What creators want – what they really, really want!

What creators want

Research from partnership platform reveals why creators choose to work with brands, how attitudes to compensation evolve over time, and why sometimes things don’t work out

Like any relationship, the one between a creator and a brand will always proceed more harmoniously – and stand a better chance of lasting the distance – if both sides are happy with the terms of engagement.

Advertisers know that long-term partnerships often work best, and they know too that communication, fair treatment and a degree of freedom are important to creators. But which comes first? What is a nice-to-have, and what are the deal-breakers? Who knows what a creator really, really wants?

Well, we do, because in partnership with Adweek, we asked them.

Clarity is crucial

The top considerations for creators when selecting a brand to work with are a clear sense of 1) performance expectations and 2) compensation.

In fact, being clear about compensation was ranked as the most important factor in evaluating a partnership. Eight out of ten respondents indicated that it’s extremely or very important to be clear about compensation during initial outreach, and that upfront payment terms and performance expectations are key when brands are making first contact. (A similar proportion reported the same about performance expectations.)

On the subject of money…

82% of creators, we learned, prefer a flat fee plus a bonus/commission payment structure. They like performance bonuses and commissions – don’t we all – but prefer for them to be in addition to a basic fee. Creators put a lot of effort into creating content that resonates with their audience so it’s normal for them to expect an upfront payment for that time. In return, brands will often negotiate usage rights to the content which can then be repurposed and amplified.

However, over time, there is often fresh room for negotiation. Creators are more open to performance-based compensation once they have an established relationship with a brand. 18% of creators want to be paid solely on commission/bonus from a new brand partner, compared to 33% once they have an established relationship.

Large and small creators see things differently

The brands creators work with are a direct reflection of a creator’s values. This is especially true for smaller creators, whose top priority (49%) when deciding to work with a brand is brand alignment. However, when considering working with a brand, the majority (56%) of larger creators said “brand reputation” was the most important factor, indicating a clear awareness of the hazards of bad PR and the importance of both sides being clear about what they’re getting into.

In working with a brand, larger creators experience the most satisfaction from “content engagement” (37%), whereas the same for smaller creators was the “partnership experience” (30%).

Going the distance

It’s a universally accepted truth that long-term partnerships are more effective, and both brands and influencers see the benefits for themselves and their customers – or followers – when they settle in for the long haul.’s research shows the factors that give long-term brand-creator relationships the best chance of success are the quality of the product (53%), high compensation (40%) and being granted creative freedom (39%). The last of these in particular has been shown to come with various brand benefits, and can even enhance brand reputation

Where it goes wrong

There are plenty of reasons why a brand-creator relationship can hit the skids. 44% of respondents to the survey say that rushed due dates are very problematic, while 43% suggest low compensation can be a terminal issue. Meanwhile, 42% reveal that a brand taking too long to get a project off the ground is another common breaking point. Given that the majority of influencers get more requests than they can handle, it seems they’re in no desire to hang around for a brand that drags its heels. 

Contributor: Sam Crocker, Regional Vice President Sales,