How Do I Set Sponsored Rates As An Influencer?
Knowing how to set influencer rates is one of the most frequently asked questions I get and I understand why. It’s a new industry, it’s tough to sift through all the information out there, and at the end of the day it all becomes as clear as mud! There’s no industry standard, every person you ask sets their rates wildly different, blog posts and forums all say different things, and websites include different methods to calculate them, it’s just so confusing! And after writing this post and crunching the numbers myself it became more and more apparent as to why it hasn’t been done yet - there’s so many factors and it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole! But I did it anyway!
So who am I and why am I qualified to tell you how to set yours? Well, I’ve been a photographer and influencer for nearly 5 years, (full time for 3) and have been able to travel the world full-time with my husband solely from the income I’ve made through content creation and commercial photography since having only 3000 followers. Now I coach influencers and content creators on how to do the exact same!
After years of research, trial, and error it’s time for me to put the issue of setting rates to rest and create an industry standard across the board so that influencers, creators, and brands know exactly how to calculate and what to charge.
It’s important to understand that as a freelance content creator or influencer, you are taking on ALL the creative roles of a commercial photography agency and a brand needs to pay tens of thousands of dollars for that if they don’t use your services! This is something most brands understand but because this is a new industry and most creators aren’t business savvy there are many big brands out there taking advantage of the gold mine they find themselves in. The only way creators will stop being taken advantage of is by arming themselves with the knowledge they need to properly price their services.
NOW with that being said, let’s break down exactly how to create your influencer rate! There are 4 different “fees” that you need to consider to calculate your influencer rate.
INFLUENCER FEE: the price of posting on your Instagram (or other social media platform).
EXCLUSIVITY FEE: the price of you not posting for a competing brand.
CONTENT FEE: the price of creating new content for you or the brand to use (photos, videos, etc).
LICENSING FEE: the price of using your work for different purposes and platforms.
Calculating Influencer Fee:
There are 3 factors that will affect your influencer fee; Follower Count, Engagement Rate, and Deliverables. The current industry standard for follower count which is mutually beneficial for both influencer and brand is $100 per 10,000 followers (for 1 in-feed post). Next, if your engagement rate is above average for your follower count you will multiply that amount by 3. And finally, deliverables.
In-Feed Post: $100 per 10,000 followers (x3 for above average engagement rate).
Story (per frame with link): $100 per 10,000 followers
Reel: $200 per 10,000 followers (this is simply posting the Reel, this does not account for your production quality. Video is tough because there are so many variables - see “content fee” below).
Packages: offer a discounted rate of at least 10-15%.
10,000 followers = $100 for 1 in-feed post.
Above average engagement rate (x3) = $300
Collaboration total = $300 for 1 in-feed post.
*Anytime you take new content for a collaboration, you should add your content fee to the total
Calculating Exclusivity Fee:
When a brand asks for exclusivity they are asking you to not work with any competing brand for a certain time period. For exclusivity the industry standard is to charge your influencer fee multiplied by the number of months the brand is requesting exclusivity. However, when pricing exclusivity it’s also important to consider potential gains/losses. If Coca Cola pays you $1,000 for a single post and then wants 3 months exclusivity, $3,000 is great! BUT, if Pepsi comes to you in a month and wants to pay $4,000 for a single post then you can’t because of the exclusivity agreement. Something to keep in mind…
Make sure you check your contracts in case a brand is trying to slip it in there without your knowledge!
10,000 followers, with above average engagement rate (x3) = $300 for 1 in-feed post.
Requested 3 months exclusivity = $900
Collaboration total = $1,200 ($300 for 1 in-feed post, and $900 for 3 months exclusivity).
Calculating Content Fee:
ANYTIME you pick up the camera to create new content you'll want to add your content fee to the total rate! This is where things get WILD and why there isn’t really an industry standard for pricing influencer rates (or photography in general lol). Your skill level, equipment, expereicne, style, and more will all have an impact on your content fee.
Beginner ($10 - $25 per image): phone photographer with no portfolio and no education and/or experience.
Amateur ($25 - $50 per image): have sold their images to clients, have a minimal portfolio, but are still lacking education and/or experience.
Semi-Pro ($50 - $150 per image): part-time photographers with an extensive portfolio, strong skills, a few years of education and/or experience.
Professional ($75 - $375 per image): full-time photographers with an extensive portfolio, strong skills, several years of education and/or experience.
Top Professional ($300 - $2,000+ per image): exclusive full-time photographers like these are in high demand.
Calculating Licensing Fee:
If I’ve bored you to sleep with all of that then get excited because this is where the controversy starts! This is also where, if you aren’t careful, you can get majorly screwed over - so pay attention! If you are a content creator and a brand wants to use your images for ANYTHING they must get your permission. You own the image, they do NOT!
As a brand you must disclose your intention for the image(s) you want to use. If you are a creator and the brand hasn’t disclosed this it should be the very first thing you ask during your negotiations before you even get started working with them (or at the very least before you hand over any content). It’s important to note that the price of licensing varies greatly because it is directly affected by how the brand values the rights to the image(s).
So, let’s get stuck into the weeds of licensing so you can begin to grow flowers! There are 2 major factors that will affect your licensing fee; Usage and Perpetuity. Let’s begin with usage.
When determining “usage” there are 2 things you need to know from the brand; placement and length of time. For placement there are 4 general categories where a brand will want to use your image;
Organic Social: reposting your image on the brand’s social media accounts.
Paid Social: paid amplification of your image across social media, AKA ads.
Digital: digital marketing including websites, email marketing, banner ads, whitelisting, etc.
Offline: in-store, point of sale, print, billboards, etc.
Organic Social: 15%
Paid Social: 30%
To calculate usage: content fee x placement x # of months (don't forget to add your original content fee to the total)
You’ve agreed to a $1,000 in-feed post with a brand. Included in that is your price for that photo which is $375. However, the brand wants to use that photo for 3 months as a banner on their website.
Calculate per month usage fee: $375 x 30% (.30) = $112.50 per month.
$112.50 x 3 months = $337.50.
Collaboration total = $1,337.50 ($1,000 for the in-feed post and $337.50 for 3 months* extended digital usage).
Full Rights (Perpetuity)
NOW, let’s talk about “perpetuity”! When a brand wants the rights to your content “in perpetuity” it means they want full rights to the image forever (aka they own it). If you agree to this a brand can do whatever they want with the content. Perpetuity is a hot-button topic! Even though it sounds great that you don’t have to worry about whether a brand is using your content past the agreed upon date and you get a big payment upfront, there are some very important factors to consider. Commercial photographers would argue, “NO! Don’t do it!”
If you sell your image(s) to a brand in perpetuity you don’t earn an income from the length of time of usage, you don’t get to control where content with your face on it goes, the value of your images can increase in the future if you get #instafamous. Not to mention you really devalue the photography industry when you give away full rights to your content. Brands want more and more rights for less and less payment. If they can get full rights from you for $50, why would they go to someone else and pay $50/mo for usage rights for 12 months? See what I mean - spicy!
WITH THAT BEING SAID, I am a bit of a proponent for selling the rights to your images in perpetuity! Because for the vast majority of influencers and content creators out there the above factors won’t really apply in the future and having the ability to sell your content “in perpetuity” can offer such a massive boost of income which is especially helpful when you are starting out and trying to turn this into your career!
If you want to sell the rights to your content “in perpetuity” a simple rule of thumb (for the purpose of creating an industry standard influencer rate) is to calculate the highest usage rate for 1 year for the specific image(s), then multiply by 3 years (average lifetime of an image).
You agreed to a $1,000 in-feed post. Included in that is your price for that photo which is $375. However, the brand wants to buy the full rights to that photo “in perpetuity”.
First calculate usage per month at the highest placement rate: $375 x 60% (.60) = $225 per month.
Now calculate yearly rate: $225 x 12 = $2,700 per year.
Multiply by 3 years: $2,700 x 3 = $8,100.
Collaboration total = $9,100 ($1,000 for the in-feed post, and $8,100 to full rights of the image produced).
Content Creator Tip: Watermark EVERYTHING! Don’t learn the hard way! If you do not watermark your content when you send/show it to a brand (even for review or a-la-carte purchasing) there is absolutely nothing stopping them from taking (stealing) that content and doing what they want with it, without giving you a dime! I’ve experienced this myself, and have heard horror story after horror story of brand’s stealing content and the creator seeing it displayed in department stores across the country without permission or payment.
Tying it all together!
Once you have calculated your influencer fee, exclusivity fee, photography fee, and licensing fee using the methods above, you then combine them to get your total rate! This is how much you will charge for a paid brand deal!
How do I know when to charge each fee?
Influencer fee: whenever you post for a brand.
Exclusivity fee: whenever a brand wants exclusivity so you can’t work for a competitor.
Content fee: whenever you pick up a camera to create content.
Licensing fee: whenever the brand wants to use your image or own the rights to it.
Every brand deal is different so you won’t always charge every fee in your influencer rate but you can have them already calculated and in a rate sheet that you can send to brands. Remember, you can’t get what you don’t ask for! Always ask high and negotiate down. At the end of the day the collaboration needs to be MUTUALLY beneficial for both you and the brand.
WOW! If you read this far then pat yourself on the back! You are now ahead of the curve when it comes to knowing what to charge as an influencer, content creator, or business. Below is a calculator that summarizes everything we just spoke about. Please share this with every creator you know so that together we can make a massive change to the industry and start earning our worth as influencers and content creators.
FREE Rate Calculator by @MadventuresTravel
Maddie Harlan from @MadventuresTravel has created an amazing rate calculator based on the formulas in this article and she's giving it to you for FREE! Just input your follower count and follow the prompts to see all of your rates automatically calculated for you! To get this awesome tool click the "download free" button below to get your FREE rate calculator via google sheets! Thank you Maddie!!
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