Free gifts, travel around the world, and spending your whole day on social networks to earn your income. Sounds nice, right? That is the life of an influencer. Given their reach, advertisers can no longer do without them. But what does this business really look like behind the scenes, and how authentic are today's bloggers? We met with blogger and influencer Louisa Dellert, founder of Fit Trio, to ask these questions and more.
Why have influencers become so important in marketing? Companies want to draw attention with advertising, but potential customers pay as little attention to ads as possible. They use ad blockers on the web, leaf past advertising in magazines, and go get something to snack on as soon as the commercials start on TV. Because the desired content is interrupted by advertising. But influencers make the products a part of the content, just like any other type of product placement.
You can find bloggers everywhere in the social media landscape, with more or less success to their names. But finding success enough to earn your keep is easier said than done, says Dellert. In the beginning, she, too, only blogged for fun, but since then she has risen to 292,000 Instagram followers .
t3n.de: How did you start blogging?
Louisa Dellert: Like so many people, at first I had a personal Instagram account that was public. I was very focused on fitness and shared that on my profile by posting workout videos, before-and-after selfies and my meals. Over time my number of followers rose. People were interested in my story, how I live, eat and stay healthy.
t3n.de: When was it clear to you that blogging could become your career?
Dellert: When I didn't have any time left for friends and family. At some point it was no longer possible to continue with my job as an office assistant, work in the fitness studio on the side and keep maintaining and updating a professional blog. After 18 months I decided to make blogging my career and to resign from my job. My partner and co-founder, Jan Körber, supported me in this.
t3n.de: What were your first viral photographs, and did you earn money with them?
Dellert: The first sponsorship proposals arrived once I had reached about 30,000 followers. Unfortunately I don't remember which pictures went viral first. I do know my first revenue didn't come from promotion, but rather from my Training Guide, which now has 142 pages and is filled with challenges, recipes and motivational tips.
t3n.de: How do you build up a large number of followers quickly?
Dellert: When I started investing more time in my blog and decided to run it professionally, I bought 4,000 followers for ten euros. That made it easier for me to break through. But I admitted this publicly very quickly, because it was important to me to be honest with my followers, and continues to be. Since then Instagram has “cleaned up” and deleted the 4,000 fake followers.
t3n.de: So Fit Trio isn't just a blog?
Dellert: Exactly. Compared with others we're a registered trademark and sell various products, such as bootcamps, merchandise and different guides. So we mainly earn our income from the products and bootcamps that we regularly offer. For that reason we don't depend on promotional agreements and we never do more than three per month.
t3n.de: But you do earn money from these contracts, so how authentic is that for your followers?
Dellert: Fit Trio is not a classic blog. I am very careful to feed lots of my own personality into my Instagram account and blog. Sometimes there are pictures that don't fit in, that aren't all perfectly matched by color and theme. And I explain the blogging world to my followers, show them that sometimes I can have a bad day and that not everything about me is perfect. I am behind every single photo or post, we don't have anyone who does this work for me – and I wouldn't want that.
t3n.de: When you do have a cooperation agreement with a sponsor, how does that work?
Dellert: First I look very closely at the product, I wouldn't advertise something I'm not happy with myself. It also needs to fit in with our blog's theme. We often get proposals that don't work at all. That shows that the proposer doesn't understand what my blog is about. Then I offer various cooperation packages, for example one includes a blog, an Instagram and a Snapchat post.
t3n.de: How much influence do you have on how the posts are shaped?
Dellert: Usually lots, because I know my blog the best. Often the only thing I'm told is that I need to clearly show the sponsorship. Occasionally the times for the posts are also dictated, although I often don't manage to comply. But with bigger bloggers and sponsorship agreements things can look very different.
t3n.de: What was your best agreement so far?
Dellert: The coolest one was with Nike. That wasn't actually an agreement that Fit Trio earned money from, but I was fitted out by Nike and had a personal trainer who trained for a marathon with me. So of course I benefited a great deal from it.
t3n.de: The biggest question of all: How much can you earn from sponsorship?
Dellert: Naturally the exact amounts vary and depend on various factors: which package the customer books, how active the followers are, how long the cooperation lasts, and above all the sector you're in. The gross amount can start in the three to four digits, with generally no upper limits set. But like anyone else with their own business, we have expenses. So earning our living from just two or three sponsorships a month would be hard.
t3n.de: You're 27 years old now. Do you plan to grow old as a blogger?
Dellert: No, definitely not. In three years, Jan and I certainly don't want to be posting selfies in bikinis and swim trunks anymore. We're trying to invest our profits in the Fit Trio brand and to keep educating ourselves – among other things in fitness and coaching. Of course we'll try to continue to maintain the blog, and use its reach to support our bootcamps for example.
t3n.de: How do you think the world of influencers and bloggers is going to change?
Dellert: I think the number of bloggers will shrink, because the demand isn't there. Some of them already have their own fame and will make their way in the world. Others, I can imagine, will go into PR. Bloggers also have to find their niches; for example the fashion industry is saturated and much too competitive. On the other hand, those of us in the fitness sector work together frequently and often there are joint sponsorships.
t3n.de: Are there also risks?
Dellert: I don't see any risks. Of course, all that glitters is not gold, and the younger arrivals need to learn that as well. Influencers have become a new and modern marketing tool that can reach target groups with even more precision.
We've asked ourselves how clearly advertising needs to be identified. In Germany it's not enough to indicate advertising with an @ or a hashtag. Users have to be able to see clearly that it is advertising. Words like "sponsored" or "ad" are also not enough, you can't assume that everyone understands these English terms. Indicating "Advertising" or "Product placement" in German is clear and therefore proper. Louisa flags her advertising with the sentence "In friendly cooperation with X" .