Influencers On What Makes A Beauty Brand Appealing To Work With

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions relevant to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 17 influencers: What draws you to work with brands, and what deal breakers turn you off from working with them?

Jackie Johnson Host, Natch Beaut

First and foremost, I have to be into the product, and this is something that starts with a personal instinct. I really love working with indie beauty brands that have an accessible and personable founder. I have had several successful brand partnerships that all started after simply having a fun conversation on the showroom floor at IBE with a founder and I vibing over an eye cream. 

Once a brand or product catches my attention, I ask myself, “Does this fill a need in my life? And would my listeners be into this?” My brand has a very specific mood, and the reason my ad returns are so high is because I stay true to that mood when it comes to choosing to align with a brand. Most importantly, they absolutely have to have a sense of humor.

Personally, I will only work with a brand that has vegan product options—if the whole line is vegan, even better—and, of course, it must be cruelty-free. I have yet to sell luxury-priced products because I have found my audience is turned off by high price points.

I refuse to do any business over Instagram DM. Call me old-fashioned! If an in-person intro isn't an option, let's take it to the computer. My email is in both my account bios, or there is a contact page on my website. I prefer an intro email. Tell me about your brand, your standout products, and yourself. Then, I wanna try your goodies. After trying them, let's see if we can work together.

Andrea Lee Blogger, Organic Beauty Lover

Many brands are now highly savvy when approaching influencers. Influencer relations is now a traditional job role or even its own department in major companies. I tend to work with indie beauty brands, and I appreciate when they approach me thoughtfully with a detailed introduction on who they are and why they'd like to work with me. 

The best way [to reach me] is via email because, unless I'm already following the brand, an Instagram message can end up in my hidden inbox for weeks or even months. I understand that brands are reaching out to dozens of influencers at the same time and oftentimes use a template, but a deal breaker is when they include a list of the deliverables they want in the first email. I believe more in building relationships and partnering with brands who care about my work.

Tiffany DeSilva Content Creator, Simply Silva

A brand's mission is the first thing I notice that makes me want to work with them. I love the story behind a brand and how they plan to make a positive impact.

Deal breakers: When a company seems only sales-driven. For example, if I get sent a product and, after a week, a company asks my opinion on it and expects content right away. I personally don't think anyone can form an opinion on beauty products in such a short amount of time. I tend to have long-lasting relationships with companies who give me time to create more trustworthy content. 

The best way is to reach out and allow me to test the product first to see if it's a good fit, then take it from there. I think this is really important, especially if I'm not familiar with the brand. Also, make it no pressure to create if the product isn't a good fit. If it is, then communicate to create content that is mutually beneficial. These are the best collaborations, and they usually lead to more long-term business relationships.

Nick DiRamio Influencer, Nick DiRamio

My most successful and longest lasting brand partnerships have stemmed from companies that reach out after I organically purchase their products and feature them in my content. Since I was already drawn to that product, it's very validating when the brand reaches out to continue a collaboration in a way that's beneficial to both of us. 

Aside from that, I love brands that reach out with healthy expectations of my reach as an influencer. That is to say, they understand what a realistic estimated conversion rate would be for my audience size and also appreciate the value of my content living online perpetually supporting their brand. 

I love brands that welcome influencers into their affiliate programs because it shows me that there's a continued value in putting links to their website within my content. I love knowing that I get paid for each conversion my content brings the brand and knowing that the brand has visibility on any success we achieve together.

I can't help but feel a little insulted when brands reach out asking me to spend my own money on their product and then make a video review. And, no, offering me a coupon code does not make this more respectful. I understand my value as a creator and work hard to price my work fairly, but emails like this signify to me that the brand is guided by someone with a misunderstanding of influencer marketing.

I am very flexible about the process through which brands reach out to me. I review my emails and direct messages often for this very reason. At that point, I would love if the first point of outreach let's me know the position of the person I'm speaking to, a little line about the brand/product, and then the proposal.

When it comes to the proposal, brevity and clarity are always appreciated. I like to understand if the brand sees this as a product for post situation, or if they plan to offer a fee for a more specific collaboration. In this case, I don't mind offering my usual pricing or just hearing what amount they have to offer. From there, it gives me confidence when the terms are outlined in a contract with brand sensitivities, so I know what I can/cannot say on behalf of the brand. 

Other times, simply outlining the terms in the email is fine, but I need to feel like the brand representative is responsive and won't ghost me after I create their content. Having a solid timeline with dates established for any approvals and posting schedule is very helpful so I know how to plan my content around the sponsored post. As for payment, I prefer instant money transfers to check by mail, but it's always helpful to know whether the business requires an invoice and W9 from me to process payment.

Sammie Kolk Content Creator and Clean Beauty Makeup Artist, Hullosam

Definitely ingredients and sourcing transparency, great branding/marketing aesthetic, email etiquette (i.e. kind, professional and down to earth). What also attracts me to work with specific brands is their willingness to understand an influencer's work ethos. Personally, a brand asking for my rates always shows respect to my being a small one-woman run business.

Deal breakers: When brand asks for deliverables and expectations before I've even had a chance to vet or try the product, let alone even agree to working with them. If they offer only in-kind product gifting as compensation and the product is of less value than what my services and content-creating rates are, that is a no-go.

An email is always the best way to contact me. [They should include in] said email links to their website, products, ingredient information, background story, and why they would like to work with Hullosam.

Arjun Sudhir Influencer, Just Ask Arjun

I am drawn to brands that I feel a connection with. I'm very ingredient-driven, and I am attracted to brands that create thoughtful, innovative and efficacious formulations. I try to only work with brands I truly believe in. 

Deal breakers: Brands that are too demanding and prescriptive in their approach. I usually don't collaborate with brands that are too pushy and tell me what I should post about. If a brand is familiar with my posts and wants me to try their products, I expect them to trust me to share my honest opinion in a way that's consistent with the rest of my posts. 

I think the best way for a brand to reach out is by sending a short and sweet DM or email introducing themselves and asking if I'd be interested in their brand.

Erin-Elizabeth Miller Blogger, Erin-Elizabeth

I'm most interested in brands that care about the earth and the wellbeing of its people and creatures, [including] brands that use organic, natural, vegan ingredients, [are] verified cruelty-free, free of known toxins (parabens, SLS, etc.), made in America, [have] ethical business practices, [are] B Corporation-certified brands, [have] eco-friendly packaging, [and] brands that give back. 

And last, but certainly not the least, brands that see the real value in digital marketing and are willing to pay for the content created by influencers like me. Anything that doesn't fall within my values I respectfully pass on. I also shy away from brands that expect trade for product only, and/or lack of timely communication. 

The best way to reach out to me is a simple DM on Instagram or the contact form on my blog. I like to try products before I vouch for them, to keep my authenticity. Offer to send me yours, and then propose your ideal partnership. Clearly communicate what deliverables you want and the fee you are willing to pay for the content created. I always release my photos to the brands I work with for digital use in perpetuity. If all goes well the first time around, let's work together again! I love long-term relationships and I love exploring everything brands carry. 

HYRAM YARBRO Influencer, Skincare By Hyram

Working with brands that have a similar skincare philosophy is important to me. I need to know they prioritize the health of their customers more than marketing or aesthetics. I prefer when brands reach out via email with a respectful introduction. The biggest turnoff is a brand that requests to collaborate when it’s clear they haven’t taken the time to watch my videos or know my brand. 

Conversely, having a company understand the value I provide and offer a partnership that equates to the amount of time and effort I put into my content shows me a level of ethics that I’m comfortable working with. My goal is to help celebrate and promote the best a brand has to offer while staying authentic and true to the needs of my audience. When a brand is open to that, I'm more than happy to work with them!

Kate Murphy Founder, Living Pretty, Naturally

When it comes to natural beauty, oftentimes it's their story and how they have woven it into the product in a beautiful way that attracts me to a new brand—everything from the ingredients to the packaging and branding as well as why they chose the ingredients that they did. Over time, I like to build a relationship with brands that create products I truly love and would use again and again. I like to continue working together and mutually benefit one another.

For me, ingredients are the first deal breaker as well as submitting product without some more formal level of collaboration. Influencers, bloggers, Instagram personalities are offering a service, their brand is of value. When companies expect posting for sending free product it’s a turnoff. That being said, I have definitely posted on product that I was not paid to talk about because I genuinely loved the product, and there was no expectation from the brand that I had to do so in order to receive the gift. 

The best way [to reach me] is always a personal email (not Instagram DMs) that mentions something they saw on my website or Instagram and relates to it personally. Also drawing any personal connection to the blogger’s personal traits [is helpful]. For example, I always feel more of a connection when someone tells me they’ve travelled to Norway before, where I live part-time, or that they love Vancouver, where I’m from. This helps me feel an instant genuine connection, and shows me they took some time to actually see what I was about. Cold blanket emails are often just deleted as it's obvious they have been sent out to so many other bloggers. 

Jo Placencio Influencer, PeaceLoveGlam

Great question! I love to work with brands that I believe in. I love high-quality, clean, nontoxic products that deliver results. I love brands that donate some of the proceeds to important causes. I support all business, but I have a special place in my heart for women-owned businesses. Deal breakers?  Products that contain toxic chemicals and endocrine/hormone disruptors.

The best way for brands to reach out is via email to introduce me to the product, what type of collaboration (IG post, Stories, IGTV and/or blog), the date collaboration is expected and the budget for the campaign.

Chelsea Bancroft Blogger, One Chel of an Adventure

I only work with brands whose products I truly love. If the company gives back in some way like Toms, that's a bonus as well. Deal breakers: Not having a good product, not valuing influencers work, trying to control the creative process too much.

The best way for a brand to reach me is my email hands down. I already get enough DMs on Instagram as it is, and they are likely to get lost in there. I like when brands have a clear, defined idea of what they are looking for in a collaboration, but it's good to be flexible as well. I also think brands should send product to try before expecting influencers to sign a contract, so they can try it out and really see if they like it or not.

Abby Roberts Influencer, Abby Roberts

I always look for brands that I genuinely use their products on a regular basis, and products that I actually like and believe in. This is super important to me, not only to make sure that I am being genuine and honest with my followers, but also so that I’m able to create content with the product that I’m proud of posting.

Deal breakers are scam products—ones that don’t actually work—disingenuous companies, or products that are not on-brand for me to promote as a beauty creator.

The best way [to contact me] would be for a brand to reach out via email. If it’s a brand I would typically use or a product I'm interested in trying, the brand would send over the product as PR for me to try out and, if all goes well, we would go ahead with the campaign. We then negotiate rates and terms for the partnership.

Kasey Boone and Lorena Ashmore Creators, Beauty Biz Bffs Podcast

Three things we look for when working with a brand: Integrity, customer service and mutual support. [Also,] good quality products that we believe in. Since we are suckers for packaging, we appreciate aesthetically pleasing branding.

Deal breakers: Poor customer service and communication, inappropriate contact (being pushy or intrusive), and lack of creative control (on our end). The best way for a brand to reach out: email first. If you send a product to try, send a note and explanation. 

Ashley Tschudin Creator and Co-CEO, Choupette's Diary

A brand initially attracts me through their packaging, but draws me in to be a customer because of their brand mission and product quality. Deal breakers are poor reviews online, lack of marketing, ineffective products lacking quality, improper and inflated pricing, and terrible customer service. The best way a brand can contact me is through email: [email protected]

Tanya Zuckerbrot CEO and Founder, F-Factor

My brand’s mission is to help people look and feel their best, so I look to partner with brands that share a common ethos and, therefore, will bring value to my followers’ lives. The best partnerships are ones that are organic, products that I already use and recommend. I’m also a big believer in supporting other women in business.

Authenticity is extremely important to me. If I wouldn’t use a product myself, it would be disingenuous of me to recommend it regardless of how much a company would be willing to pay me. I also prefer to not endorse products that would be unrealistic for my followers to benefit from. If something is too expensive or has too narrow of a distribution, there would be little value in recommending to my followers, and a partnership would be insincere.

To collaborate with me personally, email Jessica Rossman at [email protected] and, for brand partnerships, email Kelly Marinaccio at [email protected] For all other requests, email [email protected]

Dana Murray
Holistic Esthetician and Blogger, Babe + Beauty

I’m attracted to brands that have similar philosophies as myself that I know my audience would love and would be a good fit. For example, I love a healthy approach to aging instead of making it sound like aging is a bad thing. A black and white deal breaker for me is the use of synthetic fragrance in facial skincare. I also won’t work with brands that use words like “chemical-free” in their marketing, which are scientifically incorrect and often used to scare people.

I really like when brand reaches out to me via email over a social media message. The reason being is, if I am going to work with a brand, I truly want to have a conversation and start a relationship instead of a business transaction.

Ndeye Niang Digital Content Creator, @ndeye.peinda

The first thing I look for when working with a brand is what their social presence is like. Who do they represent themselves or their consumer to be?  Do I resonate with that image?  Diversity and inclusion has become trending in the industry, but as a plus size, dark-skinned beauty influencer, representation is a must! If a brand doesn’t already try to appeal to me or my audience who looks like me, I question if our missions align.

Thus, I am attracted to brands that showcase a variety of people on their channels and offer a variety of products that work for a large spectrum of people. A huge deal breaker for me is a brand that has horrible customer service, tokenize and pander to people of color without giving them real access or visibility, and brands that make it known they have no desire to be inclusive.

The best way for a brand to reach out to me is to simply email me! Ideally, the brand would have already done their research on me by checking out my content to know who and what I represent.

If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs or influencers, please send it to [email protected].