The Kolide duo of Ella Dumbrell and Steph Allen are a powerhouse of the Australian influencer scene. Not only do they run their highly successful lifestyle, food and travel Instagram account, but also a boutique social media and art direction agency on the side.
We discuss how they built their following, reputation and success on social, including some hot tips for social media management tools and techniques. Plus of course, advice for brands on how to connect with influencers like Kolide for successful collaborations.
How long have you been an influencer for?
We started Kolide just over 4 years ago, back when Instagram hadn’t emerged as an important platform for brand identity. We initially created the concept of Kolide with the intention of making it like Instagram, but for food and drink.
The ideas were endless but the cost to develop an application of that scale was beyond our capabilities at the time. Looking back on it, we’re so glad we just stuck to the website and focused on food and drink around Sydney, using the Instagram as a form of social proof to leverage traffic to the website.
However, after pursuing another business venture, we decided that we wanted to make Kolide more than just food + drink and into a lifestyle platform that allowed us to curate beautiful content whilst also recommending things that we loved.
What channels are you big on?
Instagram BUT that could change as we‘re so about to start a Youtube channel so stay tuned!
What topics are you influential in?
Our biggest space was food and drink but now that we’ve shifted our focus, we’re trying to stay in tune with all the trends across fashion, travel, food and drinks etc. I’d describe Kolide as a lifestyle channel.
We have a pretty distinct ‘look and feel’ on our channel as far as photography and aesthetic that our audience seem to really engage with.
How did you initially start to grow your following?
We started growing through Instagram and Facebook, with what began as promoting our platform to friends and family. We then began tagging the venues everywhere we went before initiating a strategy to get influencers into venues we covered to increase engagement and awareness.
The most important way to build a following is to build lasting relationships with the people you work with and of course, create content people want to see. When you get that right- the rest will come!
How many hours a week do you spend working as an Influencer and all that goes with it?
We would have to say roughly 10 hours a week but if we have shoots on that time obviously goes up! Every week is different and the time we’ve spent on it has gone up as our audience has grown. The need for new content is insatiable but we love doing it and shooting in our style.
Do you take the photos on your own or do you have assistance from someone else?
We like to shoot our own content to keep our feed consistent. We have noticed that people seem to enjoy the photos more when we both feature so on the odd occasion we’ll have someone take the photo for us but we’ll always edit it and do the final touches.
What equipment do you use (Camera/software/editing apps)?
We have two cameras. One Cannon SLR and one Cannon for blogging / pictures for events. We also use our iPhone if we happen to grab some snaps out and about. The editing apps that we like to use are a mix of Lightroom, VSCO and Facetune.
Do you have a manager to take care of the business side of things?
Not yet, at this point we’re a two man show!
What are 2 of your favourite posts that you’ve ever done and why?
We definitely love the photos of us where we feature together because it’s more fun!
Two of our top pics would have to be our first major sponsored shoot with Minchinbury. The creative team were amazing and hired Pixi Pop as our photographer who we ended up becoming great mates with. Not only were the pictures amazing but it symbolised an important stepping stone for us and we forged a really close bond with Josh and the team from Drifter who we now share an office with!
We also love the pic that was taken by Vogue Magazine in Melbourne and of course all our travel shoot, especially our recent trip to Mollymook. These kind of photos represent the direction we’d like to take Kolide in- travel! :)
Do you use any tools to help you manage your account?
We use Schedugram, an app that helps you schedule your content for the days ahead. We only just put Kolide on there but for our other business, The Ardent, we manage a number of social media clients and all of them are on Schedugram. We thought it was silly we recommend it for everyone else and we didn’t even have Kolide on there! It’s the best program. You can schedule in posts and stories! Big help in time management.
Do you know the demographics of your following?
Mostly woman between the ages of 25-34.
How has your experience been working with brands?
We’ve loved collaborating with other brands and the experience is always great. We think it’s important to state your direction and vision for whatever project you’re working on as soon as possible because we’ve found that most issues arise when you’re not on the same page.
What are some of your favourite collaborations and why?
Similar to above - Minchinbury was a lot of fun. Then we have loved all our travel collaborations - Bannisters Pavillion, Lilianfels and more recently Sunny bank Kanagaloon + Villa Offerings in Bali just to name a few.
What are some dream brands you would like to work with?
One of our biggest goals would be Revolve! Would be amazing to attend Coachella with them.
What advice would you give to brands looking to work with influencers?
Set out to build a relationship with the influencer, that way you can build a sense of rapport. Clearly state the parameters of the relationship and what you expect.
Are you gifting? Is it sponsored? If it is sponsored how will we ensure that the content remains authentic to audiences? What social channels are you hoping to reach and build upon?
Although it can be awkward, for bigger collaborations, it’s important to cross your T’s and dot your I’s to get a contract together that outlines the terms of the engagement- we’ve heard some horror stories.
How do brands generally contact you?
Via email or DM.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to become an influencer?
Figure out your niche and make sure that you’re passionate about- curate a vision! Build a following and engage with them. Make it clear from the onset the brands you love and why. Don’t compromise your integrity and align yourself with opportunities that stay true to your vision - corny but true!
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