We need to talk about your UGC process.
Once upon a time in the bustling city streets, a man named Travis had a common frustration: hailing a taxi. He didn’t mind waiting for a cab, but he HATED the uncertainty. How long would it be? Where was it? Would it even turn up? This frustration led to the birth of a game-changing idea.
Imagine a service that not only connected passengers with drivers, but provided real-time updates on the driver’s location. Uber. The taxi app went beyond just hailing a ride; it provided a seamless, transparent, and efficient experience.
You need to think of your UGC business in the same way.
Without a UGC process that is clear to both you and your client, you’re operating like the old fashioned taxi service. Slow, dated, and a pain in the a*s for clients. Just as Uber streamlined the process of requesting a ride, you can streamline your UGC process to make sure that every client receives a service worth writing home about.
Benefits Of Having A Clear UGC Process
〰️ Client Satisfaction: A positive start sets the tone for a satisfying and fruitful partnership. From the get-go, clients should know what to expect. It reduces the risk of misunderstandings, missed deadlines and miscommunication.
〰️ Scalability: If you want to grow your business, you need to understand exactly how long projects take from start to finish, and where you have room to take on extra. As the creator, you are the bottleneck, and by having a clear timeline, you can avoid becoming a bad one.
〰️ Adaptability and Improvement: Your process should include gathering feedback. With this, you can adapt and evolve to best meet your clients needs and gain the social proof you need.
So we know the why, but what about the how? What does a good UGC process look like, and how do you communicate it to your clients?
What The UGC Process Looks Like
Your UGC process might look very different to mine, and that’s ok. Ultimately you need to establish a process that you can follow to the letter, and that clients can understand. I split mine into three distinct stages: onboarding, service and delivery.
Client onboarding is the critical first that can make or break a lasting relationship. It’s just like the first time you visited a new place, got a new job, or went on a first date, and as such, it falls into the category of the unknown — for both sides. A seamless, well-executed client onboarding process sets the stage for success, and just gives them that *good* feeling moving forward.
Repeat customers and retainer clients are the bread and butter of successful UGC creators, so learning how to get this right is key.
Think of this as the talking phase. Contact might have come from cold outreach, or an inbound, but regardless, you’ve got some ticks you need to put in boxes. First up, identify pain points — what does the client need, and can you actually help them? In this initial discussion, it’s important to gauge goals, expectations, and ideal outcomes for a project, and then discuss the scope of work. In many cases, you’ll have to find a happy medium between what the client wants to achieve and what they’re willing to spend. Agree on mutual deliverables.
If this is a potential retainer client, you may want to jump on a client discovery call to gather this information. If it’s a one-off client, you might prefer to keep this to email or use an onboarding document.
Time Frame: 1-2 Weeks (Client Communication Dependent)
Resources Needed: Discovery Call Checklist, Client Questionnaire
Proposal and Contract
Craft a proposal that outlines the scope, deliverables and terms of the agreement. A proposal is something I don’t hear UGC creators talk about at all, but it’s something I’ve always been keen to offer as a marketing professional for larger projects or retainer clients. If we’re over $2,000, I’m sending a proposal.
In it, I’ll outline the scope of work, timeline expectations and what I’ve come to learn about the brand pain points. This clarity prevents misunderstandings between you and your client, ensuring everyone is on the same page from the beginning. Proposals also provide an opportunity for you to showcase your expertise, industry knowledge, and understanding of the client’s needs. They’ve not signed a contract yet, so this can help instil confidence in their decision to work with you. A well-crafted proposal can set you apart from competitors. Find me another UGC creator that does one, and then we can talk.
If they accept your proposal, you’ll send a UGC contract. Once they sign on the dotted line, the real work begins.
Depending on the brand, you may ask for a 50% deposit at this point before beginning work. This is down to the creators discretion, but it’s not always a red flag if a brand can’t do this.
Time Frame: 1-2 Weeks (Client Communication Dependent)
Resources Needed: Proposal Template, UGC Contract
Brand Sends Products
At this point, provide your mailing address for products to be shipped to.
Provide a clear timeframe for what happens, when. In my case, I give myself a two week period from when the products arrive and I make my clients aware of this from day dot. The clock doesn’t start until I have the products, so the sooner they can get them to me the better.
I will always aim to deliver waaaay ahead of schedule, but we’re not going to tell the client that. Instead, we’ll overdeliver and delight, whilst giving ourselves a grace period should life happen.
Time Frame: 1-2 Weeks
Resources Needed: Nothing From You
So you’ve sent your proposal, they’ve signed on the dotted line, they might have even paid a deposit. Now, it’s time to actually do the thing.
Concepts and Storyboard
Whilst you’re waiting for the products to arrive, you should be conducting both brand and market research to help you create the concept(s). This should allow you to hit the ground running with creating your scripts and shot lists. Why bother when you don’t have the products yet? Well, scripting and storyboarding should be done before you ever pick up your phone to film —- this can save you a lot of time in the long run.
Having a brand approve your script and shot list means that they know exactly what to expect and they have a chance to catch any glaring errors or omissions before you ever start to film. A reshoot can be costly, especially when it’s easily avoidable.
Share your shot list and script with the client and ask for feedback.
Time Frame: 3-5 Days
Resources Needed: Pre-film Template
Filming and Editing
By now, the required products should have arrived and the brand (fingers crossed) should have approved your plan of attack. Having gone to the trouble of creating a detailed plan, filming should be a skoosh. You should also have planned for additional content, not approved by the brand.
From raw footage, to extra hooks and CTA’s, additional content can double your revenue from a single project for a mere extra few minutes work.
During onboarding, you should have covered your bases when it comes to aspect ratios, font usage and anything else you need to be aware of during the editing process.
Time Frame: 3-5 Days
Resources Needed: Pre-film Template
Add watermarks to your finished content: the brand requested concepts and your own additional upsells. Add these to a Google Drive or WeTransfer link using expected naming conventions. Don’t get too fancy here, just make it really clear to the client what they are looking for.
When you share these with the client you’re going to do three things:
- Keep your email brief (no-one needs war and peace),
- Reference your pre-agreed delivery date and how you’ve smashed it out of the water,
- Raise the topic of additional content
We’re not going to ask for feedback, because they’ve already approved everything they needed to. It might look like something like this…
I know delivery isn’t expected until Friday 8th September, but I wanted to give you as much testing time as possible ahead of Black Friday.
You can find the pre-agreed concepts attached. You’ll also find 2 additional hooks and CTA’s that I felt could be really useful for A/B testing. Please let me know if you’re interested in purchasing these.
You might be surprised at just how much difference perfecting your delivery can make for a client.
I’ve sent it once and I’ll say it again, repeat clients are the bread and butter of successful UGC creators. It takes too much work to engage 10 new clients every. single. month. Delight your existing clients, and they come back.
Ok, so we’ve sent out watermarked footage and the brand is happy. Time to get paid, work over, right? Wrong.
Every touchpoint presents an opportunity to do just a little more.
Some creators will choose to upsell raw footage during content delivery, but with trial and error I’ve found that this doesn’t go hand in hand with other upsells. In fact, I think it devalues them slightly. Instead, I’ll reference it when sending my invoice.
After the client has approved content. I’ll share my invoice and reference raw footage at this point as a throwaway comment —- ‘Please note, I will only keep raw footage for up to 12 months following a collaboration. This can be purchased for repurpose at any point.’
Once the invoice is paid, we’re onto the home stretch.
Time Frame: 1-2 Weeks (Client Dependent, Net 30/60 may stretch it)
Resources Needed: UGC Invoice
Once the invoice is paid in full, deliver the content without watermarks. At this point, I’ll ensure I have a way of over-delivering.
This might be as simple as providing extra aspect ratios over and above what the client was expecting, or a handful of UGC style photography shots.
At every interaction, you want to leave them with a good taste in their mouth.
They’ve already seen the content during previous exchanges, so what can you do to go over and above this time?
Time Frame: 1 Day
Resources Needed: Nothing
Feedback is essential to creating a long-term, sustainable business. Not only does it provide the social proof and evidence you need to get higher paying clients, but it also tells you whether or not you’re doing it right. 99% of creators do not ask for feedback. Why? Because they are scared of getting a bad response.
If the ROAS is bad, we work on it. We understand why. But we don’t bury our heads in the sand.
In order to become an expert, you need to understand where you’re falling short and you don’t have that data as a UGC creator not managing ad accounts.
We’re going to ask for feedback on two occasions:
- Immediately after delivery: After full delivery, and whilst they are still ‘delighted’ by you, you’re going to ask for brief feedback. This can be as simple as sending them to a Trust UGC link and asking them to rate the experience.
- 4 weeks after delivery: A month or so later, we’re going to check back in. This time, we’re looking for specific feedback on performance. ROAS and ad spend, to be exact. Explain to the client that you’re keen to understand the performance of the content.
Time Frame: 4 Weeks
Resources Needed: Feedback Form
Get Clear On Your Process
For each stage of the process, you should be able to tell the brand exactly how long they should expect to wait and what they’ll receive. You should know how long the brands you work with take on average to carry out their side of the bargain.
With this knowledge, you can set up your working month for success.
From client onboarding to content creation and delivery, every step contributes to building a collaborative partnership that delights clients and delivers results. Just as Uber’s real-time updates transformed the passenger experience, a clear UGC process ensures that clients receive content that resonates and performs effectively, on time, and you don’t get burnt out.