Even though influencer marketing has been the marketing trend for at least a few years now, there’s still a lot about the industry that has yet to be standardized.
There are almost as many definitions of micro-influencer as there are people who fall into that category. There’s a gathering consensus (spurred no doubt by the FTC) around using #ad as the sponsored-post indicator, but you’ll still see #partner, #client, and #sponsored all over your feed. Pricing is in many ways still a black box, with some brands shelling out many figures for a post, and others still operating in the product-for-post trade model.
In reassuring news, the ‘gramming community is making some strides toward consistency or at least transparency on the pricing front. More and more influencers will share their prices publicly (hello, Rachel Brathen, at $25K or more per post), and there are an increasing numbers of formulas or calculators that will help establish a baseline for pricing.
If you’re looking for some help creating prices for your services, or want to gut check your current pricing against what’s ‘standard,’ read on to arrive at some concrete numbers you can use confidently in pitching and negotiating with potential partners.
Start here: create your baseline pricing
Generic formulas and calculators aren’t perfect, but they’re a simple starting point for making sure you’re at least in the right pricing neighborhood. Once you determine a baseline, we’ll continue refining based on more qualitative factors.
Step 1: do the math
This method is attractive because of its simplicity. Just a quick math problem and voila, a price point to start negotiating with. A standard that seems to be emerging in the industry is one cent per follower, or $100 per 10K followers.
Or try this calculator.
Example: Stacey has 5,000 followers and a 3% engagement rate. Her baseline price per IG grid post is $50.
Step 2: give your results a gut check
Now that you’ve got a general starting point for pricing, it’s time to step back and make sure it makes sense. Any price you quote should be worth it to you for the amount of work that goes into the post, regardless of your following.
- Where are you in your influencer career? If you have a solid portfolio and a booked editorial calendar, you can bump your prices up to reflect increased demand. If you’re just getting started and want to build a portfolio and a network, it may make sense to nudge your price down to make working with you a no-brainer.
- How much work goes into creating that content? Is $10 or $50 or $500 worth it to you to create that content? And to do more than just phone it in, but invest your creative energies to ensure you and your brand partner shine? Shade your price up or down based on how much you’d be happy to do that work for. If it doesn’t feel worth it, it’s not.
Example: Stacey has a few sponsored posts in her portfolio but would like to uplevel. That said, she invests a lot of time into creating her content. She nudges her budget up to $55 per post.
Step 3: build in a buffer
However you arrive at that final number, give yourself an extra 10-15% of padding when you pitch that number. That means you’ll have some wiggle room when the brand inevitably negotiates.
Example: Stacey adds 10% to her budget, making her sponsored post rate $60.50. That’s a weird number, so she goes with $60.
Don’t sit still: keep revising your budget based on feedback and growth
You’ll get to know quickly how your budgets stack up based on responses to them.
If your budgets are accepted without any pushback or negotiations, time to increase your prices.
Example: Stacey isn’t getting much pushback at $60, so she increases her prices to $75 to see what the reactions are.
If your most consistent response is ‘no thanks,’ that’s a trickier problem to address. We’ll revisit this topic in a future post, but for a first step, try reducing your prices slightly. Try adjusting on a case-by-case basis and see if responses are different.
Example: Stacey isn’t getting much traction on her pitches. She reduces her price to $40 on a few pitches, to make saying ‘yes’ a no-brainer for the client.
If your following or engagement rates increase or decrease significantly, head back to step one, adjust your baseline, and charge ahead!
Be flexible: when to budge on budget
We’re all for sticking to our budgets and valuing our time and talents appropriately, but there are times when it might make sense to negotiate more than the buffer you already built into your pricing.
Reason 1: if product value justifies it
There’s a big difference between a brand sending you a protein bar versus sending you say, a smart watch or a high-end athleisure outfit. This is not to say you should work for just product (unless you want to, of course) but to weigh all forms of compensation as you negotiate a price point.
Example: An apparel brand offers Stacey a full outfit of her choosing, worth $150. Since that’s equivalent to 2-3 posts, she agrees to create two grid shots and a few stories. She charges a yogurt brand full price in addition to free product.
Reason 2: to ensure a win-win for you and the brand
If a brand approaches you for a single piece of content, like an Instagram shot, consider how likely that single touch is to drive results for them. Given that the average sales lead needs 6-8 touches to convert, there’s a good chance that your audience isn’t going to bite after one photo from you—no matter how brilliant your caption or inspired your visual content. Not to mention, if you’re going to go to the trouble to come up with a concept and then do a photo shoot, you may as well take 3-5 photos instead of one.
It will benefit you and your brand partner if you suggest a broader engagement, for a slightly discounted rate. The more content you share, the more both you and the brand are likely to see tangible results from the partnership.
Example: Stacey suggests 3 shots for $120 instead of 1 shot for $60.
Reason 3: if the client will open up new doors for you
There are some clients that are worth budging for, because of potential future benefits. Some of them are:
- A PR person with a client book that fits your brand perfectly. Chances are she’ll be able to bring you a lot of repeat business.
- A brand in a new category for you. If this is your first beauty client, it may be worth reducing your budget to get a solid case study / portfolio addition so you can expand your pitching to other beauty brands.
- You LOVE LOVE LOVE the brand, and will do anything to work with them
- A big name brand. This one is tricky, because big name brands will often have budget to work with. That said, if Nike comes calling, it’s worth doing the post for free just so you can say you worked with Nike. Now that’s a portfolio-maker you’ll want to showcase all over your media kit.
- The brand is newer / lower budget, and you foresee growing with them. We only suggest accommodating lower budget brands if you truly love their products AND you see a way to grow and expand with them.
Hey wait – what about stories?
At this point you should have an idea of how much to charge for an IG grid post, and how to wiggle that number based on various circumstances.
Which brings us to all the other kinds of content you could produce. The good news is, you can use that grid post budget to extrapolate budgets for other types of content.
Instagram Stories: 4-5 stories for the price of a grid post
Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube: Use the same 1 cent per follower / subscriber rule. Since Facebook’s new algorithms mean branded content doesn’t show up as often, we suggest rounding down on Facebook rates.
Twitter: don’t charge for tweets, unless you have a bazillion followers. In that case, you probably don’t need our help arriving at your ideal budget. For the rest of us mere mortals, just throw in a few free tweets for some additional social shares and bonus goodwill from your brand partner.
Blog: This deserves a whole ‘nother post, but for a quick and dirty version: take the 1 cent per unique monthly visitor, and round up, based on how much extra effort it takes you to create a blog post. This is when you’ll especially want to focus on how much budget is worth it to you to create the post.
Sample rate card
Now that we’ve gone through all those calculations, let’s step back and look big picture. Here’s a sample rate card that distills all of the numbers and considerations and calculations.
Want to create your own? Use our handy Canva template here.
Now that we’ve got prices locked down (well, at least until it’s time to adjust them, again), it’s time to start pitching! Make sure your rates make it into:
- Your media kit
- Your standard pitch email
- Any other materials you use to communicate your services and rates
Got it? Happy pitching!
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