A Guide to Influencer Marketing Contracts & Negotiations in 2021

Tori Stark
Jul 8, 2021

Influencer marketing is a strategy built upon strong relationships with top-performing creators; the better relationships you have, the more value that creator will provide your business over time. But it’s not enough to simply find the right creators - you also have to engage them in a meaningful way, building your relationship upon a firm foundation that is mutually beneficial. With that said, let’s discuss a topic that can be tricky to get right: influencer contracts & negotiations.

Knowing what to include in a creator’s contract and keeping up with ever-changing industry standards can be daunting, and it’s important to negotiate with creators in a way that establishes a sense of respect between them and your brand. This article provides a baseline for influencer contracts, as well as pro tips to bolster your negotiations.

Where to start:

A standard rule in influencer budgeting is to allocate $100 for every 10K followers. However, follower count is not the only variable that affects pricing. You’ll need to budget more depending on contract elements like exclusivity, usage and promotional rights, and additional partnership requirements like travel or an event appearance. Other considerations can include which platform you’re partnering on, the number of posts, content format, content complexity, and the time that the content must stay live.

Your first compensation offer will be used as a benchmark throughout the rest of the negotiation, so it’s important that you establish a realistic sense of your budget limits and what deliverables are most important to the campaign prior to starting outreach. One way to potentially decrease your cost-per-deliverable is to approach a creator or their management team with a deliverable “bundle” or “upfront” offer. From there, both parties can collaborate on finding a deliverable set and compensation level that feels fair.

Another tactic that can keep you within budget as well as help build your influencer relationships is to truthfully represent the possibility for future collaboration opportunities. The prospect of ongoing work with a trusted brand is a strong leveraging tool.

Pro-Tip:​ Include ‘nice to have’ deliverables that are not critical to the campaign and can be conceded during negotiation without affecting your overall goals. Here are some examples you might consider:

  • Asking creators to cross-post the content across platforms. By setting this baseline expectation, you can negotiate down to just the platform(s) you’re actually interested in
  • Start with a longer exclusivity, like 90 days, then concede to 30 days
  • Start by asking for a higher number of posts
  • Link in bio (depending on your goals - if KPI is link clicks then obviously this is essential)
  • Full ownership/usage of imagery, then concede to credited usage

The fine print:

Once you’ve settled on a fee and deliverable set, you can start drawing up a contract with the details like a payment schedule and where to send the fee. If you’re working with an agency or management team, payment will be processed through them (versus directly to the creator), and they will likely have a contract template that outlines their agency standard payment practices.

Pro-Tip:​ Standard payment timing is within 30 days (commonly referred to as “Net 30”) of all approved deliverables going live - include this verbiage in your contract under payment details!

The most common payment structure is to deliver the total fee in one payment upon campaign completion. However, there are a few caveats that can warrant changing the timing of your payment. Long-term partnerships with multiple posts launching across 6 months or more may call for a payment-per-deliverable model. Larger influencers or management agencies may request a percentage of payment up-front.

Finally, a less common, but still present payment model is  ‘pay per engagement’, wherein creators are paid based on the number of video views, clicks, or other engagements that their content garners. For example, a creator with 1M+ followers may ask for $1000 per 15,000 views - be sure to reverse engineer your campaign goals based on these numbers, accounting for the costs in your campaign budget.

These tips serve as the basis for ground-level negotiation and relationship-building with influencers and their management teams. As those relationships progress, and your company’s influencer marketing program matures, you may evolve from one-off contracts to a “retainer model”, or an affiliate program where creators earn long-term dividends through revenue sharing. A good time to introduce your proposed budget, payment terms, and any caveats is in the initial content brief.