The 4 Things to Know When Negotiating Payment as an Influencer

Is there such thing as “happy equal pay day?” Mixed feelings because of the reality of the existing wage gap, but proud of women fighting every day to close it. But, what I can guarantee makes me happy is when I see other women in my industry win. Be it as an influencer or brand person, when one of us wins we all win.

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Negotiating pay in any industry is a really icky subject. According to a survey by Glassdoor, women are 16 percent less likely negotiate a salary. Fighting the gender gap starts with a battle in negotiating. Preparing for negotiating also means understanding how it all even works.

In spirit of today’s special day of conversation, I’d love to share some highlights on how to get paid more as an influencer:

  1. The Baseline & Then Some

    For many up-and-coming influencers, a barrier in starting to get paid is knowing where to start. A good quick formula for monetizing your feed is starting with the “penny per follower/subscriber/UVMrule. For example, if you have 20,000 followers you should at the very minimum charge $200 for one piece of content. That doesn’t include things like stories (Instagram), blog post, sharing same content on another platform, etc.

    Next, think about the type of content you’re being asked to produce and add a premium to that. For example, video content should be at least 50% more than your baseline because of the extra time it takes to produce. Then, check your engagement rate on the platform you’re in and be sure to add at least 10% more if yours is above average. Finally, be sure to add a premium based on your expertise level. A real photographer? Industry expert? Get a lot of inquiries? Add some cash flow to that.

  2. All the “Extra” Stuff You Need to Charge For

    Repeat after me: I will thoroughly read my contract. I will thoroughly read my contract. I will thoroughly read my contract. Brands are notorious for adding in everything they need inside a contract, beyond the content deliverables, without explicitly outlining it for you ahead of time. Two particular things that are 99% always in there are: exclusivity and image rights terms.

    Exclusivity means you are in contract to not work with another competitor for a certain period of time. 7 days is a pretty standard rule to offer at no additional cost, while 14 days is quite generous but still within normal means. Anything 30 days+ should come at an additional charge — I’ve seen many add a 50% from the baseline fee for every month of exclusivity. Think about it: if you’re exclusive that means you are missing out on a paycheck if work comes your way. You might be thinking that as an influencer you don’t want to confuse your audience and work with a ton of the same category of products anyway, but often times exclusivity locks you in from working with other companies that have little to do with the exact campaign or product you’re promoting. That’s an opportunity missed!

    Image terms are pretty standard things any creator would charge anyway, so don’t let yourself get taken advantage of if someone is using your content for marketing purposes. A standard fee is $100 for 1-5 images with full ownership. You decide what quantity is best for you, or your team if you work with a photographer or videographer. Note: Often times, I let brands keep social media reuse of my content, with credit, for free. It’s a great opportunity for earned exposure if they reshare your content on their social feeds (no using for their own social ads for free though).

  3. Consider the Trade-Offs in a Reduced Rate

    Putting my brand hat on, there are also times that we have a totally scrappy budget and a group of influencers we really love. If it’s a brand you really love or are interested in, think about some potential perks or bonuses outside of the cash form that would be beneficial to you if they’re asking you to reduce the rate. For example, a brand gift card to fill the dollar gaps, promotion via their newsletter, extra product to run a giveaway for your followers, guaranteed content reshares, and more.

    You want to be careful here not to dilute your rate too much, but if it’s someone on your wishlist I’d recommend working this in. At the end of the day, it’s about building relationships with brand people and this is a great way to be a good long-term partner! For nanoinfluencers (under 10K), you may be doing a lot of things in exchange for products or services only at first - which is ok to building up your portfolio and network - but be wary to only do things for free that equate to the value of your time.

  4. Know (!) Your (!) Worth (!)

    The most important piece of advice I can give you is to walk away when someone doesn’t know your worth. If someone really wants to work with you, they’ll work with you during the negotiation process. If they don’t value your work at the start, they won’t be good to you in the end either. And trust me, another valuable partner will always come after.

    To help prepare for the worth conversation, you should have a media kit ready to give marketers stats and more information to help them make the case for you. More on that topic to come, but at the very least understanding your back end data will help you be ready for these talks.

Have your own tips for negotiating as an influencer? Or, any other industry in spirit of today? I want to hear about them in the comments below! x

Bonus: Through the month of April 2019, I am offering influencers free negotiation coaching via e-mail. Got a deal? I’ll read through the offer and contract and help you get your highest possible rate. E-mail me at to learn more!

"We Can't Stop, And We Won't Stop"

By now you’re probably wondering how Miley Cyrus’s new song has any relevance to my personal and professional growth. But, I’m going to (one-time-only) argue in her favor when she says:

And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
We run things, things don’t run we
We don’t take nothing from nobody

If we look at her new song through rose-colored glasses, the message is one I’ve tried to convey in the past: You control your own destiny. The decisions you make alter the course of your life. Don’t let anyone make you doubt that power.

And with that thought, I’ll answer the pressing question: 

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How did you get an internship in New York City?

I grew up in the suburbs of Miami in a middle-class Hispanic family. I graduated from one of the top high schools in the area, but never was there indication that my career would take off at age 20. Except for the fact that I had been planning it since I was 16. I took “planning ahead” no another level in this case but I was not willing to take “no” for answer.

Step 1: Write (yes, literally on a piece of paper using this thing called a pen) down your goals for the month, year, next 5 years, next 10 years.

Toward the end of high school I was sure I waned to be in Public Relations — I was lucky. It takes someone, usually, up until their junior year in college to figure out what the “want to be when they grow up.” I do not recommend this. Selecting your major isn’t as important as it seems so that can wait but by the time you hit year two in college, you should have an idea of what you want your life to look like. You need to have an idea of what makes you passionate enough to work. In high school, I didn’t know what public relations was. But I knew I loved being a part of multiple activities so I could “look well-rounded.” I loved Student Government because I could be a part of a team that “makes the school look good.” I loved to represent. I loved to write. I loved journalism (3 years as editor-in-chief). Everything fell into place later.

Start asking yourself these questions. Start seeking your purpose. Soon.

Step 2: Research like a good PR PRO (or science major…)

I spent my first year of college researching agencies that seemed like they were “on top.” Eventually, it lead to creating a spreadsheet of fashion, corporate and entertainment PR agencies that seemed like a good fit for my resume. As the year went on, I filled it with names, phone numbers and e-mails I collected at networking events or through extensive google digging. I made phone calls when I needed and asked about their internship programs and who the prime contact would be (no, don’t send e-mails to Even more so, I began to research the leaders and PR practitioners I wanted to learn from and what agencies they belonged to.

By the time Winter 2012/2013 came along, I had an Excel spreadsheet full of every little thing I needed to know about the agencies I was applying for — from deadlines to compensation to their company culture. It might be specific to my field, but I knew that researching an “audience” was something I needed to do. This was essential as I would soon be “pitching” why they should hire me. And for other fields, hey, employers are mostly impressed by those that took the time to learn about the company and found ways to put their foot in the door.

Step 3: Become a “pusher,” Cady.

So you’ve got the contacts, you’ve got the interview… but are people listening? The most crucial part of getting the internship is standing out. News flash: your resume probably looks just like the other 50 aspiring interns. Whether it’s through a creative cover letter, a “care” package to an employer (be wary of the line between creativity and bribery), or an out-of-the-box way of introducing yourself, you need to do something to show your employer that you and your three years of experience are better than the girl next door’s three years of experience. The following are tips relevant to the PR business:

  • Write a creative news release about yourself being on the job hunt
  • Create a video campaign on yourself and why you should be hired — simultaneously displaying your iMovie skills
  • Start a revolving social media hashtag on why you should be hired. Example: #hireLC2013
  • Send them a lightbulb in the mail with an attached note that reads: “I’ve got some bright ideas!”

Step 4: Make backups for your back up. And when you’re done, make a back up.

So, you got the magical e-mail that reads “We’d love to add you to our team.” Now what? Learn how to budget, find housing options, arrange school credit, make a list of things to do in a new city, find a means of transporting all your stuff and make arrangements for the days you’ll be away. Wait, what did I say the hard part was? Luckily, this isn’t as difficult as it sounds. If you make a solid plan — consulting a friend or someone who’s done it already is crucial — then you’ve got nothing to worry about while you’re away. Creating a solid back up plan means when the inevitable happens, you’ll be ready for it. This step is crucial because the less time you spent planning and worrying while you’re actually interning, the more time you have for learning. Note that there are options for everything: look for grants or a part time job is you know money is an issue, call friends and ask about housing contacts, talk to your advisor about credit specifications, etc.

Step 5: Love and enjoy the journey.

I’m not going to lie and say it was easy, but appreciating each hiccup was key.  Recognize that this is a learning experience and soak up every moment like a sponge. You have to make it so looking back on your experience brings light into your eyes. With all the work you put into getting your dream internship, you’re deserving of golden memories.

 I challenge you to go out there and run things, don’t let them run you.  Don’t stop.