If you are actively pitching brands on paid partnerships, chances are you’ve had a conversation or two about budget. Chances are you’ve had to justify or validate your pricing as part of the negotiations. You may have even had to educate your potential partner on why it is they should compensate you with more than just product.
Chances are, the pushback you encounter on your rates* isn’t just about you and your work; it also indicates a big, unanswered question in the industry: how do we value and measure influencer work? Is it advertising? Is it marketing? Is it creative work?
*Not getting pushback? Time to increase your prices!
The answer is all of the above. And that’s what makes it so tricky to measure and price out; it’s a marketing / advertising / content creation hole in one.
How’s a solopreneur / sologrammer like yourself to tackle those big questions and make sure you’re holding your own in pricing conversations? We’ve rounded up a few key things to keep in mind, that have helped us time and again.
You’re more than just a number
Too often, influencers get reduced to two numbers:
- Their follower count
- Their engagement rate.
Numbers don’t define you, but you should know what they are: here’s how to calculate your engagement rate.
A third number that comes up is ROI: how many sales does an influencer drive for a brand?
This one is much harder to measure—we’ll go into a more in-depth ROI discussion in a future post—but the short version is that it’s an incomplete way of measuring the value of influencer marketing.
Again: this comes back to how we think about influencer marketing. You’re more than just an impressions machine, and the more you demonstrate that in your media kit, and articulate that in sales conversations, the more you’ll communicate the value of your services.
Frame your work in terms of value delivered
Most of us, when we create content, are doing more than just snapping a photo of a product and blasting it to our audiences. We’re creating a concept and a narrative, and finding a unique angle to present that product.
Established brands are accustomed to paying a photographer and creative team to generate high quality branded content. If you can demonstrate your talents at concepting and creating that kind of content, you’ll be able to charge more even with a smaller following.
What’s more, that content just doesn’t disappear after your campaign is over (unlike an advertising campaign); it lives on in the internet, with a long half-life of discovery and engagement and SEO benefits.
*Keep in mind: this matters for enduring content (ie, blog posts or grid shots that will be on the internet forever). Stories, not so much, unless you create and maintain a highlights reel.
That means you’re filling a lot of needs for a brand when you create your content. If you find the conversation returning over and over again to ROI—to a brand wanting to see a return immediately on your rates—it may be worth articulating that your work does far more than an ad campaign, and so should be measured more holistically.
Share past results
Whenever possible, share results from previous campaigns as a way to support your pricing. Even if you don’t have sales numbers at your disposal—like how many times your discount code was used, or how many sales you generated—there is plenty you can focus on. Numbers to share include:
- Total engagements on your post(s) including engagement rate.
- How you over-delivered. If your contract called for two posts and you did three, call that out as an example of how you work hard for your partners—and will do the same for this new partner.
- Anecdotal feedback. Share stories about how people reached out to you personally asking about a product, or if they tried it on your suggestion and loved it. Those more qualitative kinds of reporting are a nice complement to the more data-driven bullet points above.
- Show how your work was re-used. If your client repurposed your recipe into their website, an e-book, or social content, highlight how they reaped additional content for their own channels thanks to your work.
- Repeat client work. If clients keep coming back to you (or even if they just return once) that’s powerful proof of your impact. Let your new partner know about your return customers and any testimonials they’ve shared.
Know your bottom line
It may make sense to negotiate and lower your rates (here are some reasons when it makes sense). It may also make sense for you to walk away if you get the impression that this partner doesn’t value your work. If it’s not worth it to you to do the work on the terms available, respectfully decline and move on to the next.
We have declined opportunities that had very appealing aspects to them (big budget! Cool brand! Nice people!) but that weren’t a good fit for us for one reason or another. The FOMO may sting a bit in the short term, but there’s something really empowering about saying no for the right reasons.
These are the points we keep coming back to in pricing or budget conversations, but it’s by no means an exhaustive study.
How do you communicate your value when your rates are challenged?