HOW MUCH TO CHARGE FOR AN INSTAGRAM POST: TRAVEL BLOGGERS AND INFLUENCERS
If we had a dollar for every time we heard, “how much should I charge for an Instagram post” among Sidewalker travel influencers, we’d be in the Maldives right now, plopped on a floaty with a drink in hand. As some of you may already know, Sidewalker Daily works with PR agencies, tourism boards and hospitality brands, spearheading their influencer marketing initiatives. Yes, that’s right, it’s our job is to actually value and put a price on influencers’ content and exposure.
Let’s just say we know a thing or two about how much to charge for sponsored posts on Instagram.
But before we get all excited about charging the big bucks, it’s super important to first figure out if you’re even ready to begin charging. At Sidewalker Daily, we’re all about fair and honest business. We also understand that “fake it until you make it” can only take you so far. This industry is small, and if you’re charging for your “influence” but actually don’t have any, it’s a recipe for disaster.
When you get hired to do a sponsored post, it’s different than traditional content creation, because the brand is paying for you to post – which means: exposure, eyeballs, views, clicks (you get where we’re going with this). This is why you must always be honest with your analytics and your influence. Before you accept any payment, we highly recommend reading our article on “How To Tell If You’re Ready To Earn Money On Instagram” first.
If you don’t feel like your ability to drive clicks is there just yet, be upfront with the brand and let them know that you would like to produce a certain amount of photos for them in addition to posting on Instagram. This way you can post a few on your page, but also send them extra photos for them to post on their account because at the end of the day, every brand is always in need of good Instagram photos for their feed too.
And when you are not confident in the power of your influence, the key is to OVERDELIVER.
Asking the brand for a budget.
You should always start any sponsorship conversation with asking what their budget is (of course you should have a bottom line in mind because anything lower than that number is just not worth it to you).
By asking the brand for their budget first, you can (a) come up with a proposal based on their needs, (b) save yourself time from creating a proposal that is not in their price range and the most importantly (c) save yourself from missing out on extra cash money…what if they are willing to pay WAY more than what you were planning on proposing?
But what if they say there is no budget and they want you to do the post for trade instead? Unfortunately, free swag doesn’t pay the bills – but a little doesn’t hurt, right? Of course there are always exceptions if it’s a product or experience you need in your life! We’ve worked with celebrity influencers (2+ million followers) who have gone on trips for free because of all the perks that come along with them.
So ultimately, every partnership or sponsorship comes down what’s in it for YOU!
And if you’re negotiating with a tourism board or hotel that has offered to pay for all of your travel expenses, and you have another brand willing to pay for a sponsorship, then you’ll want to let them know that you’ll be bringing along a sponsor to pay for talent fees.
Just so you know, 9 times out of 10, tourism boards will cover flights, accommodations, transport, food, beverage and activities, but maybe nothing else outside of that. That’s why you’ll want to reach out to another brand (that aligns with the destination), to see if they are interested in having their products shot in the exotic destination, to help you get paid.
But remember to be professional and make sure the sponsor willing to pony up cash aligns with the destination you are headed to because otherwise it may cause issues. For example, asking an energy drink company to sponsor a trip to Costa Rica, would not make sense with Costa Rica’s farm to table ethos.
We’re big on press trip etiquette because we know how valuable fostering relationships are and how these trips can actually land you more jobs down the road.
Lastly, we can’t stress this enough – don’t just take the job because of the money. Always make sure every partnership and sponsorship you accept aligns with your brand values and goals…basically, don’t be shortsighted.
Instagram Price Per Post – The Basics.
Before we get into the nitty gritty on pricing, we need to define “post” because it will determine how you price yourself.
- Instagram post – photo: posting a permanent post on your Instagram account using specific hashtags, tags, geotags etc.
- Instagram post – video: posting a permanent video on your Instagram account using specific hashtags, tags, geotags and even an audio mention.
- Instagram story: promoting on a story and using a specific hashtag and tag and even an audio mention.
And if you work in an Instagram story, you’ll have the option to provide it on your Instagram “highlights” as an additional value added feature.
According to Adweek, the average price per sponsored post is about $300, with influencers that have 100,000 followers earning closer to $800 a post.
While everyone wants a magic formula, we know there is no one-size-fits-all approach…this is the wild west, after all! That’s why we’re covering three different ways you can establish your “insta rate.” So for all those wondering “how much is my instagram post worth,” below are three different ways to come up with your price.
OPTION 1: Charge An Hourly Rate
Charging by an hourly rate can be a great option for beginners who don’t have a large following or engagement but still feel like you could produce quality content. This is a good bet for micro-influencers (less than 10,000 organic, authentic followers).
Opting for an hourly rate is also great for a freelancer with a special skillset (i.e. graphic design, copywriter, photographer etc). You can also offer different hourly rates depending on what exactly you will be doing for the brand. In some cases, people like to charge more for their time if it involves a technical skill. For example, if you’re reviewing a product versus creating a video or taking product photos- the latter two involve way more effort which means you should be compensated for your time. If you’re using a drone, doing any special effects or using some technical editing skills, you may want to charge more for that time as well.
So what’s the formula?
- Hourly rate (* hours needed to produce) + any extra costs
- Optional: Hourly rate (* hours needed to produce) + Speciality Hourly Rate (* hours needed to produce) + any extra costs
Any extra costs could include the following – props, assistant work, travel expenses etc.
Everyones hourly rate is different based on what they need to make a living so you need to figure out what works for you.
And when it comes to actually billing for your hours, make sure to keep it organized and write down all of your time, including idea generation, the time it takes you to actually create the content (photo or video), editing time etc.
It’s important to note that there’s also the normal cost of doing business. For example, if you drive to a design store to buy props for your shoot, are you going to charge for that time or for the gas you spent to get there? This is up to you and your relationship with the brand. You can bundle it into your fee or give it to them as a courtesy credit (and show them on your invoice that you did not charge for x, y, z).
Some people go by the school of thought that time is money and you need to charge for every second. Others are a bit more lax on this and just bundle in simple tasks because they don’t want to be seen as “nickel and diming.” It’s really up to you and what you feel comfortable doing – after all it is your business!
One thing to keep in mind is that some brands may not like the idea of paying you by the hour so you will need to estimate the total time it will take you and then quote them a flat fee. Yes, it may end up taking more time than you anticipated, or you may finish a little earlier than expected but why a company may prefer a flat fee over an hourly charge is they know exactly what to expect and can budget for the cost.
If you’re charging for costs, make sure to only include direct costs associated with each task. If you did a professional shoot and bought everyone on your team a Starbucks latte, that was your choice and NOT something we would advise you to include on your invoice.
Here is an example for doing a sponsored post for a sunglass company and you’ve set your hourly rate at $50:
Sponsored Post Creation: $50/hour
Hours Spent/Or Hours Estimated: 3.5
- 30 minutes researching brand + their competitors
- 1 hour deciding creative direction of photos + all styling
- 45 minutes to shoot product
- 1 hour going through photos and editing selects
- 15 minutes to post and draft caption
In this case, for micro-influencers, we would suggest providing the brand with the high resolution images you post as well as a few “courtesy photos.” So if you provide them with 4 photos total (including the photo you posted), this means the brand paid around $43 per photo (your rate of $175/4 photos). You should then give them the option to purchase additional photos from your roll. If you shot the photos anyway, you might as well try to make some extra cash from them!
OPTION 2: Charge By Using Your Average Engagements Per Post
Some people don’t feel comfortable charging an hourly rate. This could be for a number of reasons but the most common one is that many creatives find it difficult to keep track of every minute they spend on a project.
That’s why you may want to consider soley charging for your influence and posting on social.
Logically, it makes sense to charge per engagement because on top of an image or video you produce, that is really what the brand is getting in return. It is important to understand that there is an inverse relationship between engagement and follower growth. This means that the more your followers and fans grow, the lower your engagement tends to be. This could be because once you’re receiving 30,000+ likes a photo, your audience may not want to give you that “extra like” because they don’t think you need it. We know that sounds strange but hey, we don’t make the rules.
So in terms of pricing yourself for engagement, let’s say you receive an average of 3,000 likes a photo and 75 comments per post. The way you can find your average likes is sum up the likes of the last 12 photos you’ve posted and divide by 12. This math is the same for comments.
Average likes: Total # of likes for last 12 posts / 12
Average comments: Total # of comments for the last 12 posts / 12
Then you would sum up the average likes + average comments to get your average engagement per post.
Average engagement per post = average likes + average comments
You then can establish your fee per engagement (i.e. what is your like, story view or comment worth). Since comments show a higher level of engagement, you can charge a brand more for every REAL COMMENT than a like.
Because we like to keep it real, if you are in a comment pod or do any shady business – do yourself a favor and do NOT charge for non organic comments. This is not an authentic engagement and therefore you shouldn’t charge for it.
Since you’ve already spent the time shooting the photo to post, you may as well charge less for a sponsored post and have them purchase additional posts. For example, rather than doing just one post, how about offering them 3 posts with a 30% discount. It’s a win-win for everyone because you have to do the upfront work anyway to post just one photo, and they’re getting the most bang for their buck with the discount you offered them.
And if you’re curious about Insta Story rates, you can charge based on the number of average views you get per story, using the same rate you charge per like and based on the same formula.
Remember, brands like to feel like they are receiving more than they bargained for (just like you do) so creating packages with discounts is always a win!
OPTION 3: Charge By Using Your CPM Rate
If we want to get nitty gritty in the marketing world, we’ll fill you in on a common term – CPM. CPM is the cost for every 1,000 impressions of an ad. But why the “M” in CPM? It actually stands for the Roman Numeral for 1,000.
So how do you figure out your CPM Rate? Just 3 easy steps and you’re all set!
You’ll want to first figure out your engagement rate:
(Average likes + Average comments per post/ total # of followers) * 100
Once you have your engagement rate you can use the table below to see how much you can charge per thousand of followers.
CPM Value Table:
- 1.5-3% engagement = $5 CPM
- 3-5% engagement = $7 CPM
- 5-8% engagement = $10 CPM
- > 8% engagement = $15 CPM
Next, you’ll need to take the total # of followers you have and divide it by 1000.
- If you have 1000 followers, that # will be 10
- If you have 50,000 followers, that # will be 50
- If you have 100,000 followers, that # will be 100
- If you have 250,000 followers, that # will be 250
Depending on your engagement level, you will have a different CPM value.
Plug all that info (engagement rate and CPM value) into the formula:
CPM VALUE * (# of followers/1000) = price per post.
Example: You have an engagement rate of 2.5% and 70,000 followers
$5 * (70,000/1000) = $350 per post.
OPTION 4: Charge By Using Your CPM Rate (IMPRESSION BASED MODEL)
Rather than charging on a “cost per thousand” followers, brands are also implementing “cost per thousand” impressions.
You’ll need to take the total # of impressions you usually get per post and divide it by 1000.
- If you have 1000 impressions, that # will be 10
- If you have 50,000 impressions, that # will be 50
- If you have 100,000 impressions, that # will be 100
- If you have 250,000 impressions, that # will be 250
Multiply that multiple by $20 (which is really .02 cents an impression)
Let’s say you receive 50,000 impressions, then your post would be
50 * 20 = $1000
The Rate for Insta Stories using CPM.
If your Insta stories have a different engagement rate than your permanent posts, you’re going to want to do that formula separately. You’ll calculate the engagement rate for your stories, and then use the appropriate CPM Value and multiply it times the # of followers/1000, just like you did above.
Again, we always recommend creating packages and providing discounts. For example, “1 post will cost X amount, but if you purchase 3 posts, you will get a 30% discount.” And you should always send the brand a contact sheet of all of the photos you took, that way you can charge for them separately if they are interested in purchasing additional photos from your roll.
Ultimately, we know everyone is at different stages and has different strengths so we can’t say there is only one way to price yourself but we wanted to help you out by presenting different options. At the end of the day, only you know how you grew your following and how real your engagement is and when working with brands, you want to feel confident that your pricing is fair.
If you’re looking for a bit more one-on-one support when it comes to developing your pricing, we’d love to help! Just visit our services page for information on the different ways we can work together.
And of course, don’t forget about good ol’ disclosures when doing sponsored Instagram posts.
If you’ve entered the world of charging for sponsored posts on Instagram (or accepting trips or products for free), then you’re going to want to make sure you are complying with disclosure laws. It’s not as difficult as it seems and we’ve actually spelled out the rules in our post, “How To Properly Disclose A Sponsored Post On Instagram” to ensure you’re doing it right!