How much should influencers be paid? – Influencer Marketing Education Series

This Influencer Marketing Education series by Linda Hoang is a 10-blog post series offering ethical, and effective influencer marketing advice aimed at educating would be and current influencers and content creators, the organizations that may work with them, and even the people who follow influencers. Topics around social media authenticity, influencer credibility and effective influencer marketing are ones social media strategist and influencer Linda Hoang is passionate about. Which is really just a nice way of saying she cannot stand fake influencers, fake engagement, fake followers, bad disclosure practices, partnerships that don’t make sense, misconceptions about the industry, and companies that don’t do enough research. 
The intent of these posts is to help make the industry better, from all sides.
Want to learn more?
  • Companies, you can hire Linda to help develop your influencer marketing strategies.
  • Influencers, read these blog posts, do more research, and don’t use “I didn’t know” as an excuse for shady behaviour. If you’re trying to be a content creator, put the time and effort into educating yourself. And if you do engage in shady practices, stop, and start being honest with yourself.

How much should influencers be paid?

Part Six in Linda Hoang’s Ten-Part Influencer Marketing Education Series

A new blog post in this series will be shared each Monday from Feb 24 to April 27, 2020. 

How much to pay influencers - Influencer Marketing Education Series
Share my Influencer Marketing Blog Post Series Part Six - How much should Influencers be paid?

If you are a company planning on working with an influencer, there is no question that the influencer needs to be compensated. Now, what that compensation is, can vary depending on a number of factors, including:

  • The influencer’s reach, relevance and resonance 
  • The experience level of the influencer 
  • What you’re asking the influencer to do 
  • What type of experience you’re offering
  • The influencer’s existing rates
  • The timing of the request 

A local restaurant inviting an influencer to try some menu items might not need to pay an influencer any additional money for an Instagram Story post about trying the food—the exchange of food, the night out, the willingness of the influencer to support a local business, or the casual ask of ‘an Instagram Story’ might all be enough. However, if the restaurant instead more specifically asked the influencer to share an Instagram in-grid post, a Story, a tweet, even, a video blog, for example, an exchange of a free meal may not be enough compensation for what’s now being asked. That’s just one scenario where compensation and expectations vary. 

Another is, you may be working with an influencer with a different level of experience. They have a media kit. They have set rates. They understand their audience demographics and typical engagement and they regularly work with all sorts of organizations on paid, partnered content. They do charge for Instagram Story posts. They appreciate that you are a local business but they are also running their own business and a free meal isn’t enough to pay for their time or their bills. That’s just another scenario where compensation and expectations vary. 

Sometimes an influencer will lower their existing rates because you’re a local non-profit. Sometimes an influencer will raise their rates because you’re a national chain. Sometimes an influencer will accept product only because they are already obsessed with your product, or your product happens to fill a current need. Sometimes an influencer will negotiate rates because a company is offering a multi-month, long-term partnership. Sometimes an influencer will give you a discount for—really any number of reasons. Sometimes even if you’ve got a great budget to pay an influencer, the timing just might not work. Maybe the project conflicts with another project. Or it’s their mom’s 60th birthday the weekend of your event so they can’t make the project with your company work. 

Influencer marketing budgets and rates will always vary.

  • “How much should I pay influencers?”
  • “How much does an influencer charge?”
  • “How much money do I need to work with influencers?”
  • “What should my influencer marketing budget be?” 

The answer to these questions will vary in every single instance.  

As a company, developing an influencer marketing strategy will help you work through budget questions. If you know there are specific influencers you want to work with, in specific ways, you can start to build out an influencer marketing ask that works for the goals you’re trying to achieve, with budgets specifically built for those influencers. 

As an influencer, determining what you charge will often come with experience. The more paid partner posts you do, the more you realize how much time it takes to create content, the more your audience and engagement grows, the more valuable that network becomes for companies who may want to reach that audience, the more easily you’ll be able to discern what you want to charge. 

From personal experience as an influencer, I can tell you I’ve created and shared content for a wide range of compensation—sometimes I work in exchange for just an experience, sometimes I work in exchange for thousands of dollars.

I do not believe there is a one-answer, one budget fits all solution for influencer marketing rates.

But I (after many years doing this type of work) now have standard rates I work with, which I may or may not scale up or down depending on each individual scenario. 

What I—and I think any influencer—appreciates, is when a company recognizes there needs to be compensation. Where the pitch isn’t ambiguous. Where there is an acknowledgment of the work an influencer is being asked to do—and value in being able to reach the influencer’s audience. 

If you only have $100, tell me that, and then tell me why you think working together would be a good fit. (Read the How NOT to pitch influencers part of this Influencer Marketing Education series for more advice on creating a perfect pitch). Or ask what the influencer thinks they could do with the budget you have. Or ask the influencer what they would charge for what you’re looking for. Or, even if you only have an experience to offer, be clear about that and clear about why. Acknowledge that. I mean, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get an influencer to agree to work with you (again it always depends on the influencer), but it’s going to save you a few back and forths asking about budgets (if the influencer replies at all).

Communicating compensation upfront makes a huge difference in an influencer request.

It’s important to know that many influencers will not create original content for you without being paid. 

But if your ask is for a share or a retweet, maybe that’s simple enough that an influencer would agree to. 

It will always vary. 

I’d also like companies to understand that what you’re paying for in an influencer marketing partnership is not just the access and ability to reach a specific influencer’s engaged network that is relevant for your business, but you’re also paying for the influencer’s time creating content.

Those are two different things. 

In influencer marketing, you’re also dealing with feelings.

As much as it is a business transaction, it’s not like you’re a company paying for a billboard placement or setting up a Facebook paid ad buy. You’re also managing people and feelings. And people can get offended if you don’t value their time and experience. 

I once had a company once offer me a trip to experience something related to their product/service, but gave me less than two weeks notice, wasn’t going to let me bring a +1 (often, someone who becomes my photographer), and wasn’t going to pay me for my time and content produced to highlight the experience.

In that instance, the company was banking on the fact that the experience would be enough for me.

And for lots of people that experience would probably have been enough. But for my specific situation, it would’ve taken me out of the city during a time when I am juggling other (paying) projects. It gave me almost no notice (assuming someone can drop what they’re doing with less than two weeks notice before a trip usually isn’t a reasonable ask—especially if you’re not paying either). It would not even have made for at least a nice getaway with a friend or husband due to the no+1 rule. When I weighed the value of this offer, it came up short for me. It may not have for others. But that’s why understanding the influencer you want to work with, and crafting that perfect pitch, is so important. 

And in regards to dealing with feelings in influencer marketing, in that scenario, I really might have still done it, thinking maybe building the relationship with this company would be nice for future partnerships, but the reaction I received from the company when I asked if there would be any paid compensation was so uncomfortable (like they made me feel like I should be so thrilled they were even offering this free experience and how dare I ask for paid compensation), it really turned me off of the whole pitch. 

You’re absolutely able to negotiate budgets with an influencer but in the end, if the influencer doesn’t want to work with you—for whatever reasons—they don’t need to work with you. It’s not like placing a Facebook ad. Facebook will always want to take your money, lol. 

Be nice, appreciative, and understanding of an influencer’s time and efforts, and acknowledge where there may be limitations in compensation (if there are) while highlighting why the partnership could still work.

So I hope this gives you a better idea of how much influencers should be compensated.

The short answer is that it will never be a one-budget fits all. 

But understanding that there should be compensation in influencer marketing, is so important.

If you want to dive into this topic further, Later has a great article that also outlines specific rates from real influencers. I didn’t want to include specific rates in this because my perspective is that really, it varies SO much. 

No matter what compensation is being offered, from a company perspective, make sure your strategy includes measuring success, so you can determine if budget spent paid off, and help you plan for future partnerships. If you’re an influencer, make sure you value your time and efforts, and review or revise your rates accordingly with each partnership. 

In Part Six of my Influencer Marketing Education Series, I’ll be writing about Why Automating Engagement on Social Media Makes People Hate You. 🙃 lol Stay tuned! 

How much to pay influencers - Influencer Marketing Education Series
Share my Influencer Marketing Blog Post Series Part Six - How much should Influencers be paid?

View all blog posts in Linda Hoang’s Influencer Marketing Education Series

A new blog post in the ten-post series will be shared each Monday from Feb 24 to April 27, 2020. 

ABOUT LINDA HOANG. Linda Hoang is an experienced Alberta, Canada-based social media strategist as well as a social media influencer and content creator. As a strategist she also regularly delivers social media training and develops strategies and content plans for a wide range of companies and individuals. As a social media influencer, she regularly works with companies to develop engaging content that helps reach their goals. This allows Linda to bring a dual perspective to influencer marketing and specifically, deliver an approach that focuses on authenticity and credibility. 


1 Comment

  • Lyndzee says:

    Hey there! I’m just wondering if there are parts 7-10. Don’t mean to be insensitive if the pandemic put this series on hold just very interested in the series :)

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