How Much Did Creators Make This Year?
As we’re all well aware, the creator economy is constantly changing and at a rapid pace.
One of the most relevant, timely, and important topics of the discussion revolves around content creators and their compensation for brand collaborations.
From differences in how brands partner with creators, to creator funds set up by individual platforms, to an ever-changing economic landscape, and so much more — there are numerous factors that contribute to whether creators experience a lucrative full-time career or do their influencer work as a side hustle.
4 Questions About Creator Pay
To learn more about the changing creator economy and the reasons behind its shifts, we considered four questions:
- How have brand collaborations changed?
- Has creator income evolved in tandem with changes to sponsorships?
- On average, how much income do creators earn per month?
- In the past year, how have creator rates per content type on various social channels changed?
With these questions in mind, we surveyed 552 US-based creators who are popular on various social networks and span different content verticals as part of our 2022 creator compensation report, available to download for free.
With a keen pulse on the influencer marketing ecosystem, we know that content creators hold the key to unlocking valuable insights within the industry. This knowledge helps to inform brand marketers’ decision-making and run campaigns around creator-proofed concepts.
Let’s explore their feedback.
1. How Has the Number of Brand Collaborations Changed?
We wanted to know about the frequency of respondents’ brand collaborations, as well as any reported changes in their earnings year-over-year (YoY).
We learned that 57% of respondents have worked on more collaborations this year compared to last year.
On the contrary, 23% said that they are working on fewer collaborations, and another 20% told us that the number of branded partnerships stayed about the same.
We understand that each creator’s experience is unique. Their follower count, content niche, engagement rate, and other elements impact the amount of work they get. Still, we’re pleased that the majority of creators who were surveyed are experiencing more opportunities to work with brands — and earn an income for their work.
Content creator John William Barger III has shared some reasons that could be behind fewer collaboration opportunities.
“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 in addition to static rates, timelines are also shrinking — but simultaneously, content production needs to continue to increase. Plus, for creators with high collaboration 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.”
2. How Has Your Income As A Content Creator Evolved?
Many creators are reporting that they are earning higher incomes from their work.
62% of respondents say that their earnings have grown since last year. However, 20% say that their wages have decreased, and 18% say that they are earning the same amount from their influencer marketing endeavors as last year.
“A few years ago, it was totally normal for a brand to shell out thousands of dollars based purely on follower count and engagement rates with no requirement for a particular level of performance,” says Stoller. “Now, we are seeing a shift as the platforms’ organic performance seems to wane more every day, where brands aren’t as concerned with reach and engagement and even organic performance.”
“Brand deals are now so much more focused on usage rights and ensuring the brand has the flexibility to use the content for a specified amount of time, however they see fit,” she says.
3. On Average, How Much Income Do You Generate Per Month?
Any creator can tell you that their monthly income can be unpredictable.
47% of respondents say that they make up to $500 a month as content creators in 2022. 41% say they make between $501-4,000 per month. Only 3% of respondents make more than $10,000 per month.
Naturally, determining rates and collaboration frequency, as well as recurring opportunities — such as multiple touchpoints with the same brand via an ambassador program — have an impact on monthly income.
Content creator Chrissy Carroll says working with her community of other creators who produce content within the same niche helps her determine her rates.
“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. “And across the board, it’s easier and more flexible for creators to work directly with brands to set rates.”
She also points out that fair pay, ongoing communication, and equitable contracts set brands and creators up for more opportunities for long-term collaborations, which are always mutually beneficial programs.
“It’s nice for the brand,” she notes. “And the audience. Long-term collaborations build trust.”
4. In The Past Year, How Have Your Rates Per Post Changed?
The majority of survey respondents say their rates have risen over the past year.
59% reported that the amount they charge for content creation has increased to meet demand, while 37% say that their rates have stayed the same.
On the contrary, only 4% of respondents say that their rates have decreased compared to last year.
One of our interviewees, an anonymous part-time content creator, knows that brands are trying to save money and will try to cut rates while some are open to negotiation.
“As a marketing [professional], I know brands have money for projects and collabs,” they’ve shared. “When they say, ‘Let’s do [this collaboration in exchange] for products,’ and I reply with rates, they’ll usually agree and send over a contract.”
“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,” she says. “Brands should be conscious that when influencers recognize a lack of equality, they see it as unfair treatment.”
Let’s Keep the Conversation Going
There are numerous, constantly fluctuating details that impact how and what to pay content creators.
But, we urge brands to consider what creators bring to the table.
Content creators aren’t simply posting on social media. They are acting as the strategist, the copywriter, the photographer, the editor, the marketer, the social media manager, the distributor, and a sales converter — all rolled into one superhuman package.
Plus, if they’re not personally performing these roles, they’re collaborating with freelancers who they pay to do this. This repeats again, and again, and again with each brand partnership.
When it comes to brands and content creators working together, the answer to “what pay is fair pay?” will likely always be a moving target. And there likely won’t ever be a “one size fits all” payment menu for creators — and that’s not a bad thing.
One thing that can’t be denied is that when creators and brands work together, the closer the relationship, the better. Equitable pay and fair compensation practices are more likely to arise when brands trust creator partners — and embrace the sacrifice they make to produce great sponsored content.
Learn more about creator compensation and hear stories from real influencers in our 2022 Creator Compensation Report, available for free here.
Learn More About Influencer Marketing
- Influencer Marketing Guide By Social Network
- Guide to Creator Monetization
- [Webinar] The Creator’s Perspective On Inclusive Influencer Marketing
- What Brands Need to Know: How To Pay Influencers
- A Guide To Inclusive Influencer Marketing