How to Build Strong Relationships with Content Creators

For many brands, building, nurturing and maintaining content creator relationships has become a major operation. Not only do marketing teams need to work with creators to set strategy for their content, but a brand’s financial staff also has to traffic invoices and pay creators on time in order to maintain these relationships.

How to Build Strong Relationships with Content Creators

When both sides of the partnership are happy, relationships stay productive and fruitful—and creators can focus on what they do best: make content that tells amazing stories about a brand or product. In this article, we examine common challenges that stress the brand-creator relationship and provide guidance on how to avoid them, including:

  • How process tools factor into brand-creator relationships
  • Strategies that make influencer programs easier to manage
  • How to make creator relationships stronger—and simpler

Content Summary

Why Strong Creator Relationships Breed Meaningful Content
Common Challenges for Brand-Creator Relationships
How Process Tools Factor into Brand-Creator Relationships
Strategies for Making Influencer Programs Easier to Manage
Making Creator Relationships Stronger – and Simpler

For many brands, building, nurturing and maintaining content creator relationships has become a major operation. Not only do marketing teams need to work with creators to set strategy for their content, but a brand’s financial staff also has to traffic invoices and pay creators on time in order to maintain these relationships. With both sides of the partnership happy, relationships stay productive – and fruitful – for all parties.

Additionally, for as many moving parts as brands have, creators also have to manage several elements of their brand relationships – some of which are more significant pain points than others. For instance, many creators don’t have the kind of experience with 1099s and invoices that make it easy to manage payments or administrative tasks. The back-and-forth of asset management can also distract creators from focusing on the bigger picture of brand engagement. Issues like these can get in the way of letting creators do what they do best: make content that tells amazing stories about a brand or product.

“What a lot of brands don’t realize is that sometimes creators have some hurdles and things that they need to get through in order to have a better relationship with the brands,” says Blake Michael, a leading creator with more than one million Instagram followers. And, adds Blake, smoother relationships make for more satisfied content creators, who can do their best work.

There are several ways to manage these pain points, and ultimately strengthen a brand’s relationship with content creators. Providing creators with an all-in-one solution that handles content collaboration and financial and relationship management lays the foundation for productive relationships that breed happy creators and eventual brand evangelists.

Why Strong Creator Relationships Breed Meaningful Content

Content creators are everywhere on social media, attempting to center brands and products in their feeds. For many daily scrollers, it’s obvious which creators are truly invested in their brand partners. In other words, it’s not enough for brands to simply bring on creators to help spread the word – brands need to make sure creators are excited, engaged and creating at the top of their game.

The best content and the posts that pay dividends come from deep, meaningful creator-brand partnerships, in which lines of communication are open, and processes are simple. “Having really strong creator and brand relationships makes the content, and the value that the brand is getting, so much greater,” says Michael.

This begins with recognizing a creator’s value. Ultimately, creators need to feel that they’re not only important partners for brand promotion, but are also seen as individuals with savvy visions for how to put brand narratives front and center. As brands encourage collaboration and communication, creators will dive in head-first.

Ethan Frame, Brand Director at rising men’s apparel brand Cuts Clothing, agrees. From the brand perspective, Frame believes that it’s important that “creative control goes to the creator”. It breeds authenticity, which in turn means stronger content for audiences, and a more substantial return for brands. This can also create a chain reaction: influencers run in tight communication circles, in which they share experiences – both positive and negative. So, “if creators work with a brand that is really invested in them, and they really care about and truly love, they’re going to tell all their friends about it,” says Frame, who also built the influencer program at watchmaker MVMT.

Having really strong creator and brand relationships makes the content, and the value that the brand is getting, so much greater. – BLAKE MICHAEL, Leading Creator

But both Michael and Frame agree sometimes brands don’t make an effort to see eye to eye with creators and honor their visions, instead treating the relationship as entirely transactional.

These surface-level relationships can be damaging to both parties involved. Michael says that when relationships falter – whether due to poor communication or inefficient processes around ideation, asset creation, permissions and/or payment – creators are far less likely to become evangelists. A creator may even consider no longer working with a brand and only focus on relationships with partners who have better ways of whitelisting and invoicing.

This attrition can be especially harmful for brands who work with in-demand content creators, and need to ensure talent retention for creator program success. So, not only are strong relationships between brands and creators important to get a creators’ best creative effort, they’re also critical for brands to create enduring and long-lasting partnerships with their most meaningful creators.

If creators work with a brand that is really invested in them, and they really care about and truly love, they’re going to tell all their friends about it. – ETHAN FRAME, Brand Director, Cuts Clothing

Common Challenges for Brand-Creator Relationships

Part of creating the framework for a strong creator-brand bond is understanding where partnerships can go wrong. The devil is in the details – both brands and creators need hurdle-free processes in order to keep relationships solid.

As open discourse is such a foundational part of a strong creator relationship, it’s likely unsurprising that poor communication is a common issue for brands trying to build bonds with creators. And there are several places in which communication can falter: content creators may not know how to propose new ideas, share assets or troubleshoot issues when they arise.

Common Challenges for Brand-Creator Relationships

For instance, Michael says that creators often want to pitch new ideas about which they’re genuinely passionate, but may be too afraid to propose them. For some creators, it’s tough to know when or how to make suggestions, or even ask questions at all, especially when there’s an issue with the processes a brand has put in place.

“There’s often this sentiment among creators that they don’t want to annoy or bug the brands they work with,” adds Michael. However, that can lead to frustration and confusion. When brands make it easy for creators to create content, share ideas and upload their work for review, they create a more collaborative, efficient and, ultimately, effective program. “An ideal creator-brand relationship is based on transparency, clear communication and comfort with emailing or texting the other to communicate,” says Michael.

To cultivate this essential trust, Frame says brands should not only open up these lines of communication with creators at the start, but also maintain active discourses, remain accessible, and constantly encourage creative collaboration. “Build up that relationship. Let them know you care,” says Frame. He says the Cuts Clothing team often hops on video calls with their creators to solve issues as soon as they arise, which is hugely beneficial to both sides of the relationship.

Another common hurdle: creators don’t always have robust business or financial experience. For these creators, invoicing, net payment terms and keeping track of payment terms can be intimidating. This may end up souring the relationship with a brand, which can distract from inspiring new, creative content, or even destroy the relationship as a whole.

“Influencers aren’t always familiar with some of the usual practices that contractors have,” says Michael. “I would find myself searching for an invoice template generator, not even understanding what an invoice was. I’ve heard this time and time again from so many creators.”

It’s crucial that brands offer support to creators who might not have deep experience with the business side of what they do. Brands can help address this issue by offering creators both self-service help resources and human assistance.

Creators want to focus on unique and interesting storytelling, not navigating cumbersome, administrative issues and invoicing. At the same time, brands are looking for the easiest experience, too, as they juggle payments, tax form collection/management headaches, asset management, manual whitelisting processes, etc. for every individual creator with whom they work. Removing as many hurdles as possible by implementing systems that streamline these processes sets up brands and creators for the most fruitful partnerships.

Frame enthusiastically agrees. “The ease of technology is really what allows that relationship to stay on good terms,” he says.

How Process Tools Factor into Brand-Creator Relationships

Although content creation may seem easy for a consumer scrolling through her feed, both brands and creators know that there are many small details involved in the process, from ideation to posting content live to whitelisting to payment. As a result, the strongest brand-creator relationships have processes in place to manage and streamline each important element.

However, brands often struggle to effectively manage each component of their influencer program. The simple things, such as collaborating on content or gaining creator whitelisting permissions, can be hard to keep track of, particularly if brands don’t use a content management system to collaborate with creators. And creators have to get paid, of course, to make a living creating high-performing content for brands they love. But relying on creators to submit invoices for a brand to circulate through its accounts payable team is hardly the best solution.

This is why centralized processes executed in one place are so important for getting posts live and keeping relationships with creators strong. Creators who can create content and upload it to a single brand hub can work seamlessly with a brand’s internal program managers and marketing leads. Uploading video, imagery and copy into a centralized place ensures everyone is working off of the same materials and is on the same page about messaging. It also empowers creators to share ideas in a collaborative setting.

Creator tools that incorporate business management capabilities help build trust between creators and the brands with which they work. Creators use platforms such as Lumanu to easily manage payments, invoice terms and invoice history easily on their phones. The 20,000+ creators on Lumanu’s software today can also and share assets with any brand they’re collaborating with in one dashboard.

Strategies for Making Influencer Programs Easier to Manage

Brands and creators both have the same goal: to create eye-catching, authentic content that helps elevate a brand to a captive audience. creators can only do this if they’re free to pursue creative ideas and execution. The more time creators spend managing and chasing invoices, resending creative assets, or granting brands whitelisting permissions means less time for them to do what comes naturally: create content.

Brands also need a platform that helps manage the intricacies of an impactful creator program, and that enables them to easily scale as their business gains momentum. If brands can offload some of the manual work that goes into running one, such as invoicing and business management, they can focus more on collaborating. In other words, the right platform can make a massive difference.

Lumanu is the only platform of its kind for both brands and creators. Lumanu’s software for brands automates the process for brands to gain influencer whitelisting permissions, and offers seamless payment processing that can quickly scale as creator programs grow. For creators, Lumanu has tools to manage collaborations, get paid timely and consistently, automate whitelisting permission granting and create content with brands. Plus, Lumanu’s platform’s self-service tools and real-life support make it easy for creators to get fast answers to their financial or administrative questions – both of which Lumanu handles on behalf of brands.

Created with the needs of both sides of the relationship in mind, Lumanu is the best platform to build solid and long-lasting relationships between brands and creators.

Cuts Clothing uses Lumanu to manage their growing stable of creators and keep both sides focused on creating impactful content that moves the needle. Lumanu’s whitelisting tool enabled Cuts Clothing to substantially cut down on the back-and-forth with creators and scale creator whitelisting, and Cuts Clothing no longer juggles hundreds of individual invoices in its internal accounting department. Especially having worked in past environments without a creator business platform, Frame adds that the solution Lumanu provides is seamless – “with a very strong underscore.”

Making Creator Relationships Stronger – and Simpler

Influencer marketing is a must-have for most businesses. Finding the right creators to collaborate with is the first of several steps toward capturing the right consumers, developing evangelists and building a meaningful brand. Managing these creator relationships can be challenging, but all-in-one tools help brands make these programs more streamlined, less financially complex and much less time-consuming.

<p>For many brands, building, nurturing and maintaining content creator relationships has become a major operation. Not only do marketing teams need to work with creators to set strategy for their content, but a brand’s financial staff also has to traffic invoices and pay creators on time in order to maintain these relationships.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter" src='data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22http://www.w3.org/2000/svg%22%20viewBox=%220%200%201060%201229%22%3E%3C/svg%3E' data-src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/pw/AM-JKLWyQbK3tVcJd7Jp2Dy7ysln2pmu1YUi4x3kQD52Sg3iuZueSNMHgI25APiew-ZDluj3Bqe7TX6ZW3q37DfSl0FUEsOzlmC9QWKxiB2Fqb678-TecdX1JRxmekEC9iutWBM_xFuCHQnqVbaey2RCjOLbOg=w1587-h424-no?authuser=0" alt="How to Build Strong Relationships with Content Creators" width="1587" height="424" /></p> <p>When both sides of the partnership are happy, relationships stay productive and fruitful—and creators can focus on what they do best: make content that tells amazing stories about a brand or product. In this article, we examine common challenges that stress the brand-creator relationship and provide guidance on how to avoid them, including:</p> <ul> <li>How process tools factor into brand-creator relationships</li> <li>Strategies that make influencer programs easier to manage</li> <li>How to make creator relationships stronger—and simpler</li> </ul> <p><!--more--></p> <h3>Content Summary</h3> <p><a href="#Strong">Why Strong Creator Relationships Breed Meaningful Content</a><br /><a href="#Challenges">Common Challenges for Brand-Creator Relationships</a><br /><a href="#Process">How Process Tools Factor into Brand-Creator Relationships</a><br /><a href="#Strategies">Strategies for Making Influencer Programs Easier to Manage</a><br /><a href="#Simpler">Making Creator Relationships Stronger – and Simpler</a></p> <p>For many brands, building, nurturing and maintaining content creator relationships has become a major operation. Not only do marketing teams need to work with creators to set strategy for their content, but a brand’s financial staff also has to traffic invoices and pay creators on time in order to maintain these relationships. With both sides of the partnership happy, relationships stay productive – and fruitful – for all parties.</p> <p>Additionally, for as many moving parts as brands have, creators also have to manage several elements of their brand relationships – some of which are more significant pain points than others. For instance, many creators don’t have the kind of experience with 1099s and invoices that make it easy to manage payments or administrative tasks. The back-and-forth of asset management can also distract creators from focusing on the bigger picture of brand engagement. Issues like these can get in the way of letting creators do what they do best: make content that tells amazing stories about a brand or product.</p> <p>“What a lot of brands don’t realize is that sometimes creators have some hurdles and things that they need to get through in order to have a better relationship with the brands,” says Blake Michael, a leading creator with more than one million Instagram followers. And, adds Blake, smoother relationships make for more satisfied content creators, who can do their best work.</p> <p>There are several ways to manage these pain points, and ultimately strengthen a brand’s relationship with content creators. Providing creators with an all-in-one solution that handles content collaboration and financial and relationship management lays the foundation for productive relationships that breed happy creators and eventual brand evangelists.</p> <h3 id="Strong">Why Strong Creator Relationships Breed Meaningful Content</h3> <p>Content creators are everywhere on social media, attempting to center brands and products in their feeds. For many daily scrollers, it’s obvious which creators are truly invested in their brand partners. In other words, it’s not enough for brands to simply bring on creators to help spread the word – brands need to make sure creators are excited, engaged and creating at the top of their game.</p> <p>The best content and the posts that pay dividends come from deep, meaningful creator-brand partnerships, in which lines of communication are open, and processes are simple. “Having really strong creator and brand relationships makes the content, and the value that the brand is getting, so much greater,” says Michael.</p> <p>This begins with recognizing a creator’s value. Ultimately, creators need to feel that they’re not only important partners for brand promotion, but are also seen as individuals with savvy visions for how to put brand narratives front and center. As brands encourage collaboration and communication, creators will dive in head-first.</p> <p>Ethan Frame, Brand Director at rising men’s apparel brand Cuts Clothing, agrees. From the brand perspective, Frame believes that it’s important that “creative control goes to the creator”. It breeds authenticity, which in turn means stronger content for audiences, and a more substantial return for brands. This can also create a chain reaction: influencers run in tight communication circles, in which they share experiences – both positive and negative. So, “if creators work with a brand that is really invested in them, and they really care about and truly love, they’re going to tell all their friends about it,” says Frame, who also built the influencer program at watchmaker MVMT.</p> <blockquote> <p>Having really strong creator and brand relationships makes the content, and the value that the brand is getting, so much greater. - BLAKE MICHAEL, Leading Creator</p> </blockquote> <p>But both Michael and Frame agree sometimes brands don’t make an effort to see eye to eye with creators and honor their visions, instead treating the relationship as entirely transactional.</p> <p>These surface-level relationships can be damaging to both parties involved. Michael says that when relationships falter – whether due to poor communication or inefficient processes around ideation, asset creation, permissions and/or payment – creators are far less likely to become evangelists. A creator may even consider no longer working with a brand and only focus on relationships with partners who have better ways of whitelisting and invoicing.</p> <p>This attrition can be especially harmful for brands who work with in-demand content creators, and need to ensure talent retention for creator program success. So, not only are strong relationships between brands and creators important to get a creators’ best creative effort, they’re also critical for brands to create enduring and long-lasting partnerships with their most meaningful creators.</p> <blockquote> <p>If creators work with a brand that is really invested in them, and they really care about and truly love, they’re going to tell all their friends about it. - ETHAN FRAME, Brand Director, Cuts Clothing</p> </blockquote> <h3 id="Challenges">Common Challenges for Brand-Creator Relationships</h3> <p>Part of creating the framework for a strong creator-brand bond is understanding where partnerships can go wrong. The devil is in the details – both brands and creators need hurdle-free processes in order to keep relationships solid.</p> <p>As open discourse is such a foundational part of a strong creator relationship, it’s likely unsurprising that poor communication is a common issue for brands trying to build bonds with creators. And there are several places in which communication can falter: content creators may not know how to propose new ideas, share assets or troubleshoot issues when they arise.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter" src='data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22http://www.w3.org/2000/svg%22%20viewBox=%220%200%201060%201229%22%3E%3C/svg%3E' data-src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/pw/AM-JKLVGWxfhjSJSjb-2f6l9UowMLnJovC2OHz2uygdFvsGJOHNnES4uoED2Y32UXsg9qC1OrfnhtCkpaRvQVx42i05jnFAMek5P5emRYA2l8FX5CX0_TwQnOtcJmKPKsFl3D3Ih0_uyBFfjE3XeyG-mrGuPYA=w676-h1008-no?authuser=0" alt="Common Challenges for Brand-Creator Relationships" width="676" height="1008" /></p> <p>For instance, Michael says that creators often want to pitch new ideas about which they’re genuinely passionate, but may be too afraid to propose them. For some creators, it’s tough to know when or how to make suggestions, or even ask questions at all, especially when there’s an issue with the processes a brand has put in place.</p> <p>“There’s often this sentiment among creators that they don’t want to annoy or bug the brands they work with,” adds Michael. However, that can lead to frustration and confusion. When brands make it easy for creators to create content, share ideas and upload their work for review, they create a more collaborative, efficient and, ultimately, effective program. “An ideal creator-brand relationship is based on transparency, clear communication and comfort with emailing or texting the other to communicate,” says Michael.</p> <p>To cultivate this essential trust, Frame says brands should not only open up these lines of communication with creators at the start, but also maintain active discourses, remain accessible, and constantly encourage creative collaboration. “Build up that relationship. Let them know you care,” says Frame. He says the Cuts Clothing team often hops on video calls with their creators to solve issues as soon as they arise, which is hugely beneficial to both sides of the relationship.</p> <p>Another common hurdle: creators don’t always have robust business or financial experience. For these creators, invoicing, net payment terms and keeping track of payment terms can be intimidating. This may end up souring the relationship with a brand, which can distract from inspiring new, creative content, or even destroy the relationship as a whole.</p> <p>“Influencers aren’t always familiar with some of the usual practices that contractors have,” says Michael. “I would find myself searching for an invoice template generator, not even understanding what an invoice was. I’ve heard this time and time again from so many creators.”</p> <p>It’s crucial that brands offer support to creators who might not have deep experience with the business side of what they do. Brands can help address this issue by offering creators both self-service help resources and human assistance.</p> <p>Creators want to focus on unique and interesting storytelling, not navigating cumbersome, administrative issues and invoicing. At the same time, brands are looking for the easiest experience, too, as they juggle payments, tax form collection/management headaches, asset management, manual whitelisting processes, etc. for every individual creator with whom they work. Removing as many hurdles as possible by implementing systems that streamline these processes sets up brands and creators for the most fruitful partnerships.</p> <p>Frame enthusiastically agrees. “The ease of technology is really what allows that relationship to stay on good terms,” he says.</p> <h3 id="Process">How Process Tools Factor into Brand-Creator Relationships</h3> <p>Although content creation may seem easy for a consumer scrolling through her feed, both brands and creators know that there are many small details involved in the process, from ideation to posting content live to whitelisting to payment. As a result, the strongest brand-creator relationships have processes in place to manage and streamline each important element.</p> <p>However, brands often struggle to effectively manage each component of their influencer program. The simple things, such as collaborating on content or gaining creator whitelisting permissions, can be hard to keep track of, particularly if brands don’t use a content management system to collaborate with creators. And creators have to get paid, of course, to make a living creating high-performing content for brands they love. But relying on creators to submit invoices for a brand to circulate through its accounts payable team is hardly the best solution.</p> <p>This is why centralized processes executed in one place are so important for getting posts live and keeping relationships with creators strong. Creators who can create content and upload it to a single brand hub can work seamlessly with a brand’s internal program managers and marketing leads. Uploading video, imagery and copy into a centralized place ensures everyone is working off of the same materials and is on the same page about messaging. It also empowers creators to share ideas in a collaborative setting.</p> <p>Creator tools that incorporate business management capabilities help build trust between creators and the brands with which they work. Creators use platforms such as Lumanu to easily manage payments, invoice terms and invoice history easily on their phones. The 20,000+ creators on Lumanu’s software today can also and share assets with any brand they’re collaborating with in one dashboard.</p> <h3 id="Strategies">Strategies for Making Influencer Programs Easier to Manage</h3> <p>Brands and creators both have the same goal: to create eye-catching, authentic content that helps elevate a brand to a captive audience. creators can only do this if they’re free to pursue creative ideas and execution. The more time creators spend managing and chasing invoices, resending creative assets, or granting brands whitelisting permissions means less time for them to do what comes naturally: create content.</p> <p>Brands also need a platform that helps manage the intricacies of an impactful creator program, and that enables them to easily scale as their business gains momentum. If brands can offload some of the manual work that goes into running one, such as invoicing and business management, they can focus more on collaborating. In other words, the right platform can make a massive difference.</p> <p>Lumanu is the only platform of its kind for both brands and creators. Lumanu’s software for brands automates the process for brands to gain influencer whitelisting permissions, and offers seamless payment processing that can quickly scale as creator programs grow. For creators, Lumanu has tools to manage collaborations, get paid timely and consistently, automate whitelisting permission granting and create content with brands. Plus, Lumanu’s platform’s self-service tools and real-life support make it easy for creators to get fast answers to their financial or administrative questions – both of which Lumanu handles on behalf of brands.</p> <p>Created with the needs of both sides of the relationship in mind, Lumanu is the best platform to build solid and long-lasting relationships between brands and creators.</p> <p>Cuts Clothing uses Lumanu to manage their growing stable of creators and keep both sides focused on creating impactful content that moves the needle. Lumanu’s whitelisting tool enabled Cuts Clothing to substantially cut down on the back-and-forth with creators and scale creator whitelisting, and Cuts Clothing no longer juggles hundreds of individual invoices in its internal accounting department. Especially having worked in past environments without a creator business platform, Frame adds that the solution Lumanu provides is seamless – “with a very strong underscore.”</p> <h3 id="Simpler">Making Creator Relationships Stronger – and Simpler</h3> <p>Influencer marketing is a must-have for most businesses. Finding the right creators to collaborate with is the first of several steps toward capturing the right consumers, developing evangelists and building a meaningful brand. Managing these creator relationships can be challenging, but all-in-one tools help brands make these programs more streamlined, less financially complex and much less time-consuming.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-medium" src='data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22http://www.w3.org/2000/svg%22%20viewBox=%220%200%201060%201229%22%3E%3C/svg%3E' data-src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/pw/AM-JKLUrQU5SZb629pMa23BbrrOPfAsdxUg7jGrVN86xYiRTSddWytigKbT_HiehZV0xp7CxmG44spaYDOUa9ovlnkyh5hfyV2aukIVXafam_wfbuUzeAM0gBV8KWeUrF0tQlqrU2eHI_TEWbgne-R_LJo4hWw=w1060-h1229-no?authuser=0" width="1060" height="1229" /></p> <p>Lumanu is the easiest and fastest way for brands to build relationships with creators and keep them strong. This frees everyone up to focus on shared goals – and create content that soars.</p> <p>“A strong influencer relationship is a one-on-one, humanto- human connection, which is what makes it so powerful,” says Frame. With a rock-solid foundation, he adds, brands can “scale their businesses to new heights that you might not have thought possible.”</p>

Lumanu is the easiest and fastest way for brands to build relationships with creators and keep them strong. This frees everyone up to focus on shared goals – and create content that soars.

“A strong influencer relationship is a one-on-one, humanto- human connection, which is what makes it so powerful,” says Frame. With a rock-solid foundation, he adds, brands can “scale their businesses to new heights that you might not have thought possible.”