If you’re an influencer in 2022, you’ve probably had at least one brand reach out to offer you free products in exchange for promoting them on your blog or social media. But as we all know, exposure and free skincare doesn’t pay the bills.
It gets even more challenging when you realize that the same brand may offer you one wage and another creator a significantly higher rate. How do you share your creator value with brands to determine a rate you deserve? And how do you close the influencer pay gap? Check out these five free tools that help determine creator value and empower you to charge what you’re worth for brand collaborations.
1. Join a Creator Community
Aside from making friends and creating connections for potential collaborations, joining an influencer community can also give you insight into what you should be charging.
Influencer Pay Gap on Instagram allows creators to anonymously share the rates brands offer them alongside metrics like follower count and engagement rate. You might find other creators with similar performance metrics as you, yet they’re getting offers five times higher than you do. Looks like its time to raise those rates!
FYPM, often called the unprintable brand, is another influencer community where you can compare rates and read reviews of various brands so you only work with brands respectful of your time and creativity.
Another community to have on your radar is Clara. Similar to Glassdoor, Clara allows creators to join and share reviews and rates for different projects and brands in order to close the pay gap and help creators charge their worth. Despite just launching, thousands of influencers have already joined Clara and started sharing their experiences to help other creators know what to charge.
2. Start an Excel Spreadsheet
Setting up spreadsheets isn’t the most exciting way to spend an afternoon, but it offers a straightforward way to outline your budget and work backward to determine a rate.
So what should you be calculating in your spreadsheets?
Personal living costs: First, you may want to start by adding up your personal fixed expenses, like rent and utilities, and variable costs, like groceries and dining out. This will give you an idea of how much you need to make each year and month, which can help you determine your financial goals and creator rates for brand deals.
Business expenses: As a solopreneur, you’ll also have business expenses that not only affect your rates, but your end of year taxes. This includes the cost to host your website and own your domain or the photography studio you rent one weekend a month. Variable costs may include camera gear, photo editing apps, or clothing rental services.
One easy way to do this is with Lumanu’s Expenses feature. This way, you can quickly input each project expense and Lumanu can even help estimate your tax savings. Psst - dive into maximizing savings come tax season with our expert here.
Once you’ve added up your expenses, you can work backward to determine your yearly and monthly financial goals. If you have $30,000 in expenses per year, you may have a goal to make $100,000 to cover expenses and have money for savings, taxes, and retirement. From there, you can work out that you’ll need to make about $8,350 per month to hit that goal.
Net Income: You’ll also want to track your net income, which is your revenue minus your expenses. Basically, net income tells you how much money is actually in your pocket after all the expenses and taxes are paid. Once you see your net income, you can notice if you’re on track to hit those financial goals. If not, it might be time to charge more for your time and creativity.
3. Create a Media Kit
A media kit showcases your rates to brands in a professional and efficient way. It clearly shows your brand aesthetic and states your worth by including everything from audience demographics, engagement, reach, previous collaboration information, and post type rates (before negotiation).
Your follower count, engagement rate, and the required deliverables to make a brand sponsorship a success will ultimately determine what you should be charging. For example, let’s say you have 5,000 followers. The average industry cost per static post for this amount of followers is $100. Your engagement rate is 20%+, so you can charge two to three times more than that base amount.
But what if someone wants to use your content for an ad? Brands may also ask for exclusivity or licensing, which *should* increase your invoice based on the number of months an ad will run, or where your content will be used (newsletters, billboards, etc.). This is called ‘branded content’ and is a very powerful negotiation tool.
You can create a media kit on a paid platform like Adobe, or use Canva’s free templates. The entire media kit is typically only one to three pages long. Visually, the media kit should match your brand colors and include your logo. As for content, it should include details about your page views, if you have a website, or follower count as well as engagement and reach metrics and your influencer fees, including exclusivity, photography, and licensing fees.
4. Track Your Time
A lot of time goes into location scouting, setting a scene, taking photographs, and editing the content before a rough draft ever reaches the brand. When you see how much time you’re putting into each piece of branded content, you can get a better idea of the rates you should charge and when it’s time to raise your prices.
Toggl is a top, free choice for tracking time, so you can see exactly how much time you are spending on specific tasks. Working with assistants, photographers, or other creatives? Harvest lets you track time across teams. Of course, influencers are masters of multitasking, so if you need to track time for multiple tasks at once, Hours allows you to set and manage a running list of timers.
Review your schedule every month, quarter, or year to determine how much time your spending on various tasks. This can help you gauge when it’s time to start asking for more money.
5. Standardize Your Payment Process
Speaking of tracking time—you might find that you’re spending several hours a week writing and sending invoices or chasing down payments. But getting paid doesn’t need to be a hassle. Consider an invoicing tool, like Lumanu, which does more than Quickbooks or PayPal, plus it comes without the added fees.
With Lumanu, you can set the payment terms, like net-30 or net-60, create your invoice, send it to the brand, and get paid. Lumanu also offers a project-tracking tool, so you and the brand can collaborate on expectations and progress right in the app.
In the event the brand goes ghost, Lumanu sends automated email reminders to help track down your payments when you use Lumanu for invoicing and Lumanu Projects for the collaboration. That means no more wasting time with follow-up calls and emails, so you can spend more time doing the work you love.