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Plain and simple, this post does exactly what the headline says: I’m going to roughly calculate the minimum cost to produce an Instagram post. When I decided to do this, the challenge was to show this in a way that’s as universally applicable as possible. I don’t necessarily mean for these figures to be used as a guide on what to charge. More so as a means of explaining why feedback like “your rates are too high for your *insert statistic here*”, reflects more on their ignorance than your reality. And to demonstrate to companies that demand posts in exchange for gifts manufactured in China for £1 a pop that their request is not quite reasonable. And why if you do decide to post loaned clothing that some appreciation goes a long way. And finally to highlight to people in the wider industry who are ignorant to what it is we really do that if we weren’t authentic and truly passionate, would we really be producing so much content out of pocket?
How I did my calculations:
London living wage: £10.55 an hour (I’d like to think we shouldn’t recognise this as a gauge of how much we charge per hour considering this is a living wage but I’ll use this for demonstrative purposes).
Cost of travel: £11.60 to central London a day (I live in the suburbs).
Photography costs: £80 on average per session (photo and video considered) / posts produced.
Clothing: total cost – 50% (taking into account personal use, my accountant advises to minus half when it comes to expenses for tax reasons – I feel it’s somewhat of an arbitrary deduction but let’s call it symbolic, especially when things like cost per wear comes into play).
Other factors that would bump up the final figure, which really varies between each of us, include years of experience outside of social media. For example, I would account for my background in journalism, SEO knowledge and brand consultancy work. As a gauge, a typical article would go for around 30-50p per word, a SEO freelancer can earn around £150 a day and my old job at a trends agency would charge £500 an hour for industry expertise.
Then there’s the make up of your demographic, if it’s generally an older audience like mine, where 50% are over the age of 25 years, it signifies increased spending power and something to consider when upping your rate. Let’s not ignore the variations in usage rights, exclusivity and how long term the commitment of the campaign will be, which are dictated by the client. This is also disregarding past clients aka your portfolio of work, the cost of camera equipment, laptop and software… and if anything else comes to mind feel free to give me a nudge.
I decided to do work out the price I pay for my content, per image, based on my most popular posts over the last six months. Interestingly, two of my sponsored ones were up high on the list (of which one was assigned a budget to promote within the app). This indicates for me and many others that the majority of our posts are done for ‘free’. And that’s ok. But just because we love what we do, it is not an invitation to be taken advantage of and this abhorrent ‘take take take’ attitude I’ve seen.
*some posts created under the same conditions have similar/ the same cost to produce so I didn’t include them to save from repetition
More often than not, it’s unlikely that you’re charging too much. My contacts in the industry, both on the brand side and fellow bloggers, are relatively open about rates when you ask them directly and obviously, I have. Out of all of the figures and individuals I’ve heard of, I’ve only ever felt that one person’s demands were hard to justify. I’d also like to make clear that before this exercise, I’ve never sat down to think about what each post could’ve cost me because in this line of business, you’re really sharing your life and there’s a degree of privilege to be able to do so. However, in spite of having a buffer in the form of agents shielding me from the harsh ignorance that still goes on in our vast and blossoming sector, sometimes the ugly does seep through. And it’s repellent enough I think something needs to be said and so here we are.