It seems like all creators are monetizing with brand deals nowadays. Brand deals have become the common currency between creators and brands. We also know that micro-creators (i.e. accounts with less than 25,000 followers) make up a growing percentage of brand deal sponsorships compared with “big time” creators (“big time” = Mr. Beast). So if everyone is doing it, it must be easy right?
If you are a creator just getting started with brand deals it can seem daunting to navigate the process for the first few times. How do you find the right brands to work with? How do you set up a brand deal contract without a management background?
We’ve created this guide for the creator who might just need a little bit more guidance to feel confident negotiating with brands on their own! We are here for ya (but actually - if you want to talk through this more, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org).
How can I find brands that will want to work with me?
Brands care about authenticity and brand fit more than pure follower count. They are more likely to value engagement (do you have a following that comments and engages on your posts) and content fit over the sheer size of your following. Because of this, look for brands who share your values, whether that be industry focus, niche, or style. The best time to reach out to brands is when you are posting consistently.
That's great… but how do I actually find brands like that?
Sammi Smith, creator manager who also has experience working on the brand side, gave us a really good trick for finding brands that could be a good fit. “Follow other creators you admire or perceive to be similar to and see which brands they are working with. Reach out to brands that you love and resonate with. Authenticity is hard to fake.” By targeting brands that are true to your identity as a creator, you will likely set up more successful brand deals faster than casting a wider net to brands that might not be the best brand fit.
How do I get in touch with folks at the brands I find?
Brands want you to get in touch. You can usually find their contact details in their instagram bios. If their creator partnership team’s contact is not directly listed, we recommend reaching out to the generic customer service email and asking to be put in touch with their creator marketing or brand partnerships team. Sometimes you have to go through a few people to get to the right contact. Don’t worry, that's normal!
P.S. remember to put your contact info in your Tiktok bio (not just instagram)! We have heard from brands that more and more creator discovery is happening on Tiktok. Make it easy for brands to get in touch!
How much time should reaching out to brands take?
Create a template. We will say that again. Create a template! For initial outreach, design a blurb to that:
- Introduces who you are and who your followers are (doesn’t need to be verbose)
- Which platforms you are on (linked)
If the brand is interested, they will typically respond asking for analytics and statistics for your accounts around engagement and followers. You can skip this step by including these in your initial outreach, or spread them out to further develop the relationship with the brand.
Pro tip: If you’ve established the brand is a good fit, be up front by asking the brand if they have a budget to work with or if they are only interested in merch exchange for payment. If there is no budget, it's important to know that up front.
Do I need a media kit to get brand deals?
No. While we love seeing the splashy media kits that creators are making on Canva and have gone viral on Tiktok, do not feel like you need to make one of those to reach out to brands. Those types of media kits might make sense for an interior design focused creator for instance—they are definitely not necessary for everyone.
Negotiating a fair contract
What are the key components of a fair contract?
Every contract is different, but to avoid headaches or ambiguity about payments terms and deliverables, we suggest incorporating the following key elements into any contract:
- SOW. A clearly defined statement of work (SOW) that outlines the project and deliverables. This piece should describe the brand responsibilities and creator responsibilities and be as detailed as possible. Pro tip: Clarify if you're responsible for the caption and post or just post.
- Revisions. The contract should state how many times the brand is allowed to ask for revisions. Pro tip: The industry standard is 2-3 rounds of revisions.
- Pro tip: Revisions standards do differ by platform. If you are a Youtube creator and your final brand deliverable is a 30 minute Youtube video, we suggest lowering revision terms to 1 revision.
- Payment terms. Payment terms should include total payment due, due dates, and terms for late payment (e.g. Late payment penalty 10% for first week after due date, 25% afterwards)
While it might sound obvious, its so important for creators to thoroughly read the creative brief the brand sends in detail and make sure to “hit everything” they are asking for with their deliverable. This attention to detail can really make the difference with brand satisfaction and working with the brand again after the first deal.
Common Traps to Avoid
- A brand asks you to work off commission without being paid a fee. Creators should advocate their value. If your normal rate is not within the brand’s budget, you can always negotiate the rate down and add a commission.
- Sometimes a brand will say your content did not perform “well” so they don't want to pay the full amount. Unless a minimum performance guarantee was put in the contract, the brand will need to honor the full payment. As a creator you could choose to earn goodwill with the brand by creating another post for free or a reduced fee.
- Professional photos. We have seen creators start to use professional photos for their brand deals instead of posting more casual or authentic photos. This can satisfy the brand but be weary of the impact it has on your brand as a creator and impact on your audience.
- Oversaturation of brand deals. Make sure not to oversaturate your platforms with brand deals - space them out. Similarly, avoid posting (for example) two Tiktoks in a row promoting different brands. If you have codes embedded in each post, the brands will see lower ROI on the codes in addition to potentially diluting your brand as a creator!
- Exclusivity clauses. Make sure to look out for exclusivity clauses in your contract. A brand might have a clause that says you can’t post another brand’s content for X months before or after. If this is a big brand deal, it might be worth it to you as a creator! But always be aware of these.
- Pro tip: Ask brands to be specific if you are going to agree to an exclusivity clause. For example, if the contract says “other beauty brands” does that mean just eye shadow brands? All beauty and cosmetics? Its totally normal to ask for clarification here!