To get a better understanding of what it takes to become an influencer, I interviewed De’tia Cork, known as Dae Locs. She currently has 15.8K followers on Instagram and 38.5K subscribers on YouTube.
When did you start your online brand and why?
I loved YouTube and I watched a lot of different channels. I figured if everyone I was watching could do it, why can’t I? I made my channel just for me and I told myself: I don’t care if no one watches it. I started posting here and there in 2019, but it wasn’t until a year later that I started posting videos consistently. I felt like if I wanted a chance to make it on YouTube, I had to give it my all and it worked out.
Why did you decide to focus on locs specifically?
If you want your channel to grow, it needs to be something you’re an expert in. I had spent 6 years going through a loc journey and I knew I had something that others would value. The first video I made was of me actually cutting my hair off. When I decided to start a second loc journey, I thought recording it would be interesting. I knew there were others that would be on the journey with me, or curious about what the experience is like. I knew people could relate to it and see that what they may be experiencing is normal.
What was your thought process in choosing the channels that you did?
YouTube was a natural fit and I love that the channel provides relatable content, people are their own editors, and you see things in real time. I started my Instagram after my YouTube channel became popular. Just like when I started my YouTube channel, I didn’t think it would take off the way it did but I wanted to take the opportunity anyway and see what would happen.
The audience on Instagram is a little more judgmental. It’s a visual platform and you’ll grow if you’re more visually appealing. I can be more authentic on YouTube and come as my authentic, raw self. On days when my hair and makeup aren’t done, I’ll still post on Youtube, but not on Instagram.
You had a personal Instagram already with followers. Why did you start with a new handle and no followers?
It’s important to target people who are actually interested in your content and want to see what you’re posting. The follower count doesn’t really matter, it’s about reaching the right people.
Do you have a content strategy?
Initially I didn’t have a strategy but my goal was to post at least 3 to 4 videos per week and to post on Instagram as much as I could to advertise what I posted on YouTube. I can’t put as much time and attention into it as I used to, but I make sure I at least get something out once a week on YouTube.
Originally, I used a notebook to plan what I wanted to record and say. Now I use notes in my phone to capture ideas and what I want to post.
What’s been your experience with paid partnerships?
Generally every paid advertiser reaches out to me via email. I have tried reaching out to brands and wasn’t successful. I recommend every influencer have a rate card and figure out how much they’re worth in advertisement. I don’t do free advertisements. Brands tell me if my rate fits their budget, and I may negotiate or I may not depending on if the partnership will grow my channel. Some things are not in my audience’s interest, and in that case, I usually charge more. Even if they provide me with a free product, I still charge a fee.
What advice do you have for someone looking to build an online brand?
- Try to provide some level of expertise. If people are not getting something from you, they won’t engage with your content. Even if it’s a lifestyle brand, tell people how to live like you. They’re coming to you as a consumer and to gain something for themselves.
- You never know if or when your brand will take off so appreciate the followers that you do have. When I got to 200 subscribers on YouTube I was happy because I wanted to monetize. Having loyal viewers is far more important, and I made more money with less followers during the pandemic than I do now with more followers. Engagement and loyalty is critical.
- Use social media to promote your business. Social media is based on popularity and you won’t have that for the rest of your life.
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