How to negotiate with a brand

Being an influencer and content creator can be an extremely lucrative career — the influencer marketing industry was worth $16.4 BILLION in 2022 and is only expected to keep growing. However, in order to get your fair slice of the pie, there is one skill that you simply must develop: 

The art of negotiating a deal.

“Art” is not hyperbole here — no two negotiations will be the same. Learning how to ask for what you want and deserve takes time and practice. Being crafty with your “asks” can be the difference between l fanding a deal or not.

As the late, great Carrie Fischer once said, “Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing.”  Let’s get into it!

How do you negotiate a brand offer?

From my many years of experience closing over $4.5 million in brand deals for my clients, I generally find that negotiations are never easy per se, but negotiating does become easier and more natural over time, especially the more you practice.

Want some practice at negotiating? Check out my blog post on how to improve your negotiating skills next.

If you have a talent manager in your corner, chances are you won’t have to do much negotiating for yourself — that’s my job! However, until you make it to the level of needing a talent manager, you’re likely going to be fending for yourself. 

how to negotiate with a brand

What do you say to get a brand deal?

So, where do you start the negotiation process?

While every experienced negotiator has her own strategy, I’ve found that this simple, 5-step process is the best way to get a negotiation started.

Step 1: Ask LOTS of questions. 

Remember: knowledge is power. Start gathering as much information about the project as you can. Here are a few things to ask about:

Scope – What deliverables do they expect? How many Instagram posts/reels/stories are expected? Do you need to provide an accompanying blog post? 

Usage rights – How long does the brand expect to be able to use your developed content to advertise their brand? After the first month, I generally start with $500 as my ask for each month of usage rights thereafter.

Exclusivity – If a brand demands exclusivity, ask what companies fall under their “competitor” umbrella. For example, if you are working out a deal with Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Whole Foods and Publix are probably off the table during the period of exclusivity, but maybe Foster Farms chicken and Fage yogurt are considered fair game. Also, make sure to clarify how long the period of exclusivity is going to last.

Available budget – Talking about money may feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s absolutely essential. Even if the brand manager you’re speaking to doesn’t have a specific number they’re willing to throw out, see if you can nail down a range of what the brand might be willing to pay.

Timeline – What’s the turnaround time on the deliverables? If the brand expects the deliverables within, say, a week, you can tack on a “rush fee” to your ask.

Step 2: Get clear on your number range. 

Don’t stress about being exact to the penny; this can easily be a back of the envelope calculation you do based on the information you’ve garnered from Step 1. 

Once you know your low end numbers, keep them close to your chest — as Carol Frohlinger says, “Don’t bargain yourself down before you get to the table.”

Remember: The higher budget you ask for at the outset, the more room you have for negotiation. At some point, you or the brand has to put an amount out there so you have something to work with. From there, you can negotiate deliverables/scope, timing, usage, exclusivity, etc.

Step 3: Convince the brand you’d be a great partner. 

This is the part where you sell yourself and your personal brand. Get really clear on why you’d be the best woman for this job. 

Maybe it’s a personal story about your brand connection. Maybe it’s showing them that you are great at conversions by providing your stats. Or maybe it’s something else entirely! Whatever it is, determine what it is that makes you stand apart and share that info.

Determine your worth – how to negotiate with a brand

Step 4: Get crafty on compromises.

If at first you don’t succeed in getting what you want out of a brand deal, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.

I love asking the question, “what flexibility does the brand have with the budget or deliverables?” Remember that the person you’re emailing with might not be the final budget decision maker so be nice and give them an opportunity to check in with their team about what’s viable. 

Here are some possible scenarios to consider:

  • If the budget isn’t what you hoped for, perhaps you can cut down the number of deliverables to make the budget work for the amount of time you’ll spend. 
  • If the brand wants a super speedy turnaround time, ask for a rush fee. Or, if they won’t give you more money, ask if you can have more time.
  • If the number of deliverables isn’t up for discussion, go back to the budget and/or the usage rights.

Step 5: Know thyself. 

Repeat after me: it’s okay to walk away! Obviously the goal is to close a deal with the brand, but at the end of the day, your needs and the needs of the brand may not align. Go into the negotiation already knowing what you are willing to compromise on and what is absolutely non-negotiable. 

You don’t have to share this information (at least until it suits you to at the negotiation table 😉), but having that internal compass will help you determine when to say yes and when to *politely* opt to remove yourself from the conversation. 

Wondering where to go from here? Read on for answers to some of the most pressing questions about how influencers can successfully negotiate with brands.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of the influencer industry or you’re just starting out, there are some things you should know about How To Negotiate With A Brand. I’ve compiled a list of all the questions I’ve received about this important topic over my many years as a talent manager so we can get you up to speed in no time at all. Without further ado, let’s dig in!

how to negotiate with a brand
How to negotiate with a brand – know when to walk away

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How to negotiate with a brand FAQs

How do influencers calculate a rate for brand deals? How do you set prices as an influencer?

An influencer’s rate is calculated based on a number of different factors and everyone is different. As a talent manager, I can tell you: no two influencers get the same rate for the same contract terms. While it’s easy to compare yourself to others, don’t! You don’t know how they got to their rate. 

There are quite a few things to consider when calculating your rate. Here are a few of the big ones: 

  • How much time will it take you to complete the content creation from start to finish? 
  • What costs do you have to make the content? For example, do you hire a photographer or an editor to help you? Perhaps you hire a food stylist? 
  • Consider the exclusivity terms, which means the list of competitor brands that you can’t partner with for a predetermined amount of time AND what companies fall under that category.

    If you’re a fashion blogger and you can’t work with any other clothing brand at any time, that’s a huge cost for your exclusivity because it means you’ll be missing out on a lot of other paid partnerships.

    However, if you’re a fashion blogger and it’s a fun paid campaign for your dog who you often feature in your content, that’s a lower cost of exclusivity. 
  • Finally, consider usage rights and how the brand might want to use your content. My clients and I start at $500/month for any paid or extra usage beyond 30 days.

Those are all questions that impact how much you charge AND what you agree to. Keep in mind that negotiation is a process, so there will be a lot of back and forth between you and the brand to solidify the brand deal.

How do you ask for more money from brands?

You ask for more money by asking for more money and by having sharp negotiation skills. There’s no other way additional money will come to you. Nor is there any secret tip that others know about to earn more that you don’t know. 

You have to both ask for it and be able to back up your request with why this paid campaign has that value to you and the brand.

How do you politely ask for a better price?

You ask for a better price by politely sharing that your rate for the requested content — blog post, instagram post, whatever it is — is higher that what they are offering. I like to ask the brand manager what flexibility the brand has with the budget for the paid collaboration and see if they are able to pay more. 

At the end of the day, the thing that will serve your negotiation skills the best is being able to talk about money with ease. Know your worth and unlearn all the years of being taught that talking about money is “vulgar,” “inappropriate,” or whatever negative things you have associated with it.

How much do influencers make from brand deals?

Influencers make a range of money from a few hundred dollars a year to hundreds of thousands or dollars, and even into the millions — but that’s for a select few. 

For many people this is their full-time salary because it’s their business. On top of paid partnerships, influencers also make money from affiliate marketing. 

But not everyone is a full-time influencer, and not everyone wants to have a business. Figure out what you want to make from being an influencer and go from there. 

What do you need to prepare before you start seeking for collaboration opportunities?

Great question! Before you start seeking collaboration opportunities, you need to have:

  1. A personal brand with followers, AND
  2. Valuable content — either on Instagram, via your blog, or some other web-based channel. 

You need to be super clear on what the heck you’re doing on the internet. Let potential brands know exactly what value are you providing and why are people coming to your page. 

Otherwise, why would a brand hire you to be a brand ambassador for them when they have thousands of options to choose from? 

Clearly demonstrate where your personal brand aligns with their company’s and how your followers are the kind of potential clients the company wants to target. 

Last but not least, make sure to have a media kit ready, a professional email, and your contact information across all your social media.

What should influencers ask brands? What to ask before collaborating with a brand? 

Assuming you’re talking with a brand about a collaboration because there’s already been an initial connection — either they reached out to you or you successfully pitched them — there are a couple things to ask a brand before you say yes to any partnership:

You’ll want to ask the brand manager: 

  1. What are the deliverables for the project? For example, do they want a blog post? If so, how long does it need to be? For social, are they asking for an instagram story or reel, a Tiktok video, etc.? How many do you need to post, and during what timeframe? Make sure to be very specific so you know exactly what you are committed to making. 
  2. What is the budget they are offering? You may feel totally copacetic about the deliverables they’re asking for, but if the budget is under what you believe is worth your time, you might need to negotiate on terms (more on that below). 
  3. What are their exclusivity expectations? Meaning, can you work with other brands in their space? If not, how long are you prohibited from it? Is there the potential for more brand deals with them in the future? This will also help you determine if this partnership is a good fit for you.  
  4. What usage rights do they want? For example, do they want to make an ad for Instagram with your instagram post? 

How to negotiate with a brand on collaboration terms?

One of the best negotiation tips I’ve ever received is to ask a lot of questions. Start with the list above as a springboard for deeper conversation. 

Being a content creator means you’re in charge of your business, so you get to decide what you say yes to. By asking a lot of questions about any paid brand partnerships, you get the information you need to decide if you want to create the sponsored content or not. 

Even if it’s a gifted campaign, you still want to ask questions to make sure you and the brand manager are on the same page. And before you enter the conversation, make sure to know the 4 most common mistakes influencers make during negotiations with brands

How do you contact brands for collaboration? Or, how do you approach a brand for a brand deal?

The best way to connect with brands for collaboration opportunities is to flirt with them! What do I mean by this? It’s actually pretty simple:

Post about them organically in your content (without expectation for compensation), in your instagram stories or Instagram post. Brands absolutely pay attention to people who are already using their products. That will help you get on their radar for a future brand partnership. 

You should also slide into their DMs ~or~ find the agency that does paid brand collaborations for the brand you have your eye on. Not sure where to look? Try:

  1. LinkedIn, 
  2. Asking around on social media, 
  3. Reaching out to other creators and Instagram Influencers to ask about their experience and if they’d share contact information.

How do you pitch yourself to a brand? Feeling lost on what to say when you pitch to brands?

When reaching out to a brand to ask about any opportunities for a paid or gifted brand campaign, this is your chance to shine! It’s your chance to sell you, your personal brand, and what you bring to the table. 

Remember: brands get hundreds, maybe even thousands of pitches a day so you need to stand out. Here are some points to cover:

  • Why should they pick you? 
  • What makes you a great partner for a collaboration? 
  • What audience do you bring to the table? 
  • What’s your engagement rate on your social media? 
  • What unique angle do you have that sets you apart from your competition? 

The goal here is to make them want to learn more about an influencer campaign with you. Have your media kit with your up-to-date stats (e.g. number of followers and engagement rate), related posts, & bio ready to send them.  

Also, keep your outreach pitch short, sweet and to the point. It’s a long negotiation process between your initial pitch and getting to a yes. Keep your expectations low and remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. No matter what happens, look at this as an opportunity for you to practice your negotiation skills.

How to negotiate a brand deal

How do you respond to a brand that wants to collaborate? How do you negotiate influencer brand deals?

First of all, always make sure to respond with appreciation, gratitude and politeness. That goes a long way in this industry. Thank them for reaching out and to get the conversation flowing, ask how they discovered you. 

How did your personal brand get on their radar and what made them reach out for a brand collaboration? If the opportunity is something you have a personal connection to, share it! Tell them the story. 

Next, ask them what it is they have in mind for this hopefully paid campaign. Ask how you can help them with their brand awareness. 

Now here’s the tough part: once you start asking questions to learn more, practice your patience and let them reply. Information is power, and you’ll never get it unless you actually listen and let them talk. 

You can’t decide your salary, or, in this case, your rate without knowing the specifics of the project. 

How do you negotiate an influencer contract?

Before you negotiate an influencer contract, you need to know what factors are important to you. You need to understand the bigger picture, so consider the following:

  • Do you care about exclusivity or any ad spend a brand might do for your content? 
  • Do you care about usage rights and how the brand might want to use your content? 
  • Is this a great brand collaboration that will help you build your personal brand? 
  • Will it get you a foot in the door with this agency? 
  • Is it an amazing opportunity to showcase your personal story? 

You need to know what things are you absolutely unwilling to compromise on and what things are you more flexible on.  

My secret weapon is asking a lot of questions and not being super attached or rigid with the outcome. Be creative if you’re getting pushback on one part of the contract terms and inquire about another part. Flex your negotiation skills! You only get better with practice.

How do you create a media kit that stands out?

There are a couple of different avenues to create a visually attractive media kit that stands out in the crowd. If you’re a designer or have a great eye for design, make it on your own. 

If that’s not your strength, turn to Canva — they have a lot of templates to choose from and customizing them is relatively easy. You can also hire someone to make it for you. 

However, before you make one, I’d download at least 5 media kits from other successful influencers and see how they are designing theirs. Take your favorite parts from each and mishmash them into a design that is authentically in line with your brand.

Ask yourself: What does your brand stand for?

Think about the content you’re creating and the paid brand partnerships you want. Who do you serve and how do you serve them? 

It’s important to be super clear on those answers before you move forward with anything else. This will help brands determine if they are a good fit for you or not, and vice versa.

How do you work your way up as a brand influencer?

I wish there was a quick and simple solution, but unfortunately, there just isn’t. You work your way up as an influencer by building out your portfolio of work and the brand collaborations you do. 

The more brand deals you do, the more you improve. The more you improve and get paid for your work, the more you expand your network of contacts of brands and agencies that hire you, and the more you grow your following. 

All of this helps you build your experience in influencer marketing. Leverage one opportunity for another, and keep on slogging away. The important thing is to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

How often do influencers get brand deals?

The hard truth of the matter is, there’s no dependable rhythm of how often influencers get brand deals. 

Some influencers only want to do (4) paid brand collaborations a year that each pay well. Some influencers have projects every single week. It truly depends on what paid campaigns different brands are running, who they want to work with and who says yes to the contract terms. 

It’s dependent on marketing budgets at the agencies and how much ad spend they have to work with. It’s also dependent on your personal hustle and how much you are reaching out and making yourself available.

What to do after landing a paid brand deal?

After landing a paid brand deal, the best thing you can do is to knock the project out of the park. Turn in your content  — blog post, instagram story, instagram post — on time. Make sure to triple check for typos and ensure that you followed the brief to a T. 

Once the project wraps up, ask for a testimonial and how best to keep in touch with that agency person. That’s a relationship you want to nurture. Also, make sure to keep up with your Influencer To-Do List. 

Can you really make money through blogging?

Yes, you really can make money through blogging. But like any other business it’s not easy. It takes time, energy, a financial investment, a lot of patience and resilience. 

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

I recommend that you’re on the platforms that you want to be on. Be on platforms that you enjoy creating content for. 

For example, if you enjoy making short, quick, snappy videos Instagram and Tiktok are probably for you. If you prefer longer content video, YouTube is where it’s at. If you’re a writer and enjoy longer form content, start writing a blog. 

Be where you want to be, not where you think you should be.

Should I start a podcast, YouTube channel, or blog?

Start the one that feels the most natural and easy to you. If you can grab a mic and gab away, then I’d say start a podcast. Perhaps down the road if you video and audio record your episodes you can put it onto YouTube. If you prefer writing and enjoy putting pen to paper — or, in this case, finger to keyboard — then I would say start a blog. 

Did this resonate with you? Any helpful tips you’re walking away with? Tell me more about that in the comments below, or slide on over to my Instagram DM’s. If you’ve still got Q’s, I’d love to help you out. 

And honestly, if we’re not already hanging out on IG, whatcha waiting for? I keep up a steady stream of negotiation, influencer marketing and brand building insights and inspo over there for you.