Use Your Influence: How Much is it Worth?

               

If you’re a newly emerging influencer, firstly, congratulations! It takes an awful amount of work, resilience and tenacity to build up a valuable identity that brands are keen to pay for.

Once you’ve established yourself as an influencer though, you’ll have to make the decision as to whether or not to continue using your platform solely for building up relationships and interacting with your followers, or to make it into an income source as well. If you do decide to make the leap into making money from your influence, the very first step (which also happens to be one of the hardest), is to decide how much to charge for it.

So what must a new influencer consider when taking this step? We’ve outlined some key considerations to make the process a little less scary!

1. The influence you currently have

So you’re rocking a few thousand followers and are gaining more and more each day. Your readership stats on your blog have never been so buoyant. But before you begin trying to place a monetary value on your own influence, you have to understand EXACTLY what it is. Annoyingly, there are many different factors to consider here:

Your DA (domain authority)

Obviously this is only applicable to influencers with a blog or site, but DA is a metric created by online SEO tool Moz, and is still considered a pretty big deal. It is a single value out of 100, and is calculated based on how well your site ranks on search engines. Most micro influencers will have a DA of between 30 and 45, whilst macro rankings are more around the 50-65 mark. Just to contextualise, Twitter has a DA of 100. This is a handy way to compare yourself to other bloggers, but it is not the be all and end all, and can easily be improved. The best way to boost your DA is to ensure that your blog posts are all search engine optimised, but that’s another blog post for another day.

As much as DA isn’t everything, it is important to remember than many brands will not be aware of the many nuances that affect DA scores, and will take them at face value as an easy way to compare influencers. Although this is a very reductive way of doing so, it undeniably happens.

Your unique users and/or follower counts

Crude as is it, these figures matter. They matter because when brands work with influencers, they are looking to reach an audience. As much as we know that the type and quality of audience they reach is more important than the size, that message has not always reached the brand in question, especially if they are new to influencer marketing.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be approached by brands that value the calibre and interests of the audience you have attracted, but often they will be more interested in the quantities of readers and followers that your blog and/or social channels are seeing. Have a think about who your main peers are, i.e. which influencers are working in the same niche as you are, and assess their own follow counts and, if you can get them, their readership stats. This will give you a rough idea of your position in relation to them, and may give you goals to work towards (or make you feel secretly smug).

Your engagement rates

Slowly, brands are beginning to place more and more value into influencers with followings that are not necessarily large, but are engaged. This means that not only are your audience listening to what you’re saying, they are responding to it, which manifests itself in comments, likes, retweets, regrams, shares etc etc etc.

Essentially, the more engaged your audience are, the more likely they are to be receptive when you partner with the right brand. And this is, of course, of immense value to said brand.

2. The influence you will have

The funny thing about influence is that it grows, and grows quickly. Especially in today’s online communities, whereby content ‘going viral’ is a daily occurrence. Yes, your blog, vlog and/or social channel may be fairly average in terms of its following right now, but if you’re garnering more and more attention and your audience appears to be growing exponentially, chances are you’re on your way up.

Keep an eye on the growth rates of your unique users per month, how many new followers you are gaining, and how your engagement rates are increasing. Make sure you convert these increases into cold, hard percentages, and then present them to brands wanting to work with you as reasons why they should value the identity you are building up. Influence never stands still, and some of the best influencer-brand partnerships work because the two grow together, or because audiences value brands placing faith and stock into influencers that are up-and-coming.

3. The work you put in

Making money from your influence is a form of freelance working. You work as your own agent, quite often around the clock, and you are hired for different projects in much the same way a freelancer would be.

The ISPE (Associate of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), states that freelancers should charge 30% more for their work than an in-house employee would be paid – bear this in mind. Also, always consider not only how long the work you are offered from a brand will take you to complete, but how much time you have spent creating the kind of influence that they are willing to pay for. Of course, you can’t bill a brand for every hour you’ve spent building up your blog/vlog/social channel from day one, but it is worth being mindful of the fact that what the brand is actually paying for is not so much the work itself, but the people it will reach.

It goes without saying that brands, like everyone in business, will be looking to get what they need for as little money as possible, but it is up to you to clearly set out what it is they are paying for. Depending on how you are working with a brand, the actual output from you will vary, for example, a simple content share will require much less effort than collaborative, commissioned content or sponsored posts, and your rates should reflect this. But never forget that a brand would not have approached you to share their content or create your own on behalf of them, if you hadn’t have worked so hard in the first place to cultivate a valuable audience.

So, how much should I charge??

The above is all well and good, but we haven’t really mentioned actual, tangible figures. This is because influencer rates are so subjective and vary so much, and what brands are willing to pay for varies wildly too.

A good rule is to start by working out exactly how much time it will take you to complete the work you have agreed with a brand, and then an hourly rate depending on how much you would need to earn to make to profit. This can be anything from £15 an hour to £150 an hour, but it should always be realistic and honest. Once you have an hourly rate, look at your DA score, follower numbers, readership stats and engagement rates. Compare them to influencers you feel are on your level and in your niche. Influencers are always keen to share knowledge and support each other, therefore you will rarely encounter reluctance and hostility if you ask for these figures. Use this information to guide how you value your own influence. Often, influencers will use a ‘media pack’ to lay out their key stats, current and predicted future influence in an easily accessible way, so that brands can quickly access and digest it (don’t worry, we’ll be here next week with a step-by-step guide as to how to create one!)

Frustratingly, there is no magic formula for calculating your worth as an influencer, and this is simply because it will change from project to project, brand to brand. It is common practice to negotiate over prices, in order to agree a figure that works for both influencer and brand, and so your set rates will not always be what is paid in the end. As long as you have an unwaveringly clear idea of what you can offer and why that is valuable to a brand, and you communicate this from the start, you’ll find the process of placing value on your influence a lot more straightforward.