Yes, it's time to talk about marketing influencers again! Previously, we've focused on the marketing benefits that come from becoming an influencer, or using other influencers in your brand-building. We've haven't talked about the monetary side, which may have you wondering, "Wait, should I get paid for being an influencer? Should I be paying others? What sort of payment should an influencer even ask for?"
These are great questions to ask for your influencer strategy, and we've got some interesting answers for you:
Let's Talk Numbers
Straight to the data: According to reports, around 85% of official influencers do accept "monetary compensation" for their work. Around 11% do not take any payments. Around 4% say they only accept products in return for their activity. Of course, just because an influencer says that they accept compensation doesn’t mean that they get paid by every brand, but the study does show how common the practice is.
You're probably wondering about dollar amounts too: The same research indicated that 43% of influencers charge between $200 and $500 per post. Around 37% said that they charged less than $200. Professional influencers tend to offer different tiers based on posts vs. guest blogs vs. other work.
There are Layers of Representation
When considering payment (whether you are giving or receiving), think about how much representation is going on here. If an influencer is simply sharing content in a casual way, money probably won't be changing hands. But if companies want a more in-depth relationship that includes regular representation, they may have to pay for it. The type of activity, as well as the reach of the influencer, matters here. For example, how much would you charge – or pay for – these common activities?
- New, sponsored content
- Shares of existing content
- New original Tweets or Social Posts
- Whitepapers or Research
You can see why the workload and costs for these should be different: From flat fees to kickbacks based on performance, don't be afraid to consider various pricing models.
"No Compensation" Has Some Advantages
Sure, you may not make as much money as a paid influencer, but refusing compensation does have certain benefits. For one, if you are paid for an influence activity, you have to say that the content was sponsored, which leaves it feeling less convincing for some viewers, lessening the impact.
For another, when first starting out as an influencer you may not have the grounds to charge high fees, especially if your audience reach is still limited. Influencers generally need to prove their skills and role as thought leaders before being paid. It's best to start small and work up toward reasonable fees.
Finally, avoiding frequent compensation can actually make you more attractive to certain businesses: If you had to pick between an influencer that shared whatever they were paid for, and one who shared whatever products they truly liked, which would you prefer? Keeping payments low or relatively rare helps establish that you care about what brands you represent.
Product Samples vs. Payments
Product samples are a great way to fill the void between "free publicity" and "paid to do this." If you want to be an influencer, accepting products as payment allows you to keep a certain amount of independence. If you are paying for influencers, this allows you to capture influencer interest and even loyalty in a more organic way, based on the value of your products instead of outright cash. Start with product samples when possible before moving onto full payments.
When in Doubt, Always Start the Conversation
The main takeaway is that influencer payments are a multi-faceted topic that people are still arguing about. Don't let this dishearten you. Instead, reach out to companies and other influencers as authentically as possible. When you want to bring up the subject of payment, start the conversation, be clear about what you want, and get a dialogue going. Beyond fees, an ongoing dialogue should be a central goal for all market influencing.