Today we’re going to tackle a growing question in the planner community. Should design teams/planner squads/street team esque groups and all other promotional teams recruited by planner shops and companies get paid?
Yes. Yes they should. Thank you for reading this week’s post.
Hold on, I’m getting a memo that perhaps it’s slightly more nuanced than that. Shit… let me get a cup of coffee and let’s see if we can unpick this knot a little more.
First, My Standard Disclaimer
When I’m not being snarky on the internet, I work in digital media and have for over a decade, primarily with varying degrees of entertainment based brands and companies. I have been on both sides of this issue, and have some insight on what is and isn’t professionally accepted. All thoughts contained on this blog are my own and not a reflection of my employers, past or current. These are my semi-professional opinions and should be regarded as such. I am not affiliated with any of the companies or brands involved unless otherwise stated. I am also available for actual professional consultations should you want specific insight to your own digital drama.
Basically, don’t sue me, k?
Should You Get Paid For Being On A Promo Team?
The answer is a resounding YES. If you are directly working with a company – no matter what the size is – you should be getting some form of compensation for the work you are doing. Creating good content is work that takes time, resources, and planning. Your time and resources are valuable and you should be judicious with how you allocate spending those.
However, the conversations that pop up around this topic tend to focus on the debate about what is adequate compensation. Is free stuff adequate? Should you be asking for money? If you are asking for money, how much should you be asking for? This is where we move into the weird murky area of shrug emojis and account comparisons, because not all teams, or team members, are created equal.
I really recommend reading Influencer by Brittany Hennessy – you can read my review of it here – if you’re wanting to build your digital platforms to do influencer marketing.
What Is “Adequate Compensation” For A Promo Team?
There are a couple factors to consider when discussing “adequate compensation” in the influencer marketing space (because that’s exactly what this is… influencer marketing):
- Your Account Analytics
- The Company You Are Working With
- What Is Being Expected Of You
- What You Want Out Of The Experience
Let’s go through these in some detail.
Your Account Analytics
If you are wanting to be a part of a promo team for anyone, the metrics that are really going to matter on whatever account you choose are going to be Followers, Reach, and Engagement Rate.
Followers is self explanatory – it’s the number of people who follow you… duh. This is your presumed captive audience. However, depending on platform it does not mean that every single one of your followers sees every single one of your posts.
Reach is how many people actually see your post. This includes people who see your post via hashtag or location, but doesn’t necessarily mean those people follow you or see every post you make.
Engagement Rate is the percentage of people who saw your post and interacted with it via likes, comments, shares, duets, etc. An average engagement rate depends on the platform you’re posting. Often the more followers you have the lower your engagement rate because of the magic of algorithms. It’s a whole thing that could be an entire semester long class.
In the interest of brevity, I’m not going to go into all the math but you want these to be balanced. Having a lot of followers but a low engagement rate is not as good as having less followers but a higher engagement rate, but you do still want to have more followers than less…. it’s like trying to pull a sticky piece out of Jenga.
I’m also just going to say this: a lot of times I read these threads discussing the frustration of promo teams and how they pick the same people over and over, and I get why people get frustrated. But also, this is a marketing expense for these companies and they want to make sure they’re getting a good return on their investment (ROI). That means, they want accounts with a certain analytic threshold to maximize eyeballs on their products. Unfortunately that means if you don’t have the numbers they want, you might have to get creative to show your worth to them another way.
A Brief Note About Content Creation
I am not going to dwell on this point long, but I gotta get something off my chest here.
If you’re wanting to get on promo teams and/or make this a successful side-hustle or full time income, don’t just take a quick photo with your phone and throw it up on your Instagram unedited. Watch some Youtube Videos on how to take good pictures. Look at the people who are constantly getting on these teams and at how they stage their shots. Learn how to edit your photos. Invest in some gear – it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Like I said at the start, creating good content is work that takes time, resources, and planning. Google and Youtube are your friends here. Eventually I have plans to create some guides on how to do these things. Drop a comment if there’s something in particular you want me to talk about. Or book a consultation with me and we’ll talk about it.
The Company You Are Working With
There are two points to consider when you’re looking at the company offering the promo team; who are they and how do you feel about them?
If this is a well known company with a large following, you can expect a couple things: in theory they probably have a budget for these marketing expenses and there will absolutely be someone willing to do this work for free. This is where your analytics come in. If you can show them steller numbers and well crafted content, then you have a better position to negotiate.
Careful at assumptions though because even though a shop or company might look “big”, their margins might still be razor thin. It’s brutal out there.
Which leads into, how do you feel about them? Is this someone you really want to work with regardless of what they’re offering? We all have those companies; I’d jump at the chance to create content for Starbucks just because I could then say I “worked with” Starbucks.
What Is Being Expected Of You
The devil is in the details, and THIS more than anything is what I would think hard about before agreeing to do anything. When you apply or are offered a promo team spot, or any sort of partnership, read through everything. Before any agreement, you should ask questions:
- How long is this contract for?
- Am I able to post other brands/businesses?
- How often are you expected to post content?
- Who owns the content?
- How long does the content need to stay on my timeline for? Can I archive it once the contract is done?
- Will this be used for additional advertising?
- Will the items to be used be provided? Do I get to choose the items or will it be a set inventory?
- What additional considerations are provided, if any?
- What happens if I’m unable to fulfill what is expected of me?
- Will this need to be claimed on my taxes? Will you send applicable tax forms if so? (Please consult a tax professional for more information on this)
This is not an exhaustive list. The point is to read the agreement, make notes, and ask questions on anything that is not clear.
Be realistic about how much time this takes too. Sure, it takes a moment to post a photo… but set up, staging, editing, tagging, hashtag research, crossposting, interactions with other team members all need to factor into your time commitment.
The more you’re expected to do or consent to, the more you should be getting in return for your work. If you are expected to give up ownership of your content or if it will be used in advertising for the company, I would encourage you to discuss with tax/legal professionals as the case may be.
What Do You Want Out Of This Experience
Are you exhausted thinking about all of this? Me too. Let’s focus on what is the easiest part of the whole thing. What do you want?
Money is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the only thing. There are sometimes additional opportunities hidden in these things that can open additional doors to a greater payoff. Is being a part of this team going to help you in some other way? Maybe it’s a great opportunity to grow your audience or will give you the experience you need on your resume. Maybe this is your golden unicorn company and you just really want to do this because it will make you happy.
For what it’s worth, my entire career in digital media started because I joined a team to do promo work for Nickelodeon kid stars as a teenager. That “unpaid” work allowed me to go to movie premieres, be featured in teen magazines, get a highly coveted internship, and ultimately make a living in an extremely competitive field. I’m not saying that joining a sticker squad alone is going to do all that, but it could give you some tagental experience that you can leverage into bigger and better opportunities.
OK, So What IS Adequate Compensation?
Whatever you deem to be adequate based on what you’re bringing to the table, what is expected of you, and how you feel about what is being offered. That could be money, products, exposure, magic internet points, whatever you place value on.
You should absolutely ask for the compensation, financial or otherwise, you feel is appropriate for the situation. You should be able to prove that value to the company if they ask why you think you deserve that. You should also be prepared to compete with people who have different ideas on what is adequate for the position at hand.
If you are a company, and I believe one or two of you do occasionally read my posts, offering a small monetary consideration as part of your teams would be a game changer. At the very least, being open to providing networking or other resources of value would be highly regarded. Not only would you probably get a higher quality of applicant, you would be setting a powerful precedent in a predominately female driven industry.
I am not an influencer, but you can follow me on Instagram @fabkiwi06 to see my occasional toe dips into that pool.
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