Brands: here's how to pay creators

You wanna offer the Hybrid Payment Model. Trust me.

Hello from New York Las Vegas? Don’t worry, I’m out here for a basketball tourney + NBA Summer League, not the ridiculousness… but I guess it’s pretty ridiculous for a 34-year-old with a bad back to suddenly attempt a Pro 3×3 career… but that’s a story for another day.

How about we chat Influencer Marketing?

Brands: here’s how to pay Creators

I swear, sometimes when I talk to marketers, it’s clear they’ve never spoken to a creator in their whole life. So many assumptions, and frankly, too little respect. There’s a reason Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri constantly mentions Creators in his little social update videos—they’re the lifeblood of these platforms. and Adweek Branded had the wise idea of, you know, actually talking to Creators. They teamed up to survey 150 U.S. based creators on all the important questions:

  • What makes creators want to work with a brand?

  • What’s the best pay structure for creators?

  • When & why creators end up ditching brand deals?

  • Plus a whole lot more.

I partnered up with the platform to dig further into one specific area where brands gotta get more educated: the best way to pay creators.

But first, some fundamentals.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing (or creator marketing) is when a brand pays a creator to make custom content. More often than not, that content is then posted to the creator’s channel, though some partnerships will share the content on the brand’s channel, or whitelist the content to push through paid media.

How are Creators typically paid?

There are all kinds of ways to show creators love—gifting, covering travel, free products for fans, and more. Really, though, I encourage you to throw down some cash if you want great content from great creators.

The 3 most common $$$ payment models for influencers are:

  • Flat Fee approach

  • Commission/performance-based approach based on conversions

  • Some mixture of the two.

This is where the game of chicken begins.

At first glance, you can understand why a brand would push hard for a strictly commission-based payment model—feels like a good way to make sure that marketing budget is hard at work.

But… honestly, many influencers might feel commission-only isn’t nearly enough carrot. Creators gotta make the content, and creators don’t have any control over your digital point of purchase—they’ll bring the crowd to your site, but you’ve gotta reel ‘em in yourself.

Flat fee deals offer creators a guarantee they’ll appreciate, but what if the post goes super viral? What if the brand makes hundreds of thousands of dollars off that one post? Sounds hyperbolic, but I’ve seen it happen.

But’s that’s just me. Let’s actually ask the creators.

The best way to pay Creators: Hybrid Payment Model

Back to that study I mentioned earlier (which has a grrreat title): Ghosted No More: The Secrets To Thriving Creator-Brand Partnerships. and Adweek Branded’s chats with creators got us some hard data to drive influencer marketing decisions, including on the payment front.

There are all kinds of amazing takeaways in the study—you should give it a read here. Let’s focus on the question at hand, though: how do creators want to be compensated?

You see that big green cut-out? That represents a blend of flat fee + commission deals, which refers to as the “Hybrid” or “PostPlus” Payment Model. It turns out Creators have gotten wise to their value—58% are asking for the blended approach the first time they work with a new brand. It’s only after the first brand deal that creators get more comfortable with a commission-only model, jumping 21% once they know they’ll generate sales for the brand & great money for their own pockets.

It makes sense. Hybrid payment models make sure everyone feels respected while still offering incentive—it’s low risk, high reward. Happy creators make better content, and making sure they’re getting paid a little something something regardless of performance is a great way for your brand to show trust.

I’ve got a new influencer marketing platform for you

You’ve heard me sing’s praises throughout the newsletter today—they just became the *takes deep breath* first performance platform to let you discover, create, manage, and scale full-funnel influencer marketing programs, all from a single interface, that’ll also get you access to their opt-in network of 80,000+ creators.

Trust me—you want an all-in-one influencer tool like this. I’ve worked with the good folks over there a few times now—big brains. You’ll get so much more than simple brand awareness if you’re using a platform like theirs.

Social Cues

There are so many social big thinkers out there, writing all kinds of amazing strategies, analysis, and breakdowns. All ships rise with the tide, so here are a few reads from other places I think you could learn from.

We’re all looking for stronger TikTok hooks to drive retention, but suddenly everyone’s scolding everyone—those first few frames are shaming you before explaining their personal recs. A great read on an increasingly ugly trend.

It sounds like traditional social advertising is a ways away from getting to Threads, but never fear, companies—branded content tools should be out soon. That means you can do all that wonderful influencer marketing on the hottest new network.

I love when people in the work reveal their thought process. Here’s a great read on what to do when your brand goes viral for harmless, but definitely not brand safe content.