Being an influencer isn’t a career path you learn in school. Neither is becoming an influencer brand partnership manager for content creators. But for Sean Scott, the founder of The Partnership Expert, a boutique consultancy that helps creators land brand deals, it was a natural next step in his career.
Before becoming an influencer brand partnership manager, Scott started working as a digital marketer nine years ago. Influencer marketing wasn’t massive then, especially for startups and smaller brands. But over the years, Scott worked at different technology and software companies, like Mobify, WiderFunnel, and Monstercat, mostly marketing events. However, in 2020, he was offered a role as a partner development manager and instantly said yes.
The transition was seamless. His digital marketing and event marketing skills helped him enter the new role feeling prepared. Scott told Passionfruit he gained additional skills in building relationships, setting goals, and navigating influencer campaigns in this new role.
After getting laid off as the Lead of Creator Partnerships for the online course platform, Thinkific, he became a full-time entrepreneur. In 2023, Scott started The Partnership Expert to support creators and help them earn more money. That starts with a brand audit.
What happens during a brand audit?
When he works with clients, he audits their past brand partnerships. This helps determine which channels they perform best on and creates a media package for them. After that, he pitches their dream partners and negotiates deals on behalf of the creators. He aims to help his clients double how much cash they bring in from monthly brand deals.
Ready to learn Scott’s secrets? These are his top tips for earning more money when working with brands.
Five tips from an influencer brand partnership manager for earning more from your brand deals
1) Set fair and equitable rates (and don’t lowball yourself)
When creators interact with brands and negotiate rates independently, they might be undercharging. Setting their rates too low is the number one mistake Scott sees creators making.
“Ultimately, you as a creator should be paid fairly and equitably in a brand deal. But at the same time, if you overcharge, a brand won’t bite,” said Scott.
How to set rates
Scott said there are many approaches creators can take when it comes to setting rates. He recommended first taking stock of your followers and subscribers across all your platforms. Then search for the most up-to-date industry data from reports. You can find reports from places like Marketing Hub to help determine the base rate per follower for every creative. Different content can have different rates, from Reels to podcast ads.
“When setting rates, add on 10%-30% depending on how long you have been an expert in your niche,” Scott said.
After Scott audits a creator’s previous partnerships and platform metrics, he determines rates for different deliverables. Deliverables can be anything from TikTok videos to Instagram stories. He picks these rates using his experience as a brand partnership manager and through industry research.
“I help creators earn more by setting equitable rates and then constantly push brands to meet these rates within a deal,” said Scott. “Truly, four out of five times, this will mean saying no to a deal. But when it sticks, the creator will see their income increase, as they will be working on more aligned deals, as they are more likely to resonate with their audience.”
2) Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and set rates based on your experience
Scott advises creators not to be afraid to ask other creators how much they charge for brand deals. Approach a consultant or agency and request a rate review. This is a paid service that can help you get a baseline of what to charge.
“Ultimately, go with your gut. If you think the final offer from a brand is not worth your time, it’s a hard pass,” Scott said.
As a partnership manager, Scott takes a percentage of the income generated from these brand deals. His percentage is determined before he begins working with a client.
Scott said a fair percentage for a brand manager to earn is between 10% and 20%, depending on the level of work they do.
“It will be on the higher side if the brand manager or talent manager is doing the entire process from pitching, then negotiating, contracting, and content delivery,” Scott said.
Whether or not you work with a partnership manager, you should aim to set rates reflecting your creator’s value. To do that, have transparent conversations with other creators or seek out data from recent research, like this report.
3) Communicate ad performance before, during, and after your partnership ends
Communication is an important part of being an influencer brand partnership manager. Once a content creator lands a brand deal, Scott says it is essential to communicate with the brand before, during, and after the partnership terms end. That way, you build relationships with them and perhaps become an ongoing partner.
“Overcommunication is great,” said Scott. Tell a brand everything about how your sponsored post has performed, share feedback from your audience, and ask for feedback from them.
Scott says if you show the brand your professionalism, they will likely consider you for a future campaign.
4) Sell your channel with the best engagement, not the most followers
While many creators think their follower count is essential, Scott said it’s a mistake not to pitch yourself based on engagement.
“Grow your following, but always ensure that as you grow, the audience stays engaged and excited about what you post,” said Scott.
When he worked in-house at a brand, he could guarantee that if he worked with a creator with an engaged audience that matched the target audience of his brand, he would be more likely to see conversion from the brand deals.
Ultimately, Scott wants creators to know that brands are very numbers based.
“For as much as you might be the most authentic content creator, the brand ultimately, sometimes, needs to sell you internally based on the hard numbers,” Scott told Passion Fruit.
He advises creators to take stock of which channels have the best engagement and focus on selling that channel in a brand deal.
5) Look for different ways to monetize beyond brand deals
While brand deals are a common way for a creator to make money, Scott said there are other ways to monetize. That’s part of being an influencer brand partnership manager, exploring new revenue sources.
“If you are finding it challenging to land deals to sponsor your channels, consider selling user-generated content to a brand,” said Scott. “This is where you sell content, usually a video, for a brand to use within their marketing.
Another way you can monetize is to sell your product course. Scott recommended that creators have multiple income streams since the industry constantly changes.
He advises clients to increase their monetization in a few different ways. For example, rather than selling one-off packages to brands, sell monthly packages to make more money.
Finally, Scott said to ensure you maximize how much a brand pays you based on how they plan to use your content.
“A huge mistake creators make is selling some incredible UGC to a brand without any terms around the use in paid advertising. The brand then essentially owns your content, forever, if it is not in a contract,” Scott said.