How influencer partnerships work (and what you should charge)

Insert your brand here.

Insert your brand here.

Hello, social media maven. Congratulations on your carefully curated grid, beautiful content and hefty following! You’re a social star; or, as some would say, an “influencer.”

Generally, an influencer is thought to be anyone with over 10,000 followers on Instagram; however, brands are realizing the importance of lesser-known “micro-influencers” and the niche followings that they often attract. If you have a great thing going, don’t rule yourself out just because you’re not yet in the exclusive “K” club that one joins when they exceed the 9,999 mark.

Perhaps brands have already come calling, or maybe you’re patiently waiting for the phone to ring. Regardless, you most likely have questions about what happens once they do come knocking: how does it work, what compensation to accept, and how to find these opportunities. Everyone seems to handle influencer partnership requests differently, but I’ll share what works for Kyle and me.

How does it work? In this digital age, many brands consider influencer partnerships and campaigns to be an integral part of a solid digital marketing strategy. While all arrangements are different, essentially someone acting on behalf of a brand contacts the “influencer” to arrange payment or product in exchange for a post on social media or appearance in a campaign. For larger brands, there may be an agency tasked with coordinating these partnerships who would serve as your liaison to the brand. If the influencer is creating original content, the brand may ask for the images, either for pre-approval before posting, or afterward in order to share your content. These arrangements may be as loose as an email exchange, or as binding as an official contract.

FML x Busweiser

FML x Busweiser

What should you accept as fair compensation? We are generally willing to create one-off beverage-based content in exchange for product because it ultimately serves to benefit our agency’s portfolio; however, if our personal Instagram pages were our intended money-makers, we would require a fee (and often do for other types of posts).

Often, we’ll receive an email such as, “We’d love to send you a sample” and the post is not required, but is assumed; however, if you are being asked to post in exchange for something (product, payment or other compensation), that should be explicitly laid out: “We’ll offer you this in exchange for…" Unless there is money involved, we usually delete requests for image approval or multiple posts in exchange for product alone; you have to have a general idea of your worth and stick to it. Only you can decide what you are and are not willing to accept.

There are cost calculators online for what you could potentially charge if you’re looking to monetize posts based upon your CPM (cost to reach 1,000 people). We’d also suggest that you add an additional fee if you offer a particular expertise, like creating the recipe for the cocktail image that you’ll be tasked with sharing.

How do you find these opportunities? We find that many brands contact us directly, but there are agencies in the business of brokering these arrangements that we’ve enjoyed partnering with. Our favorites include and Collectively, though it seems there are new agencies popping up daily. With agencies, there is usually a super-specific format that you commit to when you sign up, detailing post dates and deliverables. Be warned that they usually cast their net wide at first and then the brand chooses from the interested parties – these are never guaranteed with the first interest email. Many of the offerings are lifestyle products, and we’ll generally accept if the project is on-brand and sounds fun, or like something we’d like to try for free.

When we’re asked to work on campaigns, or provide imagery to be used by the brand, we factor in details that go into any project, like day rate, licensing fees, travel, etc. Additionally, when a brand reaches out directly (not through an Influencer agency), they’ve typically already decided whom they want to work with and there may be more more leeway to negotiate. Be warned that with companies directly, there are often detailed decks, contracts, and NDAs involved; the more of that, the higher our ask.

If you prefer to be proactive, a media kit can be created and sent to interested parties, outlining your data and capabilities.

Once you start accepting partnerships, the floodgates should open up and you’ll get to know how you like to work and with whom. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions. Good luck!