On the surface, UGC is WAY too good to be true.
Looking in from the outside, creators get sent free products whilst racking up five figure months filming themselves. No followers, no formal education. Just a sure fire way to become financially free on your own terms.
And it doesn’t even look hard.
Learn how to create UGC content and you’re in the money, right? Wrong. While UGC is simple, it’s not easy.
If you’re a content creator of any sort, you’ll understand just how much goes into a single concept. From scripting, to filming, to editing (or dealing with clients that don’t know what they want) — a lot goes into making content. UGC isn’t easy, but it is simple. Let’s unpack.
Why Becoming A UGC Creator Is Easy
There are a number of reasons why becoming a UGC creator is easy. Without beating around the bush, to be a UGC creator you…
〰️ Don’t Need Equipment
When UGC content is done well, it looks natural to the consumer’s social media feed. Ask yourself, when you’re scrolling TikTok — what kind of content do you see? Is it highly produced, with studio lighting and professional sound? No. 9.5 times out of 10 it’s Mary filming in her car on her iPhone 12. Good UGC looks like Mary in her car filming on her iPhone 12.
〰️ You Don’t Need A Following
UGC is content created for a brand to be used on their own platforms, whether that be organically or as paid ads. Unlike being an influencer, your worth as a UGC creator isn’t tied to the number of followers you have. The content is intended for the brand’s audience, not yours.
〰️ No Education
Take this with a pinch of salt. You don’t need any formal education. You don’t need a degree, or a decade worth of low-paid experience to be able to start earning as a UGC creator. With that being said, you still need to learn the craft and get to grips with direct response marketing principles. Luckily, you can do without racking up student loans.
〰️ Can Be Done Anytime, By Anyone
As a side hustle, UGC is flexible. It can be done anywhere, anytime (provided the lighting is right) and this means you can make it work around your life. You don’t need to put the kids in daycare in order to film, in fact, for many clients they become an appealing background prop. Pets are a win, and travelling only opens up the kind of brands you can work with. Need a vacation? Pitch a few sunscreen brands to work on while you’re away and that break pays for itself.
But, and there is a but, if UGC was easy, everyone would succeed. I say this because a lot of people start UGC, but if you circle back a year later — few stick with it.
And here’s why.
The Reality Of Becoming A UGC Creator
The reality of becoming a UGC creator isn’t quite as hunky dory as pitching a few sunscreen brands and holidaying in Hawaii. It just looks that way.
1. Week 3 to 12
The first two weeks of being a UGC creator is great. You’re making your profiles, your portfolio, pitching to brands. A few might even get back to you, more often than not offering free product. And I’ll say it now — this feels great. If you’ve never been in the world of PR before, having brands send you things without having to buy them is amazing, until it’s not. The glow from gifting will wear off, and then the first few months can become a bit of a slog. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but for many, it’s not going to be $10k in the first month and live the high life. You build up a client base, experience and expertise, and that can take a few months.
In the meantime, you’re slogging away for not a lot of $$$ and questioning whether or not UGC is worth it.
MY ANSWER: It is worth it, but you need to stick with it for longer than 3 months. Give it 6 months of being consistent every single week, and you’ll see it pay off in dividends.
2. Getting Ghosted On The Daily
When you scroll through HASHTAGUGCcreator on TikTok you’ll see a lot of ‘Watch me make $3,000 in an hour’ or ‘DITL making $1,500 of content’ and it’s hard not to think that’s what it’s like as a UGC creator. The truth is that most creators send hundreds of pitches before getting the coveted yes. You can be strung along by clients, palmed off by others and just downright ghosted by most — and that’s normal.
MY ANSWER: Work on your pitch and learn how to sell your services in a way potential clients can’t say no to. Once you know that your pitch isn’t the problem, then you can work on sending more, or building your personal brand so that clients come to you.
3. Chasing For Payment
This isn’t a UGC creator problem, it’s a freelancer problem. As a UGC creator, 25% of your time will be spent creating content — the other 75% is the admin behind the scenes. Pitching, emailing, invoicing, chasing said invoices. Part and parcel of the industry.
MY ANSWER: Get good at automating your back-end processes with invoicing tools. These can send reminders for you, chase clients once invoices are late and take a whole load of stress off your late.
4. Unsustainable Work
I don’t see this mentioned a lot, but it’s worth talking about. UGC can be unsustainable. When you start taking on $100 per video jobs as a side hustle, it feels like a win. But when you factor in the amount of time it takes to pitch enough clients to land just one yes to a $100 video, it’s not sustainable in the long term.
MY ANSWER: Bundled packages, regular clients and a higher quality of work that enables you to demand better rates. You need to be able to back yourself, and this will eventually mean turning down the $100 videos in favour of bigger and better things.
Is Being A UGC Creator Worth It?
For some people, yes. But for others, no.
Too often I see UGC creators telling their stories of rags to riches, failing to reference the Stan store guides or profits they make from UGC coaching on the side. UGC can be lucrative, but only if you stick with it for longer than two months. For most people, in that month the bad outweighs the good. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad UGC creator, or your failing — it means you’re normal. Everyone’s UGC journey looks different, and the fact that some creators are making five figures in their first month doesn’t make it easy.
UGC is simple. Learn direct response marketing principles. Perfect them in short form video content. Understand how to pitch your services. But none of that is easy, and it’s not overnight.
You’re doing well. Stick with it.