How we engage and work with influencers on a no-fee basis

Influencers often charge a small fortune, and it’s a price many brands choose to pay to help them build brand awareness and to start those authentic conversations with their target audiences. Whilst it may be tempting for many to spend large amounts of money on influencer campaigns, it’s not always possible – or needed! – for smaller brands who may lack the budget to do so. Micro influencers are a very viable option for no-fee collabs, based on their hyper-engaged audiences and willingness to work with emerging and smaller brands. Additionally, considering other options such as influencer gifting campaigns or working with influencers on a pro bono basis may also be strong option. However, this isn’t always as easy or straight forward as it sounds.

As a starting point, it is vital to have connections and relationships with a large network of influencers in different categories and niche markets. It takes years to build these and only by working with influencers on several collaborations for a variety of brands will they begin to trust you and consider working on a no-fee basis.

Tapping into seasonal hooks is another way to build a successful influencer campaign, with many awareness days or months out there to potentially suit your brand.

Thrive #BehindTheSmile Campaign

In celebration of World Mental Health day 2020, we launched our #BehindTheSmile campaign for mental health app Thrive, collaborating with over 30 influencers to reach an audience of 8.5 million people. We asked influencers and celebrities within our network to help us raise awareness of mental health issues by sharing stories of a time they seemed happy on the outside but were struggling internally. What made this campaign special and successful was that the issue was so close to the hearts of the influencers and celebrities cherry picked by us to ask for their involvement. The combination of a great app, a trending topic, and an ask that required the influencer to post not only about our client, but about something that truly meant something to them, led to incredible results.

In just 24 hours, the Instagram page registering a 453% increase in followers, while the app itself saw 800 downloads in just one day.

NOMO chocolate

By focusing on micro-influencer gifting in the first stage of launch, we were able to develop a cult following for NOMO, teasing the new product to vegan communities by seeding our bars out to smaller-scale vegan influencers. As our following increased, we began reaching out to mid and macro-tier influencers, gifting specially designed gift boxes to encourage social posting. Our core focus was to not only capitalize on exposure, but on content that influencers could create for the NOMO feeds, including recipes and lifestyle photography that would best reflect the brand.

We also capitalized on seasonal hooks including World Chocolate Day, World Vegan Day, Halloween, and Christmas to drive awareness of NOMO chocolate during key ‘chocolate moments’ that vegans and mainstream allergics traditionally miss out on. Additional campaigns were created in order to announce several new stockists, including Waitrose and ASDA, and to launch the NOMO advent calendar to market. Thanks to this strategy, we were able to reach 21,000 followers in 10 months and secured 150 pieces of no-fee influencer coverage.

If you are looking for an always-on strategy instead of capitalising on a well-known awareness day as a basis for a big scale campaign, influencer gifting might also be a good option for your brand. However, this is time consuming, as you constantly need to be searching for new influencers to collaborate with, building those relationships and organising everything from products being delivered to community management of content.


We collaborated with 30 micro-influencers for our first Autumn-Winter collection campaign on a gifting, no-fee basis for an online fashion retailer, Kaleidoscope. The influencers had a range of followings from 2.5k-27k and all reflected Kaleidoscope’s target consumer.

We negotiated with each influencer to post a minimum of two stories and two grid posts on Instagram, however, due to the strong relationships we built with these influencers, most went above and beyond, posting several times, which is why we were able to secure 100 pieces of influencer coverage. From influencers’ IG stories alone, the campaign generated over 300 clicks to Kaleidoscope’s Instagram profile and a large majority of influencer’s grid posts achieved over a 3% engagement rate.

The high-quality imagery produced created the opportunity to reshare the content onto Kaleidoscope’s own channels. Many of these influencers have also attended Kaleidoscope’s press events, helping the brand to gain further exposure from these collaborations.

If you are thinking about influencer collaborations but don’t have the budget to spend, get in touch with us to discuss how we can engage our large network of influencers and collaborate with them on a no-fee basis.

Get in touch with the team