By Katie Cattell, Copywriter
Here at Ahalogy, it’s no secret that our influencers are at the core of everything we do. From their gorgeous imagery to their unique creative vision, we would be lost without our Ahalogy Partners—a network of over 5,500+ content creators across the Food & Drink, Health & Beauty, Lifestyle, and Parenting categories. Just as no two blogs look the same, each of our influencers have a different story to share. Check out the following Partner Spotlight interview to learn more about what it takes to become an Ahalogy Partner.
Not only is Gabriella Valladares the voice, brains, and creative vision behind her site, By Gabriella , she’s also an advocate for small businesses and online influencers alike. When you visit By Gabriella, you’re guaranteed to find plenty of inspiration on how you can add a little more style to everyday life. Learn more about how Gabi got her start in influencer marketing by reading along with the latest Partner Spotlight Podcast.
Can you walk me through those early first days of starting your blog? How has it grown and changed over the years?
Yeah, definitely, so I started about 8 years ago when I first moved to Boston. I started it because I had transferred schools there and I didn’t actually know anyone. I knew I had always liked writing so I was like, “I’ve seen a few people have their own websites. Let me check this thing out”. It wasn’t as popular then as it is now for sure. So it was very much like a create your own thing, learn as you go.
There weren’t as many people in the space at the time so it started out as just like a random collection of things that I liked. You know, I really liked baking and checking out what was going on around the city. So it kind of just seemed like a very random grouping of posts that I was putting up. There wasn’t really any strategy; it was just for fun. Which is how, I think, most people start out.
So I started with a blog. It actually had a different name, and a few years down the road I was working full time and getting my masters. I kind of needed to take a break. As you can imagine, it was a pretty busy time. It was a lot. So I took just under a year off, I would say, and created my new site, By Gabriella. And I just started from scratch so I didn’t bring any content over. I just let people know I was changing sites and grew from there. I just needed to start fresh. I didn’t love writing anymore on that site which was my cue to switch things up.
of the brand partnerships that you have worked on, what are some of the top tips that you've learned from collaborating with brands on sponsored posts?
Negotiating. I think it’s really hard for people to know their worth and it can be scary at first. You kind of just want to do it for free and you’re like, well I’m going to get this free product but I’m going to spend 5 or 6 hours shooting it, and writing about it, and editing the photos, promoting it, and all of that. So I would say knowing your worth but also it’s ok to negotiate.
I really love working with small businesses kind of on the side. So for me, if a small business reaches out on their own, I know it’s like this small shop of maybe 2 or 3 people. That’s where I’m happy to negotiate because it’s something that I’m passionate about and I don’t feel like I’m just taking it on for free. So I’d say negotiating and knowing your worth are probably my top tips.
An example of branded content from By Gabriella. See the full Al Fresco Dinner here
What are some of the key skills that you think a person needs to have in order to make it in influencer marketing?
I would say communicating which is kind of funny because I studied communication back in college and I think it’s like this running joke of, “oh you’re studying communications? What are you actually going to do? You already know how to talk to people.” But I think that’s pretty big. Reaching out to brands is something I still do; I don’t just wait for them to come to me all the time. That’s doesn’t always happen, that’s not really how you start.
So I would say being able to communicate with people and be open to working with them on what’s most valuable for them. That’s something I always ask a brand if I’m reaching out. I say, “here are a few ideas but what’s going to be most beneficial for you?” I want to make sure it’s a mutually beneficial partnership. It’s interesting to see how it’s shifted over the years, really moving from traditional advertising to this new version of word of mouth marketing.
What is the most challenging thing about owning and operating your site, By Gabriella?
I guess when you get the doubters—maybe that’s not the correct word—it’s hard to explain what I do sometimes. I have brands that just don’t get it and that’s ok. They just haven’t been educated on how influencer marketing works. But you know I’ll have a brand reach out and it could be a smaller brand or it could be a larger brand where they’re saying, “hey if you do this for free you’re going to get great exposure and you’ll also build a relationship with our client.” And I let them know what my rates are and I send them my media kit and it can be tough because then they make you feel guilty for not wanting to build a relationship with them but that’s not really the case. It’s work and I can’t always do work for free. So navigating that can definitely be a challenge where they’re trying to take advantage of people. It’s like if they were to hire a photographer and say, “well this will build your relationship with the brand. Can you do it at 80% off?”
SO FROM A BRAND PERSPECTIVE, WHAT DO THEY NEED TO KNOW IN ORDER TO FIND SUCCESSFUL INFLUENCER MARKETING PARTNERS? HOW DO BRANDS NEED TO THINK IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO PARTNER WITH SOMEONE LIKE YOU?
I think that they kind of need some internal work. Internally, I think they need some education on the benefits of working with influencers if they don’t otherwise know about it. And then they also need to figure out what makes sense for them. Instead of just going with the review, maybe that’s something they’re comfortable with, just reaching out and saying “can you review our product for free?” Look at the bigger picture. Can they move some of their budget from advertising in print to working with influencers who are doing a lot of jobs in one for them? Sometimes they look at it as, well, this person is just going to post on their site. But there’s a lot more to it. They, the influencer, are connecting you with their community. They’re taking really great photographs that you can use; they’re writing content that you can use on your website. So just knowing what opportunities are out there if they are looking to work with influencers.
Now that’s you’ve heard more about what it’s like to build a business from the ground up and negotiate the partnership between influencers and brands, we hope you have a deeper appreciation for just how much work our Ahalogy Partners do. Stay tuned next month when we talk to a brand new voice in influencer marketing and learn what their perspective is on creating meaningful content for their site.