Summer in the City – 2017

By Sami Westwood and Natalie Aves

This time last week, the UK’s answer to VidCon – Summer In The City – was taking place in London. We checked out some of the industry panels and gained interesting insight around topics such as influencers working for free and best practice when working with creators. Our key takeaways? Read on…

Managers and creators spoke about the frequency with which they are approached to create content for free. The general consensus on this was that if this is a big, budgeted marketing campaign, content creation with influencers is a cost that should be factored in from the start if this is to be an approach the brand would like to take.

Brands ultimately are engaging creators in their campaigns to reach a specific audience and drive sales. If a brand is benefitting from the relationship in a commercial way, the creator needs to be paid.

If you are looking to get content created by an influencer, then you should approach this as you would if you were going to a video production service or design studio, for example. The only difference with an influencer is a) working alone and b) can then push the content out to their established audience. Ideas, storyboarding and creation are all services that should be paid for.

Fees can vary and there are big brands that have paid large amounts that have distorted the market. The panel also advised that CPM models are almost impossible to work out. The best method is to work out your budget and make the approach. If a project is a solid match for the creator and of genuine interest, then they will be willing to discuss and negotiate. It’s important to note that there were some key areas where working for free would be considered:

  • Charity
  • If it was genuinely mutually beneficial (e.g. would grow the creator’s audience / help raise awareness of a project of their own)
  • Exclusive Content: If it was going to assist in the generation of an exclusive piece of content that was a great opportunity and would sit well on the creator’s channel
  • Experience: For some micro influencers, it is great experience working with brands before they get to a stage where they can command fees.

When engaging with content creators and/or their agents, ensure there is transparency in communication. Creators are aware of the multiple layers of feedback and approvals that brands sometimes need to go through (agent, agency, local client, domestic client, international client) and the easier you can make this process, the better. In the same way that content creators who are collaborative and easy to work with will be approached again, agencies and brands who make the process as easy as possible will have their pitches considered in a more positive light.

Use contracts for both parties to outline what is expected of everyone, so there are no curveballs in the process. There’s always a need for some degree of flexibility, but make sure you talk through all the main needs from both sides and get them broken down into the contract.

Remember: there are three stakeholders in the content you are creating. One is the creator, one is the brand and the other is the creator’s audience. If something is not right for any of these parties then something it wrong. It has to work for everyone.

Want to read more about working with influencers? Take a look at our insights from this year’s VidCon!

Quick read – VidCon highlights with THE DRUM.

Long read – our daily blogs:




With thanks to the following Summer in the City panellists:

James Hancock (Free Focus), Steve Bridges (Magician & Content Creator), Emily Hartridge (Content Creator), Sanne Vleigenthart (Content Creator), Daniel J. Layton (Content Creator), Lucy Moon (Content Creator), Ara Bozadjian (Content Creator), James Erskin (Social Circle)


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