6 Best Ways to Find Influencers (Ranked From Free to Paid)

Finding the perfect influencer partner just got easier: Unleash your brand's potential with these 6 creative ways!

Priya Nain

Priya Nain

August 13, 2023

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The success of your influencer marketing campaigns depends on the creators that you collaborate with to promote your product.

But finding them is not an easy task.

In this blog, we've put together a list of the top 6 ways to find influencers. Some of these ways won't cost you anything, while others might require some investment.

📋 1— Look in your customer list (free)

One of the simplest ways to find influencers for your brand is by looking at your customer list. If people are buying your products, they already like what you offer. Some of them might even have a following on social media or a platform where they share their thoughts.

Their endorsements come from personal experience, making them more authentic and trustworthy.

A prime example of this method in action is Athletic Greens. In the Leveling Up podcast with Eric Siu, COO Kat Cole revealed that they only partner with creators who are already customers.

Dr. Andrew Huberman, a host of the Huberman Lab Podcast, is a customer who praises Athletic Greens for its simple way to get essential nutrients. Even Tim Ferris, who recommended Athletic Greens in his book "The 4-Hour Body," was never paid for his endorsement.

This adds a layer of credibility, making it clear that the recommendations are real, not "just another paid promotion."

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Authenticity, low cost, and a genuine connection to the product.
  • Cons: It might limit the pool of influencers, and not all customers may have a significant following.

If your product serves a very specific segment of the market or has unique features, finding influencers from your customer base ensures that the promoters truly understand and appreciate what makes your product special.

Brands that have a subscription model might find this strategy effective, as their customers likely have ongoing, positive experiences with the product. Their long-term engagement might translate into more convincing endorsements.

#️⃣ 2— Hashtag Research (free)

This method will work on a social media platform where influencers use hashtags regularly and abundantly.

By following this method, you can find at least 50 relevant hashtags in just 15-20 minutes, opening up potential connections with thousands of influencers who can promote the brand regularly.

a) List core & tangential hashtags

  • Core Hashtags: These are directly related to the brand's products or services, such as #MorningCereal or #HealthyCereal for a breakfast cereal brand. They specifically target users interested in these attributes.
  • Tangential Hashtags: These are related to the broader context, lifestyle, or values of potential customers, such as #ActiveLifestyle or #CleanEating.

b) Find expert hashtags

  • These are used by established professionals in the industry, reflecting expertise and credibility. For example, #RegisteredDietician or #FitnessCoach.

c) Check Recommended Hashtags

  • Use Instagram's search bar to find algorithmically generated related hashtags.
  • Explore the hashtags used by influencers for niche ideas and campaign inspiration.

d) Compile

Put all hashtags into a “Mega List”. For each hashtag now you just have to find 20-30 influencers to have thousands of influencers to reach out to.

Here's a video to walk you through this method:

To use this method, you'll need our influencer hashtag research spreadsheet (make a copy).

At the end of this process when you want to analyze any influencer's profile, you can use SARAL's free Chrome extension to learn more about them.

Just click the extension icon, and you'll see information that helps you decide if you want to contact them or not.

You can even save influencers in SARAL and email them straight from the platform, without any extra tool.

Try SARAL for free for 7 days, and see how it can make your influencer marketing better.

Pros & Cons:


  • You can quickly find at least 50 relevant hashtags in 15-20 minutes, connecting with numerous potential influencers.
  • It is free and doesn't require any special tools or subscriptions.
  • By using core, tangential, and expert hashtags, you can pinpoint influencers that are most aligned with your brand's values and products.


  • The vast number of hashtags and influencers can become overwhelming, making the selection process more difficult.
  • While finding hashtags is quick, the subsequent steps of evaluating and contacting each potential influencer can be time-consuming without automation tools.

🍋  3— Create & promote a brand ambassador program (almost free)

An ambassador program is where a brand recruits individuals, often customers or fans, to represent and promote their products or services.

These brand ambassadors share the brand's values and are enthusiastic about spreading the word. They may receive incentives like discounts, free products, or commissions in return for their promotional efforts.

Such programs provide a formalized way to build and maintain relationships with influencers. It sets clear expectations, roles, and rewards, creating a partnership rather than a simple transaction.

Brands like Pura Vida and Loop Earplugs have successfully used this method to engage with the right influencers to promote their brand.

They have dedicated landing pages for ambassador programs. Here they talk about who they're looking for as their ambassador, what are the perks for prompting their product and finally invite them to apply.

But creating a program is not enough. You have to make sure enough people know about it.

Here's how to promote your ambassador program:

  • Social media posts: Regularly post about the program on social platforms, utilizing hashtags and engaging visuals.
  • Influencer partnerships: Partner with existing influencers to spread the word about the program, giving it more credibility.
  • Email newsletters: Include information about the ambassador program in your regular newsletters, reaching out to interested customers.
  • Paid Ads to ambassador program: You can create ads that ask people to fill out a form if they're interested in your ambassador program or that have a CTA to visit your ambassador program landing page.

In this method, the initial fixed costs you'll incur are —  building the landing page, & hosting it. Then there might be variable costs involved in promoting the program in case you use ads.

Pros & Cons:


  • By controlling the application process, you can ensure that the ambassadors align well with your brand values and target audience.


  • Starting a new ambassador program might result in limited reach until it gains traction and attracts more participants.

👨‍💻 4— Hire someone to find creators for you (low cost)

Researching and identifying suitable influencers can take hours if you're doing it at a high volume. Your time is better spent building relationships with customers or influencers.

That's where a VA (virtual assistant) or freelancer can take this off your plate, letting you concentrate on other critical tasks.

Before you onboard someone to assist with finding influencers, you must have a clear process in place. You are the expert in knowing what your brand needs and you should be the one to define the requirements, goals, and methods for selecting influencers.

  • Create a clear strategy: Outline the criteria that define the 'right' influencers for your brand. Are you looking for specific demographics, interests, or engagement rates? Set these parameters first.
  • Define the process: Provide detailed instructions, including the tools and platforms to be used, the expected timeline, and the methods for tracking progress.
  • Provide training: A brief training session can ensure that the freelancer or VA fully understands your expectations.

Platforms like Upwork are excellent places to find professionals who specialize in social media lead-generation tasks. Rates vary, but a budget of $50 to $65 for 100 influencers can offer a cost-effective solution.

Pros and cons:


  • You can hire help as needed, without committing to a full-time employee.
  • VAs or freelancers often have specific expertise in influencer search and social media trends.
  • With someone handling the influencer search, you can concentrate on other vital areas of your business like relationship building or product development.


  • Without careful guidance, a VA might not fully grasp your brand's unique identity, leading to mismatches.
  • You'll rely on someone outside of your core team, which might lead to issues with availability or consistency.
  • Different freelancers may deliver varying quality of work, so you will need to spend some time initially to select the right individual.

💜 5— Use tools like SARAL (moderate cost, saves time)

Using SARAL you can find any type of influencer for your brand from any geography.

… without spending hours copy-pasting data into spreadsheets or combing through social media accounts that are not even relevant to you.

SARAL can replace expensive or inefficient databases out there. That's because it's a search engine that allows you to find any influencer on social media!

It costs a fraction of how much time you'd spend doing this manually or paying for VA hours. Here are the pricing details. There is a free trial so you can test before you commit!


  • Time-saving: SARAL automates much of the influencer discovery process, significantly reducing the time it takes to find suitable influencers.
  • Cost-effective: By streamlining the process, SARAL could save money compared to manual methods or more expensive tools.
  • Data-driven: The Chrome extension provides instant access to key influencer statistics, helping to quickly gauge the relevance and fit for your brand.
  • Ease of use: The platform is designed to be user-friendly, making it accessible even to those who may not be tech-savvy.
  • A pool of influencers: The ability to save and manage a list of influencers ensures that you always have potential contacts to reach out to, aiding in ongoing marketing efforts.


  • First of all, you'll have more influencers than you can manage. (not kidding… our brands have reported such 'issues' to us)

On a serious note…

  • While we do offer a free trial, ongoing use will require a subscription, adding to operational costs.
  • We're built for DTC brands so if you're looking to manage influencer marketing for any other industry, we're not the best choice.

🛒 6— Influencer marketplaces (expensive)

Influencer marketplaces are platforms where brands can connect with influencers who are open to collaboration.

These marketplaces host a database that includes creators with a modest number of followers to well-known celebrities who have earned millions of followers on social media platforms.

Such marketplaces include — Billo, Insense, and more…

Influencer marketplaces can be an attractive option for brands looking to find influencers fast, but the costs associated with these platforms can be substantial. Plus you're not going to be able to find very many untapped creators.

Most marketplaces will charge transaction fees for each successful collaboration with an influencer. These fees can add up, especially for brands that engage with multiple influencers through the platform.

We don't recommend this route for DTC brands. Especially when you have tools like SARAL!

🤔 Should you start with a free method?

While starting with free methods can seem appealing, it's essential to weigh the potential long-term costs and lost sales against the benefits.

Free methods don't provide the necessary tools or reach to effectively find and reach your best influencers.

Every moment spent on less effective marketing strategies represents a lost opportunity to capitalize on more robust solutions. The use of free methods can keep your brand from reaching its full potential, negatively impacting growth and profitability.

So despite the perception that going with free methods is always the best option, using a platform like SARAL might prove to be a smarter investment in the long run.

SARAL is an all-in-one influencer marketing platform created for DTC brands that want to grow consistently & profitably.

And the best part? It's not even expensive.

The cost of using SARAL might be more than offset by the revenue generated through increased sales and efficiency. Claim your free trial today.

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Finding the perfect influencer partner just got easier: Unleash your brand's potential with these 6 creative ways!

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