I average $5,000 in monthly revenue creating user-generated content for small businesses. Here's how I got my start and scaled my business.
- Giselle González started creating user-generated content in March 2022.
- She didn't have a social-media following, but she started creating content based on brands she loved.
This as told to story is based on an interview with Giselle González that has been edited for length and clarity.
Giselle González was looking for a way to make money and fulfill her creative passions while working from home so she could be available for her kids.
With more than 10 years of marketing experience at major companies, she recalled that her friends and peers often asked for advice on crafting effective marketing campaigns, particularly on social media. So when she learned about user-generated content, or UGC, she said it was the perfect opportunity for her. UGC is organic content created by customers using a brand's products, while UGC-style content is a marketing tactic where brands hire unaffiliated creators to film and produce social-media content for the company platforms.
Brands are turning to UGC in order to connect with consumers and entrepreneurs are starting UGC agencies due to the lucrative opportunities it can provide without the high startup costs. In fact, González didn't have any initial expenses and relied on tools she already had, like her iPhone, social media pages, and a free app called InShot to produce her content.
"When I realized that I could start creating content for brands without having a huge following, without being an influencer, I started digging," González said.
She understood she'd have to start small, but she knew the growth potential was huge. What's more, like many UGC freelancers, González had authority over the number of hours she worked each week, giving her the freedom she desired.
She turned her marketing experience into a freelance-UGC career in March 2022 — a time when UGC was becoming an increasingly effective strategy as social-media users and consumers prefer more authentic brand messaging.
She spent the first few months experimenting with content types, such as talk-through videos, tutorials, and product reviews, along with building her brand relationships. By the third month, she booked more than $2,000 in revenue, documents viewed by Insider show. And in September, six months after filming her first project, she brought in more than $6,000 and said she's been averaging around $5,000 a month from her UGC side hustle.
Today, she creates video ads for both Instagram and TikTok and works primarily with small beauty-and-wellness brands.
González said building a professional social-media presence, creating a compelling portfolio, and establishing competitive rates helped her grow. Here, she shared her advice for new UGC creators on how to get their start.
Create a portfolio with brands you're passionate about
Before I got paid for any UGC deals, I started creating content on my own social-media platforms to determine what types of videos performed well so I could create a portfolio for myself.
I started with hair-care brands because I'm always testing out products for my own curly hair. So many other creators in the beauty space share tutorials for straight hair, and I wanted to represent the curly girl. So I decided to test out products and share my reviews through video content online.
Once I buffed up on my filming skills and created an aesthetic, I sent videos I was proud of to brands I wanted to work with. My own social-media platforms acted as my portfolio.
Now I also work with health-and-wellness brands, like Magic Spoon cereal, because those also organically fit into my daily life.
When it comes to working with brands, it's important that you work with brands you feel attracted to and brands that align with your beliefs. UGC videos are testimonials, so they must be authentic.
Offer value when reaching out to brands
The outreach process starts with me reaching out to brand decision-makers on LinkedIn. A company's press email likely gets thousands of emails per day, so I've found more luck reaching out directly to the person who might be in charge of partnerships, marketing, or social media.
Because I do a lot of outreach on LinkedIn, my profile has to be professional and constantly updated with my latest UGC work.
I start my pitch by asking them if they're looking to work with content creators or the best email for me to send more information. That initial message is never too long.
Then, if they're interested, I follow up with a message that tells them I am a full-time content creator, a few reasons why I would love to work with the brand, and a few reasons why I am the best candidate for the role.
I make sure to study the brand ahead of time. For example, I look at PiPiAds.com, which shows the metrics for all existing TikTok ads to understand how theirs typically perform.
Based on that research, I make sure to provide them with a strategy I'd use in my content to help boost their results.
My advice is to always provide some value that you can bring to them as a content creator. That's how you're going to get a response from them.
Increase your rates with your experience
Determining your rates as a new creator is one of the most difficult parts of establishing your business, but remember to not undervalue yourself.
I would recommend starting at $100 per video. A lot of work goes into the outreach, conceptualizing the ad, filming, and editing, all of which a UGC creator is responsible for.
I started my rates at $125 per video because I knew I could offer strategy and quality content based on my experience in marketing. But I've since raised it to $200 per video.
Additionally, now I look for longer-term contracts or bundles, which help keep my income stable and predictable.
Another indicator that you should increase your rates is high conversion from past projects. Ask brands you've worked with to send you the metrics from your content. That way, you can change what needs to be changed, or use success as proof you should be paid more from future partners.
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