Content creator launches app to solve TikTok and Instagram Pay Gap

  • Christen Nino De Guzman recently launched an app to help content creators get paid fairly.
  • Since content creation is a newer industry, it often leads to huge wage disparities.
  • Clara works like a Glassdoor for content creators, offering rates and reviews so they can negotiate better deals.

Jonny Morales is an established TikTok content creator known for posting comedic videos about Latino culture, but before amassing over 3 million subscribers on the platform, he was like any other 20-year-old trying to get out of it.

So when the brands started approaching Morales work with him, he wasn’t sure what to do or how much to charge them. He feared taking a wrong step and losing partnerships that could boost his career.

“Before TikTok, I was a busboy, making less than minimum wage at $7.25 an hour and already being underpaid,” Morales told Insider. “When I started making videos and realized I could make money doing something I love, I didn’t want to lose the opportunities, so I was undervaluing myself.”

He remembers searching Google to try to decipher how much he should charge brands, only to find himself empty.

A group of content creators on Instagram smiling at the camera.

Christen Nino De Guzman pictured with content creators she has worked with on Instagram.

Courtesy of Christen Nino De Guzman

It wasn’t until he started working with Christen Nino De Guzman, who started content creation programs at some of the biggest tech companies, that he felt encouraged to “not be afraid of ask for more money” and to “know my worth”.

The content creator industry is plagued by wage disparities that disproportionately affect creators from marginalized groups

One of the things that draws the roughly 1 billion monthly active users to TikTok is the idea that anyone has the opportunity to have a voice and carve out their own space on the platform.

Whether you are a student or a skateboarder, there is a community of users brought together by an algorithm often described as “frighteningly accurate” ready to interact with your content.

“It was interesting to see how the definition of a creator has changed so much since I started in 2015,” Nino De Guzman, who recently launched Claire — a content creation platform to tackle wage disparities in the industry — said. “It used to be a typical type of person, usually a middle to upper class blogger who had access to video material and travelled, but now anyone can be a creator.”

But what happens when people who have never worked in content creation start being approached by brands who want to use their videos to promote products to their followers?

Because content creation is a newer, unregulated industry, it often results in massive wage disparities that disproportionately affect creators of color and creators from other marginalized groups, said Nino De Guzman.

A recent study, which found that the pay gap between white content creators and colored content creators was 29%, confirms what Nino De Guzman has observed in his various roles at Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok.

“I had a teacher who falls into the new creator category and she was paid for this really big campaign of about $3,000,” Nino De Guzman told Insider. “And a man also in the countryside was paid close to $30,000.”

Nino De Guzman noted that the discrepancy was particularly striking, given that the man was duping the teacher’s content rather than creating his own original videos like the teacher had done.

“This original person was creating the content and doing all this work, but they were being paid ten times less,” said Nino De Guzman. “I was so upset because I knew the teacher’s story and how she used the money, which was for fertility treatment.”

According to Nino De Guzman, the pay disparity was eventually corrected because the country man pointed out to the teacher that he was earning a higher rate and encouraged her to ask for more money.

But fair rates shouldn’t depend on which individuals come forward, she said.

For content creators to ensure they are paid a fair amount commensurate with the activity they drive to multi-billion dollar companies, they need better access to accurate collaboration insights. with brands.

Unfortunately, such a resource didn’t exist, so content creators like Morales were forced to rely on information they gathered through word of mouth, said Nino De Guzman.

Enter Clara: a new app that works like a Glassdoor for content creators

While Nino De Guzman was unable to provide content creators with specific numbers they should charge through her work at previous companies, she did provide content creators with best practice resources. industry so that they are in the best position to negotiate.

Yet she still observed that some content creators were paid significantly less than their peers.

“I would see a Hispanic creator get paid half of what a white creator was paid and the Hispanic creator would get more followers,” said Nino De Guzman. “It wasn’t necessarily malicious intent on the part of the brand…the process is that brands contact a creator and the creator offers a price, but the creator doesn’t know what to price themselves and what prices are competitive . ”

After witnessing several similar experiences in which people from underrepresented communities received lower rates, she decided to create a platform that would serve as a Glassdoor-like resource for content creators. The platform provides content creators of all backgrounds with business reviews and ratings from their peers that they can then reference when partnering with brands.

A man and a woman sit side by side on boxes with the TikTok logo.

Devon Rodriguez was one of the creators Nino De Guzman worked with at TokTok.

Courtesy of Christen Nino De Guzman

“The creators were really becoming like my family and it was very hard to watch them not being valued that way,” Nino De Guzman said of his decision to create the platform. “These are people with millions of followers and they had no idea how to value themselves.”

Last year, she began developing a pitch deck and contacting investors for funding. It’s been a difficult process, especially since women-led startups don’t often receive funding.

About 2% of female-led startups received venture capital funding in 2020, according to the Harvard Business Review, and the number of female-led and co-ed startups receiving venture capital funding has declined throughout of the pandemic.

The numbers are even more dismal for Latino founders and other founders of color; U.S. Latino-owned companies earned 1.7% in venture capital in 2020, according to Crunchbasea business-oriented repository.

A woman looks at the camera after discovering that she has received venture capital funding.

American companies owned by Latinos earned less than 2% of venture capital in 2020.

Courtesy of Christen Nino De Guzman

Despite these hurdles, Nino De Guzman, who is Peruvian, was able to secure seed funding after cold messaging investors on LinkedIn and introducing them to Clara.

She quit her job at TikTok to launch Clara’s desktop beta earlier this month and released iOS versions of the platform on Tuesday. The Android version is expected on February 1.

Content creators say an app like Clara could revolutionize the industry

Within days of launch, thousands of creators signed up to Clara and left reviews sharing their pricing and experiences working with specific brands.

Clara's desktop version home page with a rating system

Clara allows content creators to leave reviews for brands they’ve worked with.

Courtesy of Christen Nino De Guzman

“Christen is passionate about helping creators,” Jonny Morales, a content creator with more than 3 million TikTok followers who is known for his comedic videos, told Insider. “This app is going to be very useful because it shows us that the things that we are passionate about as creators have value.”

Devon Rodrigueza content creator with 23 million followers on TikTok, said he ‘didn’t know what a trademark deal was’ when he first became popular on the app for his art and that he had “no idea what to charge”.

When he offered $7,000 per video as part of an initial brand partnership, he was “so excited”, not realizing that with his huge audience, he was “lowballed”.

“I thought I had hit the lottery with the initial rate, but Christen showed me that I could just write a sentence to negotiate and the worst that could happen was that I got a no,” Rodriguez said. .

Both Rodriguez and Morales say an app like Clara has the power to revolutionize the content creator industry by giving creators the information they need to recognize the value of their work.

As for Nino De Guzman, she works on managing signups for the app and continues to create her own content on TikTok, where she provides resources on content creation and the tech industry.

“It’s not just a business venture that I wanted to do. It’s something close to my heart,” said Nino De Guzman. “And seeing the response so far, I feel very encouraged that people can potentially benefit from a platform like this.”

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