Hi Influencer! Here's Why You ALWAYS should Charge Money When Working With Companies!
Happy Monday guys! I have been looking forward to posting this particular blog post for a long time now and maybe that's why it has also been dragging out for a bit. Not only is it a bit controversial (at least in Denmark) but hopefully also an eye opener to you who maybe thinks less of yourself. You see, this blog post is not only for the biggest bloggers and Instagram stars. It is for everyone, even you with the small Instagram profile or that blog with only a couple of followers. You. Need. To. Charge. Money. For. The. Content. You. Are. Making!!
Having been in the influencer industry for years, both as a blogger/Instagrammer and as a Chief Marketing Officer in an Influencer Analytics Startup, I have learned a thing or two about influencer marketing. I have learned how valuable influencers are for companies, how effective it can be if done right and most importantly how freaking cheap an influencer is compared to any other marketing channel out there. However, most influencers doesn't realise this and keep accepting freebies in exchange for a blog post, video or a picture on Instagram. The bad thing about that? - Not only are you preventing yourself from making money, you are also preventing other influencers from making money.
A good example. I was at a PR event some months ago for a big, international underwear brand. On my following holiday I wore the bikini I got from the event. Simply because I liked it and felt it was a good fit on my photos. Some weeks after the company contacted me and asked if I wanted to be an ambassador which included travels, photo shoots, free underwear/ swimwear and being mentioned on their social channels. "Their Fans should be My Fans" was the tagline and it seemed pretty sweet as they have a couple of hundred thousand followers on Instagram alone. It required a couple of blog posts/Instagram posts a month in exchange for this ambassadorship so on paper, it sounded amazing. However, there was one catch: It was Unpaid!
I was super disappointed because I liked the brand but not getting as much a dollar for someting that is considered professional and hard work made me feel less valuable to them and thus I turned the offer down. I understand why some influencers at first glance would say YES to this offer. Free Travels! Great, what's not to like?! However, if you work professionally with your social channels, time is money and traveling sure as hell takes away the focus from your work. Free Underwear! Nice, but remember that you have to pay tax on all your freebies so suddenly it is not so free anymore. And furthermore, isn't more fun to buy your underwear from the money you make instead of getting it for free? Last but not least, being showcased on other profiles doesn't necessarily turn your social channels into a succes. It rarely does. I have been featured on huge Instagram profiles somestimes with as little/lot succes as with smaller profiles. So that is a value proposition that many businesses offer but it might not be so valuable after all. Most importantly, by you saying yes to free work, you lead businesses to believe that all influencers work for free and it devaluates the entire influencer market.
Maybe you think you are not good enough, or big enough to charge but you ARE! You deliver a piece of content and it is worth money. Actually more than you would think. Let me share a couple of numbers with you that will open your eyes to how much companies usually pay for marketing services that a similar to what you deliver.
1 photo made by an advertisement company costs:
+/- 400 dollars (3000dkr.)
1 Facebook Update on a Company's own channel (taking photo, salaries etc.)
+/- 150 dollars (1200kr.)
A Frontpage advertorial in a bigger Fashion Magazine
+/- 7000 dollars (50.000kr.)
A Full page advertorial in a big news paper
+/- 8500 dollars (60.000dkr)
(*the numbers are estimates and thus an indicator of prices in Denmark - you will find cheaper and more expensive solutions out there depending on your country)
When you deliver a piece of content, where you dedicate it to a business or a brand you not only give them a free piece of content they can use on their own channels (which would have costed them a shit ton of money to make themself), you are also giving them free exposure to a lot of people. Of course, you can not charge as much when you only have around 1000 followers as when you have 100.000 followers, or if your photo/video skills aren't fine tuned yet (obviously there are exceptions but let's save that to another time). But every person this company reaches through your social channels is worth something. Especially these days when the term, Micro Influencer, is becoming more and more hot among businesses and thus, they will try and work with smaller profiles instead of the bigger ones - Therefore, charge money no matter the size!
Businesses have for years been used to getting free exposure and will try and lure you into keep doing so with explanations like "Oh but we want genuine recommendations which we cannot get if we pay you" - Excuse me, but that is utterly bullshit that try to cover the true agenda: "I want to save money and I know that influencers work for free". It is also totally wrong as so many researches has proven that people don't care if the content is sponsored (with money behind) as long as it is genuine and doesn't appear spammy. Furthermore, people can spot if something has been sponsored even though it doesn't say #ad. Soo... Get my point?
What about smaller companies that doesn't have any budget for marketing? Short answer, they always do! I remember when I grew up, before digital advertising became a thing, my parents had a little antique shop. They wanted to advertise in the local newspaper in our town with approx. 25.000 people (maybe half of these people would read the newspaper and maybe half them would read the exact advert). I costed them 1200 dollars (8500kr.) to be in that newspaper and since there were no other options they had to find the money for it. If no influencers say yes for free labour, I can guarantee you that any business suddenly would have money for influencer markting. A lot of things have changed since my parents had that shop and I am not saying you are entitled to charge as much as the newspaper. That's totally up to you. All I am saying is, if a company doesn't have a marketing budget at all, then they better close their business because that is mandatory in today's world.
So, the million dollar question is: Do I always charge money for all the brands I work with? No.
It sounds pretty contradictory after this long speech, but let me tell the reasoning behind. You might sometimes come across a thing you really want here and now. A thing you have had on your wishlist for months, or something that really will benefit you in the long run in terms of growth or exposure. My rule of thumb is always: Does the freebie come with requirements you normally would charge for and do you not really REALLY want it? Then always try and negotiate a price for your services. Worst case you'll get a no and then you know the company doesn't really understand to value of your services anyways.
In the next post I will share a new tool I've found that helped me to figure out what to charge for a sponsored post. Not only in my blog but also on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. It is genius, guys and I can't wait to share it with you!!