When I was a young mom with five children ten years old and younger, I launched a side hustle as a spokesperson that eventually helped put all those kids through college debt free and pay for their weddings as well. A couple of those kids still need to use their wedding money but all the Kay kids have debt free collegedegrees.
One of my more recent spokesgigs involved working with the Walmart Foundationon Giving Tuesday as we gave away one million dollars to Fisher Houseand Operation Homefront. Who would have thought a side hustle could grow to become something so meaningful that would help thousands of military families?
That is the beauty of following your passion, developing your profession and living your purpose. You never know where a side hustle can lead. My work in this space led me to be an advocate for new brand ambassadors in yet another new side hustle as a Boutique Brand Ambassador Agency. We began to work with talent who have the skill set to earn a minimum of 5K per deal. We can afford to be choosy and will only work with Brand Ambassadors who are hard working (they can be trusted to get the deliverables completed on time), have high integrity (they won’t promote products that are bad for consumers or sell their mama for a buck) and they are dream talent for PR agencies and corporations (they exceed expectations.) It’s one of the reasons that brands and talent alike count on Ellie Kay and Company, LLC to deliver and deliver on time. In fact, we are going to launch a course on “How to Be a Six Figure A Year Spokesperson.” If you are interested in being a part of the initial core group, send yourresume to firstname.lastname@example.org fill out the contact form with your info included. Once we get close to the launch, we’ll reach out to see if you are a right fit for the core group.
So how do you know if you are at a level with your own side hustle that will warrant viable work in the Spokesperson / Brand Ambassador space?
The Skill Sets of A Six Figure Spokesperson / Brand Ambassador or Influencer
Here are the four components and a “plus one” that will lead to successfully career as a brand ambassador. These worked for me and they may be different for you or your brand, but they serve as a good starting point:
- Speaking– Learning to become a quality speaker was a component in some of the spokes gigs I got. For example, I did an event for U-Promise that required me to give a speech in New York City in front of 1000 students and their families for the Jumpstart Coalition partnership where they unveiled the world’s largest piggy bank. I have another client who gives sponsored speeches at Essence Fest in front of thousands of women and she rocks it every time. Even today, after 2000+ paid speaking events, I still work on becoming a better speaker by receiving post-event debriefs from my Money Millhouse podcast co-host Bethany Bayless. I don’t get my primary feedback from neophytes, at this point in my career I listen to experienced speakers who have my best interests in mind. Eventually, I worked hard enough to earn the Toastmasterselite Accredited Speaker designation.
Action Point: Develop your skill set, never stop working on it and remain teachable.
- Books/Blogs– I published 15 royalty based books with major publishers such as Random House, Simon Schuster and Harper Collins subsidiaries. My educational background was business and HR and I didn’t have certifications such as a CFP, AFC or CPA. I became an expert by investing 1000 hours in research and writing each of the 50,000 word books. (If you’re doing the math, that’s 15000 hours of research.) I currently publish this blog and most of the brand ambassador clients I work with write a blog. These blogs are often sponsored by clients who pay them for a product mention When a blogger makes the jump to books, it becomes a timely media hook that garners the interest of a brand for a potential partnership. A new book creates open doors in television, radio, podcasts, and for other projects we’ll discuss later in this blog.
A quick word about self-publishing and e-books versus royalty based publishers (those who pay YOU to write a book). A royalty based book has greater weight and is more highly respected in the literary world than a self-published book. Anyone can self-publish if you have the money but 99% of all book proposals are refused by royalty based publishers.
Action Point: Make writing part of your platform and don’t exclusively rely on social media or speaking audiences.
- Media – As I mentioned in last week’s blog, my time in New York on local media helped me develop a television skill set. I also began radio interviews when my first book came out and learned the value of a hook to make my expertise media worthy and timely. Print media interviews as an SME (Subject Matter Expert) followed as well as the launch of a very fun and slightly irreverent financial podcast called The Money Millhouse, which is co-hosted by Bethany Bayless. All these components have been used a various deliverables in many of my 100+ contracts. FinCon– A great place to develop your media chops is at a convention called FinCon, Where Money and Media Meet. The Money Millhouse Podcast with PT, the founder, is a greater introduction to this huge event being held On September 26-29, 2018 in Orlando, FL. Be sure you use this link if you register and a donation will be made to the non-profit, Heroes at Home.
Action Point: Develop an informational one-sheet or media kit, listing your areas of expertise. Pitch them to various media outlets and use a service like HARO(Help A Reporter Out) to find potential media outlets.
- Spokesperson / Brand Ambassador – Probably 50% of new contract are referrals or renewals of old contracts. You get more spokesperson work if you have already shown viability in the space. If a PR agency or a company likes what you delivered in an existing campaign, then they’ll hire you again and again and again. If you’re a weak speaker, then attend a Toastmasters club to practice your craft, get live feedback and become better. If you’re not used to media interviews, take a course. If you don’t have much of a social following, then build your platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pintrist) with more legitimate followers (anyone who promises to build your following for xx amount of money, instead of letting it grow organically will cost you your reputation.)
Action Point – Become proficient in the various aspects of the Spokesperson skill set to leverage previous work and aim to exceed client expectations. Add “brand ambassador” or “spokesperson” to all your social platform bios as well as your website.
- Bonus Component: Social Following– I came into the spokesperson arena before social media and was able to get a lot of work following even before social platforms became the norm for brand ambassadors / spokesperson. Build a legitimate following by reading blogs on how to develop your social platforms. Aim for at least 10K likes or followers on each of your platforms. It’s likely that one platform may exceed involvement than others. Your community may use Facebook more than Twitter or Instagram. You may have a YouTube channel that is very active or Instagram may be your forte. While you’re building your social following, don’t neglect your email list as well. If you can build a significant list (aim for 8K for starters), then you’ll be more marketable in this space.
Action Point – Engage in the kinds of conversations that generate involvement with your community and they will share with others. Don’t over “sell” on your social platforms or in emails as this will generate community fatigue and even alienation.
Now that you know how to develop your skill set to become a viable Spokesperson / Brand Ambassador, it’s time to learn what the process is when you get a potential “hit” from a PR firm or a brand. These topics will be covered in part 3 of this series next week. We’ll also learn how to manage expectations when it comes to the process of securing clients and brand partners. Finally, we’ll look at what a “deliverable” is and the kinds of deliverables in today’s current brand ambassador marketplace.
I truly love working with my brand ambassador clients and navigating the emerging nature of this work, even as I loved the challenge of learning new skill sets and earning the kind of income that helped our kids, but it also helped us achieve financial independence and start a non-profit foundation, Heroes at Home, that helps provide free education to service members and their families. . In short, Spokesperson work has been very very good to The Kay Family!