Thanks to the Internet, we’ve got money-making opportunities that didn’t exist ten or fifteen years ago.
Options that our parents and grandparents couldn’t have even dreamed about.
Heck, the internet is what helped me build an 8-figure remote business where I get to work from home and hire folks all over the world.
In this day and age, you can…
Get paid to promote a product on your TikTok account.
Build a YouTube fanbase and earn advertising revenue for every video you post.
Write a blog that goes viral and transform that success into a six-figure book deal.
You can make big money in these Internet streets!
But if you’re a person of color, most likely, you’re going to earn significantly less than your white peers.
OG makeup influencer and social media maven Jackie Aina spoke out recently about the differences in pay that Black influencers receive compared to white influencers.
Aina got inspired to post makeup tutorials after struggling to find tips for people with her skin tone.
Those makeup tutorials helped her grow an online audience of over 7 million followers across all platforms.
She’s become one of the most popular names in the online beauty industry — and a role model for Black and brown girls everywhere.
Despite having this enormous online following, she recently revealed that a beauty brand was paying a white colleague much more than they had paid her.
“They got paid 4 times more.”
Am I surprised that this is the reality? Not at all.
But am I infuriated that this is what Black and brown creators have to deal with? Absolutely.
There’s a racial wage gap in practically every industry, where white people — especially cis white men — earn more than every other group. And the Internet economy is no exception.
Here’s a closer look at the situation today.
BIPOC influencers earn less than white influencers.
How much less? A lot. Black online influencers typically earn 35% less than their white counterparts. For BIPOC influencers from other backgrounds (Indigenous, AAPI, Latinx) it’s 29%.
No Black content creators on the Forbes list.
Forbes recently published a list of the highest-earning TikTokers. There are zero Black creators on that list, despite the fact that Black creators strongly drive fashion trends, music and dance styles, and pop culture.
Black influencers face negative consequences for speaking up about race.
According to Business Insider, 59% of Black influencers say that posting about race negatively impacted them financially, compared to just 14% of white influencers. Not only are Black creators being paid less — when we want to speak up about the injustices we face, we get set back even further.
White influencers routinely appropriate Black creators’ work.
Sydnee McRae, a Black woman, went viral after posting a dance routine online. People loved it. Soon, Universal Music Group approached McRae and offered her $700 to promote a new song. She took the payment and was very excited about it.
But then she learned that another influencer (a white woman) was performing the dance she created — and getting paid thousands for it, not hundreds.
“I’m creating the art, I’m giving you the art, without me there would be no art. But I don’t get the same respect, the same amount that these white creators get.”
I don’t know about you, but this pisses me off. I once had to battle through a 6-figure lawsuit to protect my own intellectual property, so I know how it feels when the thing you created is under threat of being stolen.
So, what can we do to fix this disparity?
Changes won’t happen overnight, but there are small steps we can make today that will help us get at least one step closer to making that wage gap disappear.
1. If you’re a BIPOC creator, know your worth — and ask for more.
Don’t necessarily accept the first offer you’re given (eg. “We’ll pay you $500 per post”). Investigate first. Find out what other people are getting paid. Demand more.
And don’t be afraid to say “no” to any offer that doesn’t feel right. Trust me, there are countless other companies out there that are willing to pay you on your terms.
2. If you’re a white creator, talk openly about what you earn.
Let your BIPOC colleagues know what you’re getting paid. Create pay transparency. By doing this, you’ll show people what brands are actually willing to pay and what BIPOC creators can (and should) be negotiating for.
3. If you’re a brand seeking to partner with influencers, do an audit of your payments.
Equal Pay Day is March 24. I don’t want to see any bullshit performative social media posts from any company that has partnerships with influencers. I want to see REAL action.
Out of all the influencers you paid recently, how many are white people? How many are not? Are the white folks getting paid more? You might realize, “Our company is part of the problem.” If something is unjust, don’t find some bullshit excuse to justify it. Fix it.
Huge shout-out to Black influencers like Aina and McRae for speaking up about pay disparity in the creator economy.
One person’s story can motivate thousands of people to do better — and that's how societal change begins to happen.
P.S. One more action step you can take? Join We Should All Be Millionaires: The Club. A diverse, inclusive community for women, people of color, queer folks, people living with disabilities, and anyone from a historically excluded group. Let us teach you how to maximize your earning potential, and protect the magic you create. The Club is closed right now, but we’ll be open again really soon. Join our waitlist to be the first to know when we open the doors.