There’s a Racial Pay Gap Among Influencers, Too

There’s a Racial Pay Gap Among Influencers, Too

This content was created by Girlboss and funded by Nas Academy.

Jessiara Marriott remembers it like it was yesterday. She was chatting with a fellow content creator—with nearly the same number of followers as her—about their shared experience working with a major fast-fashion retailer. Marriott found out that the other creator, who is white, got paid £5,000 for her collaboration. “I was absolutely blown away,” Marriott recalls. Why, you ask? Because when she shared her rate—£1,200—they told her it was way out of their budget, despite Marriott having to create more content and give the brand usage rights (something the other influencer didn’t have to do). “Unfortunately because of the color of my skin, I’ve had to work ten times harder. I’ve known that since I was young,” says Marriott.

Welcome to the reality of being a Black content creator. You do more work for less pay (35% less to be exact, according to a new study by MSL and The Influencer League). The racial pay gap is nothing new, but in an industry where income is kept locked away behind makeup routines and “What I Eat in a Day” videos, it’s barely been talked about outside of DMs and influencer brunches. Plus, it’s not as simple as Googling “how much should I charge if I film two Instagram Stories, one TikTok and one unboxing video on YouTube?” Until now.

“There was really no way to find out how much you should be getting paid if you don’t have other influencer friends,” says Jules Montgomery, the CEO and founder of Influent, coined by Forbes as “the Glassdoor for influencers.” Her goal is to close the influencer pay gap for good. Influent offers brand ratings from other influencers, a pay calculator to see how much to charge and more. “Hopefully a culture of transparency is created,” says Montgomery. “It would be great if we got to a point where [brands] were willing to disclose what they paid creators.” A lot of times, brands will make creators sign NDAs to keep them from disclosing what they got paid, according to Montgomery.

“It’s customary to exploit our ideas and devalue our presence, and advocating against the racial pay gap directly challenges the status quo.”

Despite an effort to silence them, BIPOC influencers are speaking up. One of them is Gabriella Carter, a content creator who helps students secure scholarships. She posted a TikTok about her experience being undervalued and underpaid by brands, which got over 70K views. “It’s customary to exploit our ideas and devalue our presence, and advocating against the racial pay gap directly challenges the status quo,” says Carter. “I received a lot of hate [for that video], which is expected, because the hate exposes the root of this problem: fundamentally, people don’t believe that Black women deserve to get paid what they’re worth.”

Nearly half (49%) of Black influencers (and 39% of BIPOC influencers) report that their race contributed to an offer below market value, according to the MSL study. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are things influencers of color can do to fight for their worth. “Closed mouths don’t get fed,” says Carter. “Do your market research and ask for what you’re worth.” Resources like online classes can help. Nas Academy, the first global platform for creators, offers courses on this very topic. Alyne Tamir’s Let’s Talk Money helps you learn how to negotiate and ask for more money for your content. And our personal fave? Bozoma Saint John’s Badass Business Bootcamp: Become A Badass At Work In 7 Days, which will teach you how to identify your strengths, find allies and mentors in your field and more. 

Another thing you can do? Talk to other creators to find out what they get paid. “You have to ask because otherwise, you’re just going to be walking around clueless, or like me and other influencers, undercharging for months,” says Marriott. And at the end of the day, don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal. “If I’m underselling myself, it doesn’t sit well with my ego, as a Leo,” Marriott says with a laugh. “You have to say ‘no’ sometimes, and while it hurts, it’s needed.”

Use the code BADASSGIRLBOSS for $50 off Bozoma’s course until Jan. 31.


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