When you google influencer rates, you’ll find wildly inconsistent answers and ways to calculate them. Personally, I think they’re mostly garbage and everything these sites proclaim as “industry standard” are not standard. That’s largely because the “industry standard” varies widely between what people are getting paid and what they deserve to be paid. If you need help figuring out how to determine influencer rates for sponsored posts and partnerships, watch my Google Web Creators video below or keep reading for helpful tips!
I am lucky to have an agency, Digital Brand Architects, who determine my rates for me and make sure I’m paid what I deserve according to each campaign’s scope of work. If you are looking to hire a creator and are steadfast in a $ amount per every 1,000 followers rule, I am likely not the right fit for you. My — and most creators’ value — goes beyond our follower count. I’ve seen some people say $1 per every 1,000 (which…OMG. ABSOLUTELY NOT. EVER.) and some say $10. By the higher end of those rules, someone with 10,000 followers would make $100 for a post. Now, that might be fine for someone taking a quick snap on their iPhone and putting it on their grid, but if someone with the same follower count was asked to produce a video or stop motion, or a full production shoot, or make a DIY tutorial…that does not add up. And to not consider someone’s engagement rate in those calculations is valuing quantity over quality — one person with 10k with a modest amount of engagement is not of the same value as another with the same following but hyper engaged audience.
This is why it’s not feasible to make a one-size-fits-all rates calculation.
Beyond no two accounts having the exact same rates, no two campaigns will have the exact same rates either, because there are many things to consider when determining the value. So, instead of giving you some sort of bogus rates calculator, here are some things that you should consider when determining your fees:
Amount of work
How many hours will you be putting into the project? What’s the timeline / turnaround? I think of payment in terms of a few things, and two big ones are the work put in (follower count or any other metrics need not apply), and the advertising value (dependent on metrics). Regardless of your follower count, you should be compensated for your time at minimum. Think of it this way: imagine if a photographer showed up to a shoot and the client said, “oh, you don’t have enough followers for me to pay you.” Absolutely not! You’re still being asked to work…so compensation (even if it’s in the form of a mutually agreed upon trade) for that work is necessary, even if you aren’t providing the same advertising value as someone with a larger reach. Also, remember that if they came to you, they did so because they see value in you!
Follower count (and actual reach / average impressions)
While this isn’t the only important number, following count will shape a creator’s fee. However, follower count and actual reach and average impressions are different things and as these numbers can vary quite a bit, many more companies are asking for your average reach and impressions vs. just going by your follower count — or putting more emphasis on…
Likes, comments, shares, saves, and replies are all examples of how your audience engages. A more engaged audience is likely also going to pay more attention to the products you use or advertise – making them more valuable for potential advertisers. This is why I (and many others) emphasize building and connecting with the community you have vs. solely focusing on growth.
If the main goal is sales, this will likely be a metric they will want to focus on. Does your audience click through and buy product? Start tracking. Affiliate companies like Rewardstyle (now known as LTK), Shopstyle Collective, and others are great ways to track your conversion rate and make extra income, independently. (They also have their own campaigns, and take notice of anyone who does have a good conversion rate!)
Will they be using your photos or videos on their own channels? In print? On their site? For newsletters? For advertising purposes? I am pretty relaxed about brands crossposting to their accounts as long as they tag me — I appreciate the additional exposure — but if they’re using my photos for broader commercial purposes, that requires usage fees.
Production costs / overhead
How much will the production cost you (will you need to hire a photographer or videographer, pay a location fee, assistant, buy supplies or build a set, etc.)? Keep that in mind when setting your rate, so you’re not operating at a deficit.
If a brand requires exclusivity (for instance: no competitors x days before and after), that can affect the rate. Generally, this applies more for long term exclusivity — and as a rule, I do this in good faith for direct competitors around the time of the project.
Types and amount of posts
A static post in feed, reel, video, IGTV, stories with swipe ups, blog post, dedicated posts or syndication to other platforms. These will all have different prices, depending on what the ask is. For example, on instagram a common ask is 1 static post in feed and 2-3 story slides with 1 swipe up.
Your skill set
As I stated at the beginning, there’s a difference between hiring someone who is going to take a quick iPhone shot and someone who is going to shoot a full production and spend hours and hours perfecting their campaign deliverables.
There is value — advertising value, in particular — in both, as sometimes those simple iPhone shots perform really well for particular influencers. But again, it’s also about the amount of work you put in — and beyond that, the skill set and unique point of view you bring to the table.
Here’s an example: a brand approaches influencer A and influencer B who have the exact same follower count, reach, and engagement. They want an animated stop motion with lots of graphics from Influencer A that will take her hours and hours to put together — something many (if not most) influencers wouldn’t know how to produce. Influencer B is more known for in the moment lifestyle stills, so they ask them for that. Influencer A’s project would require a bigger budget not just because she’s putting in more work, but also because they’re asking for her unique skill set that sets her apart from others.
With most creatives (as with many other fields), you’re not just paying them for their time but their expertise.
The brand’s budget
This is the honest truth — campaign budget is always kept in mind. Say a brand has a smaller budget than what we’d normally charge, but I’m VERY excited about the project or brand, or they’re a small business and we know they can’t afford a full price. Or maybe it’s an easy ask and it’s a slow period. We are willing to work with varying budgets and adjust the project to suit both of our needs. There can be a bit of a sliding scale here, which is why rates are slightly tailored to the individual project. But the key here is, it has to be a compromise. There can’t be a huge disparagement in what a brand will pay vs. the normal rate.
A good place to start, if you’re unsure, is to ask for their budget. Most will lowball you and have some wiggle room. Does it sound like a fair price, given the amount of work you will have to put in?
Should I work for free product?
I am not against working for free product, if:
- it’s something you are really excited about
- you approached the brand
- you’re looking to build a relationship
- when there are no strings attached
Generally, I have a rule of thumb with companies who want to send a gift in hopes of a post: First of all, I won’t accept it if it’s something I’m not interested in (PR packages are different, since those come unprompted). If there are no strings attached, and it’s something I’ll probably at least mention in a story or would like to feature in a post, I’ll gladly accept. If there are requirements — especially a contract — time to talk budget. Gifting is just that — a brand sends a gift in hopes of a post. If they require a post, time to talk budget.
Now, like I said — I’m not against working for trade when it’s mutually beneficial. Most of us have done it! But as people in the beauty industry often say, “Free lipstick doesn’t pay my rent.” I mean, it’s cool. Who doesn’t love free lipstick? But at the end of the day, paid jobs should always be the priority…because this is a job.
What about exposure?
If a brand contacts you, remember that the ball is now in your court. If you ask for a budget and they say they’re compensating you with exposure, that’s a red flag for me. Just like lipstick doesn’t pay the bills, exposure doesn’t either. Plus, they contacted you, so don’t let them make you feel like they’re doing you a favor.
But Keiko, you forgot…!
This is by no means an official or exhaustive list — please remember that I’m not an authority. So if you see a giant blind spot that I missed, let me know your thoughts! This is just coming from someone who has had enough experience as an influencer and has navigated the strange waters of determining influencer rates to let you know that there is no magic one size fits all calculator.
In the end, if you don’t have an agency representing you, it’s best to find other influencers / creators you can trust who are willing to openly discuss and compare their rates. In order to get fair pay, we need to make sure that everyone is getting fair pay — because one person accepting less than they’re worth will affect what companies are willing to pay, moving forward.