How Can I Convince a Brand to Pay Me?

Written by Liam Dryden

This article originally appeared in our Advice section on socialcircle.media; where our mission is to support, educate, and professionalise the Creator community.

If you’ve started working with Brands early in your career as a Creator, it’s okay to admit that you might have done a little more than you should have for free. But if your audience is growing healthily and you want to start taking your content a little more seriously, it might be time to think about how much you’re getting back in your collaborations.

Asking about being paid can feel like a Creator’s worst nightmare; but often it’s just about getting what you’re owed for your time, energy and platform! With that in mind, here’s a quick guide on how to convince a Brand to pay you for your content…

Firstly, do I NEED to be paid??

Short answer: Usually, yes. The landscape of branded content has evolved to a point where Creators should be getting compensated for Brand-dictated content; but occasionally struggle with this because there are still Creators willing to do the same work for free!

Long answer: It depends largely on what is being offered in the collaboration. Sometimes, instead of a flat fee, you will be offered luxury products in exchange for an affiliate link. Sometimes you might have all your expenses reimbursed for a trip or an experience. It can vary, and sometimes the non-monetary compensation does make up for a lack of dedicated budget.

It depends on your judgement at this point — and the best things to consider are a) how much you are being asked to do/make, and b) whether or not any of your fellow creators are being paid and/or compensated in a similar way to you. It doesn’t hurt to ask them before chatting further with the brand!

Okay, so how do I ask about payment?

Most Brands know at this point that compensating a Creator for endorsing their product/campaign/etc is the norm; but the ones still catching up might try and avoid the discussion of payment for as long as possible. Don’t let them!! You have control here, even if you feel too polite to ask.

Discussion of compensation realistically shouldn’t come any later than the second or third email from the Brand. If none of the following is mentioned when they first contact you, feel free to get back to them with these three questions:

  1. What type of content would you like me to make?
  2. Are there any other Creators currently working with you?
  3. Is there a budget for this project?

Even if you don’t ask all of these, the last question is key. It will ensure the Brand knows that you know your worth, and how to get it; and it means that they won’t be able to string you along and waste your time if they aren’t able to pay you for your work.

So they have a very small/no budget. What now?

Congratulations, you’ve entered the negotiation phase of a Brand deal! This might feel like pulling teeth at times, but the worst case scenario is that you don’t work with them this time round, and they hopefully learn a little more about working with Creators in future.

If a Brand has no budget, and don’t plan to offer you any other form of compensation such as products or reimbursement as mentioned above, then it is fair for you to decline. It is polite to explain that you typically work for compensation, and perhaps offer some examples of previous branded content you have created. If you have a media kit, now would be the time to show the Brand this (and you can learn more about creating one in this recent Social Circle article!). They might miraculously get back to you with a budget, and you can decide if you would like to negotiate further.

A smaller budget than you would typically work for isn’t always necessarily a stopping point, either — there is room here to negotiate how much work or content you will do in exchange. Again, using previous projects/a media kit to compare what you have worked for in the past might seem braggy, but it serves as acknowledgement of your worth. Accepting a smaller budget is ultimately down to personal judgement, and whether or not you like the Brand and want to continue a professional relationship with them.

I’m owed money! What’s taking them so long?

Now for a totally different scenario: You’ve accepted the brand deal, negotiated the fee, signed the contract, created the content, made any requested edits, posted it to your audience… and now you’re waiting to be paid for your work. Unarguably, the worst stage of any Brand collaboration.

Before reaching out, the first thing to check is the contract you signed. Ideally this is something that should alllllways be pored over before signing — especially the part about the terms of payment. Most Brands will opt for terminology like “payment due 30 days from invoice” — a period of time that many will often make the absolute most of. Check the date on your invoice (and make sure you definitely sent one!), and make a note of the exact last day your payment is due. This is a contractually agreed date — legally the Brand needs to have paid you by this day.

If your agreed payment date is coming up, sending a courtesy email to your point of contact at the Brand to ensure they are moving it along is acceptable. If the agreed payment date has passed, it’s time to get litigious. Gov.uk has guidelines for recovering debt and charging interest on commercial payments; and it would help to familiarise yourself with this before reaching out. Next, contact the Brand to inform them that the agreed payment date has passed, and that they can expect a second invoice for the relevant interest if they do not pay straight away. Most Brands will balk at this and ensure that payment is with you immediately!

Parting thoughts

Creators are sometimes nervous to be assertive with Brands that owe them payment, out of fear of harming the relationship or future collaborations; but ultimately, you’re just asking for what you’re owed. After all, a big part of knowing your worth is knowing how to ask for it!

Are you a Creator looking to know your worth? Sign up at socialcircle.media for more advice, insight, and opportunity!