Influencer marketing is a trend that is on the rise. So much, in fact, that I recently attended Hispanicize, a conference that takes place in Miami each year and is all about how Latino influencers can build their brands so they can work with major companies (and vice versa).

This year's conference had 2500 attendees, sessions with CMOs from major brands and panels with some of the top Latino bloggers around.

Although I attended the conference as press covering some of the events, as a blogger and influencer in my own right I wanted to know what was going on in the industry for my own brand and business. Here are some of the tips I learned about how to build your influencer marketing empire from scratch.

Know that brands are dying to work with you.

If I had to sum up all of the sessions I attended by one common theme it would be this: Brands are dying to work with influencers.

The reasoning is quite simple. As an influencer, you've already established trust with your audience. If brands align themselves with certain influencers, then it's easier for the brands to gain that trust as well.

Not only that, but data shows this strategy is actually quite effective. According to research conducted by Tapinfluence and Nielsen Catalina Solutions, influencer marketing delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of marketing. Brands know this and are allocating budgets just for influencer marketing.

It's not about the number of followers, it's about engagement.

Although the number of followers does play a role, brands are noticing that it's not exactly the most important metric for choosing influencers.

There's no point in having tens of thousands of social media followers if they aren't engaged. Simply put, if they aren't engaged then they don't care and they certainly won't be buying.

So what does this mean for influencers? It means that influencers will have to put time, effort and probably money into their brands to build thriving communities.

Just like large brands have marketing budgets to grow their influence, so should bloggers, business owners and anyone who considers themselves an influencer.

Don't be afraid to pitch brands.

As I already mentioned, I'm a blogger and influencer in my own right, so you can bet I attended this event to see if there were any brands I could potentially work with. I had my business cards in tow, a mega watt smile and I was ready to meet the people running the influencer campaigns for some specific companies who I knew were attending the event.

This brings me to my next point. Influencers shouldn't be afraid to pitch brands. First, because as I already stated, they want to work with you. Second, because they may not find you unless you do your due diligence to get on their radar.

This looks like cold calling, learning how to craft a good pitch and attending events where you know you may run into brands you want to work with. In other words, don't assume that if you build it, they will come. You're far better off meeting them halfway.

Final Thoughts

Hispanicize has come a long way since it's humble beginnings in Texas eight years ago and is a true testament to the popularity and effectiveness of influencer marketing. If you consider yourself an influencer, start putting in the work and you may find yourself working with major brands sooner than you think.