Influencer Marketing 101 – Top Influencers Share Their Success Secrets [Interview] (Part 5)


The previous articles in the "Influencer Marketing 101" series covered the following areas:

This comprehensive series is sequential. For maximum value, I highly recommend that you read the previous articles before proceeding.

Influencer marketing is a very broad topic. In the previous articles, I spared no effort to cover proven best practices that would empower even absolute beginners to become successful throughout their influencer marketing journey.

That’s why I figured that interview​ing top influencers in various specialties would be the best finale for my comprehensive series. Our cherry-picked influencers were featured at the directory of top influencers in 2016.

Interviewed influencers were asked to answer 3 questions out of the following 5 optional questions:

1-In the midst of the fierce online competition, how did you manage to standout and create your own UNIQUE voice?

2-What’s your number one technique for building and magnifying your audience trust?

3-What SINGLE advice would you give to absolute beginners and “top influencers wannabes”?

4-Based on your experience, what are brands looking for in influencers? In other words, what makes a brand choose to partner with particular influencers?

5- What were some of the challenges you faced along the way and how did you overcome them?

Let’s meet our top influencers and discover their success tactics. Enjoy!

Gary Arndt


Gary Arndt has been traveling around the world since 2007. He has visited over 120 countries and all seven continents. He has also been named Travel Photographer of the Year in North America 3x and was named one of the Top 25 Blogs on the Internet by Time Magazine. His travel blog is the Everything Everywhere Travel Blog

In The Midst Of The Fierce Online Competition, How Did You Manage To Standout And Create Your Own Unique Voice?

There were/are several things I've done to make myself standout from all the other travel blogs on the internet.

1. Quality content

People say this all the time, but there is usually nothing behind it. I've placed a big emphasis on becoming one of the top travel photographers in the world. I've won almost every major travel photography award in North America, which is an accomplishment that none of my competition can claim. Even if you've never seen one of my photos, the accolades are usually enough to show that I create great content. 

2. Travel Resume

If you want to be known as a traveler, you have to travel. Not only have I been on the road for a decade, but during that time I've gone to many places which few people bother to visit. This includes remote Pacific Islands, Antarctica, and national parks in the Arctic. If you want to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. 

3. Brand Name Relationships

I only work with and associate myself with top notch companies. I've worked with the world's biggest adventure travel company for 6 years and I’m currently an ambassador for Adobe. I avoid start-ups and fly by night operations even if there is a buck to be made. 

4. Have an Opinion

Most people who know me online know I am very opinionated. Agree with me or not, people know I have a unique take. Most people are afraid to make waves, and no one knows who they are. 

Based On Your Experience, What Are Brands Looking For In Influencers? In Other Words, What Makes A Brand Choose To Partner With Particular Influencers?

Most brands are looking for:

  • Someone with proven expertise and authority in a field.
  • A large and engaged audience
  • A proven track record of producing quality content

What Were Some Of The Challenges You Faced Along The Way And How Did You Overcome Them?

When I first started, no one was making money doing what I was doing in the field of travel. It took several years before the industry warmed up to it. I had an entrepreneurial background, but I had no experience in photography, writing, or publishing. I had to learn everything from scratch and many things I had to figure out on my own.

If you want to stay on the forefront of any field, you constantly have to be figuring things out on your own rather than relying on what other people tell you.

Renee Blodgett


Renee Blodgett is founder of We Blog the World, an online luxury travel & adventure magazine focused on Transformative Travel & Magic Sauce Media, where she provides branding, PR, social media and marketing consulting for lifestyle, travel, technology & wellness brands. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @weblogtheworld

What Single Advice Would You Give To Absolute Beginners And “Top Influencers Wannabes”?

Listen and listen a lot, especially in the beginning. Spend a lot of time monitoring other voices and brands you connect with the most. After getting a sense of the things they care about most, reach out and engage with them….and do it often. Consistency is a key but overdoing it can also backfire. Finding that balance will take time, so be patient. Don’t be obsessed about getting it “perfect” – focus on the journey and be okay with knowing that you’ll forever be tweaking your voice as your personal brand emerges.

Based on your experience, what are brands looking for in influencers? In other words, what makes a brand choose to partner with particular influencers?

Clearly numbers will always matter but it’s not always the most important thing. A brand’s CFO is always looking for that ROI and how far an influencer’s reach goes. Brands that are truly in it for the long haul will also care about your voice and whether it’s a match with theirs – this is where powerful results and ongoing alignment between influencers and brands can really get creative and interesting. Decide if you’re “in it” for the long term or short term and choose brands that think the same way. This will also impact your strategy and your pitch.

What were some of the challenges you faced along the way and how did you overcome them?

The stronger your voice, the more likelihood of a backlash at some juncture along the way. I’ve played the middle ground more than I have taken a strong stand on a specific issue. How you “play it” will depend on your personality, your interests, what you care about most and how vocal you’re comfortable being. The main challenge is “keeping up” with all the tools and staying relevant on and offline. I’d recommend tapping into experts, mentors and resources you can speak to on a regular basis to ensure you’re up to date on protocols, apps and resources.

Ian Brodie


Ian Brodie is a consultant, blogger and author of the top-rated book on Email Marketing: "Email Persuasion". You can get a free copy of his "21 Word Email That Can Get You More Clients" at

In the midst of the fierce online competition, how did you manage to standout and create your own UNIQUE voice?

What makes us unique is, well, unique to us. So it’s a matter of tapping in to that. In my case there are lots of people in my field (providing advice to consultants and coaches on how to win more clients) but frankly, most are from a marketing or online background who see us as an “easy” market. I’ve been consulting and coaching for 22 years, and that experience shows through in what I do. I’m not here just because I want to make money off consultants and coaches, I’m here because that’s who I am and I want to help my community and people like me. I also discovered that being transparent helps a lot. I share my failures as well as my successes and that helps build up a following from people who aren’t taken in by hype. Consistency helps too – I’ve been blogging, emailing, making videos and otherwise sharing my best knowledge with my community for over 9 years. I’ll be here in another 9 years because this is what I love and it works.

What’s your number one technique for building and magnifying your audience trust?

I’m going to cheat and name three things.

Firstly, I have a point of view, my own opinions and experiences. I’m not just regurgitating what others say. You might not agree with everything I say, but you know that I’m saying what I believe in and what works for me – not just something that will make me sales.

Secondly, I’m not afraid to admit mistakes. A few years ago I launched a big “Get 10K subscribers” project and blogged about my progress during the year. About 6 months in I realized that while I was getting lots of new subscribers, what I was doing (largely joint-venture webinars) was switching off my current subscribers, they were losing my voice amidst all the stuff I was promoting from other people. It was tough to do, but I held up my hands and said “this isn’t working – and here’s why” and then changed track. If you’re honest with people about what doesn’t work, then when you talk about what works and what you recommend they’re more likely to believe you.

Finally, I try to be modest. Personally I just don’t trust people who are forever blowing their own horn and telling you how great they are and all the amazing things they’ve done. I keep wondering what they’re trying to prove. I like to be understated. I think expertise and achievement tells its own story, I don’t need to show off about it.

What SINGLE advice would you give to absolute beginners and “top influencers wannabes”?

For me, the most critical thing if you want to be influential is to have something interesting, different and valuable to say. Everything else is tactics. As Steve Martin (and Cal Newport) say, “Be so good they can’t ignore you”.

Ted Rubin


Ted Rubin is a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, and Acting CMO of Brand Innovators. Return on Relationship, ROR, #RonR, is the basis of his philosophy… It’s All About Relationships! His book, Return on Relationship was released January 2013 and How To Look People in the Eye Digitally, was released January 2015. Connect with Ted at or @TedRubin.

 In the midst of the fierce online competition, how did you manage to standout and create your own UNIQUE voice?

How you act, what you share, and how you treat people on social channels is critical to developing a positive personal brand and Social ID, but if I were to have to sum it all up in one phrase, that phrase would be: “follower experience.” Providing great experiences results in “super” fans or brand evangelists who shout your praises to everyone they know, share your connect, and consistently interact and engage. People don’t become advocates because they just think you are smart. They become advocates when they receive consistently great experiences, and perceived value, every time they reach out, connect, engage, and share your content.

What’s your number one technique for building and magnifying your audience trust?

We know that in order to build trust with another person there must be good, two-way communication. It’s central to our existence as human beings, yet we struggle with it every day. Multiply that struggle by the number of people in your organization, and you can begin to see just how essential communication is in building trust with your employees, vendors, partners and customers.

I’ve long been a proponent of what I call “Return on Relationship,” or ROR, hashtag #RonR, which is the value that’s accrued by a person or a brand due to nurturing a relationship. That’s no secret. We develop and grow human relationships every day of our lives. Establishing communication is essential to this process because it helps build trust—a vital component of ROR. Seth Godin says that “In the connection economy, trust and relationships are the new currency.”

What SINGLE advice would you give to absolute beginners and “top influencers wannabes”?

Engage, interact, build relationships and #BeGoodToPeople... #NoLetUp!

Jason Yormark


Jason Yormark is a 20-year marketing vet who blogs regularly at and currently serves as Director of Marketing at SportsArt, a global fitness equipment manufacturer.  You can also periodically find him on Twitter & Instagram.

 In the midst of the fierce online competition, how did you manage to standout and create your own UNIQUE voice?

The combination of authenticity and persistence. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it requires a dedication to creating great content regularly, building your audience reach, and engaging with folks on a regular basis. I ensure that the content I create and share is helpful, entertaining, and written in my true voice.

What’s your number one technique for building and magnifying your audience trust?

Assuming you have a blog, you need to write articles that provide value to your readers. In most cases, that can be as obvious as taking them through a problem you solved and showing them how to do it themselves. In others, it can simply be sharing a unique story in your life that you’ve learned from that is entertaining. Avoid the fluff, and write with purpose.

What SINGLE advice would you give to absolute beginners and “top influencers wannabes”?

Just write. There isn’t a single more valuable trait than being able to communicate effectively, and writing online can be a huge lift to anyone wanting to elevate their online brand. Write well-crafted blog articles and social media posts, and you’ve got yourself the foundation you’ll need to build anything.

Key Takeaway: Does Your Passion And Drive Measure Up?

As I went through all the insights shared by our top influencers, it became evident to me that all of them shared massive passion and drive that enabled them to make their mark and become highly successful in their specialties.

Which of the tips and insights presented here resonated with you the most?

We look forward to your comments. Your valuable contribution is much appreciated. To our success!

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* Adapted images: Public Domain Dedication (CC0) Public Domain, via

About the Author: Heba Hosny

Heba Hosny is an award-winning and HubSpot certified marketing consultant, SEO copywriter and social media strategist. She's a Canadian/Egyptian artist who strives to portray the best of both worlds (the East and the West) through her though-provokingly Funny Kindle eBook "Read My Pook, Beoble!" Heba's "I am proud of" list includes performing standup comedy at the Yuk Yuk's club in Toronto and, believe it or not, people laughed! Her artistic passions include script writing, humorous poetry, songwriting, singing, drawing and acting. To add more creative juice to her online freelancing career, Heba teaches improvisational drama at a children's art center in Cairo.

Heba Hosny's Portfolio

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