In this post I will be talking about my personal experience as a “Micro-Influencer” on Instagram with 10k+ followers.
- How to find brands to work with
- How sponsored posts work
- How much to charge
- Tips and Advice
- Canada specific info
- Final Thoughts
How to Find Brands to Work With
Brand reaches out
The best way to get sponsored opportunities is to receive requests from the brands themselves. Most of your brand deals will be through this method. This could be through Instagram Direct Message, or Email. Make sure you list your email address on your page!
Interactions with brand page
By showing support to the brand’s Instagram page, you are more likely to be noticed and contacted. This could be commenting on posts, or interacting in DMs. You’ll also be in the loop if the brand posts that they are looking for brand ambassadors.
Another way is to personally reach out to brands you want to work with. You could tell them you really love their products and propose a deal, and see if they are willing to work with you.
How Sponsored Posts Work
Agree on terms
The terms could be a conversational agreement by Email or DM, or it could be an official contract that you have to sign. Make sure you are clear and happy with the deliverables and compensation before agreeing on it!
Example: “Just to clarify, you will send me xxx in exchange for xxx posts and xxx stories.“
If you have been sent a full contract, make sure to read it carefully before signing. Once signed, there is very little rights you have to make changes. (Jump to Tips and Advice for things to look for)
Once you have the deliverables set, you will need to go out and create the content. This would mostly likely involve bringing the product and going on a photoshoot with your pet. Occasionally you can re-use old photos and videos, if you are feeling particularly lazy! Make sure you haven’t posted those photos before or used them in another sponsorship agreement.
Send for approval (if asked for)
If the terms of the agreement states that you have to send content over for approval, then you will need to do that before publishing the content. This will usually include writing the caption and text for the stories as well.
On the day that you have decided to post the content, make sure that you have included everything the brand has asked for (specific hashtags, tags, and exactly the same wording they have approved). You will need to add a “Paid Promotion” tag to the post or story as well, IF you have received any free products or money as a direct exchange for the post. If its a “gifted” product with no explicit agreement that they require a post in return, then you don’t have to add the Paid Promotion tag.
Track analytics (if asked for)
If the brand has said they require analytics, this would mean sending a screenshot of the insights. For stories, this would be 24h after posting, and for in feed posts, this would usually be a week after.
Some brands request that a platform be used to track content. This is fine, but it takes a bit of work, so keep that in mind when agreeing to the terms.
If you are expecting monetary payment, make sure you know HOW and WHEN you will be receiving it – BEFORE you sign the contract. Payment might be a mailed cheque, paypal, money transfer, and even store credit (though if its store credit should have been clear from the start). Payment can sometimes take up to 6 months to be sent, so keep track of it and follow up with your contact.
How Much to Charge
How much work is it?
A photoshoot is usually a few hours work, and if it includes travel to scenic locations, it could easily be a full day’s activity. Editing the photos could take a few hours. Think about how much your time is worth, and how much time is involved in this deliverable.
Do you like the brand?
Think about how consistent the brand is with your account. If an unrelated brand (like a shoe company, random example) wanted sponsored content on my adventure cat page, I would ask for more than usual, and could probably still make it work. If a completely unrelated brand (like a protein powder brand, random example) wanted sponsored content, I would decline completely.
How much you truly like the brand will influence how much you should charge. If its a brand I am already using and stand behind the products, I will be happy to work with them, even if its for less money.
Our followers count and engagement usually dictate how much we are “worth”. You can use this website: Izpire.me to calculate approximately how much you can ask for.
At the end of the day, you should be happy with the agreement and what you are getting in return. Don’t accept a deal if you aren’t happy with it – always negotiate until you are happy, or simply turn it down.
Canada Specific Info
Monetary cash payment requires income tax to be declared. Keep a track of the earnings and declare them at the end of the tax year. If your earnings are over $30,000 over a year (though it most likely won’t be anywhere close), you will need to set up a GST/HST account, but you will also be able to claim business expenses (Source: CRA).
Working with US companies
The US and Canada have a treaty to not double tax your earnings, but require a special US Tax form for the company to submit. You will have to provide your Social Insurance Number (SIN) and other personal info on a W8-BEN form. Instructions on how to fill the form can be found here: Canada Tax 101: What Is a W-8BEN Form?
Receiving USD could be done a few ways, each with varying amounts of fees involved:
- USD Savings Account
This is the best method to receive USD payments. If you have an USD savings account , and you will be able to direct deposit or cheque deposit without any additional fees.
- Paypayl – Foreign Currency
Receiving USD into a Canadian Paypal is very simple and fast, but will incur fees. Sending USD from a Canadian Paypal account to a US Paypal account is considered an international transaction, with $2.99 CAD fee ($2.37 USD). Converting USD to CAD is also a foreign exchange interaction, and pay pal charges a flat 4% fee. (Fee schedule: Paypal)
- Direct Deposit – Foreign Currency
Direct Deposit (wire transfer) is also a simple and fast method. The bank will automatically convert the currency into CAD, with about a 2.5% fee built into the exchange rate (depending on the bank).
- Cheque – Foreign Currency
If you don’t want to send your banking information to the company you’re working with, you can ask for a paper cheque. This usually takes much longer, like 1-2 months. Once you receive the cheque you can take it to a bank and deposit into your Canadian account, with about 2.5% fees (depending on the bank).
Tips and Advice
Know Your Worth and What You’re Willing to Work For
My best advice for you is to know what your content is worth and do not be afraid to ask for it. If they reject your price, then you shouldn’t work with them. It’s not worth your time! On the other hand, don’t ask for outrageous prices because you’ll never land a brand deal like that.
In my experience, brands are often willing to change their initial offer to what you are asking for. They really don’t know what your rates are, so they offer you a basic deal to start with.
Create a Media Kit
A media kit is a one-page document that is an overview of your Instagram account, and what people can expect when working with you. You can find some Media Kit templates online (eg. Canva templates). Important things to include in your media kit are your stats (followers, reach, etc), and some photos to showcase your account. I also included my rates, although most templates don’t have rates included.
When first reaching out to a brand, having a media kit shows you’re serious about the Influencer business, and that you know what you’re doing. Even though most brands don’t require a media kit, its useful to make one in advance.
Read the Small Print in Contract
Before signing a contract, make sure to read it carefully (even if its long), and look for these things listed below. You can ask for the clause to be removed from the contract, or ask for extra payment to cover it.
- Full Rights Photo / Usage Rights / License to Use
The terms here may differ but essentially this means you are giving away your ownership of the photo, and the brand is free to use it in as many advertisements as they like without having to credit to reimburse you. You should charge more for this.
In addition to the above terms, seeing “perpetuity” means you are giving your rights away FOREVER. You can definitely charge more for this as well.
When a company asks for exclusivity (meaning you can’t promote any competitors), they are taking away the opportunity for you to get other brand deals. They should be willing to compensate you for the loss of potential work. You can ask for a monthly cost for the duration you will exclusively promote their brand. The price would depend on what sector the brand is in, and how often you anticipate getting a deal in that sector.
- Full Size Image
Companies only require the full size image if they are planning to use it in their own promotions. You should never give this away for free. Make sure to ask if they will be using it for any sort of advertisement (if so, you are entitled to a portion of the revenue). If they ask for a sample image as part of the approval process, you can add a watermark or send them a reduced size image so they won’t be able to re-use your photos secretly.
Sponsored content get less views
A very known fact of Instagram sponsorships, is that sponsored content get less views and engagement. Although Instagram has tried to promote themselves as a platform for creators, in reality, sponsored content often get about 1/5 of usual engagement (in my experience). This is why it is important to not to have an agreement that lets the analytics affect your compensation!
When brands are using Instagram for promotions, you also become a business when you deal when them. Make smart business moves (such as reading the contract, and asking for fair compensation).
Don’t be afraid to discuss your experience with other Influencers. It shouldn’t be a secret that we are getting paid for advertisements. Discussing experiences or asking questions with other Influencers will really help you understand this world more!
Lastly, even though we may be making some money from Instagram, we are pet parents first. So only do things that you think they will enjoy! We are not here to make money from our pets, but if we gain something from the Instagram account we spend so much time on, then that’s a bonus.