influencer marketing with no budget
Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing Strategies With No Budget

Investing in influencer marketing with a small budget can be a challenge, but what if you aren’t quite ready to spend? This would be even harder to pull off but certainly not impossible. With the right strategy, you can work with some micro influencers to give your brand a good push towards recognition and acceptance. You might even drive some sales or leads.

Understanding That It’s Not Really Free

Although you may not have to invest money with the strategy I’m discussing here, you’ll need to invest more of your time and you may also need to send product samples to your influencers. In the end, you may not be handing out cold cash but your time is valuable, as well as any products you need to send. And if you send products, you’ll have to spend on shipping costs as well.

For this approach to be effective, you need to come to terms with the fact that more often than not, any cold outreach to potential influencers will likely be ignored or lead nowhere once they realize there isn’t really any money involved.

I would suggest assuming that you will get a 20% response rate and even a smaller close rate. In order to improve your odds of getting a response, you’ll need to spend more time personalizing your emails. But don’t try to spend so much time that you’ll be disappointed if you are ignored. Quality and quantity can both be important.

Focus on Nano Influencers

Nano influencers usually have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers, whereas Micro influencers will have over 10,000 followers. Your best bet may actually be Nano influencers at this point. Nano influencers may seem like a waste of time at first but don’t let the small follower number fool you. Their audience could be highly engaged and it might only be a matter of time before this influencer takes off.

So, you should set out to find some of the newer players in the market. Because they may not have been around for long, you’ll have to do manual research as they may not be on any online list you could find on Google yet. 

Finding Nano Influencers on YouTube

With this strategy, I’m going to focus on finding Nano influencers on YouTube but you can also use Instagram and other platforms. To find them on YouTube, follow these steps:

Head over to YouTube and enter anything that involves your brand or services. For example, if you sell running shoes, go to the search bar and type “best running shoes”.

Next click on “Filter” and select “This month”. By selecting this shorter time frame, it helps ensure they post content more regularly.

Now you want to focus on views count – videos that have only a few hundred views may belong to smaller channels which is who we are targeting. Simply ignore the videos with thousands of views for now.

youtube search for best running shoes

At this point what you want to do is compile a list of potential Nano influencers to reach out to. So you’ll want to load up a Spreadsheet and enter any relevant information, such as their channel URL, specialty, as well as their email address. 

Tip: Consider trying different searches that may align with any potential influencers in order to expand your reach and increase the odds of getting a response.

Finding Nano Influencers on Instagram

Finding Nano influencers is a little different on Instagram than it is on YouTube. YouTube gives you many options to know what you need right away but on Instagram if you decide to search by hashtags, you’ll need to hover or tap on each related image you find to get an idea on whether to approach that account holder once you view their profile.

#runningshoes hashtag on instagram

Another option you have on Instagram is finding larger influencers who have an active following and trying to connect with them if they align with your ideal audience – such as people who often post comments on their photos and stories.

To find the larger influencers, you can simply do a Google search to find the a list of influencers that most closely alliance with your ideal audience, and from there target smaller influencers who may be willing to work with you. I do advice that you have at least some content on your Instagram profile before you try approaching them.

Although it may take some legwork to find smaller influencers on Instagram, it may be easier for them to agree on collaborating with you because if all they need is take a few pictures and post them with your hashtag in exchange for a free product, you’re home free.

Tip: When using the hashtags search page to find potential influencers, be sure to focus on the “Most Recent” list which is just below “Top posts”. Anyone with a decent number of likes within a few hours of posting something, may be worth checking out.

The Collaboration Email Pitch

Once you have your list of potential influencers, the next step is to reach out to them with your collaboration email pitch. The type of email you write will depend on what you have to offer, remember that you should focus on the benefit any potential influencer can expect to get by working with you.

Since you do not have plans to invest any money, you’ll want to be especially creative and align your pitch to that particular influencer.

For example, a rough email you may consider:


I’ve been following your channel for a while and I love your content. I’m writing this email because I really enjoyed this video:

Video Link

I actually have a great pair of running shoes which are unlike any other you’ve tried – and I think you’ll really like them.

Would you like me to send you a pair? I’d love to hear what you think of them. (you can be more aggressive here, it’s on you.)

Looking forward to your response!

In this email pitch, you’ll notice that I’m not being entirely genetic by simply using a template, I’m letting the reviewer know that I’m a avid follower so preferably, aim to follow them for a few weeks and possibly leave one or two comments on their videos/posts before you reach out to them. 

Tip: Be mindful of people who may not have the best intentions and are just trying to scam you. If it’s going to cost you $20 to send a product that costs $50 and the influencer simply “disappears” or ignores you once they receive them, you’ve just lost $70 and a lot of your time. Take the time to get to know them first.

Understand Your Limits

Remember that although you may provide something in return, a video could take hours of their time to launch and changing up their content just to include your brand can be a daunting task if they are not getting paid for it so don’t try to be too pushy or make demands until you can actually offer some actual cash in the future. The idea is to make it really easy for them to agree to work with you since there’s no cash involved right now.

I would also not recommend always requesting a backlink, you’ll come out as annoying and they might simply ignore you as soon as you start making demands. Requesting links and things like that is best when you can offer more value to them, which almost always involves cash, unless you send them a $200 product that is (which they might just sell down the line).

Because you don’t have any money now, that doesn’t mean that you won’t have any in the future, so try not to be too pushy or annoying so you don’t raise any red flags when you are more likely to convert these influencers later on. Keep in mind that these may have a small following now, but it may be a matter of time before they have thousands of followers.


Finding potential influencers when you have no budget is actually a lot of work and will require you to spend a lot more time than if you have some funds available. It may also result in much less qualified influencers.

The secret is to focus on those just getting started (like you) and entice them with something of some value until you can afford to invest money in the future.

Finally if this doesn’t work out for you after a while, consider other marketing initiatives that require no money upfront until you can work with Micro influencers. One such approach may involve content marketing which you can do yourself.

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