As time goes on, COVID-19 is impacting how agencies, brands, and platforms do business. That goes for content creators, too, who are seeing brand collaborations and content strategies disrupted as sponsored trips have been postponed and they are confined to their own homes.
Kaizen spoke to five travel, family and lifestyle content creators who discuss their first-hand experiences of working with brands at this tricky this time. They also talk about the stress they face as self-employed freelancers and the changes they have seen so far in the industry amidst Coronavirus.
Lifestyle blogger and content creator Amelia Goodhead, family blogger and creator Jo Middleton AKA slummy single mummy, and travel blogger and content creators Jodie (@alajode), Chloe Gunning (@Wanderlust Chloe), and Taylor Fuller share how the industry is changing amidst Coronavirus.
What changes have you seen in the influencer marketing industry amidst COVID-19?
Jo Middleton (@slummysinglemummy) – “Personally I’ve seen a massive impact already. Most of my current or planned projects have been paused or abandoned completely, and new work is pretty much non-existent as brands take stock and figure out what their business is going to look like going forward, and where their priorities lie. I had a few press trips planned over the next few months too and obviously, these have all been cancelled.”
Jodie (@alajode) – “The biggest setback for me has been the number of affiliate programs closing. As a travel blogger, affiliate marketing makes up the largest chunk of my income. Now, with lots of brands pausing and closing their programs due to a lack of bookings, my income has dropped considerably. One of my other income streams, an advanced affiliate marketing course for bloggers, has also been wiped out because of this. Ironically, I created it as a way to diversify my income – I never expected affiliate marketing to essentially just stop. It’s only been growing in recent years.”
How has the monetisation of your brand collaborations changed since the coronavirus outbreak?
Chloe Gunning (@Wanderlust Chloe) – “The week the travel bans were brought into place I had two upcoming travel campaigns (both international) postponed and serious discussions began about the remainder of my campaigns for the next few months. As far as I’m aware, all brands are keen to postpone and not cancel, which is a relief. There’s a lot of uncertainty though, with potential dates of end of May or mid-June being talked about, but I don’t know how realistic that is.
It’s hard to know whether there will be an appetite for travel content as soon as that, and whether suppliers on the ground will be facing economic problems. The pandemic has made me feel for all the small businesses in tourism – the tour companies, the independent hotels, small restaurants, the staff. Will they be able to survive several months without business?”
Taylor Fuller (taylor_fuller) – “Since the coronavirus outbreak, I have lost most of my work for the foreseeable future. I was meant to be in Japan in the middle of March and that was cancelled. After that, I had a few companies who I was in contract negotiations for sponsored posts on my blog and on my Instagram fall through. I had a personal trip where I was hoping to spend the first half working with a tourism board postponed until September. The only job that I’m still confirmed for at the moment is with a cruise company at the end of May, so I’m just waiting for that to be cancelled as well.”
Amelia Goodhead (@xameliax) – “The majority of my jobs have been cancelled or postponed until further notice. It’s understandable that brands will need to tighten their belts to support their employees and business during this difficult time, and one of the ways they can do that is to use money from marketing budgets. They also won’t know the spending habits of consumers right now which is difficult to manage. They could have a captive audience itching to spend money on products to use at home, or people could be completely cutting back on luxuries due to financial insecurity right now, we just don’t know. So although creators are at home ready, available and willing to work, and our audiences are online more than ever ready to digest content, the work just isn’t there. It’s understandable but very worrying.”
Aside from brand collaborations and monetisation issues, what other changes have you seen in influencer marketing?
Wanderlust Chloe – “Unfortunately, there’s been a downward trend on web traffic for my website, as well as all of my travel blogger friends. It’s to be expected. No one is planning holidays right now, and it’s hard to plan for the future when nobody feels certain about when it’ll be safe to travel again.
There’s been a huge rise in video content and actually, the cabin fever seems to be making a lot of people more creative than ever. Fun, viral challenges, daily dance breaks, and online pub quizzes have popped up out of nowhere. We’re definitely not short of entertainment. I’ve noticed my IG followers being more engaged too as they are stuck at home with their phones all day.
I felt a little uncomfortable sharing content promoting destinations right now, so I decided to ask my followers what they wanted to see. Surprisingly, most said they still wanted to see pretty photos of places around the world, so that they could enjoy a little escapism in these dark times. Who am I to argue?”
Taylor Fuller (taylor_fuller) – “Because I’m a travel blogger, I feel like I’m apart of the influencer marketing world that has suffered the most. I’ve spoken to many of my friends who are also bloggers who are seeing the same trends: declining web traffic and therefore declining affiliate income, and many people have stopped posting altogether.
On a more positive note, I have seen many of my influencer friends and bloggers posting content that is more relatable since most people in the world are in the same position. There is still some inspirational travel content being posted but people are getting more creative with it — using it as a way to inspire travel after all of this is over or bring travel into their homes by doing cooking tutorials, city guides, and more.”
Jodie (@alajode) – “I was really touched to receive more replies than usual to my most recent email newsletter, which I send to subscribers every Sunday. I didn’t ask for anything – I simply shared some free resources to hopefully put a smile on subscribers’ faces – but I had a number of people reply to ask if my business was okay. I even had one person say they were going to spend more time reading my blog to help out with the traffic drop. Unfortunately, traffic is still down massively but it’s really touching to know those loyal readers are so supportive and plan to stick around.”
Amelia Goodhead (@xameliax) – “I’ve seen a lot of other creators coming together to share each other’s work which is wonderful. I myself have been trying to link to as many other relevant articles written by creators in any new content I’ve published. A lot of us have seen a big decrease in traffic (depending on our niche’s) so it’s important we support those of us in our field of work and share as much virtual love as possible.”
What can brands do for the moment to keep influencers focused content-wise?
Chloe Gunning (@Wanderlust Chloe) – “I think it’s important for agencies to work on a game plan for after this passes. Destinations that rely on tourism will need to show they’re open for business again, and one of the best ways to do that is with a targeted influencer campaign. They could spend the next few weeks deciding the best influencers to work with to spread their messaging as well as calling on influencers who have visited the destination before, to repurpose old content and get some positive imagery out there again.”
Amelia Goodhead (@xameliax) – “If you have marketing budgets that you’re able to spend, then now is the time. We have captive audiences sat at home with more time than ever before to ingest exciting content and we’re eager and ready to create.”
Are you a content creator that has been impacted by Coronavirus? Share your experiences with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.