Influencer economy is booming. Santa Monica-based app is fighting for more transparency and equitable pay

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Companies offer money or free products to social media influencers who must then create a certain number of posts, videos, and/or stories with those goods. Photo by Shutterstock.

Scroll through Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook, and you’ll see them: ads from creators and influencers. They’re suggesting types of tea to boost your metabolism, encouraging you to jump into #vanlife, or helping you decide what clothes, makeup, and vitamins to buy.

Typically, brands will offer free products or money in exchange for deliverables, like a certain number of posts or stories.

And while the influencer economy is booming, transparency surrounding pay is not.

“I don’t think brands quite know what to pay influencers, and influencers don’t really know how much to charge,” says Isha Mehra, a former data scientist at Facebook and the cofounder of F*** You Pay Me. Described as the Glassdoor for influencers, the platform helps creators get paid more equitably by sharing information about ad rates, negotiating sponsored content deals, and identifying the best brands to work with. Creators can sign into the platform to see reviews of brands and/or write reviews of their own experiences.


Isha Mehra (left) and Lindsey Lee Lugrin (right) launched F*** You Pay Me in Santa Monica this year. Photo credit: Sissy Martin.

They’re also using data to deter businesses from basing payments on criteria like follower count, and bring attention to pay gaps along race and gender lines.

“Our data shows a huge discrepancy between different races, especially Black creators get paid the least across YouTube, TikTok, Instagram for the exact same follower count or the exact same deliverables,” says Mehra. 

She hopes that more communication among creators and brands will help level the playing field. F*** You Pay Me has 2,700 users so far, a 5,000-person waitlist, and reviews for more than 2,000 brands.

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