Martina Channa

Martina Channa

UGC starter Guide

Everything you need to know to become a UGC creator

Hi, Welcome! When I started out with UGC, there was so much to learn that its easy to get overwhelmed and, as I experienced, completely burn out. I want to help new creators to avoid my mistakes. So, drumroll please, here is my UGC Starter Guide + 8 Week Checklist on how to become a UGC creator. It will guide you on every step of your journey. Your ROADMAP to becoming a UGC creator!

Shortcut: Click where you left off

You can navigate this guide on your own. Take your time to complete each step, delegate time to it every day – small steps are still progress! However, if you want to go faster, or you already are in the process of becoming a UGC creator, you can always adjust it according to your needs! Some of you might finish this checklist in 8 weeks, some sooner and some later. It doesn’t matter as long as you keep working on your self and your UGC business/side hustle!

Week 1

Do your research

First and foremost, learn, study, and really live through the UGC community and knowledge. Study other creators personal content, content of brands on social media and also their ads. I recommend saving the examples and videos you like or that inspire you and create folders on your socials, where you can easily find them later.

Here are some creators, that are worth following. You can learn a lot from them, so definitely check out their content:

Other than studying the content side of UGC, you should understand the way of working with brands and the terms, that are frequently used in UGC. I wrote an entire UGC Dictionary with 20+ terms of UGC terminology, you can read it here.

Create your socials & start engaging

Now it’s time to create your new social media accounts you will use for building your personal brand and sharing examples of your work. Choose a brand name or use your personal name. You can use the accounts you already have as well, but I would suggest starting new accounts completely dedicated to content creation and UGC. Don’t forget to add UGC in your social handles, so it’s clear to brands that you are a UGC creator, and they can contact you to create content for them. Your name should be the same on all platforms, so your personal brand is consistent. 
Before you start with the next step, which is to utilize the socials for posting content for building your personal brand, you can already start engaging with the community. Like, comment, follow other creators. UGC community is very supportive, so you can already create great connections even before posting your own content. It also helps the algorithms to find your audience.  

Create en e-mail address & signature

Now it’s time to create your professional looking e-mail. The e-mail should have the same name as your social media handles. You can use a Gmail account (example: ugcbymartina@gmail.com) or you can buy a domain – a website name, like I have – and create an email with your domain name (example: ugc@martinachanna.com).  If you do decide to buy a domain, you can later use it for your portfolio as well. It looks more professional, but it is not necessary, and you will do just fine with a Gmail.

After you set up your email, you need to add a signature, to make it look even more professional. You can do this for free through Signaturehound. It is very easy, but if you need a tutorial, you can follow this one. Please, include your photo, name and your social media handles. Here is an example of mine, so you can get inspired: 

Start building your personal brand

You may ask: Why is building your personal brand on social media important?
It can differentiate you from all the other creators, if you do it right and consistently. It allows you to showcase your unique voice, style, and perspective, making it easier for audiences to recognize and connect with your content in the sea of UGC. Another important point is, that brands look at metrics a lot. A lot of creators in the space say that you do not need followers to start UGC. This might be true in some aspects, but having a following and an engaged audience is a big benefit and in my opinion, the future of UGC. If you can create engaging content for yourself, brands will know you can easily do it for them, too. Not only this ads trust and credibility to you as a creator, but also allows you to monetize your services higher. 

You need to think of social media as a tool and some sort of reputation system. Remember that you are not trying to become an influencer, you want to showcase your skills and work as a UGC creator. This means that you should focus on your UGC skills and creating great content for brands, and your social media will grow too. Building a personal brand takes credibility and time

Now that you understand that, you need to get in the habit of filming. This is easier said, than done, and you will surely find that out soon for yourself.  I completely failed and burned out in this phase, so please, set your own flow.  Many social media “experts” will tell you, that you have to post 3 times a day, in specific times, with SEO descriptions and bla bla bla.. Please, do not worry about any of this. Just start posting, experiment, find your own flow, set your own schedule. One video a day, one video every three days.. it’s really up to you. It should be organic and natural. The most important thing is to stay consistent and keep it up long term.

If you need inspiration or are not sure what to post, you can go back to step one – check out the creators I recommended or just scroll TikTok or Instagram and write down any ideas you see and you like. Please, do not copy them, but get inspired and create it in your own way. Focus on content that is attractive to brands, like content examples, your experience as a UGC creator, showcasing what you have to offer. The more unique, authentic content you create, the more your personal brand will prosper. There are too many creators doing, looking and creating the same things. If you can stand out, you have a bigger chance of working with brands, earning more money and getting inbounds (if you don’t know what inbounds are, go back to step one and do your research!). 

Finished the steps? Tick them off in your checklist!

Week 2

You started out strong, I hope you will keep going! This week we will focus on creating content so you can soon start reaching out to brands you want to work with!

Start creating content for your portfolio

Great quality content is the most important part of being a UGC creator. That’s why you should heavily focus on practicing this week. You can start out by creating content for the products you already own and love and create videos for them. If you want to know more tips and tricks on how to create a great portfolio, you can read it here. In that article is also the rundown of all the different video types you should include in your portfolio. Don’t worry about a niche – create videos on any products, apps, or even services you like from any category. You should have at least 6 to 8 videos to start with, before you start pitching brands. 

It is extremely important that you focus on your filming skills. I would also recommend to start checking out some equipment. I wrote an entire guide, helping you choose the right equipment that won’t break the bank.

Please, take your time with this. You can go back to step 1 in week 1, where I recommended you to create folders on your socials of videos you liked. You can find inspiration for your first videos there. Study the structure, quality, angles. If you want to learn more about how to create better content and things you should avoid doing, you can this blog post: Tips to level up your UGC content. Your content should be good enough to be put in your portfolio, that you will create next week.

Create an Intro video

One of the things that can set you up for success is creating a short intro video. This shows the brand your skills of talking to the camera, your presentation, your personality. Intro video will be later used to sign up for some UGC platforms as well, where you can find brands looking for content and close deals.

Check out other creator’s intro videos on social media like TikTok, so you can get inspiration. Try to structure the Script in a way, that you talk about your value and what you bring to the table, rather than just talking about yourself. Right example: My name is Martina and I can create engaging videos for your brand… Bad example: My name is Martina, and I am a UGC creator that can create content for you. I studied marketing in school…
Really think about this. If you can find more creative ways how to make an itro, with cool script or editing, go for it! It is like a handshake with the brand, and first impressions matter. That’s how they get to know you and your skills. 

Start curating a brand list

While getting inspired on social media (please be careful about wasting time scrolling, that is not productive and will get you no-where), you can start screenshotting or writing down brand names you would like to work with. I would recommend saving brand names that work with other UGC creators – if they already know the benefits of UGC, they are more likely to work with more creators, and you could be one of them.

You can also check out TikTok Ads library and IG Ads library. You will find lots of brands already investing money into advertising. Or simply just notice the ads that pop up on your social media and add them to the list.

Beware – there are creators selling brand lists with contacts. I would not recommend purchasing such lists. Put in the work to create your own. You never know if the people and contacts have changed, if they are even relevant to you, if they ship to your country etc.  

Be consistent

Don’t have crazy expectations of quick growth. With such expectations, you can burn yourself out like I did. I constantly set unrealistic expectations, that I didn’t reach, and it made me demotivated and almost give up. Slow and steady is great! And if something great happens, and you get lucky, that is only a plus. 

Finished the steps? Tick them off in your checklist!

Week 3

Create your UGC portfolio

Your portfolio is like your online business card and it should represent you. There are a few ways you can create your portfolio. The most popular one in the UGC space is through Canva website, because it is very easy and it is free. Here is a great tutorial on how to create a UGC portfolio through Canva, by a fellow UGC creator, Sarah. This week, you should start putting your portfolio together. It will take you a while to perfect it, however it is a forever changing “online business card”. You should update it frequently. 

Here are the things you should definitely include in your portfolio:

Start by choosing a template. You can find many templates in Canva or online, either free, or you can invest in a paid one. Choose one that you like. Practice in Canva, start putting in your contact information, social links and other texts. Also include the content examples you have already made. Keep creating examples, if you don’t have at least 6 to 8 videos ready to include in your portfolio by now. Remember, they should all vary, and you should practice and showcase different content types, as we discussed last week.

You will not be able to put in Testimonials or Brand logos from scratch, but those will be added later, once you have done few collaborations. We will come back to this later in the next few weeks. 

Start by choosing a template. You can find many templates in Canva or online, either free, or you can invest in a paid one. Choose one that you like. Practice in Canva, start putting in your contact information, social links and other texts. Also include the content examples you have already made. Keep creating examples, if you don’t have at least 6 to 8 videos ready to include in your portfolio by now. Remember, they should all vary, and you should practice and showcase different content types, as we discussed last week. If you want to know few more tips I would recommend to keep in mind while creating your portfolio, you can read them in this blog post. 

If you have experience in creating websites, you can also create a portfolio as a website, like I did. It does give more flexibility, but it includes costs, like buying a domain name and hosting, and it does require much more experience to create it. 

Set up your rates

Now is time to also start thinking about your rates. Many creators have a “Rate card“, that they prepare as a PDF – you can again find many templates in Canva for free, if you want to create one. I do not have one, and I recommend you – do not send a rate card to a brand-you are not a restaurant. You should have base prices set up for your services, yes. But sending a Rate card to brands that have different budgets and different needs might take opportunities away for collaborations or extra earnings. It all depends on your communication with the brand. 

Think about your services and your rates. In the beginning, a good price range for a UGC video is between 100-180€, depending on how good your content is and how much value you provide. There should be extra costs included if brand wants Ad rights, if they want Bundles, or extra hooks or CTA’s. If you don’t understand these terms, read my UGC Dictionary

Finished the steps? Tick them off in your checklist!

Week 4

Finish your portfolio

By now, you should have everything for your portfolio ready to go, to start reaching out to brands. We will start with pitching next week. Now is time to finish up your portfolio, polish it and perfect it as well as the content included in it. 

Sign up for UGC platforms

There are many platforms, that help creators connect with brands, that are searching for UGC content. It varies, depending on what is your location. For America, there are many options. Here is a quick list of platform you can check out and apply for. I put the ones which I heard are worth it in bold. Beware that many of these do require a certain amount of followers to get accepted. 
Platforms available for USA creators: Insense, Octoly, Cohley, Popular pays, Fiverr, Aspire IQ, Shopmy, Expeerly, Getpola, Upwork, Boksi, Brandsmeetcreators, Refluenced, Joinbrands, Boksiapp, Vidsy.creators, Skeepers, Influenster

If you are based in Europe, your options are much more limited. I would recommend checking out these three platforms: Fiverr, Upwork and Influee. 

It is up to you, whether you will apply to these and how many you choose. They do broaden the opportunities for UGC creators to find deals. However, you can skip this step, if you don’t want to go this route and go with traditional pitching and building your personal brand to eventually attack brands with your own content and get inbounds. 

Learn about the process of brand deals

Do your research on how Brand deals work and what’s the process behind them. You will get to know more from your own experience, but here are some tips: 
Get your script approved by the brand while you wait for the product – this will ensure the whole process is faster and no time is wasted.
Never send the full content without a watermark before receiving the payment.
– Get clear on the deliverables and if the collaboration is paid, also on the payment. 
Overdeliver – you can add extra hooks or CTA or even an extra video to try to upsell the brand and get more money.   

Finished the steps? Tick them off in your checklist!

Week 5

Pitch to 10 brands daily

Now is time to go back to the list we started curating in Week 2. By now, you should have plenty of brands in this list, that you can reach out to. 

There are two ways to go about it – either you reach out via social media, or you can reach out directly via e-mail to a relevant contact. It’s a personal preference, both can get you results if you do it well. If you choose to go with e-mail, you should look on the company website for a good contact. Best is, if you can find a person to reach out to, who is responsible for collaborations. You can also check out Hunter – platform that helps you find e-mail contacts on websites. You can also check LinkedIn, for positions in companies and try to find a contact that way. 

Please, never just copy and paste a pitch. Research the brands, its social media content, ads and products. Give the brand cool content ideas specifically fit for them. Plus points for engaging with the brand’s social media accounts. 

Pitching daily gives you a big outreach right in the beginning. 70 brands weekly is a lot, but realistically only 5-10% of them will even react to your message or e-mail. 

Bonus tip: Schedule your e-mail pitches to go out on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays only.

I would recommend you, to not send your e-mail pitches on weekends, nor Monday or Friday. It gives you a better chance to get a reply. 

You can also send follow-ups after a few weeks of sending a pitch, if you got no response. Remind the brand your ideas, include new ones. Follow-ups can also be strategic – if you see a specific promotion of the brand or when a holiday is coming up (Christmas, Valentine’s Day etc.) You can always pitch new ideas. I also included my follow-up e-mail in Notion or your PDF checklist. 

Create / buy a UGC contract

Contracts are an essential part of UGC creation, for establishing a clear and mutually beneficial relationship between creators and brands. They: 

  • Define Rights and Responsibilities: UGC contracts outline the specific rights and responsibilities of both the creator and the brand. This includes details such as usage rights, ownership of the content, payment terms etc. By clearly defining these aspects upfront, both parties understand what is expected of them and can avoid misunderstandings or disputes later on.

  • Protect you: Creators need to retain ownership of their work, while brands require permission to use it for their marketing purposes. UGC contracts establish who owns the content, how it can be used, and for how long. This protects the creator’s intellectual property rights and ensures that the brand can legally use the content without facing potential legal issues.

  • Establish Expectations and Deliverables: Effective communication is key to a successful UGC campaign. Contracts help to establish clear expectations and deliverables, including the type of content required, deadlines, quality standards, and any specific brand guidelines that need to be followed. This ensures that both parties are aligned on the project’s objectives and can work together efficiently to achieve them.

  • Minimize Risks: UGC contracts typically include protection of both parties from potential risks and liabilities. For example, the contract may say, that the creator is responsible for ensuring that the content does not violate any third-party rights, such as copyright or trademark violations.

Contract are very difficult to just write, or generate. Even with help of AI, I would not recommend you to write your own contract. You can purchase contracts from creators who had their made by professional lawyers and adjust what needed. 

Many times brands have their own contracts, that you will sign. Please read through them properly and check the terms you might not understand, so you don’t get in trouble later. Here is my UGC Dictionary, where these terms might be explained. 

Set up Stripe/ PayPal or create an invoice

So, how do you get paid? Now that you are set with your portfolio & contract, know how brand deals work and are reaching out to brands, you should figure out a way to get paid. 

There are 2 ways to go about this. Either you create an invoice in Canva, or you sign up for platforms like Stripe or PayPal, that can generate invoices for you.

You should get yourself informed on how to create a business or a trade license in the country you are based in, so you know what kind of business information to include in your invoices. UGC is obviously not a private income, and you should do your Taxes including this income as a business owner. 

Finished the steps? Tick them off in your checklist!

Week 6 - 8

By now, you have the base setup for success, Congratulations! Now it’s time to land deals, work with brands and build your personal brand.

Work on first collaborations

By the time week 6 comes around, you should have already had first inbounds or replies to your pitch. Since you are a new creator, usually the first collaborations you will get will be gifted. This means you get their product in exchange for content. I recommend taking these collaborations in the beginning of your journey, or in general if you like the brand or the product, and you’d buy it anyway. This allows you to go through the process of brand deals, experience of communication with brands and also practice creating content for them. If they are happy with your content, you should ask them for a testimonial, that you can later add to your portfolio. 

Update your portfolio

Keep in mind, that every new video you create and every new testimonial you get should be added to your portfolio. You should keep updating it, especially in the beginning, when your content will get drastically better by practicing. You should add brand logos as well, because it adds a lot of credibility and shows off your experience. 

Keep creating and stay consistent

Continue creating content and keep working on your personal brand. Remember, social media is like a reputation system and it is a long game. The more you will create content and the more you will stay consistent, the better and easier everything will get as you build habits. 

Secure the deals!!

I hope this guide helped you and gave you lots of valuable information. If you feel like I helped you achieve better results on becoming a UGC creator, you can buy me a coffee! I wish you success on your Content Creation journey! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, my contact information is below! 

More resources for your journey:

Elevate your filming setup

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Become a Content Creator

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Tips for a great Portfolio

Let's break down some tips to make your portfolio shine.