Brad Cameron is the 23 year old force of nature behind Melbourne based online platform Build Your Empire. Brad has a passion for entrepreneurship and is turning Build Your Empire into a worldwide movement.
Having built an engaged and active audience on Instagram of over 1 million Instagram followers, Brad has a number of new projects under his belt and is growing exponentially. We sat down with him to find out more about what it is like to be operating in a relatively new industry and his advice for businesses who want to work with influencers in the marketing strategy.
How did you come up with the name and idea for your blog?
I originally called it “entrepreneur inspiration”, but then, without naming names, I heard of a certain company that has a magazine which has a reputation for coming after businesses/domains that use the word “entrepreneur”. I’ve always liked the name “Build Your Empire” and it’s a popular term within entrepreneur circles, so I ended up changing it to that.
What was your vision behind it?
I originally started the Instagram page with the sole purpose to make some money on the side in a niche that I had an interest in, being entrepreneurship. Now I’m at the point where I have a vision to positivity impact millions of people all around the world for free. To do this, I’m working on some projects beyond Instagram that people can get value from for free.
You’ve achieved so much success in such a short time – what are three tips that helped you get to where you are now?
1. Give first. This is the best way to build deep relationships with influencers/successful people. Find a way to provide value to these people, whether that’s working for them for free, finding a way to give them exposure, etc. In return, so many opportunities will come about from these people you help.
2. Being consistent and sticking to the process. I tried lots of things off and on from the age of 15 such as flipping eBay items (I failed), building niche websites (I failed), building a mini publishing company hiring ghostwriters to write ebooks to sell on Kindle under my own pen names (I failed). I failed with all these because I gave up whenever I came to a big obstacle. If I had to stuck to the process I would’ve succeeded with any of these, or at the least pivoted from what I was working on to succeed in something similar without starting a completely new business or hustle.
3. Actually caring about people. Realising that money is just a byproduct, and that real fulfilment comes from giving and providing value to people whilst following your purpose. Obviously revenue and profit is needed to sustain a business, so money is important, but always keep it as a byproduct with your main focus being about the customer/your audience and you’ll succeed in the long term.
“Money is just a byproduct, and that real fulfilment comes from giving and providing value to people whilst following your purpose.”
Is there a set list of criteria that you look for when you are working with brands?
Definitely. I reject 95% of the offers I get to promote for people/brands. For me to promote something on Instagram or via my email list, it has to be something that I would use, something that is valuable on a broad scale to my entrepreneurship focused audience, and comes from someone I like. I don’t work with people I don’t like, whether that’s due to a instinctual gut feeling, a bad dealing I’ve had with them or a bad reference about them I’ve heard from a trusted friend.
What are the biggest do’s and don’ts for people/brands who approach you to collaborate?
Be clear and upfrontwith what you want posted. State in the initial contact what sort of post you want, for example, do you want a post with a call to action on the photo and in the caption to click on a link in my bio? Or do you want just a caption shoutout on one of my own photos?
Make sure it’s win-win-win. That means when you reach out to an influencer, make sure the deal you are proposing is a win for my brand, for your brand and most important, actually valuable for the audience.
Also, good design goes a long way if you’re sending them a photo to post. Try and create collateral that fits in with the theme of the page you’re collaborating with.
How important is a follow up contact with brands that have gifted you their products/services?
I haven’t actually bartered at all on Instagram with brands giving me gifts. I’ve only negotiated deals for monetary payment. In saying that, I get a lot of clothing start ups reach out to me offering to gift me their apparel products in return for exposure.
I think any brand that wants you to gift you their product should reach out to you first to organise a deal for exposure rather than just “gifting” you their product, as there is a good chance your product won’t suit the person’s page.
Tell us about your favourite or most creative “gifting” experience.
A “gift” to me is a bit different, for me a “gift” is when someone offers me an affiliate program or a course that converts very high and is incredibly valuable to my audience.
My favourite of which was back in February for a course that I promoted for two weeks and it netted me easily my highest ever revenue from an affiliate program. It was an incredible course for students and a huge success.
“Business is all about relationships. It takes ages to build up solid relationships, but if you do it one at a time and always find a way to provide value, so many doors will open up.”
What do you know now that you wish you had known before?
How powerful relationships are. Business is all about relationships. It takes ages to build up solid relationships, but if you do it one at a time and always find a way to provide value, so many doors will open up.
I even promote some of my friends products/services on Instagram for free, because we have built up so much rapport together over time.
Any other tips and tricks to share with up and coming influencers?
A good idea for influencers who want to work with brands is to use a price list. This is done by creating a pdf of all your different prices for types of posts, length of time, whether they need to put a link in your Instagram profile bio, etc. This saves you a ton of time when someone asks for your prices so you don’t have to type them out each time.
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