5 Reminders For Brands About Creator Pay
As a brand marketer, you know that getting the most bang for your buck is a challenge. But when it comes to influencer marketing, brands sometimes forget that their creator partner isn’t a salaried employee — rather, their content creation endeavors pay the bills.
The influencer pay gap, along with conversations on equitable pay and partnerships, is a hot topic within this space. It’s evidenced by the popularity of sites like FYPM (F*** You Pay Me) and Clara, which are reminiscent of Glassdoor — but for influencers.
While the creator compensation discussion can pit brands and influencers against one another, stepping back and understanding what content creators are advocating for on a human level is a step in the right direction.
We interviewed several creators about pay, equity, and the creator economy. Let’s meet the contributors and explore five things they want you to know about creator pay.
Meet The Creators
1. More Touchpoints Should Equal More Pay
One change among brands collaborating with influencers involves the rise of video content. As a marketer, you probably already know that video content performs better — especially for younger audiences. According to Klarna, 65% of Gen Z consumers prefer video content.
While a variety of content may be pleasing to viewers, creators are feeling pressure to produce more content, though not necessarily for more compensation.
John William Barger III is a content creator, real estate broker, and charity fundraiser. His inspired lifestyle and travel content have earned him a loyal following and a variety of brand partnerships. However, he says that opportunities are not always worth the work.
“More brands want a lot of content at the same rates,” he points out. “Churning out lots of Reels isn’t sustainable in the long run, especially considering the work involved.”
John William also notes that timelines are shrinking while the content needs to continue to grow. Plus, for creators with high production costs to produce beautiful content, the payoff isn’t always worth the effort — especially for those like him, a self-described “one-man show.”
“Everything is more expensive to produce,” he says. “Brands aren’t always willing to pay for it.”
Olga Goffman, who has been a resident Instagrammer since the days of sepia filters and Reels-free navigation, agrees.
Olga notices that newer, younger creators are moving to Instagram. But, because they are not yet seasoned in advocating for themselves, and since their production costs are lower, they are willing to accept lower payments from brands.
“That standard is pulling rates down,” says Olga.
Victoria Jameson, a veteran beauty creator and podcast host, says that when brands approach influencer marketing with a rigid budget, they won’t necessarily see a strong return on their investment.
“There’s more saturation in creator marketing than ever before,” she says.
“Brand budgets are stiffer,” Olga agrees. “There is not much room for negotiation, even though they are asking for more work.”
When it comes to appropriate pay practices, increasing payment according to a growing amount of required content is the only way to go. Creators will appreciate the foresight, and it will eliminate the awkwardness of negotiating additional compensation. It’s a win for your creator partners, and therefore a win for you!
2. The Creator Community Is Connected
Chrissy Carroll is a content creator with years of industry experience and professional accolades in the world of dietetics and fitness training. When it comes to running her blog and her social media partnerships, Chrissy notes that the creator community plays a huge part in advocating for fair pay.
“I stay connected with other dietitian creators. We are able to discuss deliverables with each other to help determine appropriate rates. A fellow influencer even created a ‘media rate sheet’ that contains average ranges across various platforms,” she says.
Paula Carozzo, an inclusivity activist, disabled content creator, model, and speaker, points out that creator partners frequently do their homework on your brand before agreeing to work on a collaboration.
“Marketers need to remember that creators who are part of a brand’s ambassador program are close and constantly talk to each other about their rates,” she says. “If a brand is trying to reach a certain niche and particular community, they have to be willing to overpay these creators.”
Paula adds, “When I receive a pitch for a brand collaboration, I always ask if there are other disabled creators in the campaign before I accept the offered budget to make sure it’s equitable.”
When it comes to supporting other creators, Victoria Jameson knows firsthand that knowledge is directly related to community collaboration.
“[Clubhouse] was honestly huge for creators!” she says. “We were able to speak openly about the industry and about charging fair prices for our work.”
Being part of the content creator community isn’t only valuable to industry newcomers — it’s a resource for creators of all experience levels. For brands who want to impress and persuade creators to work with them, understanding that the creator network is alive, active, and highly collaborative, will be the key to sourcing the best partners for your next campaign.
3. Many Creators Prefer Long-Term Collabs
Chrissy Carroll prefers long-term collaborations because working on campaigns over a longer period of time is a valuable way to build trust with audiences, though sometimes she deviates from this.
“If a one-off activation is a good fit for my brand, I’ll apply,” she says.
Not only are long-term collaborations a trust-builder, but they’re also a great way to build brand recognition amongst a creator’s audience. Additionally, the consistent paycheck from a long-term collab is a breath of fresh air for creators. So always remember that it’s ok to build both single activations and long-term collaborations into your strategy depending on your business objectives.
Victoria Jameson agrees with this sentiment. However, she notes that creators need to remember that bad past collaboration experiences can sour a brand’s perspective, thus causing future endeavors to be incredibly rigid or low-paying. Victoria theorizes that scenarios like this could contribute to a lack of long-term opportunities for creators.
“Brands are scared to invest in long-term opportunities because they can’t predict a realistic payoff in the timeframe they want,” she says. Victoria believes that “The value in long-term partnerships is lost on brands right now.”
According to a Mavrck creator survey report, 84% of creators prefer long-term collaborations. While it’s up to each brand to decide what’s best for their strategy, we see clear value in long-term collaborations and how they equate to a holistic connection with consumers.
4. Offer Cash Over Product
One of the woes of content creation is the frequency with which brands will only offer free or discounted products instead of a cash payment.
“Offering free products in lieu of cash has always been a thing,” Chrissy Carroll says. “But I’m noticing it more often, lately. It underserves creators who are just getting started in the industry because it makes it seem like ‘the norm.’”
While it may seem like the only option for brands with tight budgets and big dreams, it’s not a good look for a future involving creators.
Content creator and blogger Jamie Lynn warns against trying to skim on legitimate payment.
“Brands also need to recognize that influencers are always talking, discussing rates, and comparing offers,” she says. “Brands should be conscious that when influencers recognize a lack of equality, they see it as unfair treat
Unfair treatment is an especially prevalent topic within the influencer marketing space right now, particularly among Black creators who have noticed that brands will openly pay them less than white peers.
“I’ve noticed some brands who are willing to pay influencers of other races cash incentives, but will only send a Black creator, like me, product,” says Jamie.
To fully support creators, it’s important to make sure that inclusive and equitable pay practices are cornerstones of your influencer marketing strategy. That’s the best way to run your most successful campaigns!
5. Don’t Forget About Micro-Influencers
Brand marketers should also make sure to include micro-influencers in their creator strategy.
Not only are micro-influencers more effective in the long run, but there are also plenty who are available to partner with and who create content across a variety of niches.
In Mavrck’s “Ask The Creator” reports, micro-influencers typically make up the largest group of survey respondents. In fact, within our most recent report, the 2022 Creator Compensation Report, 58% of respondents identified themselves as micro-influencers.
Paula Carozzo notes that platforms of micro-influencers provide valuable educational resources — they’re not just a trendy source of content.
“When you mix education, credibility, and awareness into content produced by micro-influencers active within certain communities, the reach is different,” she says.
Micro-influencers are proven to drive higher conversion rates, especially among smaller audiences. They’re known as a triple threat because they are cost-effective, versatile, and highly engaged with their audiences.
Because of this, micro-influencers can be more effective than big-ticket influencers who have millions of followers and therefore require higher payment that brands might not be able to afford. With all of these benefits in mind, micro-influencers serve as a great source for marketers to activate in future campaigns.
There’s More To Learn
According to our 2022 Creator Compensation Report, 62% of creators have made more money this year from influencer marketing. However, 20% still say that they’re making less.
With constant fluctuation and viewpoints around creator pay, it’s difficult to pin down the ideal rate, but here’s what we can agree on:
- If brands are asking creators for more work, they need to pay them more in tandem
- Brands should remember that the creator community discusses who is great to work with and who isn’t
- While one-off partnerships work for some creators, most prefer long-term opportunities — it’s good to build both into your influencer marketing strategy based on your goals
- Compensating creators with products instead of cash sometimes occurs, but cash should always be the go-to form of payment
- Micro-influencers hold the key to unlocking your best influencer marketing results and should be leveraged within your strategy
We know that creator compensation is a hot topic for brands and creators alike. To learn more about what 550+ creators have to say about creator pay and equitable practices, check out our 2022 Creator Compensation Report.
Learn More About Influencer Marketing
- Influencer Campaigns: One-Off vs. Long-Term Collabs
- What Is A Micro-Influencer & How To Work With One
- 2023 Influencer Marketing Planning Guide
- TikTok Holiday Campaign Guide