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The Creator Pay Deep Dive: A Candid Conversation With Michelle Thames

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While we’ve written many articles on the countless ways to make money as a Creator, one question we continue to receive is—how much money do Creators make? If only there was a Glassdoor page that listed Creator salaries! 

Truthfully, it’s a tough question to answer because every Creator is unique. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to Creator pay, which can sometimes be a source of frustration for brands and Creators alike. 

So we enlisted the help of social media strategist and Creator Michelle Thames, host of the Social Media Decoded podcast, to have a very open, candid conversation about Creator pay. Keep reading for her thoughts on negotiating, knowing your value, and when to be flexible with your rates.

Why is pay standardization in the Creator industry hard to achieve? And why is this a problem?

As a Creator, the oscillating metrics of value, influenced by content diversity and platform eccentricities, can affect us and the brands we collaborate with. And these are some of the factors that have made pay standardization so tough in this industry. 

A collective undervaluation can leave scars on the sustainability of the industry as a whole.

When Creators are undervalued, how does that affect the industry as a whole?

When we, as Creators, undervalue ourselves, the repercussions are more than monetary; they reverberate throughout our community. It impacts how we and our peers perceive and price our content and how brands evaluate the value of Creator collaborations. 

We must understand that our valuation decisions are setting precedents, shaping the paths for those who follow.

We must understand that our valuation decisions are setting precedents, shaping the paths for those who follow.
Michelle Thames
Social Media Strategist

Are there times when Creators should be more flexible with their rates? If so, when?

It’s not black and white. Here’s a piece of my mind: when a brand says, “We have no budget,” consider the long game. Could this initial compromise open doors to future value? Being flexible with rates, or accepting the occasional unpaid gig, might be worth consideration if a brand aligns with our ethos and promises exposure or potential prosperous partnerships. 

But let’s be wary; our work has value, and continuous unpaid endeavors can undermine that worth.

How would you recommend Creators go about negotiating their rates?

When negotiating, empowering ourselves with data and understanding our unique value propositions are key. Knowing our worth, being transparent, and showcasing our distinct values can turn a conversation around. 

Desire to be a brand’s muse? Offer more than visual narratives. Provide insights, be innovative, and stay true to your brand. The combination of authenticity and added value can demonstrate your indispensable role for the brand.

How can working through an agency (like Collective Voice) benefit a Creator financially?

An agency is an ally, opening doors to diverse landscapes and handling the intricate dance of negotiations, allowing us the time and space to immerse ourselves in our true passion: creation.

If a campaign didn’t produce conversions or the intended results for the brand, how can a Creator learn from that experience and provide more value to brands going forward?

A campaign didn’t resonate as hoped? It’s not a setback; it’s a lesson. It’s an opportunity to refine our approach, to connect deeper with brands, and to adapt our strategies. 

In the evolving rhythm of our industry, adaptability and learning are our true companions.

For Creators struggling to secure partnerships, what can they do to continue earning?

Struggling to secure sponsorships is part of the journey, and a normal challenge that many Creators face while trying to grow. It’s our uniqueness and our ability to diversify our creative and financial outputs that will see us through. 

Whether it’s community engagement, innovative product offerings, or virtual connectivity, our creative spirits know no bounds.

Collective Voice is a content monetization platform built just for you. Level up your content with our affiliate tools, educational resources, sales insights, brand partnership opportunities, and more. Start monetizing your content now.