How to ask for more from brands

Good news: you’ve been tapped by a brand to represent them as an influencer. Hooray! Unfortunately, the amount of money they have offered to pay you isn’t what you were hoping for. This begs the question: How Do You Ask For More Money From Brands? If you follow these 4 simple steps, you’ll be negotiating like a pro in no time.

As an influencer, you are your own boss. As such, it is up to you to determine what your “desired salary” should be. Granted, it’s not really a salary per se — the work you do is contractual, so you get paid for each project. That said, negotiating for more compensation for a project is somewhat similar to asking for a higher salary. Here are the 4 things to keep at the front of your mind:

Step 1: Be super clear on what you’re asking for and, even more importantly, give them a compelling why.

It’s fine and dandy to say you want to make more money. Heck, who doesn’t? But remember that you are a businesswoman now, and you need to make your case. Nobody is going to give you anything for free. You wouldn’t give away your time and effort for nothing, right? 

Explain your ask in no uncertain terms. Why are you asking for a bigger budget than what they are offering? 

Here are a couple of questions to help jumpstart the conversation:

  • Are there too many deliverables?
  • Is the turnaround time too short?
  • Will exclusivity dip into your other revenue streams?

These are all reasonable situations to go back to the negotiating table. If you have them, this is also an excellent time to pull out case studies from your previous collaborations. Show off what past successful campaigns you have run with other companies to support your request for more compensation. 

And remember, use real, concrete facts and figures. Be prepared with all relevant statistics — your following, your overall engagement rate, and your engagement rate for similar collaborations.

You need to know what your a la carte rates are to help outline why you’re asking for more money. 

What do you typically charge for an Instagram reel? How about for a livestream or a cooking demo? Go through the list of deliverables they have given you and assign a dollar amount to each one. That way, when you go back to the negotiation, you have a solid foundation for your ask.

Here’s a hypothetical:

Company X has offered you $11k, but the full scope of the campaign provides what you estimate to be a value of $22k of content from you. To be accommodating, you’re open to giving them a 10% discount for the amount of deliverables, but that is still a far cry from their original offer. So you ask, “can we meet closer to $18k?” 

If the answer is “no,” don’t be discouraged. Remember: there are many more variables on the table than just money. Pivot to changing the SOW (the scope of work, or the deliverables) to find a happy medium where everyone wins. Which brings us to:

Step 2: Make sure you’re 100% clear on the full scope of the project.

You remember the old adage about assuming things, right? Something about it making a braying donkey out of both parties? What I’m trying to say is don’t make any assumptions about ANY element of the campaign.

Knowledge is power. Find out exactly what the brand is asking for in terms of: 

  • Usage
  • Ownership of content
  • Deliverables
  • Deadline
  • Exclusivity 
  • Budget
How to ask for more from brands
Knowledge is power.

Only when you know the full scope of the job description at hand will you be able to confidently counter with your own ask. And, as Germany Kent puts it, “Have an attitude of positive expectation.” Go into the negotiation *knowing* there is a middle ground where both sides will be happy and be diligent about finding it.

All of the elements above impact your rate and how the campaign unfolds. Do NOT be afraid to put any of those on the table for negotiation to get yourself to feeling better about the project.

Step 3: Be prepared to sell yourself and your personal brand.

Clearly the brand is interested in you because you’re having this conversation. But they can just as easily turn around and pick the next influencer on their list. You need to have a compelling list of reasons why they should pick you.

As Maya Angelou famously said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” 

Explain in no uncertain terms why you — and only you — are the person for the job. Why do you like yourself for the job? Why should they want your method over someone elses? Make it personal to you and your story. 

Consider the brand manager another follower you have yet to win over. If possible, link to the product and the campaign to make it personal for them. Influencing is by its very nature dependent on human connection. Show them the way you do things will pull others in.

Have a personal story or connection to the company? Don’t be shy about it! Tell them how you’ve been using their lotion since you were a mere babe in arms to tackle your dry skin and now you get compliments on how smooth your skin is. Why you? Sing about it from the rafters!

Step 4: Practice saying your number aloud, and often

You want to be able to ask for the amount you want without second guessing yourself or having your voice waiver. Put a post-it with your ask on your bathroom window and your refrigerator door. Every time you see it, say it.

As women, we’re often raised to not ask for what we want. We’re encouraged to be “agreeable” and “easy-going.” As a businesswoman, that simply won’t fly. Start flexing your negotiation muscles in low-risk situations so that when the time comes for the BIG ask, it doesn’t feel so foreign.

4 steps to negotiate with brands
4 ways to negotiate with brands

While you’re at it, practice asking for things in your daily life. 

It could be asking for free rounds of drinks at a bar, asking the person behind the butcher counter to sharpen your knives, or asking for free pillows and a mattress cover when you’re buying a new bed. Or, next time your partner asks what you want to do for dinner instead of saying “wherever you want to go is fine with me” ask to go to a certain restaurant.  

Personally, this is one of my FAVE things to do — to ask for stuff just as practice! Yes even I, who negotiates daily, has to practice flexing her negotiation muscle so why not you? 

When all else fails, start asking questions. Lots of ‘em.

At the moment, you may be acting as your own talent manager. Here are some questions I like to use when a brand reaches out and I’m asking for more money on behalf of my clients.  

  • What’s the budget range available for this scope of work? 
  • What flexibility do you have with this project? 
  • Can the brand meet me at [insert dollar amount] for this scope and exclusivity request?
  • The rate for my client for this scope of work is [insert dollar amount]. Is that doable for the brand?

These questions might sound repetitive, but as Margaret Thatcher once said, “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” Keep asking. Keep looking for middle ground. 

And, at the end of the day, if this deal doesn’t work out, know that you left everything on the field and walk away with your head held high.

Want more advice on How To Negotiate With Brands? Be sure to follow me on Instagram.

Questions about brand collaborations & pitching

How much do brands pay influencers? How much do brands pay for content creators?

Brands pay influencers a wide range of compensation. This is dependent on the experience of the influencer, the number of deliverables in a campaign, and the budget the brand has to work with.

Sometimes when an influencer is just starting out, the payment to them is a couple hundred dollars. In other cases, if it’s a really big influencer posting social media content across more than one social media platform, the pay could be high 5 and even 6 figures. 

The budget is determined by what the agency has available to work with on this project, as well as the audience, # of followers, engagement rate and clicks that the influencer brings to the brand campaign. Sometimes there is no pay if an influencer receives free product for a  gifted campaign. (Read more about that in the related post, “Things Not To Turn Your Nose Up At”.)

How do you approach a brand for sponsorship? How do you approach brands as an influencer?

There’s a couple ways to approach a brand for sponsorship. The first one is to flirt with them on your favorite social media platform. Tag them in a story. Mention them in a reel. Include them on a blog post. You’re not doing this for pay at the outset, rather are laying the foundation of a future relationship.

Another way to approach a brand for sponsorship is to slide into their DM’s. Tell them what you’re about, but also, most importantly, why you’re a great fit for their brand. Ask them who manages their paid influencer programs and for that person’s contact info. 

You can also ask your community and related Facebook groups if people have worked with a brand you want to work with and if they will do a contact swap with you. Each group has it’s own set of community guidelines, so make sure you’re clear about what the rules are before you post. 

When you approach a brand make sure you’re ready with some personal information handy such as your portfolio of recent, successful brand awareness projects, your media kit which includes your contact info (please double check to make sure it’s right!) and information about your audience. For more detailed information on how to assemble this info, check out my related post on “4 Things You Might Have Neglected.”

How do you pitch brands as an influencer? What to say to brands you want to collab with?

When you are pitching brands as an influencer, it’s important to understand that a lot of campaigns are planned out months in advance. You can’t pitch a brand in November for a Thanksgiving holiday campaign. It’s too late. Start reaching out to them in August (or even sooner!) to get on their radar. 

When pitching brands, you want to make sure you’re talking to the right person who is hiring talent for the paid partnership. You do NOT want to word vomit all over them in your email if they aren’t the hiring manager.  I also ask what info they need when sourcing talent for a paid collaboration — do they need a media kit? Or screenshots of followers from Instagram? 

When pitching brands, remember to make the case why you and your brand is the best brand partner for them. They receive hundreds, maybe even thousands of pitches a day, so find a way to stand out. What’s your unique angle? What magic do you bring to the table?

How do you interact with a brand? What to do when a brand reaches out to you?

I interact with a brand with a lot of joy, appreciation and friendliness! Cheesy, but true. Whenever a brand reaches out to a creator with a paid job offer, the creator should be grateful. Even if it’s not a good fit, or it’s a gifted campaign, I believe appreciation should always be included in your response. Remember: it’s another human on the other side of the email, also wanting to do their job and have it be a good day.

When I interact with a brand, I like to involve a lot of questions and keep things open ended. Negotiation — whether it’s with a brand for a paid collaboration or during your job search — is always a give and take. I think of it like a “choose your own adventure.” Asking a question gets me more information about the compensation, brand dea,l and brand campaign to help inform if I want to say yes or not. 

Whenever I can, I always try to share a personal story from my creator about their connection with the brand. Why they already use and love the product. Why they’re so excited about this opportunity. I convey any excitement my client has about the brand to the person I’m chatting with.

In my emails when I interact with a brand, I want to keep the momentum and movement happening. For example, after you’ve agreed to a paid collaboration with a brand, ask them their timing for next steps. When are they sending over the agreement? When are they shipping product? Keep things moving with a clear and concise call to action. 

Feeling lost on what to say when you pitch to brands?

At the very least, try to talk to yourself the way you’d talk to a friend. Remember: this is not a time to be humble. Brands are pitched all day, every day and you need to stand out. 

What is so amazing about your followers? What’s so great about your story? What’s the personal connection you have to the brand? If you’re not sure, have a friend hype you up! 

If possible, ask a friend (or another creator who supports you and wants to see you win) to write the pitch for you in a draft email. Or ask them to send you a voice memo or a note about why that brand should pick you. 

Questions about brand negotiation 

What should influencers ask brands?

When a brand first reaches out to an influencer, you want to make sure you fully understand the request or the scope of the paid collaboration. 

  • What are the deliverables or the content that the brand wants — a blog post, an Instagram reel or a Tiktok? 
  • When do they want you to have it done and go live?
  • What’s the exclusivity that the brand wants you to include?  
  • What’s the budget they are offering for this paid partnership? 

There’s no starting salary for project based work but you can definitely have a negotiation about the brand collaboration. 

Paid partnerships are hard work and are nothing to be taken for granted. Some content creators calculate their rate for a project based on their hourly rate, others calculate based on the list of deliverables the brand is asking for. As you begin or grow your business as a content creator, this will be a constantly evolving process and experience. A lot of people ask me, “Johanna, how do you ask for more money from brands?”

Not to be difficult but that’s exactly the answer — I ask for more money from brands by asking. You have to start somewhere. Pick a number. Know that you’ll try a different number next time. But you have to pick a number — your “average salary,” if you will — for this project. Pick a number and ask. That’s my #1 piece of career advice for any influencer looking to grow their business through more paid collaborations. 

How much do content creators for brands make?

Content creators make a wide range of money for brands. It all depends on how you are treating content creation. Some creators do it as a hobby. For others, it’s a business. (Not sure where you land on the spectrum? Read my related blog post on “Am I A Professional Influencer Or A Hobby Influencer” to help you figure it out.)

For some people it’s their full time salary and they view each new paid partnership as an opportunity to do a salary negotiation for more money.  From what labor statistics I have found, some people make $5,000 a year while others make $500,000 a year from paid collaborations. 

Unfortunately there’s not a lot of pay transparency in this industry and often what a creator gets paid is what they are willing and able to ask for. 

How do you ask for more money on a collab?

One of my favorite ways to ask for more money on a collab is to ask what flexibility the brand has for the project. In the dream scenario, they are giving a number first — but don’t be shy about asking for what you want if they don’t. At some point you need to become very comfortable talking about money to grow your business as a content creator.

Always be nice when you’re asking a brand for more money for a collab. Don’t kill the messenger! Oftentimes the person emailing you doesn’t control the budget, but they can make or break the case for you to earn more on the paid collaboration. 

Influencer marketing is a small world, don’t burn your bridges! Remember you can be flexible about the money offered to you for a brand deal as well as the deliverables. Money isn’t the only thing to negotiate!

How do you negotiate with a brand? How do you negotiate with brands as a content creator?

My secret weapon to negotiate with brands is to ask a lot of questions. Before I give my rate or enter into any negotiations with the brand on behalf of my client, I want to make sure I fully understand the full scope of the project. What are the deliverables, when are they due, what’s the desired exclusivity & usage and the timing for this project? All of that information can affect the rate you give as a creator.  

While I’m waiting on that information from the brand, I revisit my document that lists out a rate for each deliverable. I have one for each client and highly recommend having one for yourself. A simple word document for you to look at, especially if you get nervous. (BTW, you know know not to include rates on your media kit, right?) 

Sometimes it’s as simple as adding up the rates, line item by line item, depending on what the brand is asking for. My clients will offer a 10% discount on any collection of 3+ deliverables or if it’s over a longer period of time. That’s how you get the amount of money you want to ask for with the paid collaboration offer. Now you wait and see what rate the brand offers back to you. My favorite question to ask is “what flexibility do you have with this budget or scope of work?” is the money isn’t aligning.  

For further reading, check out my blog post on “How to Negotiate with a Brand.”

How much should I charge as a brand as a content creator? What do you charge as an influencer?

What you should charge a brand as a content creator is dependent on a few factors. 

  • What’s your cost to produce the piece of content? 
  • Do you have an hourly rate? If so, do you know how long it will take for each deliverable? 
  • Do you work with a photographer or perhaps a video team that you have to pay?  
  • What amount of followers do you have and how engaged are they with your content? 
  • Will this content be a lot of hard work and perhaps incur some additional expenses that you need to take into consideration?

What negotiation tips for bloggers working with brands do you have?

A negotiation tip for bloggers working with brands is never lose sight on why you want this paid collaboration. Influencer marketing is an interesting world and we get to choose every day about the work we do & who we work with. Have that personal story & connection shine through in your negotiation and content. 

Know that negotiation is a back and forth, a give and a take. Help them help you. Find a way to make the project a yes. You can negotiate on other things besides the budget. You can negotiate the deliverables, rounds of edits, timing of content & exclusivity, and that’s just to name a few. 

Know that it’s okay to walk away (nicely!) and be clear on what you’re willing to do for what amount of money. Don’t be desperate in your negotiations. An attitude of abundance, an open mind, and flexibility are the keys to success for a paid partnership negotiation. 

Questions on becoming an Influencer

How do YouTubers get brand deals?

YouTubers get brand deals the same way someone on Instagram, Tiktok or a blogger gets brand deals — by creating great content that catches a brand’s eye. The YouTuber might get a brand deal because they mention a certain brand in their content. (Remember what I said about “flirting” with a brand earlier? Sometimes it really pays off!) 

The brand will generally reach out to the YouTuber via their social media platforms or via an email to inquire about a paid collaboration. If the YouTuber has an agent, the brand might reach out directly to the agent. 

How influencer marketing improves traffic to your site?

Influencer marketing is designed to expand the audience who knows about a brand, company, or event. Influencer marketing improves traffic to your site because oftentimes creators will write a blog post and then share about it on social. 

There might be links within that blog post to the brand for more info or to purchase something. Creators who do paid collaborations with a brand are shouting about that brand from their social media platforms, all to bring in more traffic to the brand’s site. 

How do you approach content creation?

When you approach content creation, it’s best to have some sort of strategy. Make sure you can understand what you want to get out of content creation. 

  • Is it a creative outlet for you? 
  • Is it to make a business out of it, to establish yourself as an expert in your zone of genius? 
  • Is it because it’s a release from your day to day?

Once you’re clear on the above, especially if it’s a business, the next questions to ask yourself are: 

  • Who is my audience and how do I serve them? 
  • What value do I bring? 

You’ll need at least a loose understanding of the answers to these questions at minimum. Know your answers will continue to be refined as you keep growing your business with more paid collaborators and content. 

Then, it’s just rinse, lather, repeat. What I mean is, there’s no special magic formula to success. Be consistent. Batch your content and keep showing up. (That’s the glamorous behind the scenes that no one sees!) 

How much is 1k followers on Instagram worth? How much do you get paid if you have 100k followers? How much money does 1 million Instagram followers make?

Those are great questions, and I don’t know the answer! Sorry to disappoint, but there unfortunately isn’t one answer to any of those situations. It comes down to a few things. How much is the brand offering for the deliverables for the paid partnership? How much did you ask for? 

I know many different content creators with a similar number of followers and they all charge different rates. Some have a team, some don’t. For some it’s not full time work, so any money is a bonus, but for others it’s their full time work. 

When you’re starting any negotiation about money, be clear on what salary range YOU want and go from there. 

Which platforms are you on that would provide the most benefit for the brand?

I’d prefer that you think about what platforms you’re on that provide the most benefit to you. If a brand wants you on a certain platform but you hate it, then what’s the point of the partnership? 

It’s worth thinking about the type of content and the goals of the paid partnership. These have a major impact on the list of deliverables for the campaign. For example, blogs are great for long form content, clicks, and anything evergreen. IG & FB Stories are great because you can click a link to make a sale or use an affiliate code. 

4 steps to ask for more from brands
4 steps to ask for more from brands