- Personal-finance influencer Tori Dunlap has 1.7 million TikTok followers.
- She earns money as an influencer by promoting companies like Credit Karma and Four Seasons hotels.
- She shared how to write a simple DM that can lead to a paid sponsorship deal.
Landing that first paid brand deal as an influencer isn’t easy. But a simple Instagram direct message can help.
Take a look at personal-finance influencer Tori Dunlap. Dunlap — who has 1.7 million followers on TikTok thanks to viral videos like splitting the bill and how to start investing — scored her first paid deal last year after reaching out to Personal Capital (a personal wealth management company) over Instagram DM.
Dunlap, who doles out financial and career tips, uses the same networking advice she gives her followers: take matters into your own hands and don’t be afraid to cold pitch.
“I mean, it’s the reason I’ve gotten most of my brand deals, especially in the early days,” Dunlap, who is 26, told Insider.
Instagram, on which users can direct message anyone, is her preferred platform for DMing; she’s landed deals with companies like Credit Karma and the Four Seasons through the app.
These deals have become a lucrative piece of her career. She charges $12,000 per sponsored TikTok post, she said. In large part thanks to brand deals, she’s able to pursue HerFirst100k, a blog and social-media account that teaches Gen-Z and millennial women how to save money and invest, as her full-time job.
“It feels often very intimidating reaching out to brands,” Dunlap said. “But ultimately, the big thing is these brands want to work with influencers. They want to partner with people who believe in their product, and sometimes they just don’t know you’re out there.”
Here are two of Dunlap’s DM templates:
“Hi, I’ve been using your product for [number] years and I would love to partner. Who would be the best person to talk to?”
“Hi, I love the work that you are doing on [recent campaign example], and I think that we would be a perfect fit. Who would be the best person to talk to?”
Sometimes the brand will respond back with an email to contact, and other times it won’t reply. If that happens, wait about five days until reaching out again, Dunlap said.
When following up, keep it simple.
“Hey, just following up about XYZ,” Dunlap suggested, adding that influencers can include a link to past campaigns or sentence about their value.
“For instance, when we reach out, we say something like, ‘We’d love to show you to our 2 million followers,'” Dunlap said.
Sending a media kit is also helpful, she said. These documents often include audience metrics (like core follower demographics), a list of advertisers the influencer has worked with, and past campaign case studies.
“This allows the brand to get a better sense of who you are, who your audience is, and if this would be a good fit – as well as who you have worked with previously,” Dunlap said.
While Dunlap has found Instagram to be the most successful platform for pitching, she also suggested influencers try reaching out to companies through LinkedIn, where users can search by title like “influencer marketing” or “social media manager.”
Once an influencer hears back, the negotiations start, including what an influencer will provide, how much they will charge, and if they will accept a product or service as compensation.
And if you don’t hear back or you get a no? Don’t take it personally. Rejection is part of the process.
“Just because they said no now, doesn’t mean that’s no forever. I have 2 million followers and I still get ‘no’ a lot,” Dunlap said.