May 6, 2019
In any news article about influencers, the journalists always love to have a pop at how much we earn. It’s obvious that the general public and traditional media have an unsavoury view of influencers. Mainly due to reality TV celebs charging 5 figures for a facetuned selfie, holding up an indescript supplement and adding a ton of grain to their posts.
There’s also a huge problem with secrecy within the industry. Many creators have had their fingers burned by revealing their rates, only to be undercut by a ‘competing’ influencers.
We had a twitter chat over on #growglowchat where we discussed transparency and lots of good points were brought up. Such as, ‘why should we discuss rates? No other industry feels the need to.’ And they’re right - but if you were to Google, ‘how much does a plumber charge by the hour?’ You’re very likely to be met with millions of results that fall within a small range.
Plumbing is an industry that’s been around for hundreds of years, is regulated, has standards and not one single plumber has a monopoly over the whole market.
In the influencer industry, it’s only really been something that’s been making serious money for last 5-6 years. It’s unregulated and there are no standards that have been set. Further more, when you Google, ‘how much does an influencer charge?’, you’re met with 6836837 different results with often no rhyme or reason whatsoever.
In this episode, we’ll go over all of the contexts that need to be considered when setting your rates. We’ll go through a couple of strategies influencers use to work out their rates, I’ll share the feedback I’ve had from many influencers plus I’ll offer my experience on a way to work out rates that has worked for me these past few years!
As we begin this I just want to say how frigging overwhelming this is. I’m not an expert. I don’t work in influencer marketing. But I have been in this industry longer than the job of ‘influencer outreach’ has been around. And I will also say that generally, everyone is making it up as they go along.
PRs, Brands and Influencer outreach managers are throwing the term ‘ROI’ out like it’s going out of fashion, without REALLY understanding what it means. Because ROI in influencer marketing ISN’T about, ‘I paid them £200 and I made £100 profit on that investment.’ Because it just isn’t that simple. Furthermore, good influencer marketers understand that influencers aren’t sales people. They aren’t targeted on sales KPIs. Using an influencer for your marketing could be for a range of reasons - gaining social followers, improved brand chatter, increasing footfall to stores, improving affinity with audiences and the brands - these are difficult things to track and attribute to a single Instagram post or Story shout out.
So then how does an influencer set a rate? If they can’t say, ‘well my photo gets 300 likes, which translates to 10 follows for the brand, which translates to 1 sale and the sale = £20’ - like that makes no frigging sense. Are they charging based on follows? Sales? Exposure to their audience? It’s a MESS.
So influencers then get told by some ‘experts’ to base their rates on an hourly rate and pro rata it out depending on the work they’re doing. So let’s say you decide your hourly rate is £10 and it takes you 20 minutes to take a photo, 5 minutes to edit it, 10 minutes to write a caption, 42 seconds to post it, based on your wifi - can you see where we’re going here? A MESS.
And then what do you base your hourly wage on? Is it inline with what you can earn at Tescos or what a consultant doctor would charge?
I’m being hugely reductive here but I hope you can read between the lines and understand what I am saying. It’s complex and totally context driven.
So then does an influencer listen to those people who say to charge 1% of your following? Because I know creators with 5,000 followers who’d have to charge £50 whose production values are so much higher than a reality TV star holding the gummies up in a selfie. That micro influencer would hire a photographer, at personal expense, buy props, spend time mood boarding ideas and then time editing. Plus putting in effort to craft the perfect caption. Why should they get so much less?
Or two influencers with 5000 followers charging £50 and one influencer’s content is a steaming pile of wank and the other’s looks like it stepped out of a Vogue concept shoot. Is that fair?
So can we agree to put this 1% notion in the fucking bin? Because no context is taken in here.
In my research, I found some figures online that say…
Instagram: 1,000 per 100,000 followers (so £10 per 1000 followers roughly)
Snapchat: Starts at 500 per campaign in 24 hours
YouTube: Roughly 2,000 per 100,000 followers
Podcast: £100 per 10,000 downloads - but I’ve also seen the same fee for 1,000 downloads
I then stumbled across Influencer Marketing Hub - Micro influencers vs Celebrities. I put my details up against Kim Kardashian’s (the default option) but beautifully you can compare yourself to ANY influencer - how lovely for our self esteem.
With these online calculators, I find them somewhere between low-balling and insulting. I’ve often gotten £50-£100 more than the top range that these calculators suggest.
So just how do you get parity?
When brands want to say, ‘well so and so with more followers/engagement charges less than you’, we get pitted against each other by online calculators and the whole business about keeping us quiet from taking about money serves one purpose and one purpose only - to get as much as out of us for as little as possible.
I truly believe parity in the industry will be a two pronged approach - brands becoming more educated so that they only work with influencers who are right for their campaigns - not just the ones who are cheapest or who they can milk for as much as possible. And it’ll come from us as creators seeing each other as a community rather than competitors. Because when we undervalue ourselves we give less value to our peers.
If we are open about our rates so that we can put ourselves in line with each other, then brands will not be able to take advantage - intended advantage or not.
This is where Grow & Glow, my new hub for creators will hopefully help. Upon entering the hub, creators will be encouraged to share their rates and media kits so other members can access them and create or adjust their own rates in line with what their peers are charging - with all of the context. Like let’s be real - I know who my peers are who have similar engagement, similar level of content and a similar audience - so I charge in line with them. This is info you’ll be able to access when we go live.
Furthermore, Grow & Glow will be open to brands to. To be able to approach the members for opportunities knowing full well that those members will be in communication - not competition. I think it’ll be a really good thing for the industry.
But enough of me plugging that, let’s go back to discussing all of the factors that need to be kept in mind when we build our rates out.
Let’s go back to the context we discussed before like:
Furthermore, agreeing on rates is a dance between the creator and the brand. On Sophie Milner and Millie Cotton’s amazing Keeping It Candid podcast, Chloe Plumstead said something I really respect. She said, ‘I have my rates and if the brand can’t afford it, then move along’ - I mean I’m paraphrasing but what I took from that was, it wasn’t her job to bend her fees to a brands budget. So she rarely lowers her rates in line with them.
I believe this is smart. It’s the age old saying - ‘those that pay the least, want the most.’
Setting your rates comes down to a simple calculation - what are you happy to complete the work for + the premiums you can add for context (mixed in with a little of self-awareness, I’ll come on to this) = your rates.
This is what I do! When I receive a brief, I think to myself - ok what have I charged and had accepted for a similar scope of work before - and I go from there. So say if I’ve done a collaboration for a blog post, Instagram post and set of Insta Stories for £1200, I’ll say my fee for the same package is £1200 and go from there. But if it’s a new scope of work or a different package structure, I’ll think of it like this…
So say if you’re happy with £20-£30 an hour for your time (similar to other creative and media industries) and the time it’ll take is 4 hours (£80) and then you want to add premiums on for your great engagement, high level of content quality, usage rights or whatever other contexts we discussed and determine the rate your happy with is £200 - stick with that and stand by it.
If at any point, you think it’s not enough - go higher. If you think it’s too much, after self reflection - not after low confidence, that’s different. Adjust accordingly.
I’d LOVE to give you definite figures. Or a calculation. But it’s impossible. I can only tell you what my thought process is! And you know, sometimes I’ve had set fees in my head for the different content I create and then I chat with a friend who has similar contexts to me and I see they charge more - I up my rates! And if we have the same convo and I think they’re undercharging - I’ll tell them.
So many times I’ve had friends and other bloggers thank me for these conversations because it’s helped us gain that level playing field. Community yo.
So do this dance with the brand…
They ask for your rates, you say what you’re happy with but you want to know their budget. Usually their budget will align with your rates - funny that. But if they don’t probe further. If you really believe you’ve over charged - negotiate, but if you believe you’ve asked for what you’re worth - don’t falter. If that brand doesn’t want to work with you - it’s because they can’t afford you. Someone else can.
Now ideally, I prefer the dance of asking what their budget is before revealing my rates.
And this can be annoying sometimes. Because a brand has a set figure they can use for influencer marketing and are often trying to get as many pieces as content for that budget as possible - but try and get them to value it first, so you can see if you can negotiate it, or if it’s worth it.
I can’t ever see there being a set rate across the industry - due to all of the contexts that come into play - the only way forward for clarity and parity is, I believe, in transparency and communication. And you know what, if you share your rates and get undercut - then karma will get that influencer and the brand will have lost out on working with you even though you’re awesome! That’s the downside, but the upside is that we come together as a community to fight against the negative aspersions against us and work together for a fairer value on what we do.
If you ever have any questions, feel free to message me or email me! I love chatting about this kind of thing. In the mean time, make sure you subscribe and leave a rating and review. I bloody love it!
Chat to you v v soon. BYEEEE.