For this Creator Spotlight blog post, we sat down with Lauryn to further understand her perspective on the topic of paying creators. In our interview, Lauryn offered insights on the industry conversation, expectations from brands, and strategies content creators can use to ensure they’re properly compensated.
Just a year or two ago, I constantly needed to educate brands on paying creators. They expected people to work for free. When you’re a creator, it's not like you're just creating user-generated content and don't have to put your likeness behind a product and brand. You are vouching for something, and expressing that you stand behind it. That said, creators need to demand payment so that brands realize creators can be picky, too. Otherwise, if you’re working with everybody, why should your audience trust you?
When I was a newer creator, I worked with some brands where we agreed on a price, but not so much on the terms, and they'd come back later and want a re-shoot. I didn't realize that I had the ability to say no. This behavior has changed my mind about brands before. If they're paying a minimal amount and are super picky, I’m less likely to purchase their product again, because they didn't treat me right. I’ve had this conversation so many times, maybe once a week with my colleagues. We’ll discuss our pay rates and which brands aren’t paying us, among other things. I’m lucky that most brands are finally catching on.
You’ve been a content creator for almost a decade now. When it comes to pay, what shifts are you seeing in the industry?
I’m seeing a lot more brands offering payment in their initial emails. That's a major green flag for me. Brands are finally realizing the value of influencer marketing, and putting more budget behind it.
Are you ever willing to compromise or negotiate with brands regarding payment?
Absolutely. When I work with local businesses, for example, I’m more likely to do a trade or work under my usual rate. We’re both small businesses, so I want us both to get the fair end of the stick.
When it comes to paid versus unpaid opportunities, I’m definitely going to prioritize paid collaborations first—I can't do this work for free. When it's a free collaboration that I truly resonate with, I'll put it into my schedule for when time permits. There are some amazing opportunities that come up, but I can’t let the free collaborations take away from the paid ones.
What about gifting?
There was a point when I was getting so many gifting samples in the mail, I couldn't even keep up. Over the past few years, brands have become more conscious of both their budgets and the environment. For me, there are no strings attached when it comes to gifting. I don't want to receive a gift and feel pressured to post—I just can't prioritize that. In the past, I've had brands gift me something, then quickly circle back to ask if I’ve posted yet. I don’t feel good about receiving gifts if there’s a requirement attached to it.
Can you provide any insight on how much you charge?
Well, I just upped my rates due to inflation. If I have to pay more for my breakfast burrito, I should be making more money. I have a la carte pricing, and packaged pricing. My rates also vary depending on the holiday season.
Any common issues you come across getting paid as a micro-influencer?
I always have issues with payment. Right now I'm waiting on $2,500 from a brand, and I’ve been waiting for months. I probably should have added a late fee into the contract. Getting paid through PayPal is also challenging, because they take a fee. Those fees eventually add up.
Do you work with a lawyer to review contracts or help set your pay terms?
Perhaps I should have worked with a lawyer earlier on. I used to have no idea what I was reading in a contract. As it stands, I review at least two contracts per-week, so I know exactly what verbiage to look for, and where to ask for stuff to be taken out. Most of my friends don’t work with lawyers, although some of those with larger followings do. I don’t currently work with one.
How does fair pay impact a brand’s reputation?
In the same way that marketers would recommend against working with certain influencers, it’s the same on our end. We’ve heard bad things about certain brands. We have influencer community groups, so word gets around if a brand doesn’t pay, or demands things that weren’t in the contract.
What strategies or advice would you offer other content creators to ensure fair payment?
Go into a conversation knowing what you want to get paid. I have a rate sheet where I’ve calculated everything. I pull it up all the time to reference. I’m always putting all the deliverables in a spreadsheet—that way, I know how much I’m willing to negotiate with a brand. I also find that a lot of smaller creators don't know that they should be charging for ongoing image and video usage. Don't ever give that away for free indefinitely. It’s not worth it to have your name behind a brand forever. You never know how or when they could use it.
According to Tribe Dynamics’ 2021 Influencer Marketing Trends Report, the majority of creators indicated that being compensated was very important to them—and Lauryn is no exception. In the coming years, demand for fair compensation in influencer marketing will only continue to grow. The brands that want to stay ahead of the curve will be those that know how to properly nurture their creator relationships.
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