TL;DR: We break down how a new and budding content creator can negotiate with brands to earn more moolah with their content!
So you finally gathered the courage to pursue content creation full-time. You’ve even put in your 2 weeks’ notice at your 9-5.
The online community you’ve nurtured for so long has now become significant enough that you can now look at monetising it.
Some brands even reached out to you but have offered freebies or pennies in payment. You don’t want to miss out on the money, but feel you’re selling yourself short.
Don’t do that, queen! (or king)
We’re here to help you navigate how to negotiate with brands as an influencer. Whether you are reaching out to them, or have been getting inbound leads, the process remains the same. You negotiate and try not to leave any money on the table, because if you don’t ask, you don’t get, okay?
Things to keep in mind as an influencer trying to negotiate with brands
As an influencer, you need to make sure you have the leverage to negotiate with brands. How do you do that? By keeping the following things in mind:
Quality over quantity
Sure, having a hundred thousand followers looks nicer compared to 50k. But a brand would rather work with an engaged audience rather than a passive audience. Positively nurture your audience and post quality content to keep increasing your engagement rates. A curated Instagram feed with nicely edited photos from your iPhone will always be better than a random cluster of blurry photos from a high-end DSLR.
Post relevant content
If you are looking to woo brands, then get your niche down. Post content relevant to your niche. You can’t be pitching to travel brands while posting educational content or vice-versa. You won’t be taken seriously since you have nothing to offer the brand. There is no leverage, and thus nothing to negotiate for.
Play hard to get
Now we don’t mean that literally. What we mean is, don’t just accept any and all brand collaborations that come your way. Make sure the campaign aligns with your niche, your image, and your values. Your credibility is worth a lot more than any monetary compensation someone will offer, so choose with your mind and not your heart.
6 tips to help you negotiate with brands as an influencer
1. Discuss money upfront
It’s always better to bring up money in the initial back and forth of the conversation so that both parties know whether to go ahead with the collaboration or not.
After exchanging pleasantries, begin by asking what the brand’s budget is for the collaboration. Most brands have a budget set for their influencer marketing campaigns, so decide if the campaign is for you or not after the brand shares their rates.
2. Discuss deliverables
Always know what they are expecting from you because the deliverables will decide your rates. Ensure you have hard numbers here. Whether it’s 2 Instagram posts, 3 stories, 1 reel, YouTube videos, or blog posts, nail down what they want and move on to the next step.
3. Calculate your rates
Model your prices around deliverables and come up with an estimate. There is no set price sheet, and your rates depend on a lot of variables. Use this guide to calculate your rates effectively.
a. Price per Instagram post
Most content creators opt for a price per thousand followers on Instagram. So it should be INR X per 1000 followers. This will help determine your basic rate, which you can use to price other content.
b. Instagram Story
Once you have your price for an Instagram post, calculating others is easy. On average, you can charge 20–30% of your Instagram post for a story.
Quote an estimated figure depending on the time and effort it will take you to send in the deliverables. While deliverables affect your price, so do your profile metrics.
c. Engagement rate
Your price isn’t solely determined by the number of followers you have. If you have a significantly higher engagement rate, you can (and should) charge more than the base price you just calculated above.
If the brand asks you to partner only with them for the foreseeable future, it might seem like a steady stream of income, but it also means a loss of other potential work opportunities. When a contract stipulation fixes a specific time limit and exclusivity for you, you can then raise your fees and charge more.
e. Rights to content
Sometimes brands can use your content on more than one marketing channel. If they are buying perpetual content rights, price your content a little higher. Why? Because every time a brand uses your content on Facebook, website, Instagram, or emails, they make a profit. So should you!
4. Pitch your services in a package
Another tip to negotiating with brands is to package the services. Make a bouquet of the deliverables in a way that will not be more work for you but give the brand a good deal.
So, for 5 Instagram posts, add in 5 Instagram stories promoting that post with a 200-word caption detailing each photo. There is no exact formula, so mix and match your deliverables and offer what feels legit and right. Offering deals helps you, as an influencer, to get more money out of one client while also giving the brands more bang for their buck.
Let’s take a random example to drive home the point.
For example, a brand wants 3 Instagram posts and 5 stories. Based on your followers, you charge a base rate of ₹5000 per post. Then your total rate for the package should be: Post (3 x ₹5000 = ₹15000) + Story (20% of 5000 x 5 = ₹1000 x 5 = ₹5000). With the help of some quick maths, that comes out to ₹20,000.
You can mix and match and add in another post and a couple more stories to it and offer it as another package. Thus, it’s the same amount of work but a little more money. Depending on your experience, the type of brand, and also the type of campaign you engage in, the package can be modified.
P.S. This is just an example. Your per post and per story rates will vary.
5. Make your propositions clear
When sending the proposal and your quotes, make sure to clearly lay out your workflow. It helps to let the brand know how you will be approaching the collaboration and maximise the benefits for them.
Be as creative as you want with your ideas, but be crystal clear about what you plan to bring to the brand. Being precise is essential for your proposals. While narratives and storytelling are essential for the brand, save that for later. First, tell the brand how you will be doing it. Your pitch will stand out from the rest of the influencers.
6. Diversify across platforms
Pitch your services as cross-platform. You can charge more for offering your services in packages (see point 4). Doing so across platforms gives you leverage over a much larger audience, thus increasing the money you can ask.
For a brand, it is also a good thing as they get more visibility and more ROI. Again, a win-win situation for both parties. Of course, the condition being that you should have a significant online presence across all platforms.
One last word on how to negotiate with brands
As a creator, you should know your worth. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Money isn’t taboo, and both the parties involved are in it for business. No offer is good enough for you to compromise on your integrity, so set a threshold for yourself. Except for when you are just starting, you shouldn’t have to settle for freebies and ‘exposure’.
Quote a fair price and expect some back and forth. Shackle that narcissism a bit. Sometimes getting internet famous gets to our heads. Brands are not obligated to work with you if they feel you are overcharging.
Expect to haggle when you quote your price, and that’s completely normal to do before you reach a middle ground that works for both parties. Have a counter offer ready and be polite in your manner.
FYI, if you’re too shy to negotiate. Try DYT, the app has a feature that allows you to quote your own price to brands. No emails, no messages, no back and forth.
For more such tips and tricks, read our blogs about successfully pitching to brands and how to write catchy headlines here and here.