Working with a major airline is every travel creatives’ dream. Especially as a 24-year-old, black, first-generation influencer, endorsements from companies with established social capital can help me gain traction.
Meet Ashley Renne: Eco traveler, vegan, and smart tech blogger.
Hey Ashley, What's the last brand or company you worked for?
My last client was The Home Depot.
A recurring partner I've had the pleasure of working on 3 separate campaigns with so far.
The current campaign I'm working on is one in which they are paying for my content creation and social media promotion services - in other words, I created content advertising their initiative that I felt would resonate with my audience and shared it on my platforms.
The Home Depot is a fantastic partner and my audience and I both genuinely value them as a brand.
How did you begin working with Home Depot?
This project, like many of my brand collaborations, was birthed out of being contacted by an agency that represents that client.
I have a profile on many influencer databases. Agencies often use these databases and influencer softwares to find creators and talent to work with.
What prompted you to work with them?
I am highly selective with who I work with. Just as I hope brands take great care in which creators they choose to represent their brand.
I look for partners whom I share similar principles with and can offer a high amount of value to my audience. If it doesn't align with my message, mission, or audience's interests, then there is no point wasting their time or money - and I definitely don't want to bombard my community with ads that are of no use to them!
I'm aligned with The Home Depot in many ways.
I worked there a decade ago as a video editor so I know firsthand what a phenomenal company it is, they have been my go-to for home improvement since I was a kid. And they go above and beyond with their sustainability efforts which aligns with my mission in helping people live greener lives.
Our initial campaign resulted in a recurring partnership and I'm proud of that relationship we've fostered. I value them as a partner and it feels good that they value me as a creator.
What motivated you to start?
My motivations have evolved over the years to be honest! In the beginning, I just loved being creative.
I've always been a creator in some form or another, and I didn't know what blogging was, but my friends told me I should give it a try. After doing it for awhile and learning what blogging was, I became motivated by the potential to turn it into a full-time career.
Once I turned it into a full-time career and finally started becoming more clear on my purpose and message, I then realized I didn't want to just create to be creative or to make a living off of being creative - I saw how what I did was actually helping people...inspiring people...essentially “influencing” people.
My motivation completely switched to wanting to be impactful and create a legacy I could be proud of that did something truly good for my community and the world.
How have you attracted followers and grown your social media presence?
Growing a social media presence is challenging. The ways to do so has changed over time as social media has become more crowded and tougher to stand out.
Instagram and YouTube are my main platforms. I grew on them both by putting out incredibly high quality content.
On YouTube I grew because I was adept at tapping into communities and offering them value in an eye catching way.
It started out with high quality travel guides. Only problem with that - while they were successful and evergreen content, people would find them when they were searching for specific info about a place they were visiting.
The views were high, but the conversion to subscribers was low. When I started sharing my Tesla vlogs, on the other hand, my subscribers doubled in a short amount of time.
Why do you think that happened?
Because I tapped into a niche, highly engaged community. Likewise with instagram, when I started focusing on building community everything changed.
Not everyone can build a loyal, engaged community. Followers don't care about you, your message, or any service or product that you decide to put out down the line. Community does.
What are the biggest challenges you've faced?
Standing up for my worth has been my biggest challenge.
I have a professional background in video production. Time and time again I devalued my experience because I thought my talent was worthless.
Because my audience wasn't as big. I kept telling myself - I'll charge more when I get to “this number of followers” and that number kept changing as I kept talking myself out of believing in my worth, even as my audience grew.
What changed that?
Two incidents changed that.
The first was a horrible contract I signed that royally screwed me over and taught me to never let my excitement about a project overtake my common sense when it comes to contract negotiations.
The second thing was putting my ego aside and asking for help.
I believe in building a team of people who are better than you in areas that you struggle with but are highly important to your success: it took getting a manager (my husband - highly skilled negotiator and project manager) to advocate on behalf of myself to prove how much I was holding myself back.
The first deal he negotiated for me was a 5-figure deal and one I would have charged a fraction of it for.
He taught me so much and has been a key player helping me hit my 6-figure financial goals as well as arming me with valuable knowledge and skills needed to take my brand to another level.
What are your goals for the future?
Once I hit my 6 figure goals in 2019, it felt great!
But once that feeling faded, I was left with the question “what next?” That led me to my new mindset for 2020.
My motivation has evolved over time from wanting to make a living being creative to wanting to build a legacy that leaves an impact.
Not only have I laser focused my brand to pump out content specifically designed to help my community, I'm now working on tools, resources, and services as well.
For fellow creators, I'm partnering with my husband to create products that provide the tools and techniques to help creatives level up their negotiation skills, branding, and production quality. My husband specializes in negotiation while I specialize in production and brand building.
My first course, Rebrand and Reinvent Yourself, teaches bloggers, influencers, and content creators how to reinvent themselves into the influential and impactful brand they want to be perceived as. I rebranded myself from a travel influencer to a green lifestyle guru and it took strategy to shed my old identity and be recognized as an authority in my new niche.
2020 has hit us with changes left and right - and it isn't the strongest who survive, but those who know how to strategically pivot and adapt. This course shows you how to pivot and/or completely rebrand yourself.
Within my own brand Hey Ashley Renne, I plan to release helpful e-books and other resources in my green living niche that help my community attain a healthier body, home, and planet. I received a scholarship to study plant-based nutrition and will be using my certification to help people thrive.
My niche is vegan and sustainable lifestyle, so the products I develop under my personal brand will all be geared toward that.
Needless to say, I'm excited to see what the future holds!
Wherever you are, Ashley is.
Find her on all platforms at @heyashleyrenne