How to set your Rates & Image Licensing as a Content Creator

I love answering questions about how to set your rates as a content creator and being more transparent will be key to earning more money on collaborations in 2023! Whether you’re new to content creation and photography or have the experience but want to know more about how we set our rates, this resource is for you.

After pursuing this career full-time as freelancers in 2022 and finding huge success while chasing our dreams, we want to share how to pursue this lifestyle and become your own boss. Working as a content creator, photographer and influencer in 2023 means marketing yourself as a business and negotiating rates for your services accordingly and I’m here to share the rate formula that we use to negotiate brand collaborations in 2023 to help you land higher paying deals!

Streams of income as a content creator

As a content creator, you’ll learn that there are many different streams of income to support your business and as you grow you’ll start to earn bigger and better paid jobs. This blog will focus on calculating rates for brand collaborations, user-generated content, photo/video licensing services, and blog writing. If you’re looking for more specific details on check out our Media Kit Guide on writing email pitches and creating your media kit with your rate sheet. Keep an eye out for our upcoming Content Creator Guide to get started in 2023!

Since there are also many different services for you to offer as a content creator you’ll want to know how to build a collaboration that not only makes your client happy but earns you more money for your work. We’ll be going over what to charge for your photography services along with insights on influencer marketing prices in 2023!

How much can you make creating content?

There’s a lot of money to be made creating content in 2023, and whether you’re looking to do this part-time or full-time you’ll be surprised by how important targeted marketing and user-generated content is for brands. Influencer marketing is becoming more and more popular and companies save money by creating content with freelancers rather than paying large-scale production companies.

Some interesting numbers to share with you are an account with 3 million followers and a large targeted audience with major influence can charge 30k-50k per post. From our own personal experience is that we only accept paid deals that are at least $1000 for 1 piece of content. This means that our brand deals have reached up to $10,000 with content deliverables, licensing, exclusivity and more.

Working as a Content Creator

Working as a content creator includes managing your social media, your accounting, consistently pitching and finding new jobs, negotiating contracts and invoices, creating and batching content, and marketing yourself. While there’s so much more that goes into this as a career it should be known that you’re going to see results based on the work you’re willing to put in. You are the one applying for new jobs and negotiating your worth and it’s your responsibility to always ask for more!

We always aim high as content creators and work with brands who value our time, skills and expertise in social media marketing and photography. You will take all of this into consideration when you set your rates and understand that there is not a universal standard for pricing content! Brands and social media managers often look at the numbers but don’t consider that they’re also paying for the creators talent, so it’s our job to let them know why we’re worth it.

These are the 3 main streams of income where you will be negotiating your rates and content deliverables. While there are many more ways to supplement your income stream as a content creator, this is where negotiating rates will be most useful.

User Generated Content for Brands

User-generated content is a great way to start your portfolio as a content creator or photographer. Brands are looking for content for their social media pages and often work with photographers to shoot images or videos that they can use. User-generated content is great because you’ll be pitching to brands that you might already love and use which will work to your advantage when shooting the campaign. You will not be posting UGC to your own feed but the brand will be buying your content for their own use.

We also really love user-generated content deals for brands because you can negotiate a retainer deal. A retainer deal will be a contract that is either paid in advanced or monthly to deliver consistent content, which is great for travellers as we get to bring our favourite products on our adventures and create long-lasting relationships.

UGC can also be added to your content deliverables as photography services in addition to content you’re already posting. This offer adds more value to your brand deals by including additional photos for their own use. It’s important to negotiate licensing and to outline the usage that the brand is given with your photos as you always own full rights to your content.

Brand Collaborations & Sponsorships

Brand collaborations and sponsorships are our main source of income and we love partnering with brands that share our same values and bring value to our lives. Influencer marketing is great for brands because they are given access to a target audience with trust in your recommendations. Working with brands for paid ads on social media is a great way to bring value to your audience, too!

Brand collaborations can be negotiated into larger deals than just posting content. You’ll start with your base rate for content deliverables and add-on your licensing/usage rights, exclusivity, and you can build a better paid deal by creating a content bundle for brands. These are all considerations I’ll be explaining as we go on!

Tourism Boards & Hotel Collaborations

Working with tourism boards can be a very lucrative job and I only recommend pursuing this with professional camera equipment and skills. A collaboration with tourism boards often ask for more deliverables and can be built into a really great deal. This is also a great way to build blog writing relationships with your local tourism board. Travel influencers especially benefit from this kind of deal as they’re great at promoting an area and convincing you to visit!

Hotel collaborations are often an exchange deal for a free stay, and my best advice is to bring products with you to shoot at beautiful locations when you score a hotel collab. While we have been paid for hotel collaborations, it can be tricky to negotiate more than a free stay in some places.

How to calculate your rates & image licensing

Now that we’ve covered the main income streams where you will need to calculate your rates and negotiate, I’m going to briefly go over how to price your content per photo, how to price social media marketing content, and explaining your usage rights with image licensing. At the end I’ll give tips on tying it all together and presenting rates as an offer brands can’t resist!

As a reminder, we go over specific pitching tips and our exact email template on our media kit guide. I also include how to create a media kit with all of the information needed, what to include on your rate sheet, and how to send an email pitch that will land you paid jobs. In our media kit guide I share the tools you’ll need like our exact media kit & rate sheet templates with you to help create your own pitching strategy in 2023!

Price Per Photo

Your price per photo will be a different calculation for everyone! This is where we’re going to consider things like experience level, equipment, time costs, and travel costs. Your price per photo should be anywhere from $50-$300, and you can consider pricing more for the costs of doing the job (your time, equipment, travel). Here’s an idea of where your price level should be for your skill level:

Beginner level (new to photography, new to selling content, phone camera or beginner camera): $25-$50 per photo, Amateur level (1-2 years of experience, new to selling content, beginner level camera): $50-$100, Professional level (2+ years of experience, portfolio of work as a photographer, professional camera): $100-$200, Expert Level: (Years of experience, large portfolio of paid jobs, investment of professional equipment): $300-$500.

A good comparison is to think of wedding photographers and their price per photo packages. You’ll know your skill level the best and we want to be paid fair for the time, effort, working costs and experience that we offer as content creators. Our price per photo ranges from $100-$200 and we offer a slight discount on packages of 5, 10, & 20 photos with social media licensing. Keep reading to learn how to add on licensing!

Social Media Content Deliverables

Calculating prices for content deliverables is also going to be different from person to person! This is where you need to consider how much time it takes to create content, your skills in social media management, your average reach and your engagement rate. You’ll consider your price per photo when offering content deliverables along with how much your content is worth to be posted from your account (not only worth it for the brand but worth it for you)!

A really great rate calculation that we’ve been following for the past 2 years goes like this: $100 per 10,000 followers x 3 for high engagement/reach. So using us for an example, we’re at almost 50k followers with great engagement and reach. We would calculate $500 for our following, multiplied by 3 to make $1500. This means a post on our feed is worth $1500!

We calculate different content deliverables at a different price, and it’s important to keep in mind what kind of content takes you longer to make, how much content you’re giving and what the value is for each. We price photo carousels higher because it includes multiple photos and lives on our main feed, and we charge more for a 45-second Reel than a 15-second Reel. Story sequences are priced per 3-5 slides and we add value by including direct links and tagging.

We offer all of our content deliverables “a la carte” style where brands we pitch to can pick and choose content to create a custom bundle. You should include plenty of content with photography services, social media deliverables, social media giveaways, blog writing and more.

Usage & Image Licensing

One of the harder parts of negotiating is making sure that usage and licensing is discussed and agreed upon. While we’ve found most brands are up-to-date with additional licensing costs it’s fair to say that some are not! This is where we have to negotiate the intended use and figure out what the brand is looking to do with our content. Remember, you own full rights to your content and it’s rare to give full rights and exclusivity to brands without paying large!

A great way to calculate usage rights is to calculate a percentage of your content price to get your price per license. We offer social media licensing at 15%, whitelisting at 30%, website/email at 30% and offline/full rights at 60%. To use our example of $1500 for content we would calculate 1500 x 15% = $225.

The main types of usage that we offer are as follows. Social media usage license includes re-posting content to their own feed after you post yours or posting together as a collaborator post. Sometimes we include this in our rate per content deliverable as a courtesy for working with us! Know that this doesn’t mean they own rights to your content and it must include proper credit.

Paid advertising or whitelisting is the next license we offer, and this is where a brand will pay (Instagram or Tiktok) to boost your content to more people. They can boost your stories, your posts and your Reels. Brands can put a lot of money behind boosting your content and it’s appropriate to be paid for the extra advertising they’re using your content for! You should charge whitelisting per month and we use our price per photo model to charge anywhere from $300-$700 per month.

We charge the same percentage as whitelisting for our website/email usage license, and this is because we’re directly advertising their product with our content in a similar way to boosting. Plenty of sales come from browsing their website or marketing emails and you deserve a cut for selling their products! We typically charge a one-time fee for 1 year by multiplying our rate by 30% and multiplying again by 12 (months).

The last type of usage license we charge for is full rights, which includes all of the above use as well as potential to be used on billboards, printed ads, and more. This is a huge license that should not be taken lightly, and as a result we only accept full rights in perpetuity. This means they own full rights to our content for life and we are getting the highest possible price when we negotiate like this. For this, we calculate 60% of our content rate, multiply by 12 months, and multiply again by 3 (years).

Exclusivity

One of the best ways to secure a high-paying brand deal is to offer exclusivity. Exclusivity is SO important to a content creator and influencers because it’s written in your contract that you cannot work with competing brands for a certain amount of time. The brand may ask for you not to collaborate with competitors for 1-month all the way to 6-months or more. This is important to brands to hold onto their target audience and hold advertising space to themselves.

Being exclusive to a brand will stop you from pursuing other brand collaborations and paid jobs and will end up costing you money if you agree to this without proper compensation. For this reason, we charge the exact price per one piece of content per month and this is often between $1000-$1500 for our rate statistics. This has added an additional $6000 to some of our brand deals and is ABSOLUTELY worth negotiating!

Tying it all together

When negotiating brand deals and sponsorships, you’ll have considered all of the above parts of calculating your rates and add it all together. I’m not saying this formula is exact and you might have brands that negotiate rates after providing your first proposal. Or you’ll have brands that want to add more after sending your rates!

After adding your total for content we often add a custom discount (or round down) to brands that purchase a bundle of content from us, and when you offer a bundle it makes it easier for brands to hire you for additional campaigns. We’ve negotiated 3-month partnerships this way and created retainer deals by offering discounted packages.

Remember, your power comes from negotiating and it’s okay to walk away from brand deals that aren’t worth your time, effort or skills. Being compensated proper is important to the content creator space and the more we negotiate our value the higher brands will be willing to pay!

Gift & Exchanges

I want to include a section on gifts and exchanges to bring up an important note about accepting gifts or exchanges in Canada. As of April 2021, the government of Canada issued this article that covers important tax information for social media influencers and creators. This includes a note that says you must report gifts and exchanges as taxable income. It also goes over tax information such as charging GST/HST and declaring business expenses as an influencer.

For this reason, we do not accept gifted collaborations and I hope that we can convince some of you to do the same! You’ll essentially be paying out of pocket for a gifted collaboration as you’re a business accepting the gift in exchange for your services. If you are accepting a gift or a free stay exchange make sure to consider if the value is worth it.

Final Thoughts on how to set your rates as a content creator

The creator and influencer space holds a lot of potential for social media marketing and is only going to get bigger in 2023! I write this as a free resource to hopefully inspire you to charge what you’re worth as a photographer, influencer, or content creator and to share our insight into paid influencer marketing with you. The world of content creation and social media marketing does not have a rulebook to follow and by talking about things like rates we’re able to create a space for freelancers to discuss better negotiating! Good luck!

Comments (2)

  • Mark

    January 3, 2023 at 2:17 pm

    Very usefull blog! Creating a community and a decent following is the first step.. At what follower count do you think roughly you started getting brand deals or other deals?
    Thanks!

  • Sandy

    January 3, 2023 at 3:53 pm

    Excellent writing! Love your transparency and your final thoughts. Well done and all the best!

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