Incfile’s next Business of the Month is The Influencer Institute, which was created to educate brands on best practices for working with influencers and teach new influencers how to maximize their online presence. The Influencer Institute was founded by travel/food writer and social media influencer Lauren Monitz.
Monitz knows a thing or two about being a social media influencer, with a following of over 195,000. She specializes in approachable adventures and offbeat explorations. From becoming a certified Viking in Iceland to blackwater rafting in New Zealand, Monitz seeks out the most unique and photogenic attractions wherever she goes. She has bylines across the web, from Thrillist and the Huffington Post to Eater and the Food Network.
The Influencer Institute evolved out of Monitz' own need. As an influencer, she found herself going on trips that were both logistically and strategically flawed. Scheduled activities were often wrong for the season or her audience, and she found herself visiting attractions at the busiest time of the day (with the worst lighting for pictures). It became abundantly clear that clients want to work with influencers, but they don't understand what influencers need to be successful. Monitz wanted to make the influencer experience better for herself while also educating brands on best practices for running influencer campaigns and trips.
The institute helps clients with everything from vetting talent to contract negotiations, itinerary planning, content delivery and reporting. They also offer a free best practice guide for brands as a tool for lead generation.
On what it was like to launch a new company, Monitz said: “It’s your baby! You coddle it, obsess over it, second-guess yourself, and wonder if it’s good enough. It’s continually evolving with ever-changing market needs, so the work doesn’t stop after launch.”
She also added that the work itself is constant, with never-ending to-do lists. "Being accountable only to yourself, you end up working a lot more — but the successes are that much more fulfilling.”
Monitz noted that she never anticipated the amount of work that goes into running a business that’s not her actual strategy work. This includes all the backed administration, from maintaining a sales pipeline to chasing down invoices. She said it takes on average 30+ emails back and forth just to get a campaign going, which adds up to a lot of time spent on menial tasks.
Her biggest challenge was not getting bogged down by these day-to-day activities and being able to see the forest through the trees.
“There was definitely a learning curve, but I’ve gotten better about structuring my time, and have picked up some tricks for expediting different processes," she said. "I am also training an assistant to help with some of the more time-consuming elements.”
Despite the daily challenges of being a business owner, Monitz has definitely crafted a company that plugs a hole in the digital marketing space. Digital marketing can be a difficult industry as an entrepreneur, but Monitz has carved out a niche and found her tribe in this crowded space.
The piece of advice Monitz shares with new business owners — especially those who want to get into marketing — is this: “Really hone in on your brand’s story and define what sets you apart right off the bat. Every post, article, or media you put out into the world should reinforce that message.”
You can follow Monitz' (mis)adventures at https://thedownlo.com or on Instagram @lmonitz. If you're inspired by her story of founding The Influencer Institute and want to create your own business, learn more about how you can start your own company today with Incfile. We can help you quickly and easily form your business for as little as $0 + state fees, plus a free year of Registered Agent service.
Lisa Crocco is a marketer for an international food manufacturer by day and a freelance writer/marketer for startups and small businesses by night. She's written for outlets like USA Today College, Career Contessa, CloudPeeps and Fairygodboss.