How @cynthiahruff Used #PayMe to make $40k in 2022

May 10, 2023
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3 Min Read

If you're like 68% of creators, then brand deals make up the majority of your income. And the majority of your time outside of creating content for your channel is spent chasing down new brand deals and commiserating over getting paid fairly for your work. We know this struggle personally. Our founder, Cynthia, set off to change the way creators source and get paid for work so that you can spend less time on finding work and more time creating content. Today she's sharing just how she used Hashtag Pay Me's campaign calculator and brand contact Rolodex to make over $40,000 as a part-time micro creator in 2022!

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Q: Tell us about your creator journey.

It started as a hobby in 2014. I built my first fashion blog on wordpress and used Instagram as a social media tool to direct traffic there. Instagram took off as "the channel" for bloggers and my follower count, blog traffic and income grew with it. I monetized by affiliate first and then heard I could start charging for posts (a new concept in 2015). I was too embarrassed to call my fee a "sponsored post fee" so I called it a "styling fee" instead. It was a whopping $15- but it was MY $15 and the fact that someone said "yes" to paying me was all the confidence I needed to keep going. Now that I'm running Hashtag Pay Me full time, I still take on sponsored work for my IG channel but I don't focus on growing it exponentially. It's definitely turned back into a hobby for me.

Q: How did you figure out how to price your work starting out? 

The first time (my $15) it was a total guess. I figured for an hour of my time shooting and editing content, I should be paid a little less than my hourly salary rate. Then I started talking to my creator friends about sponsored posts but everyone was really cagey about what they charged- THE HORROR of asking people what to charge. Basically they would tell me a dumbed down rate if I had less followers then them. I used a combination of what they charged, the CPM model, and how much photographers in my area charged as a guide for what to charge. Most of the time it was like throwing a dart on a dartboard- I'd tell the brand a number and they would either say "yes" or "no" to see what sticks.

Q: How much did you charge for sponsored posts before Hashtag Pay Me? 

On average I would charge $750+ depending on if they wanted to own my images.

Q: How much do you charge for sponsored posts now? 

It depends always. I don't have a set rate because during the year I'll take on projects anywhere between $450-$6,000+. On average, in 2022 I charged $1,700+ per post. My highest partnership was over $15,000.

Q: How did Hashtag Pay Me help you improve your creator biz? 

Oh! Easy- I NEVER question the rate I send over to a brand now and I use the pricing calculator to do real time negotiation to speed up the negotiation process. It's incredible to me how dynamic the pricing ranges are from the calculator. I've never been paid the same thing twice from a brand in my 8 year history of working as a creator, and I've never gotten the same price twice from the calculator. Even if the tool pumps out something that I think is too high and may scare a client off, I send it over to them anyway and normally we can find common ground. Brands love the flexibility I offer with pricing. Everyone is looking for a fair deal.

Wait did I mention this saves time on negotiation? I just negotiated two contracts in 15 minutes with a brand the other day. I got to YES so much quicker.

Q: How much money did you make in 2022? 

I was shocked when I did my taxes this year to see that as a part-time micro influencer I made over $40,000. I had 11 sponsored posts. My LOWEST number of sponsored posts in years but the pay was meaningful! Yes I sold the rights to a lot of my images and allowed a brand to whitelist. I even gifted some of my brand partners free whitelisting for future holiday seasons to get the deals inked.

Q: What advice do you have for other creators starting out on their monetization journey? 

Don't wait until a "certain number of followers" to start monetizing your content. Also, be weary of what "experts" tell you to charge for posts. I listened to and paid a lot of money for people to tell me how to price my work starting out and I severely underpriced my work for years. Come to find out they were telling me what to price based on what they charged as a creator.

Q: What do you love about Hashtag Pay Me? 

That our campaign calculator is made up of real creator pay data so you as a creator are constantly getting the price the market is paying for your campaign. It shows you how brands are paying creators like yourself for the requirements in the campaign and truly takes the guesswork out of pricing your job. Finally, we're giving creators power to do this themselves and it couldn't be more exciting to hear all the positive feedback! 

If you're a creator and have ever wondered how much you should charge for sponsored posts, you'll want to check out our campaign calculator by subscribing here. Most creators increase their rates by $525 on average! 

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