UGC for Creators: Everything You Need to Know

Written by
Maria Grigore
February 17, 2023

The rise of user-generated content (UGC) has brought a new level of authenticity and personalization to the world of marketing. What does it mean?

From organic customer testimonials on social media to paid-for, brand-owned content on short-form video platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels, UGC has become an integral part of many marketing strategies. It also provided a whole new way for creators to make money even if they don’t have extremely high following.

UGC Meaning

What is UGC? UGC refers to any type of content created by users or customers, rather than by the brand or company. This can include everything from photos and videos to reviews and testimonials. And increasingly it refers to a paid engagement between a brand and an independent creator to create organic-looking content for that brand.

In the early days of social media, this content was often organic, with customers naturally posting about a brand or product. Today, however, many brands are investing in creating UGC themselves, often through the use of paid content creators. The leading platforms for UGC activity are Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube, and all are very active.

When the topic of UGC went viral on TikTok in2022 a lot of people jumped on that train because those UGC creators made it seem like a quick and easy way to make money. While the reality is not as simple, the process behind UGC creation is straightforward:

  1. Brand gives creator the product to try out
  2. Creator makes the content about the product
  3. Brand signs off on the content or creator does 1-2 revisions
  4. Creator gets paid

UGC Creator Meaning

What is a UGC creator? UGC creators are the masterminds behind the user generated content, providing a fresh perspective and unique voice to the commercial social media landscape. From viral memes and comedic videos to personal anecdotes and heartfelt stories, UGC creators have the power to captivate and connect with audiences in a way that traditional advertising simply cannot. UGC creators produce user generated content professionally and get paid for it.

What Makes a Good UGC Content Creator?

One of the biggest misconceptions about UGC content is that it can only be created by models or influencers. In reality, anyone who is comfortable being on camera and enjoys creating content can make UGC. The difference between UGC creators and Influencers, and the appeal of UGC is that it is created by real people, not just celebrities, which makes it more relatable to the average consumer.

And the authenticity also comes from an ability to relate to your particular audience. For example, if you are a stay at home mom, other stay at home moms will take your point of view on a product targeted to this market over a generic celebrity or a faceless ad. Which means that not being perfect is part of the appeal - it’s more relatable because the audience sees a lifestyle that is much more similar to theirs.

That being said, being comfortable on camera is important, as most UGC content features the creator in some way. Whether it's a video or a photo, the person creating the content should be able to speak and create content in a natural, authentic way.

How to Start Building a Portfolio as a UGC Content Creator

The first step to becoming a UGC content creator is building a portfolio of your work. This will serve as a showcase of your skills and abilities, and will be an important tool for getting new clients and projects.

Your portfolio should include:

  • Examples of different types of content, such as videos, photos, and written pieces.
  • Topics you can cover, and description of your audience or target audience.
  • Names of past clients and any details of previous work.

Even if you are just starting, you can create videos about products you use and like using to build up your portfolio. Brands will care about the energy you bring more than your long client list. Some the UGC partners we work with at Pensight started using our product, made videos about why they like it, and it prompted us to reach out and work with them further.

If you don’t want to post your early UGC experiments on your main account - create a UGC specific alternative account where you can experiment and see what works.

When creating your portfolio, focus on showcasing your strengths and the types of content that you enjoy creating the most. Show that you understand the trends and have a pulse on your area of interest. It's also important to keep your portfolio up to date, adding new pieces of content as you create them.

How to make your portfolio in practice:

People get a little intimidated thinking whether they need a website, professionally designed document or a complicated presentation. You can use free tools like:

  • Canva
  • Google Slides
  • A long youtube video where you add all your examples with  a one page write up.

Make sure you add links to your content, or embed them into the presentation but it doesn’t need to be too complicated. Convenience is the most important part, and then your content speaks for you.

Structure for UGC content

Here is a simple but powerful UGC video recipe for you to get started:

  • Hook
  • Bad Alternative
  • Education on problem
  • Product Intro
  • Benefits
  • Results and CTA

This could possibly turn into a long video, so make sure to keep it engaging with short scenes, quick cuts and transitions. Read more here on strategies on how to make content that can crush it on Tiktok.

How to find your first UGC client and make your first money with UGC

There are three key strategies we recommend:

Proactive Reach-Out

One of the most effective ways to find your first client is through proactive reach-out. This can include sending emails, reaching out on LinkedIn, or messaging brands on Instagram. When reaching out, be complementary and provide good feedback on the brand's products or services. It's also a good idea to start with smaller brands or startups, as they may be more open to working with new content creators and you can often reach the founders of the brand just by emailing the general company email address.

Utilizing Content

Another way to find clients is by creating content and using relevant hashtags and tagging the brands you are talking about. By tagging brands and products in your content, you increase the likelihood that a social media manager or founder will see your work and reach out to you. When they reach out, they’ll often ask to repost. You can then tell them you offer paid reposts and try to convert the conversation into a bigger contract. Have your portfolio ready and try to get them on a discovery call quickly to do that.

UGC Marketplaces

There are also several marketplaces, such as Upwork and Fiverr, where you can find clients looking for UGC content creators. While these platforms may have more competition and you’ll need better portfolio to stand out, they can also provide a steady stream of potential clients. With smart pricing early on, you can get some of your first clients there.

UGC on Upwork

Increase Your Chances by Offering Discounts

Offering big discounts to early clients can be a great way to build up your portfolio and differentiate yourself from other content creators when you’re just starting out. This can be a good way to start working with brands to build your portfolio up for bigger clients.

How much should you charge for UGC?

How much money do UGC creators make? This will vary depending on the type of content you're creating, the length of the content, and the brand you're working with. As a general rule, you can expect to charge anywhere from $50 to $500 (and sometimes more) for UGC depending on the size of your audience and brand’s ability to pay, On marketplaces like Upwork or Fiverr where the market moves faster the prices are often lower and can start at $10, while building your own audience and contact will allow you to raise the floor of your prices over time and as your portfolio and audience grows.

Make it Easy for Brands to Reach Out

As a UGC content creator, it's important to make it as easy as possible for brands to reach out to you when they found your content. You can do it by including a link to your portfolio and a booking link for exploratory calls in your link-in-bio site. Pensight is built for interactions like that - it doesn’t only hold your links, but allows scheduling directly from your bio page or allows you to quickly capture emails from people who want to download your portfolio.

A few UGC creator examples that use Pensight to run discovery calls and link to their portfolios:

Set up your Pensight link-in-bio to help you get conversation going

What to look out for in UGC contracts

Brands will normally have simple agreements ready and they’re happy to draft them, so don’t let not having your own template stop you from starting conversations. When you get the contract there are a few things to look our for: make sure the contract includes information such as payment amount, deadlines, and the number of revisions that will be permitted. It's crucial to establish clear expectations during the initial conversation to reduce the need for revisions. Make sure that the contract doesn’t forbid you from working with other brands, or at least that the period is only for the duration of the partnership. Don’t be afraid to ask for certain terms to be explained or revised.

Delivering the UGC to clients

Once the contract is signed, it's important to deliver the final product on time and to the agreed upon specifications - be punctual and communicate clearly about any delays. This means keeping in touch with the brand throughout the process and making sure to address any concerns or issues that may arise. It's also important to provide the final product in a format that is easy for the brand to use and distribute - use Google Drive or even Email to send files directly.

Few things to keep in mind:

  • Be professional - even though UGC is all about being creative, it's still important to be professional and easy to do business with. You are dealing with a person working for the brand and you want to make their life easy. This means being polite and responsive when communicating, and it also means meeting deadlines and listening to feedback.
  • Knowledge about the product and the alternatives - a lot of times, a creator is given a product to try without any context or without knowing anything about the product. As a result, the creator is not able to present an objective opinion about it. It is important for the creators to have some context and ideally, knowledge about the product, before they start filming. This will help them present a more nuanced and objective opinion.
  • Creating Value - the content should be more than just unboxing or a product walk-through. This means that the content should be more than just a sponsored ad or a review. The content should ideally provide some value to the viewers, whether it is in the form of entertainment or education.
  • High-quality video and audio - The video should be well-lit and in focus, with good audio. You don’t need a fancy camera, but your phone’s camera should be able to produce a clear image, so pick well lit environment and a presentable background.
  • On-brand - Your video should be on-brand for the product you’re talking about. This means using the product in a way that is consistent with how the brand wants it to be seen - pay attention to their guidelines and their existing content.

Staying Ahead of the Game: Keeping Up With the Latest UGC Trends

The world of UGC is constantly evolving, and staying ahead of the latest trends is key to success. This means keeping an eye on the latest platforms and technologies, as well as experimenting with new types of content. One of the most popular platforms for UGC at the moment is TikTok, which is quickly becoming a go-to platform for brands - observe other creators and follow most active brands to stay on top and keep your portfolio up to date.

User-generated content is an exciting and constantly evolving field, and is a great opportunity for anyone interested in creating content and working with brands. With the right skills and approach, anyone can become a successful UGC content creator.

Social media marketing strategy for creators to book more calls

If you think you’d be a great fit to make some UGC content for Pensight, even if you have never made UGC content before, reach out to us via!

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