Ami Nicole, AKA ACRONYM, has been a professional photographer for over 10 years and works with brands to create content – including clients in Identity’s cannabis portfolio. She’s also a portrait and professional concert photographer, capturing images of stars like Snoop Dogg, Rob Zombie, Billie Eilish and more.
We asked ACRONYM to share more insights into her experiences as a cannabis content creator and influencer, and what lessons she’s learned along the way.
What was your introduction to the cannabis space, and how did you eventually become a cannabis content creator?
I became enamored with Cannasmack, a brand run by a squad of powerful women, whose products are not tested on animals, but created with hemp and include vegan options. I started promoting them with no affiliate marketing or agreements, I just enjoyed the product. After a few years, Cannasmack launched an affiliate program, which I was invited to join.
By that time, I had also picked up affiliate marketing deals with brands like OozeLife.com and MagicalButter after realizing that I could still do influencer marketing without having to negotiate crazy contracts or having millions of followers. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere and affiliate marketing has been so helpful for me in that regard.
What are some of the cannabis partners you have worked with?
Over the years I’ve partnered with a lot of different companies with diverse focuses: CannaSmack, a women-led and Hemp-based Skin Care company, LEVO Oil, which offers machines to help infuse herbs into food and topicals, and OozeLife.com for vape batteries and other devices.
When it comes to brands with their own consumable product, I couldn’t help but fall in love hard for High Times Magazine’s flower drops that started late December 2020. I have been part of all the Michigan campaigns (which has been an absolute honor) and have even since purchased the flower myself on my own smoke time. The fact that High Times came to Michigan for this monumental endeavor makes me believe that Michigan is even more of an epicenter for the cannabis industry and gets me super excited for the future. It’s also the closest to that coveted “California potency” that I’ve obtained in Michigan.
What would you consider your first major win as a cannabis content creator?
I’ve had so many “WTF is my life” moments while working in Cannabis, but this one takes the cake. Madison Ortiz, aka @HappyTokes on Instagram, was tasked with writing a Michigan travel story for ‘High Times Magazine’ called ‘Worth The Trip’ and she requested photos from my time in the Michigan scene, both cannabis and non-cannabis related.
I had already written a piece on Ann Arbor’s Hash Bash in 2017 for ‘High Times,’ so I included a few photos from that, as well as the Cannabis Cup, Movement Electronic Music Festival and a skyline shot I took during my Urban Exploring days.
Almost all of the photographs I provided were used in the spread, including a photo of myself smoking in the Church Cannabis zone from the Clio Cannabis Cup in 2019. This was published as a print edition and was in the center with the posters, and I was astounded when I found out. Then I realized what the issue it was: the coveted 4/20 issue, in the infamous year of 2020, with my art in it – with photo credit!
What’s the biggest lesson you have learned since entering the cannabis influencer world?
This is not meant to come off negative at all, but more so is a warning to new influencers—people will try to send you free stuff all the time in hopes of getting you to post without pay, and people will try to lowball you on cost for creating content. It is your job and your responsibility to request what you’re worth and know when it’s worth risking taking a potentially unbalanced deal for the “exposure.”
Talk to other influencers, work smart, and if you feel like you’re getting the short end of the stick, demand more (respectfully), and know your worth. Creating content is hard work sometimes, and it’s important you don’t let people run you. That will keep you happy and helps the rest of us who are also asking for our worth to achieve that goal, instead of clients going for someone who will work for less.
What should brands expect when hiring/working with a cannabis content creator?
If you want good work, and a content creator offers a number, please examine what you’re asking them to do before saying no. I’ve gotten some ridiculous pitches in my time where a brand wants all this work done, and is not willing to pay for the work, let alone the audience or network I’ve built.
When influencers and content creators make their pricing, they should be following a (distribution fee) + (talent fee) = (what should be charged) type of business model, and I believe a lot of brands tend to think that it’s just a quick few pictures and can be done on the cheap, but some content creators or influencers have teams they have to pay to keep their operation moving, including but not limited to a location rental, photographer, videographer, makeup artist, stylist, etc.
Any time that you pay late, pay little, or don’t pay at all, it’s teaching these content creators that your brand is not about taking care of their people or getting quality content. And if that’s the case, why would we want to represent that?
What are some misconceptions people have about you as a cannabis influencer or about cannabis influencers generally?
I think in general, anyone who is perceived as a “Cannabis Influencer” already has to fight stigma from people who don’t partake, because most people who haven’t smoked weed think that we won’t get things done, we’ll be sluggish and we won’t be effective because we’re “potheads.”
It’s simply not true. I’m far more effective while using cannabis. It keeps me going longer because it helps me manage my body pain after years of occupational wear and tear on my joints. Being a cannabis consumer does not change the fact that I’m talented, smart, and creative.
I’ve also been bullied by people who think the idea of being a “Cannabis Influencer” is a joke, and surprisingly enough, it’s been from other people in the Cannabis Industry. The thing that some people fail to grasp when it comes to the gig is that advertising for cannabis is so censored that people like me are essential to the overall sale of cannabis. If you can’t pay for advertising through social media due to the site’s terms of service or get billboards in certain cities that have “opted out,” how do you advertise?
That’s where we come in, and that’s just as important as someone running day-to-day ops at a dispo. We risk our network following and platforms in order to promote cannabis as a whole because we BELIEVE IN IT!
In 2021 alone, I can count on two hands how many people I have seen get their Instagram or TikTok accounts removed due to their cannabis content, losing thousands of followers and having to rebuild from scratch, despite us creating in a legalized state. That’s a lot more work than just “standing there with a product” being a “socialite.” It’s activism if you do it right.
How has your role as an influencer changed/evolved since you started?
There are a lot more opportunities coming to my inbox rather than me seeking them out. I’ve been working in Cannabis specifically since late 2016, and usually had to try and track down brands, cold dm them, ask if we can do a content trade for a product, that sort of thing.
Now, almost every 72 hours, there’s another CBD brand in my DMs asking if they can send me a box to review, an accessories company looking to get me to post their product on my feed, and the occasional “we want to gift you product from XX distributor with no strings attached.”
Since Michigan was legalized, a lot of those things became localized with invites to dispensary openings, events like the Cannabis Cup, and more. While 2020 put a major damper on events and friendships that were working toward partnerships, once people are vaccinated and life returns to a functioning capacity, I have a feeling I will have a LOT more appearances than ever before, and I cannot WAIT!
What is some advice you would share with someone who would like to pursue a career or hobby as a content creator, and for cannabis creators specifically?
We need EDUCATORS. There are enough hot girls smoking with no pants on. Study the plant. Share your findings. Do research. Go live with friends on IG and talk about why you love cannabis. Learn about your local laws. Donate or purchase products that donate to things like The Last Prisoner Project. Do more with your platform than just be hot and smoke weed.
That’s no dig to the girls who do (you go girl), but if we aren’t adding education to the conversation, how are we advancing the movement? The more we talk about it, the more normalized it becomes, which means the more we can smoke, *Billie Eilish Voice* “duhhh!”
Are you a content creator or influencer looking for brand partnerships? Drop us a note with your media kit to email@example.com to be added to our list of collaborators!