This post was updated on October 26, 2017
When I originally wrote this post in August of 2015, the landscape of Instagram was very different. There were no algorithms, advertisements, bots, purchased followers or boosted posts—ahhh, the good ole days, right?! It was much easier to come up with a quick formula for how to figure out what to charge simply based on the number of followers you had.
Now, there’s far more to take into consideration than your follower count. Behind your follower count, your engagement rate is now incredibly important to brands. If you have 100K followers, but are only getting a few hundred likes on your posts, not as many people are seeing and engaging in your posts, making it far less valuable to brands.
The downside is that it seems we no longer have much control over who sees our posts. Instagram has decided to prioritize that themselves—which I think we can all agree, is insanely frustrating! Especially when you spent years building your loyal audience and now they might not even see what you’re sharing. Instagram used to be my favorite platform to share new content, pieces of everyday life and connect with readers, but now it’s just frustrating!
The new algorithm has also changed my tune when it comes to brand partnerships that live exclusively on Instagram. Since I have no idea how a post will perform until I post it, I get nervous charging the same CPM that I used to. Why? I don’t want to disappoint a brand! Honestly I feel bad if a post flops. I know I don’t have control over what performs well or not, but it doesn’t make me feel good. At the end of the day, I want the brand to feel like they got what they wanted too.
What to Charge for an Instagram Post
Figuring Out your CPM
Using the CPM rule is still a good place to start, but I used to suggest a much higher CPM, around $10/CPM. With Instagram’s changes, I’d first consider your engagement rate. Is it higher than average? Lower than average? Just about normal? Take that into consideration when deciding what to charge per CPM. If you have really high engagement, then you can definitely justify charging that higher CPM, but if not, I’d start lower, maybe around that $5/CPM mark.
So, what is CPM? CPM means the cost to reach one thousand people. An average CPM for a sponsored post is anywhere from $5 to $10. This means that a brand can reach 1,000 people for anywhere from $5 to $10—pretty good deal for them, right?
Let’s break it down with an example. To make things easy, let’s say you have 10,000 followers on Instagram. Divide that by 1,000 and multiply that number by either 5, 7, or 10 to get your rate.
• $50 per post at a $5/CPM
• $70 per post at $7/CPM
• $100 per post at $10/CPM
It might seem lower than you were hoping for, but it at least gives you a realistic idea of what to expect and what brands may be expecting to pay. As you grow, you can definitely change your rates to fit your audience size and reach.
Other Factors to Consider
Once you have that figure, consider the amount of time it will take you to create that Instagram post. Is it a shot you can take in your kitchen in 5 minutes? Or, will you have to style an entire outfit and hire a photog/rapher to shoot photos of you? Will you need to spend a ton of time on Lightroom editing to make the photos beautiful? At the end of the day, you’re working to create that content, so factor in your time to the final cost of your Instagram post.
Lastly, is this post going to be used on your platform only or does the brand want the rights to the photo to use on their own social platforms? Often brands will write into contracts that they reserve the right to use your media for paid advertisements. When this is written into a contract, you can definitely bump up your rate—especially when it’s going to be used in paid media like Instagram and Facebook ads.
Which brings me to another point, or tangent—make sure you’re reading your contracts FULLY before signing. A few years ago, I agreed to let a brand use my Instagram photo because I thought they were just wanting to re-gram it. They did re-gram it, but they also used it in a national Facebook ad campaign that ran for weeks! I was not compensated a penny from it. Nor did they mention my name, Instagram handle or blog in the caption. It was really frustrating. But at the end of the day, it was my fault for not fully reading the terms I was agreeing to. Lesson learned! So, if you have any questions or want certain things removed, simply ask! It might not always come out in your favor, but there’s no harm in asking!
Instagram Posts in Tandem with Blog Posts
I don’t feel like I have as much control over Instagram. So I always suggest to brands that we do a blog post and follow it up with an Instagram or series of Instagrams. I’ve found that a single sponsored post doesn’t always get the feedback and response I want. A series of blog or Instagram posts helps your readers to continue recognizing the brand. In the end they’ll become more familiar with it. The more familiar and comfortable they are with the brand, the more likely they are to engage with the content and make purchases. That’s a win for you and the brand!
The FTC has been cracking down on influencers and brands lately, so make sure you’re properly disclosing any brand partnerships. If not, you could get into serious trouble!
On Instagram, you can do this by adding the hashtag “#ad” or “#sponsored” (“#spon” does not count) to your caption.
Brands typically request this to be shown at the beginning of the caption, or before the preview ends. That means the hashtag must appear before the “more”—typically this is 3 lines of text.
You can also start your caption with something like, “I’ve partnered with @brandname to show you my favorite shoes for fall!”. If you do this, that might be enough, but adding the hashtag to the end of the caption can’t hurt either. Don’t worry about it appearing before the “more” link if you’ve disclosed it this way.
In blog posts, brands typically ask that you disclose the partnership at the beginning of the post, so make sure to not miss that! I used to really worry that readers would be turned off by that disclosure and immediately leave my site, but they don’t. In this day and age, most blog readers understand that you will occasionally get paid to write about a specific product or service.
As long as the content is genuine, creative and well-written, my readers don’t mind!
The real key is only accepting partnerships and collaborations with brands that are on-brand for your blog. If I started featuring men’s underwear or McDonald’s, it wouldn’t come off as authentic since I write about women’s fashion and health and wellness! Stick to your gut feeling when it comes to collaborations! It may be hard to pass up on a well-paying project, but if the brand is not a good fit, it won’t do you good in the long-run. It can ruin your readers’ trust in you and that’s the last thing you want!
What other tips do you have for coming up with an Instagram rate or rate for blog posts?
P.S. You can also use this formula for coming up with your blog post rate. Just add your social following and monthly unique visitors (not page views). Take that number and divide it by 1,000 and multiply it by the CPM rate you decide on (5, 7, or 10).