Award-winning influencers share their secrets to success so you can be booked and busy

The hustle never stops 💫

award-winning influencers

When it comes to award-winning influencers, you’re spoilt for choice in SA. The first-ever COSMO Influencer Awards last year celebrated amazing social-media stars and content creators, and they’ve gone on to do even more incredible things this year. 

Being a digital content creator takes commitment and, if you’re hoping to become an award-winning influencer, who better to learn from than babes who’ve been there, slayed that?

We chatted to three award-winning influencers about their success, business tips and more so that you can level up your brand this year. Mihlali NdamaseYoliswa Mqoco and Kiara Kittner didn’t hold back and shared unfiltered, practical business tips. 

∼ Mihlali Ndamase wants you to focus on credibility ∼ 

Mihlali is the epitome of booked, busy and thriving. With one-million Instagram followers and more than 200 000 subscribers on YouTube, she knows how to build communities. She received the COSMOPOLITAN Influencer of the Year Sparkle Award and Best Beauty Influencer Award last year

award-winning influencers
Mihlali Ndamase/Instagram

Making money from your content involves establishing a credible brand, says Mihlali. 

‘In order to monetise your content, you need to build a credible brand through networking and positive brand relationships. Start by attending events and curating good-quality content. Monetisation is inevitable as our industry is rapidly growing in South Africa – your main concern should be having worthwhile partnerships and offering their audience quality content’.

Growing your YouTube/Instagram channels and increasing your engagement is all about consistency

‘The moment you grasp people’s attention with your first upload, you need to keep that attention through consistently putting out work. If you disappear from social media between each upload, people will forget about your work. Being authentic and remaining true to who you are is also NB. People can be interested in your work, but it takes falling in love with the person behind the brand to bring them back.’ 

Her biggest lesson as a creative entrepreneur: champion your brand, all the time

‘I’ve learnt to treat my brand as a business, nobody else will respect your brand if you don’t take it seriously. No matter how big or small the business is, always understand your value.’ 

∼ Yoliswa Mqoco is calling on you to find your purpose and niche  ∼ 

Yoliswa is fiercely unapologetic and uses her platform to disrupt the status quo and advocate for social change. She won the Best Disruptor Influencer Award last year and she’s continued to champion LGBTQIA+ visibility and rights, and give a fresh voice to the fashion, beauty and lifestyle scene. 

award-winning influencers
Yoliswa Mqoco/Instagram

Is there a ‘right time’ to make your job as an influencer a full-time commitment?

‘The right time is when you feel that creating full-time will fulfil your life, completely. But also, you have to be a realist and remember that your dreams and aspirations still need to put food on the table. 

You have to be honest with yourself about how much you’re currently making as a part-time content creator. If you have a nine-to-five, it’s only safe to leave when you feel like you can no longer juggle the two and when you are turning down jobs that could have doubled your current salary.’

If creating content makes you happier than anything else in your life, then it’s the right time, says Yoliswa.  

‘The market is saturated and you must have pretty thick skin. If you feel like you have something out-of-this-world special and you think you can flip the industry on its head, then go for it. But if you feel like you could fade into the background, then start again. Find YOUR purpose and YOUR niche.’ 

Your media kit should reflect your vibe – avoid using templates

‘All media kits are different and have a different vibe because we are all different and working in different content categories, but these are some of the fundamentals you need in your media kit,’ says Yoliswa: 

  • An introduction: who you are, where you’re from, a bit about your brand and what you have to offer
  • Your statistics: these should cover your impressions, demographics, engagement rate, follower count, etc. 
  • Links to your social-media accounts 
  • Your content categories and specialities
  • Your rate card
  • Your previous work and brand collabs or examples of work you can do (if you’re still starting out)
  • Contact list 

If you’re considering using a template – rather don’t 

‘Personally, I don’t advise going to sites and getting templates for this. Agencies receive a lot of media kits, so you don’t want a template that looks like someone else’s (the chances are high as most people go to the same search sites to get templates). In this line of work, you have to stand out, so create your own template. It takes time, but it will be worth it in the end.’ 

Numbers vs engagement isn’t black and white – there are many factors to consider 

‘It depends on what brands you want to work with. Some brands care more about numbers and notoriety, while others care more about a quality audience and engagement. I would focus on building a ride-or-die audience and having a good relationship with them. And also creating content for the right reasons and not for the free sh** and money, but to fill a gap in a market and to change people’s lives. Once you start on the right foot and for the right reasons, everything will fall into place.’ 

∼ Kiara Kittner suggests you focus on your positive community ∼ 

Kiara won the Best Newcomer Influencer Award last year when she was new to the social-media scene, and her growth has been incredible. Her effortless style, gorgeous aesthetic and amazing styling-hack videos keep her audience coming back for more. 

award-winning influencers
Kiara Kittner/Instagram

She deals with trolls and negative comments proactively 

‘I feel incredibly grateful to have the kind, supportive and positive community that I do! I very seldom come across any form of negativity or hate on my platforms. However, when I do, I try not to entertain it or give it any of my energy. I am very open to constructive criticism. However, if the intention is destructive, a simple block of the account is all you need to put it behind you and place your focus on your positive community who supports you.’ 

As an influencer, your rate card deserves a lot of attention

‘Although your platforms are very public, to many, your rate card is the first impression of you in a business environment and sets a precedent of professionalism on your behalf. Consider what value you can add and communicate this in the best way you see fit. Most importantly, believe in yourself and what you have to offer. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.’

Transitioning from an influencer to having an entrepreneurial career takes vision

 ‘You need to have a clear vision of what you would like to achieve. Figuring out how you’re going to achieve it will happen along the way, but it is of utmost importance to always refer back to your vision. This will always bring you back to your why and will assist you in achieving your business goals. As long as you are doing what you do for others and not for yourself, endless business opportunities will await you.’

Enter the COSMO Influencer Awards 2020, elevated by Brutal Fruit

We’re thrilled to bring back our awards for the second time to celebrate South Africa’s talent. This is your moment to shine and brag about being an influencer, plus stand to win a cash prize of R15 000 – enter online here. We can’t wait to see the list of award-winning influencers for 2020.

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This post was created in partnership with Brutal Fruit. 

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