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How to Figure Out Pricing as a Creator (ft. a Creator Pricing Expert)

Learn from expert Justin Moore how to craft your pricing strategy as a creator.

Feb 28, 2024 11 min readFlow
Photo of Tamilore Oladipo
Tamilore Oladipo

Content Writer @ Buffer

$103,000. $560,000. $3.2 Million. These are some of the figures creators reported making in 2023. In other words, there’s no better time to be a content creator than right now.

You don’t get those numbers without a deep understanding of content creation as a business. And you don’t get “business” status without understanding pricing.

So, together with creator sponsorships expert Justin Moore, who helps creators negotiate partnerships through Creator Wizard, we put together this resource on how to figure out your pricing as a creator.

The fundamentals of pricing

When figuring out how much to charge, it's like setting up a lemonade stand for the first time. You want to make sure you're not only covering the cost of the lemons and sugar but also making a bit extra for your piggy bank. 

Here are some things to know before setting up your lemonade stand (I promise the analogy ends here).

Categories you might fall into as a creator

Creators can generally be categorized based on their cumulative follower count and influence level across their social media platforms.

Nano-influencers are creators with a smaller but highly engaged audience, typically fewer than 10,000 followers.

Micro-influencers are those with followers ranging from 10,000 to 50,000, known for niche content and high engagement rates; while Mid-Tier influencers are creators with 50,000 to 500,000 followers, balancing broad appeal with niche authenticity.

Past 500,000 followers are creators with wide-reaching influence. Macro-influencers have between 500,000 to 1 million followers, and Mega-influencers are celebrities or creators with over 1 million followers, commanding high rates due to their extensive reach.

Factors to consider before setting your price 

There are a few things that clients and customers might be looking at that influence how they react to your pricing. Knowing these factors can guide you in setting the right price for your products and services.

  • Follower count: The larger your social media following, the broader your reach. This means you can potentially command higher rates or simply that you personally have a larger audience to sell to. However, more important than followers is engagement.
  • Engagement rate: Engagement (likes, comments, shares) matters just as much as, if not more than, follower count. High engagement rates indicate a loyal and active audience, which can be more valuable to brands, allowing you to charge more even with a smaller following. Or it might mean that you have an audience more likely to purchase anything you put out.
  • Content quality and production costs: Higher quality content that requires more time, effort, and resources to produce justifies higher pricing.
  • Exclusivity: Your offerings might become more valuable the more unique they are, especially if your audience values your expertise. If something is hard to get, whether because it’s very expensive, like a $3000 consultation, or a one-off item like a custom hand-knit sweater, you can charge more.
  • Brand alignment: When your content and audience perfectly match a brand's target demographic, your value to that brand increases. Well-aligned partnerships are more effective and can, therefore, command higher rates. This perfect match can make your offering more valuable.
  • Experience and reputation: Creators with a proven track record and strong reputation in their niche can charge more for their services. Your experience and the quality associated with your personal brand add value to your offerings, making them worth a premium.

Remember, setting your price is about knowing your worth and understanding what the market can bear. It's a balancing act between what you need to make and what others are willing to pay.

Four types of pricing creators should consider

One of the most important things to know is the pricing types available to you as a creator. First is value-based pricing, where you set prices based on the perceived or actual value your content or service provides to the audience or clients. You can charge more if your content is unique or offers significant benefits that stand out in the market.

A great example of this is Justin Welsh, a popular creator who’s credited for the term “solopreneur” launched his course, The Creator MBA, at $897 and less than 24 hours later had over 9,000 people on the waitlist. Prior to this, his only two digital products were priced at $150 each, which isn’t cheap but is leaps and bounds from where he is now.

Then, you have cost-plus pricing, which involves calculating the cost of producing your content or a product and adding a markup to ensure a profit. For example, if you’re a travel influencer tasked with visiting a popular destination, you might include the cost of the trip in the amount you charge your client. This type of pricing is straightforward and ensures you cover your costs, but it may not always align with the market's willingness to pay.

With competitor pricing, you’ll need to do some market research into what others in your niche charge for similar content or products to ensure your prices are competitive and align with market expectations. If you discover a creator of a similar size and niche, you might adjust to higher or lower prices than theirs.

Lastly, dynamic pricing means prices are adjusted based on demand, audience engagement, or other external factors. This can be especially useful for digital products or services, where you might change pricing depending on how many people are interested at a given time or based on seasonal interest. So a Notion template creator who focuses on templates for students might give lots of back-to-school discounts.

How to craft your pricing strategy as a creator

It’s a big task, but once it’s done, a pricing strategy can catalyze your creative endeavors into a sustainable business.

Define your monetization objectives

Before diving into the intricacies of pricing, it's crucial to pinpoint exactly what you aim to achieve through monetization. Whether you're looking to transition your creative passion into a full-time business, supplement your income, or achieve financial independence, understanding your core objectives will guide your pricing strategy.

Begin by setting specific, measurable goals that reflect what success means to you. These could range from achieving a steady monthly income that covers your living expenses, funding your next project, or reaching a certain number of sales or subscribers. By defining these targets, you can tailor your pricing strategy to meet these objectives effectively.

Analyze the market from competitors to clients and customers

A crucial step to pricing is to understand the landscape of opportunities and how you can position yourself uniquely. 

This step is about identifying who you want to collaborate with and what you want to offer – brand sponsorships, digital products, consultations, or something entirely different. 

To do this effectively, you need to conduct a detailed market analysis that considers competitor strategies, client expectations, and customer willingness to pay.

At this stage, you can apply Justin Moore's DUE Rule (Deliverables, Usage Rights, Exclusivity) to critically evaluate how your proposed offerings stack up against market standards. This evaluation will guide you in setting competitive yet fair prices, reflecting the true value of your work.

  • Deliverables: Clearly define what your clients or customers can expect to receive. This clarity is crucial for setting expectations and justifying your pricing.
  • Usage Rights: Determine the extent to which clients can use your work. This is especially relevant for content creators, where usage rights can be the difference between a five and six-figure deal.
  • Exclusivity: Consider if and how you're offering exclusivity, whether it's through content, products, or consultations. Exclusivity can be a valuable asset, warranting a higher price point. 

Begin by defining your ideal collaboration partners and the type of offerings you want to bring to the market. Whether you're leaning towards brand sponsorships, selling digital or physical products, or offering consultation services, clarity on what you want to sell and whom you want to work with is foundational.

Next, investigate how similar creators price their offerings and differentiate themselves. Look beyond just the price tag; consider the value proposition, package offerings, and client testimonials to understand their market position. A great resource for doing this is Growth in Reverse, where Chenell Basilio deep dives into how different creators build their content empires.

This is the stage where factors like your “influencer” category and engagement rate come in. This is also the stage where you might have to knock out a few options from your list of monetization opportunities. You may not have the time and energy for high-ticket consultations, but you can probably spend a month working on a valuable e-book and package and sell that.

If you're aiming for brand sponsorships or B2B services, research the common objectives and pain points of potential clients in your niche. What are they looking for in a creator partnership, and how can you align your offerings with their goals?

For B2C offerings like digital products or courses, gauge your target audience's price sensitivity and willingness to invest. Surveys, social media polls, and analysis of similar products can offer insights into your audience's budget and preferences.

Tailor your offering for different scenarios and segments

One size does not fit all—especially when it comes to creator monetization. This step involves strategic customization of your pricing model to ensure it aligns with your target audience's specific needs and value perceptions.

The goal is to design your offerings in a way that they can meet the varying requirements of different types of audiences. Your pricing for a brand deal won’t be the same as a digital product, so act accordingly.

This customization ensures that you're not only reaching a broader audience but also maximizing your revenue potential by catering to specific needs and value perceptions. Some options include:

  • Tiered pricing structures: Develop pricing tiers that offer escalating levels of value. This approach allows customers to select a level of service or product that matches their needs and budget. For example, you might offer basic, standard, and premium tiers for a course, with each level providing additional content, access, or personalized support. With this structure, you can also lean into freemium pricing, offering something to get folks in the door and then upselling them along the way.
  • One-off pricing options: In addition to tiered structures, consider offering one-off pricing for your services or products. This could be a high-value consultation session, a custom content creation package for brands, or digital products. One-off pricing can attract clients and customers looking for something uniquely tailored to their needs and are often willing to pay a premium for exclusivity and specificity.

As you tackle this step, remember that you don’t want to overwhelm your audience. Keep it simple.

Embrace bespoke proposals and customization

Unless you go the Emma Chamberlain route and create a product for the shelves of department stores, you can afford to lean into customization. Personalization is your strongest asset in distinguishing your offerings and establishing deeper connections with your audience. 

At this stage, your primary goal is to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of your clients' or customers' specific requirements. With customized packages and proposals, you signal your ability to provide targeted solutions that resonate with their unique challenges and aspirations. 

The best part is you can adopt customization for nearly any monetization route you choose.

  • Develop bespoke brand collaboration proposals that detail how your content or services will meet the brand's specific objectives. Creator and entrepreneur Tess Barclay shares one of her rate cards for brand deals and sponsorships in this video.
@tess.barclay

How to charge for brand deals on social media in 2023 💕👏🏼⚡️💅🏻💸🎙️📸 #contentcreators #contenttips #branddealtips #income #incomestreams #money #moneytok #influencertips #influencers how to charge on social media brand deal rates what to charge brands

♬ original sound - Tess Barclay
  • Design varied product packages, each offering distinct levels of value and pricing. Consider introducing premium options for custom or limited-edition content, appealing to those in your audience seeking exclusivity and personalization.
  • Customize your subscription offerings by tailoring content and experiences to match the interests and preferences of your subscriber base. Introduce exclusive content or perks for higher-tier memberships, justifying a higher subscription fee. Services like Patreon make this a natural part of setting up your subscriptions. Here’s an example of how 3D print seller MatMire Makes has set up his subscription tiers.

Tailored proposals and customized packages show potential partners and clients that you've taken the time to understand their needs and have crafted a solution that aligns with their goals.

By tailoring your pricing according to the nuances of your specific target, you can create a strategy that not only reflects your value but also meets the specific needs of your target audience and attract new customers.

Common pricing mistakes and how to avoid them

Navigating the creator economy requires a keen understanding of pricing strategies across various monetization methods. 

Whether you're collaborating with brands, selling products, or running a subscription service, common pricing pitfalls can undermine your efforts. Let's examine these mistakes and how to sidestep them for each monetization scenario.

Say no to pricing in a vacuum

One of the first pitfalls of poor pricing that Justin identifies is the reliance on standard pricing calculators, which he candidly describes as "trash." These tools typically encourage creators to base their rates solely on social media metrics like followers, views, or engagement rates. 

However, this approach overlooks the different ways creators might deliver value. Justin emphasizes the need to consider a broader range of factors, moving beyond the numbers to capture the true essence of a creator's influence and potential impact on a brand's objectives. 

It’s also vital that you find and stick to a community of fellow creators. Toni Bravo highlighted her relationships with other creators as the key to becoming more confident with setting her prices for brand partnerships. Check out this article for some communities that might be super valuable for you as a creator.

The pitfall of one-size-fits-all pricing

A frequent misstep creators make is adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to pricing. This method, often manifested in a standard media kit or pricing model, fails to account for the unique aspects of each collaboration or product.

Justin likens this to a doctor prescribing medication without a proper diagnosis – it's an impersonal approach that doesn't address the specific needs or objectives at hand.

For brand deals and sponsored content, avoid setting a flat rate for all partnerships. Each brand has different goals, and your pricing should reflect the value you bring in achieving those goals. 

Instead, engage in discussions with the brand to understand their campaign objectives and adjust your rates to account for the deliverables, usage rights, and exclusivity terms that are unique to each deal.

When selling products, the mistake often lies in not considering the full spectrum of costs or market positioning. To avoid this, research your competitors to understand the market value of similar products. Then, calculate all costs involved, including production, marketing, and distribution, to ensure your pricing covers expenses and yields a profit. 

Lean into experimentation with pricing strategies, such as offering early-bird discounts or bundling products, to find what resonates with your audience.

Creators running paid platforms sometimes misjudge the price members are willing to pay for access to exclusive content. To prevent this, regularly assess the value you provide to your subscribers and whether your pricing aligns with this value, consider the cost of content creation and platform maintenance in your pricing model, and offer a variety of membership tiers to cater to different audience segments, ensuring each tier offers proportional value for the price.

Create the best pricing strategy for you and your customers

When determining your pricing, many other factors will influence your pricing, from your target audience to your niche to the market demand for your offering. 

The key to a profitable pricing strategy combines what serves you and your income goals, adaptability to market trends, and incentives that keep your audience coming back for more.

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