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KOLs discuss content creation, brand relationships and staying authentic

How do KOLs navigate the challenges of regular content creation, brand relationships and the ever-changing social media environment? In this article, three content creators of varying audience sizes talk about their approach to content creation and what motivates them to keep doing what they do.

Woman talking on an armchair
Woman talking on an armchair

How did your career as a KOL begin?


Age: 25-35

Audience profile: 18-34, 86% female

Interests: restaurants, food, travel.

Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

Following: Instagram 33,5k, TikTok 80k

I started my page because I wasn’t seeing the coverage of restaurants and activities that I wanted to see as a young, female millennial. It started as a hobby page. The feedback I get from my followers, knowing that I make a difference in their lives, and the success of small businesses, keeps me going.”


Audience profile: 18-34, 88% female

Interests: fashion, beauty, home

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Following: Instagram 138k, TikTok 104k

I love to share what I learn, what I like and don’t like, and eventually I’ve made really cool and deep connections with people online.”


Age: 29

Audience profile: 18-34, 57% male

Interests: fitness, wellness, healthy eating

Location: Bulgaria

Following: Instagram 17.34k, YouTube 10.2k, TikTok 12.6k

I wanted to get in shape and was wondering how to be accountable. I decided to share my journey with my 200-people audience. I’ve always tried to be honest and share my own experience. I did it because when you promise something to someone else, even if they don’t care, you care because you made the promise.”

What is your approach to content creation?

@foodiesnitch: “My approach is to answer the questions I have for myself. If I’m traveling, I talk about where to stay, where to eat, how I spend my time, to give inspiration to others. Do’s are: connect with local businesses, respond to comments and DMs, and engage with your audience. Don’ts are: posting just for the sake of posting (have intention behind it!), working for free and sharing really personal details.”

@maria.layton: “My approach is to stay true to my authentic self while providing the best possible information and valuable products to my audience. Do’s are to always be real and don’ts are to share anything that I don’t believe in.”

@tsvetifit: “I work nine to five, and before and after that I’m creating content for Instagram and YouTube. I spend at least an hour a day creating content. The last YouTube video I uploaded took me 6 hours because I do the script, filming, editing, everything myself. I tried TikTok [but] it’s just too much taking care of Instagram and YouTube.”

How do you choose which brands to work with?

@foodiesnitch: “Since I talk about food, travel, design, and clothing on my page, those are the brands I’m looking for. I recently signed with a talent management company (Shine Talent Group) which has allowed me to outsource the negotiation part of brand work and really focus on creating, which is my ideal situation.”

@maria.layton: “The main thing I ask myself when saying yes or no to a campaign is, ‘would I actually purchase this with my own money’, and that will determine if I follow through or not.”

@tsvetifit: “I only partner with two brands on a long-term basis that are in the fitness and clothing industry. I receive a commission. They’re very specific to my niche, which is workouts, wellness, healthy eating, healthy living. I’m not accepting offers from other brands to promote something short-term in exchange for payment.”

How do you set fees for your work?

@foodiesnitch: “My fees are determined by metrics and by industry standards. My management team helps set these and we have adjusted as I have grown. I typically send performance metrics after every campaign. The [rising] costs are justified. Most creators who do this full-time not only spend every day maintaining their account, but they have also built trust with their audience and there is so much value in that.”

@maria.layton: “Sometimes it’s important to establish a relationship first and monitor ROI through a gifting campaign before talking about budget. Brands can get the best value out of influencer content by continually working with the same influencers on extended campaigns, by purchasing influencers’ content to push in their end, and using influencers to create content on their ‘timeless’ products.”

@tsvetifit: “I’m not trying to earn from partnerships and promotions. I recently started my own business offering [fitness and wellness] services. My values are to grow as a coach, as a person, by helping people, and then if you can earn money on top of that, great. I can afford that because I have another job. My monthly revenue is not dependent on brands, which I think is a problem for a lot of influencers.”

What are the challenges of being a creator in the current environment?

@foodiesnitch: “The biggest challenge has been remaining consistent. I recently got married and found juggling planning a wedding with planning content was very challenging. If you take a break from content, the algorithm might not show your work to as many people when you return to a regular cadence. The more followers you have, the more criticisms you get. People often talk to each other online in a way that they never would in person.”

@maria.layton: “Engagement for a lot of creators has gone down [due to changes to Instagram’s algorithm] and not as many eyes are on our content, which has had an impact on our brands and partnerships. The algorithm is unpredictable! There are so many creators [in North America] now, it’s hard to stick out.”

@tsvetifit: “Everything I do is in Bulgarian. I’m sorry that when I started, I didn’t do it in English because now I see it is limiting me. In Western countries there is a shift from losing weight, to liking yourself, your body and taking care of your health. This is missing in Bulgaria. Maybe I can be one of the first, but it’s difficult. If I had started the business internationally, there would always be people that understand what I’m saying.”

Which content formats have potential to develop this year?

@foodiesnitch: “Short format video content is here to stay. I’ve seen engagement spike due to this kind of content. This trend will create deeper connections to creators as more information is shared versus photos. Once that connection is established, followers will want to stick around for longer form content such as YouTube videos, and also want to see more behind-the-scenes images on Instagram.”

@maria.layton: “I love video content and really enjoy creating it and consuming it. I believe video content will start to go back to long form content for some platforms. I LOVE BeReal! I think if the fit is right, you can monetize it.”

@tsvetifit: “I try to post a couple of times a week on my feed and every day on Stories. People engage more with my Stories. I have 17,000 Instagram followers, and I get 1,000 likes and 4-5,000 views on my Stories. The first place I go to on Instagram is DMs, because this is where I feel connected to people. DMs have a great power and potential which I think many creators are not taking seriously.”

About Kolsquare

Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors. Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of  KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.

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