Setting rates for sponsored content can be tricky. There is no guide on exactly what to charge or even a basic formula to use. Many influencers aren’t transparent about their rates so it’s hard to know where to start and what is considered reasonable.

Our goal is to make the business of social influence easier for everyone involved. The first step is to make it easier for influencers to set rates and for marketers to understand how those rates are set and what they reflect.

There are a number of “behind the scenes” factors that brands don’t always take into consideration when offering compensation for sponsored content. They may think, it’s only a picture, only a tweet, a quick recipe – how long can that take? But in reality it is so much more than that. It is time invested by you in building a brand, a business, and an engaged following. It’s up to you the influencer to understand those costs and know what you’re worth. Here are the major components to consider when setting your rate:

Page Views and Traffic – Like traditional advertising, brands pay in large part for the audience they are reaching. While this is not the only element to consider, it is certainly one of the most important. A good starting point calculation for setting your minimum rate is $5 dollars per 1,000 followers.  So, if you have 10,000 followers, your minimum rate should be $50.

Topic – Are you creating content in a topic that is very niche yet highly sought after? If there are fewer influencers creating content on your topic, you can command a higher rate than someone who creates content in a more popular category. You should also get to know other influencers in your niche and get an idea for what they are charging. You can also look at CPC (cost per click) in your given category as a good benchmark for relative pricing.

Equipment – Shooting photos, video, and hosting a blog all have costs associated with them. Those costs should be somewhat amortized by the sponsored content you create. For example, if your new camera is $300, you should expect to amortize that cost over 100 sponsored posts at an additional $3 per opportunity. It’s also incredibly important to understand the elements of a collaboration upfront so you can adjust your rate if needed. One flat lay photo will likely require less time from you and thus cost less than a how-to video.  

Social promotion – We live in a world of ever-changing algorithms on social channels. More and more influencers are now placing a small spend behind social posts to ensure they are still seen by followers. If you spend $5 per post on average to promote it on Facebook, that should be incorporated into your rate.

Taxes – This is often overlooked by many influencers, but is incredibly important to consider. If you make more than $400 per year from sponsored content, that is income you have to report to the IRS. Be sure you cover yourself for those potential costs at the end of the year.

Cost Per Engagement – As influencer marketing matures, brands and influencers are gaining access to additional metrics. Engagement rates and cost per engagement have become increasingly important analytics to consider. You can calculate your CPE with this simple formula: Price paid for the post / Average engagements (e.g. likes + comments) per post.

For example, if a marketer pays you $100 for a post and you get 350 engagements your cost per engagement is $0.28. Most marketers are spending $0.05 to $0.75 per engagement, so this CPE would likely be acceptable. If your CPE exceeds $0.75 per post, you should plan to lower your rate to fit into that range.

As you grow as an influencer, your rate will likely grow with you. It may be beneficial to adjust your rate by $5 – $50 over the course of a few months to find the perfect sweet spot. If you have no problem getting offers at $100 per post, try raising your rate to $125 to see if demand drops.

As a resource for brands and influencers alike, recently published the first ever public influencer rate map. See how your rates compare based on category, location and follower count.