and over, like holiday content where every creator is in their pjs in front of a decorated tree with presents and smiling with a product in their right hand. Push yourself creatively. Don't limit yourself to what you see everyone else doing. It doesn't mean it's bad; it's just not memorable. And if you're reading this, you want to be paid for your creativity, not for your follower count. So my biggest piece of advice, which I'm quoting verbatim from my free ebook How To Create Un-Boring #Sponsored Content, is this: "To avoid first-thought, boring ideas, whip out a notebook and write down 100 (yes, one hundred!) content ideas for this campaign. Your first 25 will be the easiest to think of, the next 25 will be a little harder, and the final 50 are where your conceptual, unforgettable ideas will be because it’ll be more of a challenge to think of them. When you select the ideas that feel right, don’t throw out the ones you didn’t use. Instead, keep them handy. They’ll inspire you at another point in your career. I've come back to ideas I jotted down years ago. Since then, they've been morphed into something totally different from where they started."

Q: What do you think can help content creators stand out when working with (or pitching) a brand partner?

Kate: "KNOW 👏 YOUR 👏 TARGET 👏 AUDIENCE. Who are you creating for? In the ad industry, we call this the "ideal target audience." But really, I like to think of this person as someone you'd ideally want to be friends with. That's what you do as a creator -- you make human connections with people that like your style, learn something from you, think you're funny, etc. Brands, no matter how hard they try, don't have the same capacity for human connections like you do as a creator. This person that you're creating for -- your ideal friend -- is someone you can't fully build by just using your social media insights. You have to breathe life into them beyond just where they live, what gender they are and when they're most likely to be active on the app. This person is "ideal," meaning they don't 100% exist, but the audience you'll attract will share qualities with them, like hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes, aspirations, goals, etc. When you nail down who you're creating for (and WRITE  IT  DOWN), you'll be more selective with the brand partners you accept or pitch to work with because you'll say, "Okay my audience would love this brand because it solves their problem/helps them achieve their goal/makes them feel a certain way," for example. And here's tip that'll very much impress brands: include your ideal target audience profile -- that avatar of your ideal friend -- in your media kit. That way, brands will know if the audience you're creating for (and hoping to attract with your content strategy) overlaps with their ideal client or not. Plus, if I got a media kit from an influencer with a target audience profile, I'd give you a standing ovation at my desk."

Q: What is your #1 tip for creators to make great sponsored content?

Kate: "Oh my god, I'm so glad you asked. There's so many tips I have regarding sponsored content, so I put them into a free ebook, which you can download here. It's the exact creative framework I use as an art director to come with ideas for ad campaigns; in fact, it's the same framework the entire industry uses. I realized that the information creators & influencers have to help them create better content didn't even scratch the surface of what it takes to come up with good ideas, so I thought I'd give you loads of actionable tips and make them free (even though I paid $90K to go to ad school to learn this)."

Loved Kate's advice? You can follow her on TikTok and Instagram, or give the Kindly Gifted Podcast a listen (we love episode 8. “STOP SAYING ‘IT’S NOT SPONSORED’”) for more advice on creating great sponsored content!