HOW TO GET PAID ON INSTAGRAM & WORK WITH BRANDS THAT YOU LOVE
I thought I would write a blog post about how to get paid on Instagram and work with brands as an Influencer while also touching on the subject from a blogger’s perspective.
Although I call myself a blogger (I find the term ‘Influencer’ oh so cringey…), my main platform is Instagram. That’s where I started and that’s where I have most of my content and audience.
Instagram is also THE social media that brands want to build a presence on, so often times a brand’s social media marketing campaign will be solely focused on Instagram.
Why Would Brands Pay for Influencer Marketing?
Before I was dragged deep down into the world of the ‘Gram, I used to think it was insane that some brands were willing to pay thousands of pounds to top influencers for a simple photo.
BUT, as I’ve been in the industry a little longer I’ve realised that as crazy as it sounds, it’s a great price for the brand.
Traditional brands normally have an advertising budget of tens or even hundreds of thousands pounds for one single campaign. Sometimes the amount can even be hundreds of thousands for one single video clip.
This is understandable as it usually takes the work of multiple people to produce a successful campaign: a model, stylist, photographer/videographer, editor, etc.
Plus, when the campaign is finished, the brands throw more money at newspapers, TV’s and billboards to advertise their campaign.
I looked a bit into these figures and found out that the cheapest form of advertisement that ELLE UK offers starts from $13 000 (a weekly newsletter). A half page rollback ad is $140 000.
And what’s even more ridiculous, ELLE UK only boasts a monthly sale of 165k with an average readership of 714k.
So, if the brand can get away with paying an influencer with 100k followers only $1300 and leave all the creative work up to them, it’s an amazing deal for the brand.
Okay, But How Do I Get Paid on Instagram? I Don’t Have Millions of Followers.
I’ve touched on the subject of getting paid on Instagram in my post about growing your Instagram previously, and it is a given that you need to have some kind of a following and decent content before even thinking of monetising your platform. However!
The amount of followers you need isn’t actually all that high – some influencer platforms accept influencers with only a 1-3k following (and pay fairly decently).
The reason for this is that your audience isn’t the only way which benefits a brand. Very often they are after marketing material, the content.
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Paying $50 for someone with a 2k following on Instagram isn’t a big deal if the brand can then use the same image across their social medias, website, newsletter or even in stores.
I started getting sponsored on Instagram way back when I had less than 10k followers because my photography appealed to certain brands.
Some of the brands still use the imagery I created for them which is kind of funny – I’ve come across my pictures e.g. in Dunelm’s recent Back to School Campaign, for which I created content last year.
So, as long as you focus on creating good content and have high engagement rates (the lower your following the higher the engagement rate should be) you can still get paid on Instagram and work with great brands.
Make Sure Your Profile Looks Super Pro
Before applying to influencer campaigns you want to make sure that your profile actually looks presentable. Brands will screen all applicants before accepting or rejecting proposals, and sadly in this industry books always get judged by their cover. So, you want to make sure that your cover looks pretty darn good.
Before applying, make sure that you can tick all these boxes:
- Your profile has a clear focus – fashion, beauty, lifestyle, you name it! As long as your Instagram profile clearly revolves around your niche and ISN’T a personal account, you’ll be fine. This means that you should delete all random pictures that have nothing to do with the direction you want to take your profile to: say buy to cat pics, pics of random items and group pictures.
- Make sure that you’re actively posting on Instagram. This means that you post at least 1-2 a week, but more is better (3-4 or even every day!)
- Make sure that your profile aligns with the brands that you want to work with in the future. For example, if you want to work with high-end fashion brands in the future, have a classy, elegant and luxurious feel to your profile. If you can’t afford designer items now, simply emulate the luxe feeling with free props, such as beautiful flower gardens and grand buildings.
- Make sure that your images are on point! Instagram is very saturated at the moment and it’s getting harder and harder to break into. There are people who are starting out with endless budgets, amazing work ethic and incredible pictures, so if you want to stand out, you need to pay extra attention to your image editing.
After all, brands only need a few seconds to decide if you have the right look for them or not, so getting the look right is often the key in landing collaborations, especially if you’re a smaller influencer.
I edit all of my pics with Adobe Lightroom and use my own presets to achieve the look that I’m after. I find Adobe Lightroom a lot easier to use than mobile based apps, and it literally takes me about 5-10 minutes to edit a photo from start to finish now.
Even though it can be a little bit tricky to get started with Lightroom, the end results are so much better than what I ever achieved with VSCO, Snapseed and other apps. After Lightroom, I also use FaceTune to make minor adjustments to my images, including whitening my teeth, smoothing my skin, and other things like that.
Millenial Presets are the presets that I use for all my pictures on Instagram without fault. These presets transformed my Instagram game, increased my engagement and helped me secure amazing collaborations for a much better price than what I had previously been paid. Check them out if you’re interested in doing the same and taking your Instagram to the next level!
Use Influencer Platforms to Find Campaigns
The best way to find brands to work with and get paid on Instagram is through Influencer platforms. This is for two reasons:
1. Big brands almost always use platforms or agencies to find micro-influencers
2. Influencer platforms make it easier for you to negotiate your rates and actually get paid on Instagram
And you want to work with big brands. These brands are the same brands that will spend $80k on an advert in ELLE. They are already established and chances are that you already love and use their products.
By using Influencer platforms it’s easier for you to get into contact with brands that you actually want to support and endorse, and not some dodgy detox tea or “skinny me” coffee brands.
It’s great to support small, local brands but at the end of the day, it’s only fair to get paid for producing work. The reality is that a lot of smaller companies just don’t have the budget to pay for advertisement.
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You can easily find a list of influencer platforms by just googling them. The biggest ones out there in the UK at the moment are Takumi, Whalar, TRIBE and Indahash to name a few. US & Australia have their own set of Influencer platforms, and they should be relatively easy to find from Google.
These platforms boast clients such as Dior, French Connection, Lancôme, Swiss Air Lines, Starbucks, etc. You get the point – they will have brands that you love.
They all pay fairly decently too, and you can find their typical rates on their own websites. I recently had lunch with the CEO and founder of Takumi and he told me that they are now planning on increasing an influencer’s minimum rate from $50 to $85 per post as long as they have 1k followers.
Tribe offers $66 for a following of 3k. Not bad, right? If you are looking for influencer platforms that offer additional Twitter, Youtube and Facebook campaigns, try Webfluential. If you are a creator with a combined following of 10k, you can sign up here.
Build Relationships Through Email
Influencer platforms are not the only way to get paid on Instagram by a brand. When I first started paying more attention to my Instagram game, getting paid wasn’t really a priority for me: I wanted to get invited to all the events and be one of the cool kids!
As you start building a larger following online, brands and PR will find their way to you naturally. BUT, if you are still a small player, you might want to get in touch with them yourself first.
I started to network more “seriously” last summer about a month before London Fashion Week. Prior to this, I hadn’t really received any emails, nor had I attended any blogger events.
At this point I had around 19k followers and thought it would be a good idea to reach out to brands myself.
I went through quite a few bigger bloggers’ Instagram accounts and looked at who they were following. I typed ‘PR’ into the search bar and just wrote down the name of every single PR company that there was.
I then drafted a generic email asking if they had any clients that would like to work with me along with my media kit that includes relevant statistics.
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Quite a few reached back and ta-da, a relationship was formed! You can use this emailing technique to reach out to brands directly too, if there is someone in particular who you would want to work with.
If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. (*End cheesy quote*)
If you are thinking of using this technique bear in mind that you most probably won’t get paid on Instagram for any opportunities that you get.
I would still encourage everyone to start reaching out to brands and PR if you’re just starting out with sponsorships, because this way they will get to know your work and you start building a reputation.
Sometimes you need to work for free before you can charge! Plus, it’s always good to have a few great brand names on your portfolio rather than having none!
How Do I Ask Brands to Pay Me Through Email?
Okay. Let’s imagine that you have successfully entered the stage where you have built a reputation and are getting a bunch of emails from brands on a weekly/daily basis.
They are great brands, but every single email is asking for you to collaborate on a gifting basis: a product in exchange for exposure on your platform.
The simplest thing you can do is to just stop accepting these requests, even if they are coming from brands that you love. Come on, how badly do you really want that £30 Estée Lauder foundation?
What I have learned to do is to just ask a simple question. You can start off your reply with the usual friendly “Thank you for so much for your email, I would love to work with you!“ and then jump straight into “What is your advertisement budget?“. Simple yet effective.
You can then proceed to explain that you have stopped working on a purely gifted basis. If the brands are interested in working with you, they will get back to you and ask for your rates.
You can then proceed to negotiate and adapt. If you consistently get rejected because the price you are asking for is too high, try asking for a lower price. The opposite is also true.
However, if you are still interested in trying out the product but are not sure if you would promote it for free, just say so! Tell the brand you would love to try the product, but that you cannot guarantee exposure in case you don’t enjoy it (obviously if you do enjoy it, feature it!).
You can also offer to feature the product on your Twitter, Snapchat or Instastories if you have a strong enough presence on those platforms.
Once you start receiving money directly from brands, you will need to start sending out invoices. It’s a good idea to always clarify all the terms of the campaign within the invoice so that nothing is left unclear.
If you can, try asking for the brand to pay you in advance or at least go 50:50 with you.
There is nothing more frustrating than chasing down payments from months and months ago. I once collaborated with a brand that was based in Italy and seriously considered suing them because their payment was late by months. My best friend is a lawyer and confirmed that the law was on my side.
However, it’s still such an unnecessary hassle to go through to get a pretty negligible amount of money and who knows, laws might be different in other countries with regards to these kinds of issues.
It’s not worth taking the risk. Luckily in my case, the company did eventually pay, but I learnt my lesson.
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Don’t Be a Sell-Out
Once you build a reputation and start getting offers from various brands it can be tempting to say yes to everything. Let’s face it, it’s pretty appealing to get the same amount of money from promoting a product as you do working a few days in the office.
However, your career as an “influencer” will be very short lived if you take this path. To ensure that you won’t lose credibility with your audience, I would suggest that you do these two things:
1. Never ever promote something that you don’t believe in
2. Stick to the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule)
The Pareto principle says that 80% of your results come from 20% of the work you put in.
It’s a general law that can be applied to anything in life e.g. You wear 20% of the clothes that you own 80% of the time; The richest 20% of the world hold 80% of the world’s income, and so on.
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Therefore, in my opinion it would be a good idea to stick to having a maximum of 20% of your content sponsored on Instagram to protect your reputation, and leave the remaining 80% of content non-sponsored.
You can of course test how well your audience responds to sponsored content on your channel and make up your own laws.
These are my top tips on getting paid on Instagram and working with brands as an influencer. I hope that the article was informative and that you gained something new! Let me know if there is anything else that you would like to know and I will answer you in the comments!
How Much Do I Charge?
Updated June 2018 I started using these techniques when sourcing out paid content on Instagram around the time that I had 30k followers, and I’ve been making similar amounts of money ever since then. Even back then, I used to charge around $250 per post, and got paid that. However, my engagement was a lot better than what it is now.
I currently have around 51k followers on Instagram and charge anywhere from $200-$345. Sometimes I get offered more, sometimes less. The amount that I make from Instagram on a monthly basis differs, but it can be anywhere from a couple hundred pounds to $2000. This month, I made about $900.
Even at this point I prefer to work mostly through apps, because it takes away the hassle in payment and emailing brands constantly back and forth. However, I have heard that other people who have a similar following on the gram charge up to £500-£600 per post.
This can of course be tied to many different things, such as engagement. If you feel like you should be getting paid more than what you get offered from the apps then by any means, start reaching out to brands via email and negotiate better rates.
Also, I have to mention that if you are asked to post a video on Instagram, charge way more than what you would charge per picture. I would normally charge at least £500 per Instagram video sponsorship.
Personally, I’m quite happy with the rates that I get now, especially since my engagement isn’t amazing (about 2%).
I’m also working on reducing the number of sponsorships that I accept, and making more money through affiliate sales and my blog.
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