Negotiating brand deals as a content creator/influencer can be scary. You have a brand that you absolutely love and really want to work with but you also want to ensure that you’re getting the rate and treatment that you deserve. Just like any other relationship, compromise is important. But where do you draw the line at what you’re willing to compromise on and what you’re not willing to compromise on? How do you know what to negotiate before you accept/decline an offer? How do you know when it’s time to walk away and when to jump with joy?
If you’re curious about all of those questions, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get into it! My name is Kee Rose and I’ve been a Content Creator for about 2 years now. I’m still new to the game and I’ve been blessed enough to be connected to different tiers of influencers. Due to these connections and my own experiences, I’m able to stay updated with what’s happening in the industry.
As a Black creator, my main goal is to make sure that other Black and POC creators know how to ask for what they deserve. While it has been proven that our counterparts get paid way more than we do, it’s also been stated that we ask for less as well and that needs to change.
Before we get into it, just remember that everyone’s values are different. What I’m willing to compromise on, you might not be willing to compromise on and vice versa. We don’t need to completely sacrifice ourselves for an opportunity if adequate pay isn’t reflected. It’s important to stay true to yourself as you learn to navigate your upcoming brand deals/opportunities and move from a place of abundance, instead of lack. You have value as a human first & creator second. Remember that as you navigate your upcoming brand deals! Here’s everything you need to know about negotiating brand deals as a Content Creator.
The Basics of Negotiation
Brand deals are a huge part of many creators income so every creator should know the basics of negotiation (yes, that includes creators that have management). In my opinion, ALL campaigns should be negotiated. Negotiation ensures that both parties get the best deal. Most of the time, there may be a better deal to receive as the creator as well as a better deal to offer the brand so that they can get the biggest bang for their buck. Before you negotiate, you need to know basic industry terms and understand the ins and outs of the contract that you’re given.
Never sign a contract without fully understanding the terms because you could sell yourself short or fall short of the brand’s expectations if you are unaware of their expectations and processes. If something is unclear, ask for clarity, reach out to an influencer/creator friend or ask a lawyer!
When brands reach out to you for campaigns, they already know the goal and terms of the campaign. However, not everything is an absolute. Almost everything in a brand deal can be negotiated and these are the most common things:
- Amount and Type of Deliverables
- Usage Rights & Licensing
- Payment terms
- Idea Concepts
What to Negotiate in Brand Deals
A deliverable is a piece of content. Usually when brands reach out, they have an idea of what deliverables they’d like for the campaign: 2 tik tok videos, 3 images and 1 instagram story. You want to have an individual rate for EACH deliverable and then create package deals if you choose to. This rate does not include usage, exclusivity, licensing, etc. which we’ll talk about later.
Sometimes the deliverables exceed what you’re able to participate in and sometimes the deliverables exceed the budget of the brand.
Here’s what you can do when a brand isn’t able to pay you your rate for the requested deliverables:
- Offer new deliverables for the rate that they are willing to pay
- If a brand can only provide $2,000 max and the requested deliverables are 1 instagram reel, 1 tik tok and 1 story, you can propose to remove deliverables. By removing deliverables, you’re keeping the door open and sharing what you can do for that rate. If your rate for 1 tik tok is $2,000, that would be the deliverable that you offer. If your rate for 1 IG story is $500 and $1500 for an IG reel, you can offer those deliverables. Sometimes brands will be willing to compromise and sometimes a campaign may be so strict that they won’t be able to budge.
- If the brand isn’t able to meet you halfway, you can choose to decline the offer based on the amount of work vs. the budget. Declining an offer is a personal choice so it’s important to understand how much effort is required for the campaign, what selling yourself short looks like and when you can compromise. In my experience, when you compromise on your values, you end up doing way more work on the back end or have complications with the brand. I see that as the Universe’s way of saying you need to stop settling.
Negotiating your rate is probably the most obvious thing you can negotiate yet it’s also a touchy subject within the industry because everyone has their own opinion about what people should and shouldn’t be charging. I believe that transparency and community will help us get all the coin we deserve but the conversation has to happen first.
How to determine your rates for brand deals:
I recommend having a list of base rate for each deliverable. You are probably wondering what your rate “should” be for each deliverable so let’s break it down. A common rule of thumb in the industry is 10% of your following. If I have 10,000 followers, I’m charging no less than $1,000 for an instagram post. At 10,000 followers, my rates were $650 for an instagram story, $1500 for an instagram post and $2,000-4,000 for an instagram reel. Instagram stories tend to be the least cost since they disappear within 24 hours (although they can be added to a highlight) and video content tends to be the highest price.
No matter the follower count, I don’t believe anyone should charge less than $500 despite the deliverable. Creating content is labor and your labor deserves to be compensated no matter your following or engagement. When you are considering working with brands, it’s important to not sacrifice your needs just because you want to say you worked with a brand.
There are certain opportunities that we will naturally accept for the experience and that’s perfectly fine! Plenty of creators accept gifted opportunities if it’s a brand they really enjoy but always remember time is money and the opportunity needs to be worth it to you.
How do you share your rate with a brand?
The best rule of thumb for sharing your rate with a brand is to wait until they ask. I don’t recommend sending your rate card before being asked or having it on your media kit. Before stating your rate, make sure you know what the campaign entails so you can provide the most accurate rate that reflects the amount of work you’ll do. I tend to always state a couple of hundred higher than my “actual” desired rate because the brand is more than likely going to negotiate down.
Here’s an example: My rate for a campaign is $3200. The brand replies and asks me to meet them at $2500. I reply back and ask to meet at $2900. Although it wasn’t the initial rate I asked for ($3200), it was close to it and satisfiable to me based on the terms. If I would’ve given a rate of $2,000, we probably would’ve met at $1500 which sells me a bit short so I would then counter again at $1700.
The lesson is to always ask for more (while being reasonable) at the very beginning. If anyone tells you no, let it be the brand not your self-doubt.
“If you stated a rate and they agree automatically, you didn’t ask for enough.” -Mattie James
Usage rights are how brands plan to use the content that you’ve created for the campaign. Usage is typically where you can charge a lot because a brand is using your content and your likeness to promote their product/service for increased revenue. Typically, usage rates range anywhere from $350-$1000+ a month.
My biggest recommendation for all creators is to have a monthly usage rate. I do not recommend cutting corners on your rate with usage rights or including it in your deliverable rate. The last thing you want to happen is your face plastered all over social media, websites and billboards and know you didn’t get a dime from it.
Organic Vs. Paid Usage
The difference between organic usage and paid usage is that organic usage typically means reposting the content on social media organically while paid usage means that there is money behind how they’re promoting your content.
Paid usage can include:
- Whitelisting & Darklisting (a separate charge than ads)
- Website/Newsletter/Text Marketing
Determining Usage Rates Based on Timeframes
When a brand proposes usage rights, they’re typically asking for 1/3/6/12 months or perpetual usage. As stated above, I recommend having a monthly usage rate. Creators tend to charge less for organic usage vs. paid usage. Some creators choose to give a small discount if a brand requests longer usage terms such as 12 months. Let say you typically change $1000 each month for usage, you could knock a couple hundred off of $12,000 to serve as a “package deal” for the brand.
Do not EVER sign away perpetual usage rights to your content for free. It is highly recommended against this because the brand can use your content as much as they’d like, however they’d like and as long as they’d like while you don’t get a dime. We’ve all done it at some point as beginners but the more you know, the better. Whenever I see perpetual usage, I request for it to be removed from the contract.
Exclusivity is when a brand requests that you do not work with their competitors for a specific time frame. The reason exclusivity requires a fee because it limits you from working with specific brands which could potentially lead to decreased income for you. Just like usage, exclusivity typically has a monthly rate.
Examples of Exclusivity:
- 30 days after the campaign goes live
- 2 weeks before the campaign and 2 weeks after the campaign goes live
- 3 months after the campaign goes live
The more exclusivity the brand is requesting, the higher rate you can have.
Now let’s get into this payment terms. Payment terms determine when the money will hit your account. When working with brands, I tend to always ask for Net 15 or Net 30. This means that 15 or 30 days after the campaign goes live on my channels or the content is completed, I will be paid. Another popular payment term is asking for half of the payment up front and half of the payment upon the completion of the campaign. If a brand is working with a third party (ad agency/platform), it is very likely that their standard of payment will be Net 60 (I personally think Net 60 – 2 months – is absurd but I digress).
If the brand isn’t willing to budge on Net 60, that gives you the option to see what else can be negotiated to make up for the fact that you won’t get paid until 60 days after the campaign is completed.
You may be able to add additional fees within your rate such as late and rush fees.
It is extremely important to add a late fee clause in your contract. We are all grown and we all have bills to pay. Receiving your money on time is important!
*cues the I. NEED. MY. MONEY. ON. TIME clip from ATL*
Most brands already have a contract created for the campaign. However, you can always ask to add or remove an amendment within the contract. Here’s an example of how I’d request a late fee:
I took a look over the contract and I’d like to add an amendment in regards to a late fee. “The brand will pay an additional __% of the rate if the payment is delivered past the due date.”
Rush fees are any content that is being asked to be delivered within 2 weeks. Even if you do have more free time than most, you still have to put in intentional effort to ensure the work is completed sooner than it would’ve been. From what I’ve seen, typical rush fees are about 10-20% of the entire service fee.
5 Things to Know when Negotiating Brand Deals
- If you give a brand your rate and you immediately accept, that means you could’ve asked for more because they more than likely had a high budget. Ask for more next time.
- Always ask for more than you are willing to accept. After stating your offer, a brand is more than likely going to negotiate down. For example, if you want $2,500 at the least, ask for $3200 because it’s possible that they will counter your offer with a lower rate. This concept is very similar to salary negotiation with any job.
- Know your values and stand on them. Don’t forget what YOU bring to the table. You are an asset that has many skills to offer.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away from an opportunity that doesn’t support your highest self. It’s 2022 and bills don’t get paid with exposure.
- Be curious! You’re going to learn a lot on this journey and make some mistakes. Lean on the creator community in times where you need more clarity on something before making a commitment.