How Influencer Marketing helped us grow from $0 to $700k+ monthly revenue.

Sergei Gusev
Oct 11, 2016 · 7 min read

Not long ago, I wrote an article, “How we grew from $0 to $75K MRR doing just influencer marketing and without budget”. Now it’s time to tell you how we managed to grow from $75K MRR to $700K+ MRR in less than a year with the help of influencer marketing.

Of course, we now have more traffic channels, but influencer marketing remains one of the biggest channels in terms of brand building, and it has a huge role in our growth. After we reached $75K MRR, we got to Y Combinator. I think influencer marketing was one of the reasons why they invited us. In response to the question, “Where do you get your customers and what’s your CPA?” on the interview, we answered that our CPA is $0 and our main channel of growth is YouTube. Partners were pretty impressed. When they asked if we could scale it, we said that we definitely could. I will tell you how we did it.

Before YC, we started experimenting with paid opportunities for the influencers, but we were very scrappy; we had just raised some money, but were very careful with spending them. During YC, however, you have to grow as quickly as possible, and we finally decided to “buy” customers.

WARNING: The downside of the platforms

Ok, so before we dig deeper, I have to warn you. If you are a small startup and you want to get as many free mentions on YouTube as possible, don’t use the platforms. I think most of the bloggers have already registered on all of them. The way these platforms work is that you create a campaign on the platform and all influencers see your offer and you have to add a budget. Once you announce the budget, there is no way you can get free mentions. The next time you write to an influencer directly, they will tell you that they saw your campaign on platform X and you have to pay for a mention.

We started using the platforms only when we were ready; our direct outreach had begun slowing down, and we started slowly posting campaigns on the platforms. Right after that, bloggers with whom we had ongoing partnerships declined to work with us for free because they saw that we’d started posting paid campaigns on the platforms.

Why you should use platforms

I believe it’s very hard to scale influencer marketing without using the platforms. They’ve collected tens of thousands of influencers from around the web, and from many different countries, not just the US. It’s also much easier for the blogger and for the marketer to manage all partnerships in one place.

So, once you have a budget and you are ready to start paying for mentions, you will definitely want to try one of the platforms above. In section 2, I will cover our favorite platforms.

#1 was the platform we used in the beginning

When we started using paid influencer marketing, there were just a couple of platforms, and FameBit was the best one. They have a lot of influencers in different niches from beauty to gaming.

FameBit has 40,286 creators on the platform and they have pretty good filters by gender, age, number of followers, etc.

Once you post a campaign, you will start getting proposals from the influencers. As you can see, we rejected most of the proposals, because some people are not relevant and some people are too expensive.

These are our first two campaigns on FameBit

Once you post your campaign, thousands of creators will see it. You will have to compete with other companies, so be creative.

This is how creators will see your campaign



#2 is our current favorite

We started using almost at the same time as we started using FameBit, and since then it’s been our favorite. They have a lot of influencers — I don’t know the exact number, but it feels like they have many more than FameBit, and they have a very easy-to-use interface.

You have to create a campaign, and then influencers will send you proposals. The way it works is very similar to FameBit.

You can search influencers using filters: number of followers, gender, age, country, etc.

Or, they can recommend influencers to you, like Tinder but for influencers.

Invite to the campaign or skip

So far, we’ve been spending most of our budget through



#3 Hire a PR company or an influence marketing manager

We were very lucky to find a small PR company with big connections in our industry among beauty influencers. We started working with them as a PR company, but soon we realized that their value in influencer marketing is much higher. They know a lot of agents who work with big creators, and they attend a wide variety of exhibitions and conferences.

If you want to work with really big influencers who have 500K to 5M followers on YouTube, you will have to work with their managers. The biggest problem is price negotiation — usually, these creators cost a lot of money, from $5,000 to $50,000 per video and more, and you’d better have a person who can get a better deal for you.

What is a reasonable rate to pay YouTubers?

Revfluence gives these rates:

For a mention video, a reasonable rate is between 1–4 cents per view. For a dedicated video, a reasonable rate is between 5–8 cents per view.

Famebit gives these rates:

The average CPV we see on proposals that get hired range from $0.05 to $0.10. CPV can greatly vary depending on the type of category the channel is. For example crowded spaces like beauty may demand a lower CPV than a less crowded space like woodworking.

The biggest issue with the influencers marketing is a lack of transparency

Yes, sometimes, influencer marketing is a black box, because you will never be able to measure the full impact of your campaign. But you can do a couple of things to track as many sales as possible.

2. Give an influencer a coupon code that you’ll be able to track.

3. There is no way you can track all the sales that came from YouTube, a lot of sales end up in Organic or Direct channels because people watch a video and after awhile go to Google and type in the name of your product. Because of that, your average CPA can be higher than for your other paid channels like Facebook or Adwords.

A full list of influencers marketing platforms (YouTube)

We’ve been collecting information on all of these services; since I started working on influencer marketing, I’ve tried most of them, but we are using just three platforms so far for YouTube.

Please add in the comments if you know any other good platforms for the YouTube influencers marketing.

Sergei Gusev

Written by

Co-founder @Scentbird and @DeckofScarlet, Entrepreneur & Marketer & Designer, wearing many hats. YC S15, #500STRONG