This is the question that foxes most bloggers and influencers: How much should I charge for sponsored posts?
I’ve been wanting to write this post for ages. Truthfully, however, I wish I didn’t have to write this post. Google “what to charge brands for sponsored content” and you’ll find plenty of posts about the subject, but when it comes to the actual nitty-gritty question of BUT EXACTLY WHAT IN POUNDS AND PENCE SHOULD I BE CHARGING?! they seem to shy away from the answer.
Fear not – I will answer that question. If you’re in the UK, and you want to know how much you should be charging, I will tell you. There are a thousand variables, but I will try and cover as many of them as I can. What I want to do is to give you a starting point, some actual calculations on which to base your fees, and where to go from there. I’ll also talk about how to negotiate, what tricks you can use to demand higher fees / save you more time / make you look really professional.
I’ll also include what to charge for other types of campaigns or content, like guest appearances, modelling jobs, meet-and-greets, or video/filming days.
Please note that this is aimed at the UK market – I know that other markets out there are very different. From what I’ve heard the US market is VERY tough, and they don’t pay one-off fees for sponsored content as much as the UK does, preferring to concentrate on affiliate marketing. But it will, I hope, give you an idea on how/where to start, or how/where to improve your negotiations.
Secondly, this post is also not aimed at anyone who is looking to make a quick buck, or to get more free stuff, or to make as much money as they can in return for as little work as possible. If you’re not prepared to work hard at this game, to give brands everything they want AND MORE, then this isn’t the post for you. This post is aimed at those who take pride in their work and who also want to (and do!) produce incredible content, BUT who also want to be paid fairly for it.
And lastly, this post is not aimed at anyone who has ever bought followers or engagement or done the awful follow-unfollow thing (in other words, used a bot to do this for you). Nor is it aimed at anyone who has manipulated their blog stats in some way (it IS possible to artificially manipulate your blog stats, and brands should be aware of this). Anyone who has done any of those things is basically committing fraud, and they’re asking for money for something that they didn’t earn honestly.
They’re also potentially taking campaigns away from bloggers who are honest and have a 100% organically-earned following, but who maybe don’t have quite as many page views or follower numbers and are passed over in favour of the dishonest ones.
This information is for the benefit of honest, hard-working bloggers and influencers only. But this is just my opinion and others may think differently about what you should be charging. I do stand by what I’ve written here, however, because the advice I’m about to give has worked for me (I now earn a decent salary as a result of following it), and it’s worked for others when I’ve shared the information with them. I’m now sharing the information – based on my experience – with you here.
So – how did I get to the stage of knowing what to charge brands for sponsored content and campaigns?
The secret to knowing what you’re worth
Fortunately for me, my eyes were opened to ‘real’ fees when I got myself an agent about four years ago. When you have someone believe in you and – even better – negotiate on your behalf – it becomes SO much easier. You effectively don’t have to do ANYTHING – someone else is there, having the big fat balls to say “This person is worth X to you”. There’s no embarrassment, there’s no bigging yourself up, there’s no worrying about what their reaction will be. Someone else will bear the brunt if the brand replies with “THEY WANT HOW MUCH MONEY?!!”
What I’d like is for this post to give you the confidence boost that I received when I first got an agent. You become less apologetic and stand your ground when they come to you and say, Would you accept X from this brand, they want you to do x, y and z – you become more confident in yourself because they back you up when you say No, negotiate harder! Someone holding your hand while doing this makes the WORLD of difference. You soon get to know your worth.
I no longer have an agent (I parted from my last one on good terms), but part of the reason why I haven’t yet looked into getting another is that I’d gained plenty of experience of negotiating much, much higher fees via someone else and knew what brands were willing to pay.
However, I’m not saying this (or even writing this blog post) in order to make all bloggers and influencers greedy and simply Demand All The Cash. From the stories I’ve heard from others about what people have charged brands for a whole lotta work, we really need to do SOMETHING to make women in this industry sit up and realise that they’re worth more than what they’re currently being paid. Too many women are asking for PITIFULLY low fees for what they’re doing for brands.
I’ve talked about how discussing your fees with others benefits your career (and the whole industry in the long run). I’ve written before about whether men would work for free if they ruled the blogosphere. Everyone charging prices that are too low means that brands will continue to use bloggers as a cheap form of marketing.
Ladies, we are better than this. YOU are better than this. Even if this is something you do part-time or to earn a little extra pocket money, do not be apologetic about the value you have to a brand. Know that you are worth SO much more than the price of a cheap pair of shoes for hours and hours of hard work and your precious time. Or worse, the actual pair of shoes themselves – and no cash.
Brands have to pay their accountants, their web designers, their sales team, their utility suppliers, their PR agency, even their window cleaners. None of them will be paid in shoes or gift vouchers. They all know their market rate – why shouldn’t you?
How to know if you’re charging too little (or too much)
When trying to work out what fees to charge – when you have absolutely no clue whatsoever – think to yourself, “How many hours would this take me to photograph/prep/write/edit/promote afterwards?” Then think about your hourly wage in your current (or most recent) job. How does it compare? Be honest about exactly how many hours you put into the work you’re about to do (or have done) for a brand.
Once you’ve got that figure, immediately add 20% – because you’ll be charged tax when you file your tax return. Then think about the worth that YOUR brand and YOUR image have to the brand – they’re receiving PR from someone with an established following, so that’s worth a separate fee in itself.
Can you see how all these factors you need to consider all add up? Then there are all the variables, like whether you’ve won a major blog award(s). Or whether you’ve been featured a lot in the press or on high-profile sites in your niche’s industry. It isn’t just about page views and follower numbers.
Many bloggers tell me that they just don’t know if what they’re charging is too little – and that they’re afraid to quote too much. There is a VERY easy way to know whether your fees are too low:
Ask yourself, How often do brands try and negotiate a lower price after I have quoted them? If the answer is never, you’re charging too little.
The perfect amount to charge is one that brands try and reduce sometimes. It is ALSO one that is sometimes accepted without negotiation. If NO ONE EVER accepts your fees, then you’re charging too much, and you know you need to reduce them.
You need the Goldilocks of pricing structures. Not too high, and not too low. You need to charge what you’re worth, not what you hope they might accept because you don’t want to offend them. This thing of “offending” those asking for our fees has to stop – they’re in the business of hiring people to work for them. If someone asks you for your fees, you cannot “offend” them by telling them exactly what they’ve asked for.
Unfortunately in most cases, I find that bloggers are charging far too little because no brand has ever, ever tried to knock them down in price. And that’s because they know they’re getting a bargain.
Who wants to be a bargain? Which would you rather be: a factory outlet handbag, where people don’t even need to look at your price because they know they can afford you – or do you want to be a Chanel handbag, where people save up to buy you because you are the ULTIMATE handbag, the one that they HAVE to have because you’re, well, Chanel?
Anyway – here are the prices. The nitty-gritty that I promised… here we go.
How much to charge for a sponsored Instagram post (including stories)
I read not long ago that the going rate for 20,000 followers was £500, so that’s 2.5 pence per follower. I have always quoted in line with this rate, and brands either happily accept this or ask if they can pay a bit less. Sometimes they simply say no – and that’s fine. They just need to come back to me if/when they can afford to pay my rates. I know that I’m charging what I’m worth because some can afford me and some can’t.
I think that the lowest fee that ANYONE should charge for an Instagram post is around £125. Even if you have fewer than 5,000 followers, if a brand has approached you to promote something of theirs on your Instagram feed then you already have a certain worth to them. The ball is in YOUR court. Start at £125, and charge higher as your follower numbers rise over 5,000.
So as a rough guide for number of followers against fees to charge:
Up to 5,000 followers – £125 (remember, nothing less than £125!)
10,000 followers – £250
15,000 followers – £375
20,000 followers – £500
25,000 followers – £625
30,000 followers – £750
40,000 followers – £1,000
50,000 followers – £1,250, etc.
The sum is: Followers x 0.025 = fee in £££
(I will admit that I think the amount you can charge will slow – in terms of the calculation above – once you get to 50k. But I’d like to think that if you have 50k or above then you should know what you’re doing by now…!)
If you do the sums and you get an awkward number, like £387, look at your engagement rate on socialblade.com. (You should track what this is anyway.) 3% is good, anything above that is VERY good, and anything below that needs improvement. So if you have a very high engagement rate then round your figure up, and point out that you have a high rate in your negotiations.
As far as stories go, ask for 20-25% of the rate of your Instagram post for a stories SET, i.e. 2-3 single stories. A set “tells a story” much better, and it means you can include 1. one without a link for people to comment on, 2. one for a swipe-up link to your blog post (if relevant), and 3. one with a swipe-up link to the brand’s website.
So I have 20,000 followers and charge £500 for an Instagram post. I charge £100 for a stories set, maybe £150 if they’re asking for a lot of hashtags and tagging.
Of all the people that I’ve ever told about this pricing structure, few have ever come back and said that no one is willing to pay them those fees. Good brands will pay you these fees. Good brands with less budget will come back to you at a later date after finding more budget.
How much to charge for a sponsored blog post
The important thing to remember with blog post prices is to make sure you have a tier system in place. DO NOT ASK FOR ONE FLAT FEE when you don’t know what the deliverables are. If you’re just asked for a quote for “a sponsored blog post”, without them listing any deliverables (how many photos? How many words? How many links of their choice? Do they expect social support in that price?), then you ideally need to give them at least two (but ideally three) options: a standard, a middling and a top rate.
A standard price could be blog post only, no social support, one link of their choice.
A middling price could be a blog post with some social support (e.g. a tweet or a story linking to the post) – or it could be a guaranteed ‘inclusion’ (e.g. a photo of and paragraph about the product and link of their choice) in a post shared with other brands.
A top price should be your all-singing, all dancing “feature post”. The blog post will focus solely on the brand and/or their product(s). The fee will include social support in the form of 1-2 tweets, an Instagram post and stories with swipe-up links.
But what to actually charge?
Blog post fees are trickier than Instagram as blog stats aren’t as easy to see. However, it’s easy to buy (and therefore fake) numbers on Instagram so it’s swings and roundabouts.
Start with this: I don’t think ANY blogger should ever charge less than £150 for a blog post. This should be your starting price, always. Unless they are asking purely for a link insertion (and really, do you WANT to do that?), then £150 is a good place to start for any blogger no matter how long they’ve been blogging, or how low their page views are.
If you’ve been asked by a brand to write something and promote their product, they already want you to work for them… you don’t have to start selling your blog to them. Don’t downplay yourself.
But what to charge otherwise? Be warned – there are A LOT of variables. For example:
- Page views
- Unique visitors
- Engagement – number of comments
- A high DA (Domain Authority) – check your DA here. Over 30 is good, over 40 is very good, over 50 is flippin’ amazing
- Number of years you’ve been blogging
- Your status in the community, e.g. awards won, times you’ve been featured in the press, how “in demand” you are with brands
- The actual quality of your photography and writing
The basics to start with are your (unique) page views. Make sure you have Google Analytics installed so you can track them. Taking an average from the last 12 months (December and the summer holidays are always quiet), go by this calculation as a starting rate:
2 pence per page view.
Yes – almost the same as Instagram, BUT! per page view rather than per follower. So as a rough guide for monthly page views against fees to charge for a blog post:
Up to 5,000 monthly page views – £150 (remember, nothing less than £150!)
10,000 monthly page views – £200
20,000 monthly page views – £400
30,000 monthly page views – £600
40,000 monthly page views – £800
50,000 monthly page views – £1,000
60,000 monthly page views – £1,200
70,000 monthly page views – £1,400
80,000 monthly page views – £1,600
90,000 monthly page views – £1,800
100,000 monthly page views – £2,000
The sum is: Monthly page views x 0.02 = fee in £££
This at least gives you a base rate. The variables are what could make your fee go up. Charge more for high engagement. Charge more for a high DA. Charge more for a high status in the blogosphere. Charge more if you’ve worked with some major brands. Heck, charge more because people have said many times you should write a book because your writing is so damn good.
For example, I charge a fair bit more than just my page views x 2 pence because I’ve won several major blogging awards, I’m mentioned a lot on “blogger top 10” lists, and I’ve worked with brands like Avon, L’Oreal, Specsavers, Estée Lauder, JD Williams and Next. I’m in a TV advert at the moment. I’m lucky enough to receive a lot of offers of work, so that makes me in demand – I can pick and choose who I want to work with, so increased demand means increased fees.
Once you have your base rate for a blog post, work out what you can offer as your two/three-tiered pricing system. If your blog stats are low but your Instagram numbers are high, go up the scale if you’re offering Instagram coverage as well. If you have a crazy-high engagement rate on Instagram – or high numbers of comments on your blog posts! – then you can charge more. If you have a high DA of 40 or higher, charge more.
The final fees you quote can only be worked out by yourself – I can’t list all the variables here. But I’m always happy to help if any of you wanted to run your proposed numbers past me: I’m @notlamb on Insta and my email is notdressedaslamb[at]gmail.com. Think of ALL the things that you have going for you, and factor those into your rates.
Above all else, HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF. If you can’t sell yourself and sing your own praises, who’s going to do it on your behalf?
How much to charge for a day’s modelling, video filming, meet and greet, styling session, etc.
This one is easier to calculate, because none of what you’ve been asked to do is based on follower numbers or page views – you just have one flat rate.
If five influencers are asked along to do some filming for a brand, then, in theory, all five should receive the same fee. However, it doesn’t quite work like that due to the varying demand for the talent (getting a pub singer to sing at your wedding is going to cost a lot less than getting Beyoncé to do it, for example). This is where your status in the blogosphere and how in demand you are affects what you charge.
Every blogger and influencer should have a day rate that they ask for. If you’re required to e.g. model for a brand or film a video (their production, not you filming at home) – and nothing else – then you should have a flat fee that you charge for simply showing up, doing your thing, and going home again.
Have a half day rate and a full day rate (half day should be about 70% of the full day rate, never exactly half). Make sure travel and any necessary accommodation expenses are excluded from the figure you quote, so always say, “My rate is £XX, not including travel expenses.”
A day’s work for something like this, where you’re not required to do anything other than what’s required on the day, in my opinion should start at no less than £250 for a half day, and £400 for a full day. (A half day is something like 2-3 hours’ work, a full day is a 9-5 equivalent.) This is no matter how long you’ve been blogging, or how low your follower count or page views are – if they’ve asked you to work for them, you are automatically in demand so don’t play down the power of this.
If your status in the blogging community has some welly to it, increase your rates. For a brand to have a particular personality that they know will attract people to their campaign BECAUSE of that personality’s involvement, then that demands a higher fee.
If they then want you to cover it on social, you charge separately for that. If they want you to write a blog post about it, you charge separately for that. If the job requires you to prepare something in advance, e.g. a styling session that you’re presenting, then you charge extra. Treat the preparatory work as another day that you charge for.
As you now know what you charge for all the different things that you may be asked for, you can list your rates for each deliverable. Add it up as a total. And then read the section under ‘how to present your fees and the trick to always include’ below.
Exceptions: guest speaking opportunities
There are always exceptions, and this is one: if you have been invited to be a guest speaker at an event, you may often find that there is no budget to pay you. Always ask the question “May I ask if there’s any budget to pay the speakers?” – if the answer is no, ask that they can confirm that no one is being paid to speak. Guest speaking can be a wonderful opportunity that does actually benefit you in many ways.
In the past I’ve been asked to speak on a panel at a “disruption” conference in Cambridge, and I’ve spoken at a European retail conference in Amsterdam. Neither event was paid. However, I was assured that none of the speakers were being paid, and I did have all my travel expenses, accommodation and meals paid for. Without doing those events I wouldn’t have had the practice of speaking in public, and it has helped me with video filming (for which I HAVE been paid).
You need to sum up whether it’s a worthwhile opportunity in terms of what you get out of it, and whether the company/brand/business is making money off of your appearance and input. If they ARE making money out of you (for example you host a styling session at a store where you’re effectively selling the brand’s clothes to a willing audience and helping them put outfits together that they then buy), then you SHOULD be paid for that.
Speaking at a conference is different, and you should take the opportunity – unpaid – if you feel it will further your career and CV.
How to ‘present’ your fees – and the tricks to always include
When I quote a brand, in order to calculate my fee I always ask exactly what they require of me. I quote on an ad hoc basis, which is why I never list my fees on my media kit.
Once they’ve given you an idea of whether they want a blog post mention, a feature blog post, or an Instagram post (or all of those things), then you can list them with a price against each. Add up the total price.
AND THIS IS THE TRICK: Always give a discount off the total price.
So if you add up the fees and it comes to £475, say you’ll “do it as a package” for £395. (Use the retail trick of taking £5 off the nearest £100 to make it appear A LOT less.) A good rule of thumb is to take off 10-20%, depending on how the figure looks afterwards. People LOVE a discount – and, I hate to say it, but women especially love a discount. I’ll admit that I’m no exception.
If they’ve asked for two posts, one now and one next season, give them a good 20% discount as it’s guaranteed income for you in the near future. Give them the total, take off 20%, and split the price in half so that “each post will cost only £XX”.
And finally – always quote HIGHER than what you would actually accept in the end. If they wish to negotiate you down, then you can happily do that because they’re still paying you ABOVE the lowest figure you’d accept. If you start low you’ve got nowhere to go. Increase the prices at the beginning, and then reduce the total price once it’s totted up.
After a while of all these tricks should come automatically to you. Never just quote one flat fee and leave it at that. Allow for negotiation in both fees AND deliverables (see next section).
How to negotiate if they try to reduce your fees
Think about the impression you’d give if you were to accept £50 for a sponsored post, plus Instagram, plus whatever else they’re asking you to do. There’s a reason why I think that NO ONE should ever accept less than £125-£150 for sponsored content:
Charge (or accept) too little, and you run the risk of giving the impression that the content you produce is of low quality. They say in retail it can be detrimental to cut prices – some brands are expected to be higher, so if Chanel wasn’t selling very well and they had a ‘mega sale’ and slashed their prices by half, it would do more harm than good for their brand because everyone EXPECTS their prices to be higher. It’s a luxury brand, and “50% off everything!” doesn’t reflect that image.
The sooner you prove yourself to be a quality blogger by charging more – and insisting that those are your prices – the sooner you’ll get a reputation for being one. The price you are worth is the top price that someone is willing to pay you. As mentioned before, if no one is willing to pay you the prices you quote, then you’re charging too much. But if ONE brand comes along and says Yes to your fees, you’ve hit the jackpot. THAT’S what you’re worth, right there.
Something I used to do when approached about a sponsored post was to always ask first how much they’re willing to pay – don’t do this. Work out your fees and stick to them. Always bear in mind, however, that if your fees are always accepted without hesitation, then you’re not charging enough. What have you got to lose by doubling your prices when you’re approached by someone you’ve never worked with before?
Within a year of having an agent represent me, my fees literally increased 10 times. Only one brand – one that I’d worked with independently before having an agent – questioned why my fees were increasing (we did do it gradually, they weren’t increased by 10 in one hit)! I’d won at the UK Blog Awards, I’d been working with a lot of well-known brands, my following had increased significantly… they accepted this. I’m still working with that brand today and they pay my top rates.
So don’t think that you can’t increase the rates you charge a brand you’re already working with – YOU CAN.
You often get brands who say they can only pay X amount. You have to decide whether it’s worth your time and effort. If it’s a good brand and you can write a really interesting post that’s good for your blogging “CV” then I would say do it – it’s good to have it as an example of what you can produce to show to other brands in the future.
Here are a few bargaining tools that I often use when brands ask if they can pay less:
- Offer more for the fee you’ve quoted. It’s worth trying to stick to your guns (your original quote) first. Offer something that demands little extra work of you but that is of value to them, like adding an Instagram story (set) with a swipe-up link to their website if they’ve only asked for a static post in your feed. OR adding an album to an Instagram post so that you can include a few images, like close-ups of the product. OR scheduling a series of tweets to your blog post over the course of a couple of weeks. OR guaranteeing a link back to the blog post in two or three of your blog posts in the future (agree on a rough date, and stick to it, if you offer this).
- Ask for 30 days guaranteed payment, without chasing. If the fee isn’t paid by the 31st day, then the full fee that you originally quoted will be automatically due. Make sure this is written clearly into your contract*. A good way to guarantee prompt payment, even if it is is a bit less… I’ve used this trick a few times, it works.
- Take something out of the deliverables. Did they want Instagram and stories? Take out the stories. Offer a post shared with other brands (who also may be willing to pay you). Simply say, “I’d be happy to accept £XX for this post – for that fee I can offer a guaranteed blog post mention with a link of your choice, and a static Instagram post.” List what you CAN do for the fee they’ve offered, not what you can’t.
- Say that you’ll publish without sending for approval first to save you time and admin. Sometimes they ask for this, sometimes they don’t – generally I find that the client wants to approve your content more often than not these days (it tends only to NOT happen when it’s a smaller brand and you’re dealing with them direct, rather than through a PR agency). Sending content for approval means you have to finish it at least several working days in advance, so that doubles your workload for that time period. Time is money!
- Reduce any exclusivity period. Check contracts carefully – you often find that brands will say you cannot work with any competitors for a set period of time (anything from a week to a few months). If they won’t pay your full fees, say that you can only give them X weeks exclusivity, allowing you to take on work from other brands sooner.
- Reduce the length of their usage rights. Similar to exclusivity periods, brands will write into a contract that they have the right to use your images/content on their social feeds, website, newsletters, etc. for a set period. Firstly, it should always be a set period – NEVER accept the description “perpetually”, which means forever. (I usually offer six months as standard when quoting my fees.) If they’ve reduced your fee, say that you’ll accept it if they reduce the usage rights period from 6 to 3 months or from 12 to 6 months, for example.
*A blog post about what to put into contracts – and what to look out for in ones written by brands – is in the pipeline. In the meantime, if you need a template, drop me an email. DO NOT EVER enter into a collaboration without a contract.
A final word about the content you produce
This part is just as important as all the advice I’ve given about fees:
There’s no point putting up your fees if you don’t produce excellent quality content on a beautifully designed, easy to read/navigate blog.
There’s no point putting up your fees if you don’t deal with your contact in a professional and courteous manner.
There’s no point putting up your fees if you keep accepting irrelevant shit [irrelevant to your niche/readership] from any old brand without thinking about your integrity.
There’s no point putting up your fees if you don’t read the brief properly and deliver everything that’s required of you.
There’s no point putting up your fees if you don’t deliver on time.
There’s no point putting up your fees if you can’t produce amazing photography and well-written, interesting, error-free prose that your readers will love reading.
There’s no point putting up your fees if you can’t be bothered to produce detailed stats and reports afterwards.
There’s no point putting up your fees if you won’t go the extra mile to make yourself stand out – post extra stories on Instagram, send a thank you card in the post, link back to your sponsored content or tag the brand time and time again in the future.
If you want to earn more money, then you’ve got to put in the hard graft and hone your craft. Invest in a DSLR and tripod. Learn how to take great photos. Improve your writing with free tools like Grammarly and Hemingway. Keep up to date with your industry and learn how to improve.
Put your fees up, yes, but only if you produce shit-hot content that’s worth the money the brand is investing in you.
As the fabulous Sarah of yesandyes.org said in her recent email to her subscribers:
“If you want to build a thriving freelance business…
STOP: missing deadlines, working for free, being afraid of networking, downplaying your talent.
START: researching new platforms/software/trends in your field, reaching out to people you want to work with, doing self-directed work, following up with leads, maintaining a blog/social media/internet presence…”
Has this helped you at all with working out what fees to charge? (I hope it has!) Tell me in the comments…