7 Instagram micro influencers explain how much money they charge brands for sponsorships

  • You don't need millions of Instagram followers to start earning money as an influencer. 
  • Some influencers with tens of thousands of followers can make thousands of dollars from brand sponsorships.
  • Industry insiders say that while follower size is important to a degree, it is a creator's engagement (which includes reach, likes, comments, and DMs) and how their audience converts that are most important to leverage when negotiating brand deals. 
  • Business Insider spoke with seven "micro" influencers about how they price their rates for paid sponsorships.
  • Subscribe to Business Insider's influencer newsletter: Insider Influencers.

To earn money as an influencer, you don't need millions of followers on Instagram like Kylie Jenner.

Some "micro" influencers — those with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers on Instagram — make thousands of dollars from brand sponsorships. Hiring this category of influencers, many of whom work on their digital businesses part time, has become popular among brands.

Brands seek out micro influencers because they often have high engagement rates. This follows a broader trend toward hiring online creators with smaller audiences, who can sometimes appear more authentic and cost less to hire than macro, mega, and celebrity influencers.

Industry insiders say that while follower size is important to a degree, it is a creator's engagement (which includes reach, likes, comments, and DMs) and how their audience converts that are most important to leverage when negotiating brand deals. 

Micro influencers, however, face some obstacles as creators because they don't have huge followings and business teams behind them. Some micro influencers told Business Insider that they were often low-balled with compensation and sometimes only offered "gifting" or free product in exchange for content.

One method two micro influencers said they used to combat this was setting standard rates they charged for sponsored content as a starting point for brand negotiations.

"I always tell my clients that when you are in negotiating with brands, you want to make sure that you aren't low-balling yourself," said Britney Turner, a micro influencer with around 27,000 Instagram followers, who is also a content creator coach.

The "rates" influencers use are often a starting point for brand negotiations and can vary based on the specifics of a brand campaign, like usage rights and exclusivity. Usage rights refers to the ways the brand can use the influencer's content, while exclusivity is when the influencer can't work with a brand's competitor for a certain period of time.

Business Insider spoke with seven influencers who had under 70,000 Instagram followers about how they set their rates when negotiating paid sponsorships with brands.

The micro influencers are listed with the most recent interview first.

Here's what they said:

This post has been updated to add more influencers.

Gigi Kovach: about 13,500 Instagram followers (December)

Gigi Kovach, 29, is a part-time influencer and mother of two based in Sarasota, Florida. As of December, when Business Insider interviewed her, Kovach had about 13,500 Instagram followers. 

Kovach had been active on Instagram since her early 20s and about two years ago, when she had around 2,000 followers, she launched a blog. It was then that she realized she could turn her hobby into a paying side gig.

At first, most of her brand deals were paid in free products, but Kovach started turning down some gifting opportunities and opted for paid campaigns. She then developed her own set of starting rates, pitch templates, and a media kit.

Her starting rates for sponsored Instagram content included (as of December):

  • In-feed post (with an additional 5-10 that the brand can use for their own content): $500
  • Stories slides (usually three): $75 to $100

As of December, Kovach was still figuring out how to calculate her rate for Reels or video content, although a recent sponsorship paid her $300 for a Reel, she said.

"You get a lot of no's when you first start to pitch brands, but then you sort of fine-tune your approach," Kovach said.

She shared her pitching strategy, including a real email template she uses, with Business Insider. 

Read the full post: A part-time Instagram influencer and mom of 2 shares the exact email template she uses to pitch brands and how much money she charges for sponsored content

Emma Cortes: about 38,000 Instagram followers (October)

Emma Cortes is a Seattle-based fashion and lifestyle influencer who had about 38,000 followers on Instagram as of October 2020.

She started blogging in 2014 and landed her first brand partnership in 2016, as an unpaid brand ambassador for American Eagle Outfitters. Now, she's working with brands regularly and in 2019, Cortes booked $40,000 in brand deals.

Cortes attributes her strength in landing paid brand deals to her negotiation strategy, which she outlined step-by-step for Business Insider.

She charges brands for several things, such as timeline, exclusivity, and content usage, and the actual scope of work and deliverables. 

"If there's no exclusivity, then I won't charge [a brand] my full rate," she said in October. "But if I can't work with a brand for an additional three months, I'm charging for that." 

For an in-feed post and a few story slides, Cortes usually charged between $1,500 and $2,500, as of October. When negotiating her rates, she uses ranges instead of flat fees, she said.

As of October, for short-form video content like TikTok or Reels, Cortes said she will sometimes bundle these into a content package if a brand is interested. She charges about 75% of what she charged for a standard in-feed post, she said.

Read the full post: An Instagram influencer with about 40,000 followers explains how much money she makes and the email template she uses to turn gifting offers into paying deals

Nick Cutsumpas: about 63,000 Instagram followers (September)

Nick Cutsumpas is a micro "plantfluencer" and is known as Farmer Nick on his social-media accounts, where he posts about houseplant care and sustainability. 

In September, when he spoke with Business Insider, he had about 63,000 followers on Instagram (he now has over 65,000). Cutsumpas works part time as a "micro" influencer, while running his own project-based business where he coaches plant owners and works with clients on landscape design. 

"The last three months have been my most successful three months to date," Cutsumpas told Business Insider in September.

He attributed his growth and recent success to the surge in houseplant interest and sales through the pandemic, as well as starring in the recent Netflix series "The Big Flower Fight," which premiered in May.

His standard rates for sponsored content included (as of September):

  • Instagram in-feed post and Story (usually three slides) package: $750 to $1,000
  • IGTV video (two to three minutes long): $1,500

When initiating any brand conversation, Cutsumpas approaches the deal with the question: How much value do I genuinely believe I can add to the company?

He makes sure to send the brand a media kit and enter into a dialogue to ensure they're on the same page when it comes to the content and the brand's values.

Read the full post: An Instagram micro influencer explains how much money he charges for sponsored posts and how his plant-focused business has changed during the pandemic

Lindy Goodson: about 20,000 Instagram followers (August)

Like many other recent college graduates, Lindy Goodson found herself in her childhood bedroom not quite sure when or where she would land her first post-college job. 

Now, she's working full-time as a content creator in Illinois after she started getting more brand deals in recent months.

Goodson's social-media career took off this summer when she started focusing on her TikTok account, where she had about 67,000 followers as of August when she spoke with Business Insider (she now has nearly 82,000).

Her TikTok has driven followers to her Instagram too, she said. In August, she had about 20,000 Instagram followers (she now has over 24,000).

Goodson's brand partnerships often come from brands directly reaching out to through her DMs or emailing her, she said. They have included Bud Light Seltzer and the clothing resale app, Poshmark.

As she learns the ropes as a full-time creator, she's established her starting rates going off of what she's been offered and what other influencers are charging. 

Her starting rates for sponsored content included (as of August):

  • Instagram in-feed post: $400
  • TikTok post: $150-250

For Instagram Story slides and Reels, she didn't have a rate with brands as of August, but said that she offered a negotiable range depending on how much content the brand was asking for. She charged less for a Story slide than for a static post, she said.

Ashley Jones: about 45,000 Instagram followers (August)

College student Ashley Jones had about 45,000 followers on her Instagram account in August when she spoke with Business Insider, and just over 25,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel (she now has over 46,000 on Instagram and 26,000 on YouTube).

This summer, she decided to take her channel more seriously (she originally started her YouTube channel when she was 12 years old) and make social-media her side hustle. 

"The shift definitely happened about a year ago," Jones told Business Insider in August. "When I really started to become serious about fashion and partnerships. That's when I really took it seriously and started to create content more consistently as well, and I started to reach out to brands about partnerships." 

Like many influencers, Jones earns the majority of her money online through brand sponsorships, she said in August. But unlike some influencers who have talent managers or agents, she pitches brands and negotiates all of the deals herself, she said. 

She said she watched a lot of videos on how to price your content when working with brands and decided to create rates.

Her standard rates for sponsored content included (as of August):

  • Instagram Story post: $100
  • Instagram in-feed post: $300
  • Two-minute YouTube video mention: $300 to $400
  • Full YouTube video: $850 

"I feel like a lot of people go wrong by emailing a brand's customer service email or just a random email on their Instagram page," she added. "I really try to ask for their PR representative or I'll try to reach out on my own."

Read the full post: An Instagram 'micro' influencer with 45,000 followers explains how much money she charges for a sponsored post and story slide

Britney Turner: about 27,000 Instagram followers (August)

Britney Turner is a fashion and lifestyle micro influencer on Instagram. She's also a content creator coach and works closely with influencers on landing brand deals and pitching themselves.  

Turner advocates that all creators, especially micro influencers and nano influencers, should set rates for themselves when working with brands. She said some brands take advantage of creators with this size of following, since gifting as compensation or low-balling are common. 

She makes sure to include her rates in a media kit, which is a summary of her engagement rates and past content that she shares in emails when entering the first stages of securing a paid partnership with a brand. 

"Most of the time, I don't even have to say anything, I kind of just wait to see if they are going to approach me with the rate and if it's better than what I would be asking for, then I would go with that," Turner said in August, when she had about 27,000 Instagram followers (that number is similar today). 

She said her rates are a starting point — negotiable with the brand according to the deliverables, timeframe, and relationship that's there.

Her standard rates for Instagram sponsored posts included (as of August):

  • Instagram in-feed post: $500 to $800 
  • Instagram Story posts (with an in-feed post included): $1,500 to $2,000
  • Instagram Reels (and video content across Instagram or TikTok): $2,000

Read more: How to create Instagram Stories with high engagement and reach, according to an influencer coach and an analytics company

Caitlin Patton: about 22,000 Instagram followers (October 2019)

Caitlin Patton's digital brand is her top source of income, she told Business Insider in October 2019, when she had about 22,000 Instagram followers (that number is similar today).

She earns money by promoting products for brands online and through affiliate marketing, she said. 

After her college graduation, Patton moved to Chicago and worked for a marketing company. Then she started to work for herself, both on her brand as "Chicago Blogger" and occasionally consulting for local brands on social-media growth. 

When setting her ask rates, she followed the $100 for every 10,000 followers guideline that some influencers use for brand sponsorships at first. But she then learned to change her rates based on various factors like "usage," which means the various contexts in which the brand will be able to use Patton's content.

As of October 2019, Patton earned about $1,000 "for a bundle post" on Instagram, she told Business Insider. 

"Having a really good, strong support system in the industry is key," she said. "I started with the industry standard until I understood the other dynamics of it (usage, exclusivity) because that's what truly drives the number up past the baseline. I think my favorite campaigns, and the ones that are most successful, are the multiple posts."

Read the full post here: How much money you can make from a sponsored Instagram post with 22,000 followers

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