In Createur’s What Are The Best Doing Series, we let you learn from the best. We’ve selected profiles from our database and come up with fresh, exclusive insights on the top 10% fastest growing creators.
Top performers/fastest-growing creators: Creators that underwent the largest growth in 2021 in terms of follower count increase, earned media value (EMV), engagement, and other success metrics. Not to be confused with the largest creators in terms of overall follower count.
Read on to discover how the fastest-growing online creators get it done.
Our Top Performer This Week: Blake Gifford
This week’s top performer is Blake Gifford, a.k.a @signedblake. Blake is a Chicago-based fashion and lifestyle creator who curates stylish content for her 150k Instagram followers. She runs a blog where she writes about fashion, home decor, and brand collaborations. Blake also has a small Pinterest account with 3.7k followers and a Twitter with 5.2k followers. As for TikTok, she doesn’t have an account, and her presence on YouTube is comparatively minor.
Here is our best advice based on Blake’s 2021 performances.
Blake focuses exclusively on her Instagram growth, building an impressive 7% engagement rate. She chooses this channel to post regularly, run her brand partnerships, and stay in touch with her community.
Instead of dividing her attention across different channels, Blake pours her time and energy into crafting a single, solid strategy. This is an effective growth method that allows her to be extremely productive, and generate considerable wealth on the platform.
Even though she calls herself a “full-time content creator,” Blake also is an attorney. So for those of you who have a job besides social media, take note—focusing on one platform is a great method to handle both gigs at the same time.
Blake averages 33 posts per month: 30 are Instagram posts (including stories), while the rest are divided between her smaller channels. Therefore, although she has one major account, she is highly active on it and posts daily.
But what makes her posts so unique?
Tone of Voice
Blake doesn’t shy away from sharing her personal story. She spreads inspirational and motivational messages around the “girl boss” movement, leading an auto-financed, upscale life. With her account, she built a safe space for her followers, whom she calls her “cousins,” and sees as family.
She proudly proclaims: “this is a pro-Black, body-positive, sex-positive, LGBTQIA-friendly, judgment-free safe zone”. Blake believes in hard work and fierce self-esteem and shares her socially engaged point of view in lengthy descriptions.
Highly Branded Content
Blake advertises a lot of sponsored posts to her audience. As a matter of fact, this is what her community looks for in her content. In a post, she explains that her followers “run” to snatch the products she promotes. While for some people, that amount of branded content might be too much, for Blake’s followers, it’s exactly right.
Blake is a fashion and lifestyle authority to her community. For that reason, she is very thorough when sharing her references with them—so thorough that a “shop my feed” link is available in her bio, leading to a clickable grid of her Instagram posts. There, every item is catalogued with a link to shop each one of them, from accessories and makeup to shoes and clothes.
Here are some examples of this branded content, along with Blake’s top 10 posts by engagement.
Instagram Top 10 High-Performing Posts in 2021
Five of Blake’s top posts were sponsored. All were videos and branded posts (content that mentioned a brand, whether it’s organic or paid). Take a look to get inspired:
1) This Amazon partnership wins first place with a 47.9% engagement rate (ER)
2) Her home office reveal comes in second with a 45.0% ER
3) This collab with retailer Neiman Marcus comes in third with a 42.7% ER
4) In fourth place, this ootd reel with a 40.4% ER
5) A collab with Nordstorm takes fifth place with a 39.0%
6) This simple reel comes in sixth with a 37.5% ER
7) This Sunday routine reel is seventh with a 33.3% ER
8) Number eight is a photoshoot reel, with a 30.79% ER
9) Another Neiman Marcus ad takes ninth with a 29.6% ER
10) Yet another Neiman Marcus collab comes tenth with a 25.2% ER
Read on to learn more about how Blake works with brands.
Brand Tagging on Instagram
Whether her content is unpaid or sponsored, Blake consistently and cleanly tags every brand she wears and endorses, making her account a genuine curated fashion catalog.
In 2021, she mentioned a total of 122 different brands, tagging them several times each. Her most mentioned brands were: Nordstorm (tagged 67 times), Dyson (61), Shopstyle (50), Amazon (46), Neiman Marcus (27), Amazon Fashion (22), TJ Maxx (20), Schutz (17), Hello Fresh (15), and TopShop (12).
All these brands were paying partners, which proves two things. First, once Blake enters a partnership, she delivers in quantity, making her a productive, loyal brand ambassador. Second, Blake features an important volume of the same collaborations. While varying the format, she talks a lot to her community about the same brands. It’s a risky bet, but looks like it works, as both brands and followers keep coming for more!
Aside from these top numbers, Blake organically tags other brands an average of six times per year. Seeing the number of times she tagged her top brands is proof of how dedicated she is to her partners.
Management and Brand Partnerships
Blake’s Instagram bio mentions a management team, so like many top-performing creators, she works with agents. Given her number of brand partnerships, it’s only natural that she would invest in some professional help.
In 2021, Blake collaborated with 18 different brands, resulting in about 45 different campaigns. That’s an average of four collaborations per month. For each campaign, she crafted at least one post and several stories. Her sponsored posts are exclusively on Instagram, and never fail to include #ad (once again, transparency is a key-value Most importantly, Blake stays loyal to a couple of selected brands.
Blake’s method of driving long-term, ongoing partnerships with the same brands is probably what makes her thrive financially as a full-time creator. She is a sharp organizer and saves energy by focusing her work on a couple of chosen partners, rather than working with a large number of brands and partners, which requires more tracking, time, and effort.
Finally, on her sponsored posts, the paying brand is not the only one being mentioned. Blake also tags the luxury brands she’s wearing, which feeds the high-end image she curates and puts her on the radar of other brands she might love to work with.
Recap of Blake’s Key Practices to Success
1) She focuses on one platform and gives it her best effort
2) She posts a lot and uses all Instagram formats
3) She prioritizes building lasting partnerships with selected brands
4) She thoroughly delivers a curated image
5) She shares a lot about her opinions, likes, dislikes, and personal history
6) She has an inspirational tone of voice
7) She is very close with her community
Final Thoughts - Why is Blake One of the Top 10% Fastest-Growing Creators?
Blake clearly puts a lot of work and dedication into her own success. She carefully branded her name and image, making her loved by brands and followers alike.
One golden strategy that becomes clear from analyzing Blake’s work is the importance of finding out why your audience enjoys your content, then capitalizing on that factor. So if you decide on a highly branded account, make sure that this is what your community wants. In Blake’s case, it’s precisely what her followers come to her for: to shop her styles and get product recommendations, all while reading engaging, motivating content.
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