If you’re a TikTok user, you’ve likely come across countless videos about a new type of creator who can make money with social media content. They’re referring to UGC creation. As a UGC creator, you can get paid to use and promote products by brands you love.
Sounds like a pretty sweet gig, right? And it is! But there’s a lot of confusion about what UGC is and how to get started as a beginner. But don’t worry; this comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about how to make money as a successful UGC creator.
What is UGC, and Why is it Better than Brand-Created Content?
UGC stands for User-Generated Content, and it’s just what it sounds like; everyday product users who create videos featuring a brand’s products.
Brands have figured out that social proof is everything when making a sale. And what’s better evidence of a great product than organic posts of real people using and loving them? This is the whole concept of user-generated content; it’s a new way to reach their target audience by advertising their products with genuine authenticity.
It’s very similar to influencer marketing, except for one big difference: you don’t need to have a large social media following. This is because the brands will take the content you make and use it for their own social channels and ads. They just need you to make the videos!
UGC creators can create videos for a variety of platforms, but the most popular ones are YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Some UGC examples include:
- Detailed YouTube reviews
- Unboxing videos
- Short videos showing products in action
- Integrating a popular TikTok trend to showcase a product
- Product recommendations and testimonials
How to Get Started as a UGC Creator
Now you know what a UGC creator does, but how can you get into this burgeoning industry when you have no experience? The good news is that it’s easier than you might expect. Follow these steps, and you’ll be winning brand deals in no time!
Step 1: Set Up Your UGC Business
Before you can start landing UGC gigs, you’ll need to set up your business and build some basic content creation skills. In particular, here are some things you’ll need to do to prepare:
Decide What Kind of Content You Want to Create
There are many types of UGC, from TikTok videos to Instagram Reels. Think about the kind of content you’re good at creating and the types of businesses you want to work with. For example, do you want to create short video clips for a fitness brand? Or write in-depth product reviews for tech companies?
Getting an idea of what niche you want to specialize in will help you attract the right brands and opportunities. It will also help you establish the best platform for your content. For example, if you want to do quick video reviews of fitness products, then TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram or Facebook Reels, or Pinterest Idea Pins might be the best platforms to focus use.
Start a UGC-Only Social Media Account
Start a social media account dedicated solely to your UGC business. This will be where you share your UGC portfolio with potential clients. You should also use this account to share any UGC content you create for businesses – this will help them see the kind of work you do and decide if they want to work with you.
Use lots of relevant terms in your bio to help attract brands to your profile. “Branded content,” “UGC,” “user-generated content,” and “content creation” are all great terms to use, as well as niche-specific terms, like “beauty products” or “cooking.”
Get Some Basic Equipment
Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to create good content. The essentials are a tripod with a cellphone holder, lamps or a ring light, and your phone.
However, it’s also worth investing in a quality microphone, so your audio is clear and professional. You may also wish to invest in editing software, but many people edit their videos with TikTok’s editing tools or use a free video editor like CapCut.
Create Samples for Your Portfolio
Record two or three sample videos that showcase your video creation skills. The best way to do this is to use specific products you already have and love. For example, if you want to appeal to beauty brands, you can create a video of yourself using your favorite moisturizer and then record a voiceover describing why you love it and how you apply it.
This is also an excellent opportunity to practice getting comfortable in front of the camera. Avoid scripts, so your tone feels natural, and don’t be afraid to do multiple takes and edit to your heart’s content until you’re happy with the final product.
Decide on Prices for Your Services
What you can charge for UGC projects will vary depending on your niche, the platforms you publish for, and the brands you work with.
There’s no right or wrong answer, but you want to ensure you aren’t underselling yourself. Factor in how much time it takes you to create the video from start to finish, and set your prices accordingly.
Other factors to consider are the type of content (videos or photos), video length (long-form or short-form videos), exclusivity, licensing terms, turnaround time, and the number of revisions. A lot of UGC creators will request payment for part or all of the fee upfront before any work begins.
Create a UGC Creator Portfolio
While your social media account serves as a portfolio in a way, you’ll also want to have an official portfolio that contains your stats, rates, and contact information. Fortunately, you can easily create an online portfolio for free using Canva.
Simply create a free Canva account and search for “website portfolio.” You’ll get dozens of free website templates to choose from. Once you’ve selected your Canva template, you can customize it as you see fit by changing the text, dragging and dropping elements, or uploading photos and videos.
Your portfolio should be straightforward, easy to scroll through, and contain the following information:
- Your name and a short bio
- An overview of what you do and why it benefits the brand
- Uploads of your sample videos
- Your pricing
- Your services
- Your contact information
Once you have completed creating your website, you can publish it right from Canva but clicking on the “Publish Website” button on the top right. If you don’t want to purchase a domain, you can host it for free on a Canva domain. Once published, you’ll have your own URL, which you can link to in your social media profile or send in your pitches to brands.
Step 2: Find UGC Jobs
There are many ways to secure your first UGC gigs with brands. Here are some of the most popular methods:
Cold Pitch Specific Brands You Want to Work With
One of the best ways to find UGC jobs is to simply reach out to brands you want to work with and pitch them your ideas. Some creators have succeeded in DMing brands on their social media accounts, but sending them an email is more professional.
To optimize your chances of emailing the right person, you can look up the brand on LinkedIn and look for contacts with job titles like “marketing director” or “social media manager.” You can also use a tool like Hunter.io to find email contacts for the brands you’re interested in.
In terms of your actual pitch, keep it short and sweet. Introduce yourself as a UGC creator who is a fan of their brand and mention that you would love an opportunity to work together.
Sign Up as a UGC Influencer
One of the easiest ways to get started is to sign up with UGC agencies. These agencies work as the liaison between brands and influencers, so when you go this route, often payment will often be less than if you were working directly with the brand. However, this is a great way to start building relationships and earning money. You can sign up with Pixlee TurnTo, NeoReach, and Billo.
Social Media Platforms
Another great way to find UGC opportunities is to look for opportunities on social media. Often, they will post about open positions.
For example, many brands regularly tweet “casting calls” on Twitter specifically for UGC creators! Also, keep your eyes peeled for opportunities on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and Clubhouse.
Upwork is a website where freelancers can post their portfolios, case studies, and bios for brands and businesses to browse. You can also submit proposals for projects that you’re interested in. Just search for “UGC” or “content creator,” and you’ll find lots of opportunities. Upwork takes a percentage of your earnings, but it’s a great place to find both one-off jobs and long-term projects.
Fiverr is similar to Upwork in that it’s a freelancer marketplace. However, Fiverr is geared more toward creatives and digital marketers. You can create a “gig,” which would be the UGC service you offer, and brands can contact you if they’re interested in your services.
Let Brands Come to You
Another good option is to simply let brands come to you by regularly posting on your UGC account. One way to do this is by using brand hashtags and tagging relevant brands in your posts. This method is usually more effective if you have a large social media following. Sometimes, if you create a piece of content about a brand for free and tag them, they will reach out to you and ask for your permission to use it, and then you have an opportunity to sell it to them.
Step 3: Establish the Details
Once you have your foot in the door with a brand, it’s time to start hashing out the details of your UGC project! Here is the process many UGC creators follow:
Discovery Call Through Calendly
The first step is setting up a discovery call with the brand via Zoom or Google Hangouts. This is an opportunity for you to learn more about their project vision and ask any questions you may have. It’s also a chance for them to get to know you and your work better. Be sure to schedule the call using a program like Calendly so there is no confusion about the date and time.
Send a Proposal
After the discovery call, you should have enough information about what they’re looking for to put together a proposal. This is a simple one or two-page document that outlines the following details:
- Your statement of work (a brief of what you’re creating for the brand)
- Project’s projected timeline
- Fees and payment schedule
Send a Contract
If the brand agrees to your proposal, it’s essential that both you and the brand sign a contract before you begin any work. This document should include all the details surrounding the deliverables, deadlines, number of permitted revisions, usage rights, and payment details.
It is highly recommended that you hire a lawyer to create the contract to ensure you are covered legally. However, you can also find contract templates online. (For example, Honeybook has some great contract templates).
Step 4: Create and Deliver the Content
It’s finally time to create content for the brand!
It’s customary for the brand to send you the product for free as part of the agreement. If they don’t, be sure to ask for it. Once you have the product, create the video content as outlined in your agreement.
After you’ve created the video, you’ll need to send it to the brand for review. A great program for this is Frame, a video collaboration tool. The brand will then be able to see what you’ve come up with and give feedback via frame-specific comments and virtual annotations.
Once the video is approved, deliver the video via pCloud or Google Drive to maintain the integrity of the video.
Then you will be done and have completed your first paid UGC project!
It’s no wonder that UGC is becoming one of the hottest business trends on the internet; few other content-creation businesses can generate revenue without a large following, and it’s a fun way to discover new products.
And although it may seem daunting to get started, once you’ve landed your first client, the process becomes much easier. Get started today, and you could be scoring UGC deals and making good money sooner than you think – it could even become your full-time job!
What do companies generally pay for something like this?
Holly Reisem Hanna
All sorts of brands — I was recently approached by third-party companies representing Tazo tea, Semrush, and Ashley Furniture.
UGC content genuinely rocks Corrie and Holly for gaining trust, building bonds and for prospering. I enjoy creating content on various platforms to help and to profit, too. Everything depends on being generous and genuine in publishing user generated content. Fabulous post.
Holly Reisem Hanna
Glad you enjoyed the article, Ryan!
It’s a creator’s economy for sure!