Whether it’s for a one-time post or for longer engagements, knowing how to negotiate with brands should be among the top skills you build as an influencer. 

Because you don’t want (and shouldn’t) sell yourself short. 

After all, you’ve proven you have what it takes to build an audience. Now, thousands of followers (or hundreds of thousands — good for you!) are looking forward to your content. Not only that, but they care about your recommendations.

With such great exposure and authority, remember that you are, indeed, offering value to brands. And while it might be hard for you to place an exact number on that value, that’s why we’re here. 

Here’s how to negotiate the opportunities you offer brands by allowing them to reach your audience. 

First, attitude

Your mindset is the most crucial aspect you should consider before even talking to brands.

How you perceive yourself and the value you can bring will influence how you negotiate with brands.

To make sure you get a contract that’s correctly priced, start from a place of self-awarenessrecognize your real worth and be assertive

At the same time, keep in mind that nobody wants to work with a spoiled superstar who is disconnected from reality. Remember that while you’re doing brands a favour, brands are also extending you an opportunity. 

Ultimately, you need to be open-minded yet very good at setting boundaries. You must enter any brand negotiation by establishing an equality field. That’s why it’s called collaboration

Don’t make too many compromises, don’t settle for less, but don’t overstep either by asking for ridiculous fees or, even worse, for a royal treatment.

Next, portfolio

While you might think that your Instagram profile is your portfolio, that’s only half true. 

There are still several insights that aren’t visible on your profile, but that are vital for brands when deciding whether or not a collaboration would be fruitful. 

These insights include things such as audience demographics, past brands you’ve worked with, and types of collaborations you are most skilled at.

To bring all these into focus, an influencer portfolio aka media kit should do the trick. Basically, an influencer portfolio is a brief presentation (PDF most of the time) that includes the details mentioned above, plus a little something-something of your personal visual branding and style. 

We suggest you leave rates out of your portfolio. While certain benchmarks can guide your negotiations, you need to leave room for flexibility. Fees can change according to brand size, usage rights and exclusivity clauses.

Plus, you’ll want to use your portfolio for reaching out to new brands and you don’t want to jump right into the fees’ discussion. Start with a ‘courtship’ period and see where it leads. 

Then, negotiate brand collaborations

Gifts and free samples

As you slowly build your influencer career, you’ll notice that gifts will become standard practice in your interactions with brands. 

In the beginning, this type of collaboration will be mostly unpaid. Brands or small companies will send you gifts in exchange for you posting about them on your profile. Mind you, this expectation will be somewhat implicit. 

However, most brands will contact you before sending a gift, especially to establish a set of expectations. It will be your chance to negotiate as well. Don’t accept gifts from brands that you wouldn’t want to associate with and don’t compromise on quality. Otherwise, you risk to lose followers and pay a high price in the long run.

As you grow as an influencer, the gifting game will change. You’ll start receiving more and more gifts, free samples and even packages simply because brands are eager for you to mention them. At this point, you’ll have the freedom to choose which ones you post about and which ones you don’t even mention. And you’ll also have the freedom to negotiate with brands certain fees for posting about the gifts you receive. 

Sponsored content

This is probably the most common type of collaboration you’ll negotiate with brands. Sponsored content refers to any type of content you create and brands pay for. Of course, whether we’re talking about posts, stories or IGTV videos, the brand’s products or services will be the stars of the content.

In the influencer industry, some price benchmarks can help you negotiate your fees. These benchmarks take into account the number of followers an influencer has and can suffer adjustments depending on their engagements rates. 

For sponsored Instagram posts, you can charge an average of $100 per 10,000 followers. If you’re really rocking the influencer status and enjoy killer engagement rates, feel free to pump it up a bit.

When it comes to Instagram stories, the agreed-upon pricing framework advises influencers to ask for 25% of the price they would ask for a post. Consequently, IGTV videos are valued at twice the price of a post, given the fact that they involve more work. 

Giveaways

Similar to gifts, giveaways are another type of collaboration brands love. 

In this specific case, a brand sends you a product or a voucher for their services and asks you to hold a giveaway contest on your page. Of course, it goes without saying that you should only follow through with proposals from brands that are aligned with your values.

It’s possible that the giveaway will come with some strings attached such as rules to include in the challenge you prompt your followers with. 

Maybe brands will want participants to follow their page or perhaps they’ll think it’s a good idea to include a certain branded hashtag. Make sure to find out what the expectations are and figure out if you can or want to say “yes” to all of them.

When you negotiate with brands, start your giveaway offer at least 50% more than you would charge for a sponsored post. Why? You’re enabling the brand to tap right into your audience and make use of your authority in exchange for new followers on their profile. 

Press Trips

Now we’re talking! As an influencer, we have a hunch that you’ll love press trips more than any other type of collaboration. And we get why! A press trip is basically a mini-vacation paid by a specific brand. The expectation is, of course, promotional content. 

While at the beginning of your career, press trips can be in and of themselves the reward for the content you create, as you grow your follower count and gain notoriety, you’ll be able to charge extra. 

When you get to that privileged position, start to negotiate with brands by setting expectations. Sit down with the marketing representative and establish a set of deliverables. Then, based on the industry benchmarks, calculate the total price. 

For example, if a brand wants 3 posts, 5 stories and 1 IGTV video to result after your press trip, and you have 10,000 followers (see the sponsored content section above), here’s how to calculate the price: 3 x 100 + 5 x 25 + 200 = $525.

It’s usually a smart strategy to offer a small discount to the content package. This benevolent tip will gain you the sympathy of the brand and possibly lead to more work in the future. 

Brand ambassador programs

If they like your style and your audience demographic closely matches their needs, brands will jump at the chance of signing you up as an ambassador. 

Brand ambassadorship collabs are long-term engagements that unfold over the course of several months or even years. Usually, they also have an agreed-upon set of deliverables.

To negotiate with brands on ambassadorship opportunities, you should start with this very list of deliverables. Depending on their type and number, calculate the total value. Then, make sure to also take into account any exclusivity clause. 

What is an exclusivity clause? Well, practically the brand might want you to stay away from collaborating with their competitors during the period in which you work together and even sometime after. From their perspective, it makes a lot of sense. From your perspective, it means a potentially lost income. To make up for it, consider including a small (or big) fee in your price offer. And ta-da! You got yourself a pretty awesome deal. 

Essential checklist for negotiating with brands

Now you have the essential tips and industry benchmarks to negotiate with brands and get a fair pricing. However, to enter successful collaborations, you also need to make sure your brand partner checks an essential list of requirements:

  1. Is aligned to what you preach (values & beliefs)
  2. Promotes quality products/services
  3. Has a record of fair collaborations with other influencers (or, if you’re talking to a fresh brand, has the right mindset to start collabs)
  4. Has the budget to afford your services
  5. Respects the process and understands the industry
  6. You believe it will be a fun brand to work with

Ready to negotiate brand collaborations?

Did we hear a definite “hell, yeah!”? We thought so! Go get them and, as you progress in your journey, share your experiences with our community. We’re here to Preppr and grow together!

Ilona Iftode
Author

Ilona Iftode is a copywriter with a taste for adventure. She lives to write, travel and explore new concepts in the realms of advertising, marketing, SEO and beyond.

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