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How to Become an Influencer in the Firearms & Hunting Industry

If you’re an influencer or aspire to be one in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry, there are some things you can do to attract more brand partnerships and generate more revenue. 

There still seems to be a lot of confusion as to what an influencer and influencer marketing is, what to charge and what brands can expect in return. And with the latest Facebook and YouTube policy changes, everything is in disarray.   

In this article, we offer some examples, advice and direction to influencers in the firearms and hunting industry looking to increase their growth and earning potential—and if you’re a marketer, information you can use to conduct and manage your influencer marketing campaigns more effectively.  

 

What does it mean to be an influencer in 2018?

Influence means to impact other people. Thus an Influencer is someone who is influential or changes the behavior of others, which implies visibility (i.e., on a platform like social media) of an engaged audience. The keyword here is engaged (Source: Upfluence). There are three basic types of influencer marketing formats, some even say twelve—but for this article we’ll give these three basic examples to start with.


A. Engage by offering commentary and information

John Lovell’s video (below) not only helps answer several questions about how to manage recoil but also intertwines helpful advice as well as a certain amount of candor.

 

 

B. Engage with style and humor
You may also follow someone to be entertained, or for their particular style or because they have the “it” factor. No matter your reason, the influencer gives you something of value and makes you feel better about being associated with them in some way. Alex Rogers (below video) adds her own unique humor and satire to spoof an infomercial-style post on Instagram for ETS’ speed loaders

 

 

C. Engage with Adventure

Probably one of the most successful (out of industry) influencer marketing videos online is by Producer Casey Neista. His “Make it Count” video for Nike has received over 27M views. As you watch this, how does this filmmaker make you want to buy a Nike band? How can this kind of approach and creativity be used in one of your videos?

 


The above three examples is influencer marketing done correctly. Each influencer not only has a highly engaged audience but can achieve the advertiser’s goal of reach, awareness, and engagement. True influence drives engagement from an audience that has bought into your mission and purpose.

 

firearms influencer marketing1. Define your niche

Influencers range the gamut in interests and subject matter. There are gun aficionados, tactical trainers, tactical special ops trainers, CCW instructors, industry newsers, gun rights activists, writers, reviewers, trick shooters, myth busters, gun guys, gun gals, gun bunnies and a list of celebrities and some who are all the above.

According to a recent search in Upfluence, (a influencer marketing search, management and tracking tool), you can see the growing size of social media accounts that mention/include the keywords in orange—and their reach.

  • 39,000 social media profiles with a reach 5.7 Billion
    #firearms #guns #2A
  • 47,000 social media profiles with a reach of 4.5 Billion
    #hunting #deerhunting #turkeyhunting
  • 124,000 social media profiles with a reach of 10 Billion
    #outdoor #hiking #camping
  • 36,000 social media profiles with a reach 3 Billion
    #fishing #flyfishing
  • NOTE: Social reach includes multiple profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, YouTube and Blogs

These numbers are substantial.

You must decide what your niche is going to be and then become the best in it. Whether it’s through humor, information, conservation, stunning videography, style or personality, define your niche and own it.

Hickok 45 for example, is just an ordinary guy in Tennessee who’s humor and straight-forward advice on products has garnered the trust of 3M+ followers—all from his backyard. 

 

 

2. Invest in your own website

YouTube has given many signs over the past two years of its growing hostility towards gun content creators (and some hunters). But when the move finally happened, it seemed to catch a lot of people by surprise. For those who had already been quietly building their website—the change wasn’t much of a shock.

Build a website that will enable you to host your content, generate organic traffic and build an email subscriber list. Invest in professional lifestyle photography and make it engaging that focuses on selling your unique personality, talents, skills, and niche.

It’s a huge bonus and an ever-growing requirement for brands when influencers run a blog that contains exciting and engaging content that is updated regularly. Blogs combined with video offer brands an “evergreen” solution that they can reference, build links and enjoy a continuous flow of referral traffic. Traffic can be a compelling selling point to leverage, which brings me to my next point.

 

3. Negotiate costs appropriately

If you don’t have an idea on what to charge, you can cause some frustration to the advertiser reaching out to you. Depending on how much you post and what kind of engagement and influence you have—you should know how much you’re worth. Some advertisers will set the going rate based on their budget and invite you to participate. 

In the past, manufacturers who wanted to spread the word about a new product would ask reviewers to write an article or post to their social media accounts for free. “We’ll send you a gun, keep it for three months, give us a good review and send it back.” says Jonathan Wright of Tactical Toolbox, “but all this is changing.” 

One way to determine costs is to use a tool called Social Blue Book. This tool will help you determine what’s fair and what’s not. 

If you’re having trouble and don’t know what to charge, below are some baseline rates to consider if you work in the firearms, hunting and outdoor industry.

 

Micro – Tier 1 Reach < 250K (40-60/100 Engagement Level)
At this level, (also known as the “Power Middle”) you’re still growing your network or just starting out, and your level of engagement is on the rise. 

  • $50-$100 per post
  • Blog w/ Video Post
    • $250 (inclusion/mention)
    • $500 (featured)
Macro – Tier 2 Reach 250-500K (60+/100 Engagement Level)
At the Macro level, you’ve been working for several years, know what works and what doesn’t, and you have a good understanding of your audience and a good idea on how to keep them engaged.

  • $200-$1000 per post
  • Blog w/ Video Post
    • $500 (inclusion/mention)
    • $1000 (featured)
Mega – Tier 3 Reach 500-1M+ (60+/100 Engagement Level)
At the Mega level, you’ve reached somewhat of celebrity status. You know one post can send thousands of sales your client’s way.

  • $1000 – $5000+ per post
  • Blog w/ Video Post
    • $1000 (inclusion/mention)
    • $5000 (featured)

 

4. Ask for revenue share

If you find yourself in a position where the brand can’t afford your fee, but you want to work with them, then the next best thing is to ask for a link and a percentage of sales you generate. Similar to becoming an affiliate, this will also help you understand your effectiveness and how to improve over time.

Typical rates range from 2-7% of all sales. There should also be an affiliate log in area on the brand’s website that allows you to log in to view your sales. You can also use software to track your own performance.

 

5. Be responsive and follow directions

A great way to build trust, accountability and get your contract renewed is to stay in contact with your brand representative or agency and know their product inside and out. Let them know what you’re working on, when to expect your posts and the occasional phone call to bounce some ideas around. Make sure to read the directions of what the advertiser is asking you to do and get a good understanding of what their goals are.  

Partnerships that are collaborative will always be the most effective. As a paid or sponsored influencer, you must keep your client’s best interest at the forefront. It’s a delicate balance, because after all, you know your audience better than the brand, but the brand is paying you to access it. Be upfront and candid about what works and what doesn’t. Work together to come up with the perfect solution. Is posting twice a week going to be overkill? Or can one engaging video post once a month have a more significant impact? Go off of what’s worked in the past and how the product aligns with your unique style.

 

6. Focus on engagement

As an influencer, the main reason brands are interested in you is because of your ability to engage with your followers. Engage means to attract their interest. Whether you are a Power Middle or a Mega Influencer—engagement and your ability to move the needle whether translates into likes, shares or sales—is more important than the number of followers. Posting static pictures or sarcastic comments may not be enough. 

 

7. Track your results

Most influencer marketing is done online, so it’s possible to track every post on social media and record its value. Every campaign should include a #hashtag or designated keyword. There are several software companies marketers use to track earned media value, impressions and reach.

Influencer Marketing Metrics Firearms Industry

Influencer marketing in the firearm, hunting, and outdoor industry continues to change as the social media landscape shifts. You most likely got into posting reviews and videos for fun, maybe made a little ad revenue on side in the past, but now with stiffer competition and serious money starting to flow into influencer marketing due to recent algorithm changes on Facebook, and reports that influencer marketing can bring a 11x ROI on marketing spend—there’s a lot you can do to start attracting brands and making more money in the process.

Remember to find and own your niche, invest in your website, charge a fair price, be responsive, drive engagement and be aware of how to track your efforts. And most of all have fun!

If you’re an influencer looking for opportunities, Garrison Everest represents several brands looking for the right ambassadors to carry their message. Contact us using the form below!

Influencer Signup Form


Photo Credit: Brenton USA


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and grow in the digital era of marketing.

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