If you’re in the influencer or content marketing spaces online, you have probably heard of the rise of UGC content creators. They’re quickly becoming sought after by companies and businesses looking to expand and enhance their online presence, and many who have begun working as a UGC content creator are quick to say that it’s a fun, lucrative source of income.
But what is a UGC content creator, anyway? Is it really all it’s cracked up to be? Is it actually a good way of making money, or is it not worth the time? And if it is, how do you become one? Grab a cup of coffee and settle in, friends. I’m here to walk you through exactly what a UGC content creator is, and how you can become one!
What is a UGC Content Creator?
First things first: it’s important to know that UGC stands for User Generated Content. User Generated Content is content that looks as though it was created by someone using a product or service in their day to day life. Thus, someone working as a UGC content creator works to create content that looks organic and natural for the brand they’re working with.
But while they’re similar, standard influencers and content creators are not the same as UGC content creators. Influencers and content creators are appealing to brands because they have a following that the brand is able to reach. Brands want to work with popular influencers and social media content creators because they know that when an influencer shows their product to their followers, they’re reaching a new market and gaining access to people who might want to shop their products. Thus, the main appeal of an influencer is the audience that they bring to the table.
UGC content creators, on the other hand, are not creating content that will go out to their followers – they are creating content directly for the brand. The content that they create will go on the brand’s social media profiles or web presence. The reason brands like user generated content is that it looks authentic and real – it gives the brand’s audience a feel for what their product or service looks like in the wild. User generated content has a relatable, personal feel that standard advertising and marketing lacks by nature.
For example, if a clothing brand wants to promote their spring line on Instagram or TikTok, they might hire a UGC content creator to create a reel about packing for their upcoming spring break trip and feature items from the line. The brand would then post the reel directly on their social media platforms instead of the original creator’s, and it would be used as marketing material for the brand. However, to the brand’s audience, it would feel more personal and genuine than a typical promotional photo of a model posing in the brand’s latest pieces.
Why Brands Love UGC Content
If you’re interested in jumping into the world of user generated content, you deserve to understand the value that you are bringing to the table.
It’s social media marking made authentic
Like I said, UGC Content is a dream for brands because it feels natural and authentic in a way that most social media marketing doesn’t. It fits seamlessly into user’s feeds so that it doesn’t feel as though they are being sold to – it just feels like they’re discovering ways to make their life better.
UGC Content is cheaper than working with an influencer
As we established above, brands like to work with influencers because influencers come with a large audience. But with that large audience also comes a large price tag. Influencers know that their content is valuable, because it can reach a lot of people and result in a lot of profit for the brands they work with, so they charge accordingly.
However, UGC creators aren’t putting their content out to their followers, they’re creating it directly for the brand, so they are only charging for the time and effort that they put into creating the content. This is going to be far less than if they were also charging for audience reach. As a result, UGC content is cheaper than putting together an influencer sponsorship.
UGC Creators are true experts
While influencers have to wear many hats as a part of their job, UGC content creators specialize in content – so they are quite literally content experts. They know what they’re doing, and their content reflects that. If you want to ensure high-quality content, a UGC creator is the person to go to.
Brands no longer have to worry about content in-house
Let’s be honest – layoffs have been hitting hard the past few years, and many brands and companies simply aren’t keeping the same teams around in-house. Social media and marketing teams have taken a lot of hits recently, and many brands are more prone to hiring out their marketing so that they don’t have to worry about it on an in-house level.
Is It For Me?
If you’ve wanted to become an influencer, but haven’t made the jump for various reasons, becoming a UGC creator might be the perfect fit for you. You get to do a lot of the same work as an influencer does, but it’s not as front-facing – you don’t have the same number of people invested in every area or aspect of your life. If you love content creation but are a more private person, user generated content could be a great fit for you to do what you love while maintaining your personal life offline.
Additionally, if you’ve been daunted by the prospect of trying to build an online presence, with UGC, you don’t have to! Remember, for UGC creators, audience size doesn’t matter – it’s solely about the quality of your content. If you’re great at making reels or staging photos for social media, it doesn’t matter if you have 500 or 5 million followers – you can work as a UGC creator.
So, How Do I Become a UGC Creator?
If you’ve made it this far and find yourself thinking, This sounds perfect for me, here are some great starting points as you begin to kick off your career as a UGC Creator.
Learn what you like + get plugged in
In the most basic terms: research. If you want to have strong content, you need to really understand the UGC industry and see what is performing well and what you like. You’re going to probably want to work in a certain niche, such as beauty, lifestyle, clothing, food, etc., so look at brands within your preferred niche that you would like to work with. What kind of UGC content are they sharing? How can you take what you see and elevate it? What will your content creation process look like?
The stronger your battle plan going in, the more quickly you will be able to build your business as a UGC creator.
Invest in and compile equipment
Hear me out: you don’t have to immediately purchase a ton of high-end, expensive equipment. HOWEVER, you have to remember: the appeal of UGC creators is that their work is high quality, and, while you certainly shouldn’t break the bank on equipment before you even know for sure if you enjoy working in the UGC industry or not, it also doesn’t hurt to think through what you’re willing to invest in up front, as well as what you want to work towards investing in long term.
If you own a newer smartphone, you already have everything you need to begin filming UGC content. If your phone is older, the camera quality won’t be as great, so you might want to consider upgrading. You also have the option of filming on a camera instead – whatever your preference!
I would encourage you to research the best equipment for lighting. Oftentimes you can get by with natural light, but as you do different kind of UGC work, you may find that you need external lighting. In the same vein, research external microphones so that you can make sure your audio is stellar.
You may want to consider looking into various photo or video editing softwares. There are some great free options out there to get you started, along with paid programs that can really take your work to the next level.
Have a few spaces in mind that will be your go-to spaces for filming content. Is there a corner of your house that’s particularly aesthetically pleasing? Does your kitchen get great natural light? It’s also important to make sure you have some basic blank walls to use as backdrops, and you probably want to invest in some various colored backdrops as well. You can even be creative and experiment with different colored sheets!
Lastly, make sure that you have props on hand. Are you going to be in the beauty niche? Want to create bookish content? Planning out the aesthetic foodie content of your dreams? You’ll need props, so grab some cute things from throughout your house, or go on a quick Target or TJ Maxx run to get you off the ground.
It’s portfolio time!
Know upfront: the first few pieces of content that you create probably won’t be portfolio-worthy. That’s okay. You have to learn! It will take time to get really good at making sure your lighting, angles, transitions, and more are all on a professional level. Give yourself grace, and know that the first pieces of content that you try to execute probably won’t match the vision in your head. But, as you continue working and learning from your mistakes, you will begin to find yourself with pieces that truly showcase what you can do as a content creator.
Portfolios are vital to landing clients, because brands need to know what you can do! A strong portfolio is the #1 way that you will be able to gain the trust of brands and land deals with them. Remember, as a UGC content creator, you don’t have to have a large audience, you just have to have solid examples of your work. Your portfolio is where you’ll display that!
Focus on creating content within the niche you hope to work in. After all, if you want to work in the food industry, you wouldn’t create content examples advertising a new lipstick, right? Right! Show the brands you want to work with exactly what you could do for their company to showcase their products best. Once your portfolio is ready, you want to make sure that it’s easily accessible, both on your social media platform (if you have a public one!) as well as somewhere easily shareable and viewable, such as a website, Dropbox, or Drive link. If you don’t already have a site, you’ll definitely want to build one, but you can start off super simple with a Canva site and go from there.
It’s cold email time!
Let’s be honest – when you first start out at anything, no one knows you exist yet. That’s why it’s YOUR job to make yourself known! Cold emailing – or reaching out to companies/brands without them first contacting you – is the perfect way to do that.
Create a list of brands that you would love to work with, find their contact info online, and reach out! Explain who you are, what you do, and share your portfolio with them. You want to have a template of what to say in mind, but you also want to customize each email according to the company you’re reaching out to so that they don’t feel as though they’re just receiving a form message. Make it personal, and show them why they want to work with you!
I highly recommend creating a system to track the emails as you send them so you can know what your response rate is, who you’ve heard back from, who you’re waiting to hear back from, and who you’ve yet to reach out to.
Okay, Iesha…Still No Gigs
First off: don’t get discouraged! It always takes time to succeed at something new. Chin up, friend – you’re not done yet.
In addition to cold emailing – which can be a super hit or miss process, and, let’s face it, can get discouraging after a while – there are quite a few platforms specifically for UGC creators to find work. I’m including a few of my favorites below so that you have a starting point, but dig around online and see what else you find. The UGC industry is still growing and changing, and there’s so much to learn. Stay active, stay learning, and stay excited!
Here are a few of my favorite platforms for finding UGC work:
1. Shop LTK / RewardStyle
You already know that I’m a huge fan of LTK. As an influencer and content creator, it’s a great source of income for me, and I love the ability that it gives me to connect with my audience. Shop LTK offers brands the ability to connect directly with creators (read: YOU!) in order to facilitate partnerships. And if you already have a platform of your own, LTK is a great way to get into affiliate marketing. I can’t sing its praises enough!
Grin is one of the top creator and content management platforms out there. Big names like Urban Outfitters (hello!!!) use Grin to find content creators, so it’s a fantastic place to establish yourself. If you’re looking to become a well-known UGC creator, Grin is the place to be.
Another one of the biggest names in the industry, Creator.co has been trusted by brands like Walmart to find the perfect content creators for their needs. I can’t recommend that you sign up for their creator community quickly enough. Creator.co also does a fantastic job of championing and helping their creators to grow by providing them with tools and continued education to allow their content to continue improving.
Passionate about small business? Intellifluence might be the perfect place for you. It’s a smaller platform, but this means that you are less likely to be swallowed in the sea of users and more likely to connect with a business that you’ll love. It’s super straightforward and simple to use, and oftentimes deals with smaller businesses can quickly turn into lasting relationships due to the innately more personal nature of the job. We love clients that keep coming back!
5. Tribe Dynamics
Used by brands such as Sephora and Gucci, Tribe Dynamics is high end UGC at its finest. It’s a Creator IQ company, so sign up for Creator IQ and you are good to go in working towards those big brand deals of your dreams.
Start building that portfolio! You’ve got this!