9 factors that can impact Creator rates
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Creator rates are unstandardized, unregulated, and shrouded in mystery. And it makes sense why they would be––every partnership with an influencer is unique, and a variety of factors lead to a final rate.
But it’s 2021, and we now have enough data to show you high, low, and average influencer rates.
Becuase working with a Creator is more like partnership than transaction, even these rates can fluctuate.
When you’re developing a partnership or testing a campaign, you’ll pay more or less depending on various reasons. Based on what we’ve heard from hundreds of influencers over the past seven years, here are the main reasons why brands would pay more or less for sponsored content on Instagram.
We've pulled together 9 factors that can impact standard Creator rates.
Finding a Creator that genuinely and authentically loves your brand is like finding a needle in a haystack. Maybe even like finding a soul mate?
True, if you do your research correctly, you should target influencers to partner with who will love your brand anyways. But, finding one that is the perfect match or who already is head over heels in love with you can do wonders for the relationship.
The most significant change you will see when it comes to the genuinely bought-in Creators is that their love for a brand will shine through in the content they create.
It’s going to be pretty obvious to an audience when an influencer loves what they’re promoting.
We’ve all seen posts from Creators who are just in it for the paycheck. Sometimes it’s when the brand is a weird fit for the Creator’s audience, or there’s just something off about the whole thing. Sometimes you even have to wonder why certain brands are trying to use Creators as a channel in the first place. Are you that stoked about your tax software? You aren’t fooling anybody.
When there is a buzz of excitement from a Creator about getting to work with a brand they like or admire, it just resonates on a whole other level with their audience—in a good way!
Creator rates impact
Brand love from a Creator will go two ways when it boils down to how the pricing strategy plays out.
- The price for working together will be higher than usual if a brand is willing to shell out for having that authentic excitement coming from a Creator. Sometimes, creating means acting, and sometimes it’s just being paid to express genuine emotion.
- The price ends up being lower than average if a Creator wants to work with a brand that they toss their usual rates out the window. Snapping up the chance of collaborating is sometimes just too much to pass by.
What is it that you want a Creator to put their stamp of approval on? How they talk about your brand and product will depend on the type of products or services you sell.
What do I mean? Take this scenario: it isn’t that farfetched for an influencer to say they love your competitor’s shoes in one post and then a few weeks/months later to say that they can’t stop gushing about your own brand’s shoes. Their closets are probably full of shoes of all different brands—it’s not that uncommon to buy several pairs of shoes per year. If they’re talking about shoes, it probably means that their audience is interested in shoes too, so their closets are probably full of lots of different types and brands of shoes as well.
Researching a Creator’s recent content can save you time and headaches barking up the wrong tree.
On the other hand, if they were to do some sponsored content with BMW and tell their audience, they should all buy one, but then two weeks later partner with Audi and say everyone should get one of those, it’s going to be obvious they’re just thirsty for sponsorship money.
Mind the gap
For brands that sell consumables (food and beverage, vapes and e-cigs, cosmetics, stationery, etc.) or products with high potential purchase frequency (fashion and apparel, pet products, home decor, etc.), this doesn’t impact you much. You can start Creator relationships even if they’ve promoted products similar to yours recently. If the timing between features isn’t immediate, you don’t have to worry about your brand or the Creator losing trust from their audience by partnering together.
Pursuing a partnership if there isn’t a good brand-Creator-audience fit can leave you both feeling taken advantage of.
If you have a luxury product or one with a low purchase frequency, you’ll want to be more selective about who you are partnering with. It’s easy to look at an influencers recent content to see what other brands a Creator has partnered with, so take the time to make sure you aren’t wasting your time.
Creator rates impact
The typical purchase frequency of a brand’s products boils down to impact the brand-Creator pricing negotiation in either of these two ways:
- Low purchase frequency typically means the price for working together is higher than average. A Creator is unlikely to be able (or want) to promote similar products or categories to their audience anytime soon, limiting possible collaborations with other brands.
- High purchase frequency typically means the price for working together is lower than usual. A Creator can promote similar products or categories relatively close to or even alongside when they promote these products, increasing their possible work with other brands.
The Creators you want to work with aren’t going to just grab their iPhone, snap a quick picture, and call it a day. Depending on the size of following they have (or how long they’ve been in the content creation business), you’re working with a media professional—an artist.
Lights, camera, action
While you might only be interested in Creators showing your products in casual, organic ways throughout their content for your campaign, making things look that way is more complex than you’d think. Making things look natural can be more complicated than a blatant product placement photoshoot.
Trust the experts. Trust me; you’ll be glad you did.
Creators are truly experts in their field, or at least they are well on their way to getting there. The way products and photos are composed, lit, and staged—not to mention the tags, locations, and captions that might go with the imagery—are all huge creative decisions that authentic influencers obsess over.
Creator rates impact
The level of creativity and effort you want or expect a Creator to put into the content they promote with you will have one of two impacts on the price of the partnership:
- If you’re expecting a slick and polished piece of content that looks like a design studio made it, then you can expect the price to be higher than average. Creators will bill you not just for the time that it takes to make great content but for the expertise and skills they bring to the table.
- A more inexperienced Creator might be willing to give it their best or pick up skills along the way, which could benefit your budget with a lower than average price tag.
Influencers who aren’t quite there yet with the content creation itself might give you a discount. This is especially true if they know they will be learning on the fly to make something that is up to part with your expectations.
Some of the best and brightest Creators are no longer working alone. By grouping up with other Creators who specialize in different kinds of content, they can focus on what they do best and let others handle the things outside their typical wheelhouse.
Yes, some Creators are a Jack or Jill-of-all-trades, but others recognize that there are aspects of creation that simply aren’t their forte. If that’s the case, why product sub-part content when others with skills they can tap into?
A shared vision
As the size of the influencers you’re working with grows, so does the likelihood that they will come along with a team of Creators or creation experts. Of course, smaller Creators can work together in a type of “coalition.” Still, more formalized groups that work on content officially as an entourage are usually limited to the macro-sized Creators—those are the ones with hundreds of thousands of followers.
If you need some help with the partnership vision, an entourage can help cover all the bases.
From different content mediums (photography, videography, gifs) to content structure (lighting experts, story Creators) and even backend management (content planning, product alignment, finance managers), there’s no end to how Creators can assemble the team. Some of these entourages even live together, producing content at record-breaking speed while still having incredible engagement levels.
Creator rates impact
The presence of a Creator entourage and, if there is one, what skills and experience that group has will play a pivotal factor in the cost of doing business with them:
- If there is an entourage, expect the price of the partnership to be higher than usual. The more size, skills, and expertise the entourage has, the higher that cost of business is going to be.
- A solo Creator will likely push the cost of working together to be lower or equal to average. If they have the skills or drive to work on everything you want to accomplish all on their own, then that added price from external input will not be factored in.
Whether we’re talking about Creator partnerships, business deals, or romantic relationships, exclusivity is sought after and typically beneficial for everyone in the long run. Of course, the ability to request exclusivity depends on a couple of factors, and whether the Creators you talk to want the consistency of a long-term partnership or not is entirely up to them.
Getting a Creator for an exclusive deal can be hugely beneficial for your business, especially if they are a macro-level influencer or a sought-after partner among the small, macro-sized Creators. With exclusivity, they aren’t going to work with any of your competitors, which is excellent for you. But, that also means from their perspective that they aren’t able to get paid by anybody else in your industry, which can be a massive loss of potential revenue.
Long-term partnerships can help Creators become part of the brand community themselves.
On the other hand, locking down a Creator for a long-term partnership can level up the campaign’s impact. With a long-term commitment, you can warm up the audience with less “in-your-face” content to start with and work towards a more blatant promotion of your product (if that fit’s with your brand strategy.)
Creator rates impact
It should come as no surprise that having an exclusivity agreement with a Creator will have a significant impact on the cost of the partnership:
- For any size exclusivity, the price of the partnership will be higher than usual. Your campaign will get amplified and have a more dedicated audience face-time. Still, for the duration of the agreement (and sometimes even for a period afterward), Creators can’t work with anyone else, so you’re paying for that dedication and loss of potential income.
- If there isn’t an exclusivity agreement, you can expect the price of the partnership to be lower or equal to average. Creators are free to work with whoever they want since your campaign isn’t restrictive or long-term.
What kind of campaign are you looking for? Do you want a simple product shot posted from a Creator’s account? Are you going for a guerilla-style post where it seems like a regular post by an influencer, except your product is sneakily in the background? Or is this an in-depth piece of content by a Creator featuring your product where they wax and wane (in their everyday style of prose) about why they simply can’t live without your product?
The message is the messenger
When you think of Creators or even traditional influencers, some of the most popular ones are so impactful that all they need to do is have a product in the shot to make it go viral. Their face is their product. Heck, it might not even have to be their face. Just any part of them using any part of your product is enough to empty your stock.
The bigger the following, the bigger the potential impact.
That is what makes Creator marketing so powerful. These content marketing experts have audiences and communities that are fully bought into who they are. Whether that’s thousands or millions of followers, the Creator themself is all that is needed to get the word out and make huge waves. If their face is going to go beside your name, that is a seal of approval that can take your brand far—and good Creators know it.
The decision to appear alongside your products or simply to feature it in their content will completely swing the direction of a partnership budget one way or the other:
- If you’re looking for an influence to appear alongside your products, you can expect the price of the campaign to be higher than usual. The more closely you want them to appear with the product, or the more in-depth the amount of love and affection your brand, an influencer needs to display, the higher that price will be.
- If you aren’t looking for anything flashy and just want some top-notch photos or videos of your product in all its glory—no influencer face-time required—then you can expect a lower than normal campaign cost. The best Creator partners are great at what they do and won’t get their feathers ruffled if you want them to flex their skills instead of just modelling your wares.
When you think of the cost of doing business with Creators, you might think that securing a partnership for a longer term is bound to end up costing you more. You’re right that the overall cost will be higher, but you’re getting more out of it. So a bundled price for multiple features and a more extended campaign will balance out. You’d be spending money on other campaigns anyways, and this way, there are bundled savings plus some behind-the-scenes savings as well.
Lock and load
You’ll always want to test the waters before you dive in, though. If this is your first time working with an influencer, it is not recommended that you lock them in for a long-term commitment. You need to make sure that everything jives—your brand with their audience, the Creator with your brand identity, etc. But if you’ve got something that works well together, why not make things official and load up a juicy long-term campaign that their audience can get excited about?
Not only can you decrease the cost per feature (article, post, video… whatever the medium), but you’ll save yourself the time and effort that goes into finding a new Creator to work with. That’s time saved researching, pitching, coordinating, and more. And Creators save all of that too! If they’re working with you, that means they aren’t hustling to try and find and line up their next partnership either.
Creator rates impact
As I’ve already alluded to, the price of working together for an extended period only gets better:
- If you’re pitching a Creator on a short-term agreement and require them to do a bunch of the legwork to get the content made, scheduled, etc., then expect to pay more than usual for the partnership. A Creator’s time is valuable, so the more they have to spend working for you and working to find their next gig, the more it’s going to cost you.
- When you’re ready to go it for the launch haul and commit to a multi-month or even year-long working relationship (a more authentic form of ‘partnership’), then all the benefits to both sides come true. Expect to pay lower than typical rates per feature for this kind of agreement.
The best marketers know that repurposing content is key to sustainable marketing funnel growth. Why? Because you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time. You’d made something valuable, so why wouldn’t you try to remix that piece of content to fit into different places in slightly different formats?
Amplifying the remix
If you’re able to build creative and copy ideas that are easily repurposed for mediums other than the one they were made for initially, that will make things easy for a Creator to take the reins and run with it. A Tiktok video is going to translate to an Instagram Reel easily. A pithy Tweet can be screenshot and shared back onto Instagram.
Don’t waste your time reinventing the wheel if there is already one made that you can repurpose
The mediums don’t always transition smoothly, though. A sponsored Twitch stream isn’t going to make it onto Pinterest very well, so if those two channels need to be touched in a campaign, you’re going to need to do double the work to make it happen. You will, and a Creator will. So knowing your target mediums and messaging before engaging with a Creator can help save you some time and effort as you go multi-channel with your campaigns.
Creator rates impact
At a high level, the easier it is to transition your campaign content from one medium to the next, the easier it is going to be on your pocketbook:
- If you’re expecting a Creator to help create content in multiple formats for multiple channels, you’re going to be paying more than average for the trouble. Crafting channel-specific content is not always easy, especially if it’s less of a remix and more of a re-write from one channel to the next.
- Campaigns designed to be easily transferable and amplified across channels with minimal effort needed from the Creator will cost less than usual to spread the message. Creators appreciate when you do the work you should be best at—picking the channel and medium and tone for your brand and product.
When you’re starting to look for a Creator to work with, one of the most important factors is how their audience might receive your product and your brand. A large part of how that happens depends on the type of Creator they are, like what niche they occupy or what kind of voice they represent within that niche.
Does a lone influencer make a sound?
As luck would have it, the more company an influencer has within a particular vertical, industry, or category, the less likely they will have out-of-this-world engagement rates. It makes a lot of fo sense when you think about it—a new voice or perspective will generate buzz. So the more Creators there are talking about the same things and occupying the same space, the lower the chances that any single one will be a breakout.
Let’s look at crypto, for example. It’s still a “relatively” new concept for Creators to make a name for themselves as an expert on. That means that if whoever you’re targeting a partnership with is a rising star, then the cost of commanding their audience’s attention is going to be steep. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a cosmetics tutorial master, they are everywhere, so while the engagement itself won’t be as impressive, there will be a much lower chance of sticker shock.
Creator rates impact
We broke it down at a high level with those two examples, but if we’ve got to spell it right out for you:
- If a Creator has a rare voice in their industry or is a rising star of a growing category, you’re going to pay for the elevated engagement that comes with the territory. It’s a game of supply and demand, and you are demanding a specific type of influencer, and the supply is limited, so the price goes up.
- If you reach out to an influencer who is merely a clone in the army of influencers all in the same space, saying the same things, you’re going to pay lower than standard rates. But, you should also expect to get much lower engagement on that campaign, aka worse than usual results.
Creator rates TL;DR
All-in-all, the most significant factors that will dictate how much your pay for a Creator-brand partnership will boil down to just two questions:
- Did you do your homework?
- Is this a strict one-off business deal or the foundation of a partnership?
If you don’t know the answer to these two questions, then the cost of working with a Creator will come out of the left field. How do you want content created? Who is the intended audience? How long will the campaign last? Who is doing the legwork? These are all great questions, but they ultimately boil down to that “homework.”
I’ve said it time and time again, but Creators are truly experts at what they do. Don’t underestimate their hard work, their intelligence, their business savvy, or their creativity. The Creator economy is alive and strong, and if you play your cards right, it can turn into something beautiful and budget-friendly for your business.