How much can/should you charge for sponsored Instagram posts?

Let’s talk about sponsored Instagram posts. A little under a year ago I received my first (uninsulting) offer for a sponsored post. I had 40-50k followers, and was offered £350 to share a photo that I’d already taken, with a caption that pointed towards a tourism board. I retained the rights to the photo.

I’d done a few unpaid adverts before this. You know the drill. I received a watch, probably with a production cost of 10% of the RRP, in exchange for advertising on my Instagram account. I have since observed said watch company, you probably have too. They’ve become a multi-million pound business, and have gone from occupying the arms of a few Instagrammers to occupying many of the arms of the general public. I would put big money on the notion that this growth is due to unpaid Instagram labour. This is my first point.

Never sell yourself short

At first there is a novelty value in working with brands. An offer of a free gift might be tempting, or you might feel flattered to have been contacted directly by a popular brand. A couple of free gigs might help you understand how to liaise with people or how to deliver what a brand wants, but after that (or even before), you should know your worth.

Think of the time and energy invested into growing your account, the time and energy invested in the creation of the content itself, the time you take to work on your admin tasks such as answering emails, and the publicity you are giving the brand by sharing their product with your followers. If the brand wants full rights to use your image in advertising campaigns, what would a photographer charge? It may well be hundreds, or in some cases thousands.

The brand representative is probably being paid a salary to reach out to you. Why should you be any different?

Knowing my worth was made easier by the fact that I was employed at first. If I wanted to work on an Instagram campaign, I’d have to take time off work to shoot in natural light, so the collaboration instantly required greater pay than that time at work.

It’s important to talk about money

One of the frustrating things about the UK is that money is often a taboo subject. Knowing your worth is a great deal easier when you and your Instagram or blogging circles are open about fees. Ultimately, money discussions empower the group as a whole. There are often people who may be greatly undercharging and lowering the average value of a sponsorship in your niche, or simply just missing out on their potential.

I’ve found myself in a few situations where I have worked with others on a campaign, only to find that I’ve been charging five times more than them for the same work with the same exposure, and the brand has been willing to accept that. I’ve also had the reverse occur, and discovered that someone with the same following and a similar skill level has been charging a whole lot more than I have for exactly the same work.

In these cases, I don’t believe there is a right answer. Working as an influencer is new to both brands and the influencers themselves, and I feel like we are all guilty of making it up as we go.

Is there a golden rule?

The current word on the street in my echo chamber (I’m sure everyone hears differently) is that Instagram influencers can charge between £6-10 per thousand followers. But this rule is pretty stupid in that it’s overly simplified. It doesn’t account for the quality of the content you are producing, nor engagement rates/ghost or fake followers. Nonetheless, I think it’s a decent place to start.

I use this rule as a baseline, and assume it’s what I should charge based on following quantity and a simple/fast/lowish quality still image without full ownership rights. I then ask, how much time will it take for me to prepare? Sometimes this will be hours or even days. If this is the case, the rate goes up. What about the quality? I only want to share a photo that I’ve invested time in perfecting, and I prefer to shoot high-res images in a professional setup – the output might be comparable to working on a photoshoot, and could therefore be used in other advertising. Are there expenses involved such as travel, props or food? All of these things will increase the rate.

There are points that might lower or even negate the fee. For example if you’re being given a hugely expensive holiday that you are free to enjoy at your leisure. (Note – I currently charge for most travel posts, because they usually involve declining other work options and meeting a long brief, therefore making them business > leisure).

On a rare occasion I will be offered something and think ‘I want that thing so much, and would have paid to have/do it anyway’. In those cases I might be willing to offer coverage for free. But I can’t stress enough that this is rare and almost never happens anymore.

So take that rule with a pinch of salt. Actually, take it with a whole grinder full of salt, because it doesn’t work for most people in most cases. But at least it’s a starting point.

If you have 5,000 followers, but you’re kick-ass with a dSLR/iPhone, are required to take a lot of time to make the content, or your engagement is above average, you are worth FAR more than between £30-50, and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Of course, you don’t want to price yourself out of the game. But I have found that by charging more there is an added mutual respect involved. I also feel that I have to work to a high standard to match the rate, so the brand ultimately gets better content, and I am generally taken more seriously for it. I was initially worried I’d run out of work for charging more, but I haven’t.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Another factor to consider, is that the more advertising you do, the less influential it might become. I try to abide by the 80/20 rule (80% organic and 20% sponsored at maximum), but there are times when brands want certain deadlines and lots of jobs land in a small window. Sometimes that can’t be avoided. I also went through a phase of getting over excited and accepting every job that came my way. A good deal of people unfollowed me for it, and I don’t blame them – it was probably annoying to watch. Nonetheless, it was a learning experience.

Always declare your ads

It’s a legal requirement to do so, and in my opinion it is disrespectful to those following you if you don’t declare. I don’t think ads are a bad thing, but think it’s only fair to be explicit about them.

What exactly is the point of this blog post?

I hope reading this might have been eye opening or empowering for some. Maybe it has helped shift the taboo of money talk. There is a big part of me saying ‘don’t post this’. But an even bigger part of me feels it’s important for the rep of an instagrammer to be taken a little more seriously (to some at least!). Most importantly, don’t forget to value yourself. 💜

I should also add that earning through Instagram has been a positive byproduct, rather than an intention. I joined Instagram for a love of photography. My use of the app was sustained by a kind and positive community for five years before it became apparent that I could earn a living. That community is still the driving force behind my usage, and I hope you feel the same.

This article is based on my own experience as an Instagrammer. Someone in another circle might have very different experiences or thoughts on sponsored Instagram posts. You’re welcome to share if that’s the case.

Want to read more about Instagram income beyond the world of sponsored posts? Check out ‘On Getting Paid’ by Angry Baker. She’s awesome.

Let's talk about sponsored Instagram posts - monalogue lifestyle blog

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25 comments

Ooh I loved reading this! It’s so good to inform other people about this. It is kind of a delicate subject and you did so well writing about it!

Thanks a million! I felt a bit sick thinking about publishing this so I appreciate your comment ☺️

Are you sponsored for photos of your car?
There have been so many photos of your car recently, I’d rather just see the buildings and interesting places you go!

No way! I love my car so naturally post about it a lot. Also I always declare when something is sponsored.

Great post! As was @angrybaker’s. I feel like the more we talk about this stuff, if only amongst other people who do the same work, the better for everyone. It’s flattering when you’re first offered free products or approached for sponsored posts but we shouldn’t undervalue ourselves. I kind of wish there was an Instagram Code of Practice we could all refer to for “the rules”! Skye xx (@grorgianlondon)

Thank you so much Skye. Yes, absolutely loved mendy’s post! And that would be such a good resource. Sometimes it feels like a bit of a shot in the dark trying to pitch! Xx

It’s great to see people who have found success passing on their knowledge to others. This post is a beautiful and helpful gesture. Indeed, when everyone values what they have to offer, everyone benefits. Respect for influencers goes up, and so do the financial benefits.

Can’t thank you enough for this lovely comment. 💜

Fantastic post moan!

Aw thanks ❤️

Great post and pics! <3

http://www.evdaily.blogspot.com

Thank you ☺️

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about this! I’ve always been so curious about how “influencers” broach this subject, and it’s a shame that anyone is made to feel as uncomfortable as our society tells us we should be about talking money.

Hope you’re feeling better about sharing this!! 😊

Sam (the one from Toronto who emailed you that time 😝)

Aw, thank you for your kind words Sam! ☺️

I started following you on Instagram BECAUSE of your car (my fav ever) and then of course, your beautiful images!! Then, something happened that doesn’t always happen on IG, I started to learn so much from your experiences, your photography and tips, and this blog is another example of how positive an IG experience can be. Thank you for being “real” in this crazy internet world. Your “influence” is incredibly positive and inspiring, in so many ways. 🌸

So many thank yous for this, Cynthia. The loveliest comment to wake up to. 💜

Love this post, it is ridiculous trying to decide what fee to charge and based on your suggested caluculations im clearly not charging enough myself. Hmm. I do agree though that a higher fee pushes us to create the best content which is in everyone’s best interest for sure x

Thank you Julia. It’s so hard to know what the right amount is! I said the same when someone told me about that rule, and so far so good since bumping it up. X

Love, love, LOVE this post! Talking about money is still such a taboo and there’s no reason for it, everyone needs to pay their bills and providing content/inspiration should be seen as a job like any other!

Aw thanks for this! I love your positivity ☺️

Thanks for sharing this, my daughter and I were only just discussing whether people make a living from instagram. We actually had no idea. Very informative, I doubt I’ll ever get to that point but who knows my daughter’s charity may be able to one day gain some much needed financial support from it. 😆 Have a lovely evening!

Kindest regards
Maggie

Thank you Maggie! I’m glad you found it interesting. Hopefully you will get to that point, it’s a fun way to work. Albeit a bit stressful at times. ☺️

Hello Mona,
I know this doesn’t have anything to do with this post, but could you do a beginner’s guide to travelling (photographic locations in) the UK? I’m thinking of the Cotswolds, Jurassic coast, national parks etc. As a foreigner that is something I’d love to do, I simply don’t know where to start in terms of transportation (train ride/car rental), places etc. I’m asking because I love your photos from the trips you make!

Thanks a lot,
Laura

Hi Laura,

Thank you Laura ☺️ that’s a good idea! I will add it to my list. If I don’t get one ready by the time you’re planning your visit just drop me a message and I will let you know my fav places! 💜

Yay – Thank you! I’ll look forward to that! 🙂

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