The problem with the ‘microinfluencer’

    We’ve all heard the term ‘microinfluencer’ being tossed around and numerous articles popping up about how they could be more advantageous for brands. If you qualify as one (you have around 10k to 50k), it’s likely that this Christmas season, you’ll have to carefully curate your Instagram to avoid looking like every picture is a sponsored post. It’s a period of an overactive inbox, early Christmas gift sets and advent calendars sent by brands to share with your audience. Yet amidst all the fun and freebies, one issue that becomes more apparent than ever is the lack of transparency of rates in the blogging industry.

    It’s important to realise that while it’s interesting to compare the rates that bloggers are being paid across different countries, it’s not particularly helpful. This is because the US practises the standard of paying any blogger that they engage, and at a higher rate than anything I’ve seen in the UK, Europe or in Asia. Plus, each region needs to be considered as unique despite social media followings being so diverse and global.

    How the industry is changing

    There are steps being taken to add some kind of transparency to the blogging industry. Firstly there are bloggers out there who are open to answering questions honestly. And as content creation or “influencing” has become a viable side hustle for many, there are numerous communities out there like Creative Gal Gang on Facebook and @influencerpaygap on Instagram, sharing useful information.

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    Secondly, there are apps out there that show more or less a flat rate to bloggers for our services, such as The Cirqle and Takumi, and it is our choice whether or not we want to accept the job. These companies are democratising the market by issuing a capped payment that is available to any Instagrammer participating in the campaign, regardless of their following.

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    This is the point in the post where I’d ideally tell you the statistics of how much to charge according to your follower count. Going back to the main point of this article, which is a lack of transparency in our industry, it is extremely difficult to provide accurate figures. It depends so much on your niche – where fashion and beauty historically have more budget to pay influencers than say, food or fitness. Then there’s the question of how your content is created, do you employ a photographer or use a camera or iPhone?

    As for numbers, while this is subject to change, I’ve often heard from agencies and brands that they’re looking for 20k followers or more on Instagram for paid campaigns. Not too long ago, I attended a talk from Sadie Brown a blogger talent agent that hails from the agency Nuffnang. She mentioned that she didn’t see a point in bloggers accepting a job (typically a blog post) that paid less than £200. For context, she explained that most of the bloggers that she represents are micro-influencers. While agencies have their reasons for disliking lower-paid projects – primarily as they manage contracts and take a commission on a contract – I think it’s important to consider blogging like any other freelance job. So while a couple hundred doesn’t seem like a lot, it works out to be a similar fee for a new journalist writing an article for a publication.

    Moreover, in a typical self-employed role, you would be flexible on your rate depending on how busy you were that month or how much you wanted to work on that project. This makes it harder to know what the market rate for a social media deliverable would be. But it also means that people may have a more pragmatic and less unrealistic expectation of what creators are paid. We might also be wary that the rise of the micro-influencer could cannibalise our industry. The exponential growth of freshly-made online creators expecting a regular pay cheque could turn this relatively young niche of the digital world into one that prioritises figures over expression and artistic vision. A place where social media profiles look increasingly similar and the passion for mediums like blogging or professional photography begins to take a backseat. And that may make establishing a standardised rate even more complicated.

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    6th December 2016
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