Influencer marketing may be a relatively new job industry, but it is certainly not immune to the systemic differences that minorities face in the workplace.
A study from 2021 revealed that the racial pay gap between BIPOC and white influencers is 29%. The gap widens to 35% between black and white influencers.
The survey also found that black nano and micro influencers (less than 50,000 followers) who earned $27,000 per year outnumbered white influencers in the same category: 77% vs. 59%. At the macro influencer level (over 50,000 followers), averaging over $100,000 per year, only 29% were black influencers and 41% were white.
Those are the kinds of numbers Annelise Campbell saw firsthand while working as a marketing agent for agencies including January Digital and Golin.
“I saw the discrepancy in pay, which brands were willing to pay, what creators were asking, who controlled, who didn’t — I got to see that discrepancy in my inbox,” Campbell said on an episode of londonbusinessblog.comthe podcast, Creative Control† “After that I was like, okay, somebody has to create something.”
So she did.
For Veloz, most creators see her as an OG, who has been on YouTube for nearly a decade. However, she didn’t go full-time as a creator until 2018 and admits there’s a lot she still doesn’t know. But she fills in those blanks with CFG.
“To then be able to give it to others and say, this is the tea, you guys have to get it all together, it’s so helpful,” Veloz says. “We need to create a community of knowledge, especially within the black community, because many of us don’t really have it.”
It’s okay to run away
Campbell: “I remember having difficult conversations with some brands, like my customer who wears a wig. She is not going to use this product on her natural hair because her audience will say, This is fake. We’ve never seen her natural hair before. Her hair is always in protective styles. Why would she use it now, in this way? I’ve had to push back a lot of brands and say it’s not working for this audience. You have to trust them and let them lean on what they know works for their audience. If you don’t intend to, we can run away. It’s hard when you have an environment where black makers and makers of color have been given so little priority. When the floodgate is open, people feel, Oh my God, I can’t say no. How dare I? I’m finally getting these opportunities. But it’s like, think about what you want for the long run. Are these the actual brands you want to align with? Or do you just grab it because the opportunity is there?”
Brands, adjust for the blind spots you’ve created
Campbell: “I’ve had conversations on behalf of clients where literally a brand representative will be like, Well, we work with this girl every year, and she does this. And I’m like, yeah, because you work with her every year. This is your first time speaking to this audience segment. You have never invested time in this community. The chances of you taking immediate action from this one moment are very slim. † † † So are you putting creators of color in a position to succeed across your entire ecosystem? Or are you just throwing dollars at a problem?”
The creative economy is not for everyone
Veloz: “I’ve been in the game for almost 10 years. I just turned full time in 2018. And people are leaving their [full-time jobs]† It’s bizarre how the industry now feels that anyone can do this. This is not glamorous. I’m really hopeful that within the creative community they realize that it’s more than just getting cute and transitioning. There is a work ethic that must be applied. I am six months pregnant. Do you think once that contract is signed, they’ll say, ‘Oh, she’s having a moment? aww.’ No, you have to work. You must have a work ethic that will allow you to continue a successful career. So I hope the maker community realizes that the power is definitely in their hands.”