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I created the UGC club to help creators turn their side hustle into a mainstay. For free. Tap into my 10+ years of experience as a creative strategist and make your name in the UGC industry.


I’m Only Getting UGC Gifted Collabs: Solved

July 28, 20238 min read

Only getting UGC gifted collars? Here's how to starting get paid.

Let’s talk about gifted collabs.


Unlike traditional paid UGC, where creators are compensated fairly for their work, gifted collabs rely on a barter system. You create content, you get product in return. No cash dolla required. 


For brands, it’s a no-brainer. And they are increasingly prevalent in the marketing world, offering a cost-effective strategy for businesses to test and work with creators before committing.


But what about UGC creators? Without the commitment, creators can be left in limbo. Fancy moisturiser is great, but it doesn’t pay the bills. With that in mind, here’s how to take your gifted collabs to a paid partnership.


What Is A Gifted Collab?

A Gifted Collab, short for “Gifted Collaboration” is a partnership model whereby creators receive free products or services from brands in exchange for creating content the brand can use on their social media platforms.


Unlike paid UGC, where creators are paid for their content, gifted operates on a barter system. And these deals are everywhere. Why? Because the essence of a gifted collab lies in authenticity and genuine endorsement. 


It’s also cost-effective marketing for the brand, they save on expenses by offering products or services instead of $$$$. They can test creators before ever having to pay them a penny.


While gifted collabs can be exciting at first, it’s essential for creators to weigh up the partnership.

When To Take Gifted Collabs?

While gifted collabs can be exciting, especially for new creators, you’ll often see them getting stick in the UGC world. It’s not uncommon to see value your time, don’t work for free, but there are multiple occasions when gifted collabs fit the bill. These include:

When The Product Aligns: Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, if a product is high ticket and you would pay for it anyway (or better yet, you wouldn’t but want it) then do the collab. One benefit of UGC is the stuff. Sometimes, the stuff is worth foregoing payment. 


When You Need The Practice: If you’re a new creator, or you’re a creator that hasn’t been able to charge the big bucks, you might just need more experience working with brands. Enter, gifted collabs. Use this as an opportunity to gather ROAS stats, social proof and real feedback from real brands.


Building Working Relationships: It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know. By creating working relationships with stakeholders at brands, you sit yourself front of mind. You never know when that might pay off.

Why You’re Only Getting Gifted Collabs

1. Your Content Isn't Worth Paying For

It might be as simple as that.


User generated content doesn’t need to have professional production quality. The barrier to entry is low, and this means everyone and their dog has UGC creator in their bio. That doesn’t mean that their content is any good. 


If you’re looking to be paid for your UGC content, It needs to hit the marks.


UGC is a science. Before you look to monetize your content, you should understand the business behind it. In your portfolio do you have examples of content that converts (because let’s face it, that’s what brands are wanting to pay for).


2. Brand Doesn’t Have The Budget

Brands work on budgets. Hard, cold, facts. 

At some points in the year they might have budget available, at other points they won’t. Some brands might never have a budget available for paid advertising. You might be approaching the wrong ones, and at the wrong time.

3. You Don’t Have The Experience

UGC is a new industry, and that means benchmarks are pretty consistent across the board. 


Almost all creators have similar UGC rates, and brands need to use other ways to choose the right face for their brand. Sure, your UGC portfolio and pitch email go a long way. Ultimately, what’s going to make the difference is experience. Have you done what you’re saying you can do for them before? Have you increased ROAS for a brand? Have you created content that’s had a $1 million ad spend behind it? If the answer is no, the chances are another creator will be the one getting paid.

How To Transform Gifted Into Paid Collabs

If you’re working on a gifted collaboration, there’s nothing to stop you from trying to turn it into a paid gig. Treat gifted collaborations as paid, with the same effort and energy, and you might be surprised at what comes out of it.  The brand may still not have a budget, but if they do, by giving them incredible content on a platter, you can make it hard for them to say no.

Here’s how to turn gifted collaborations into paid:



1. Deliver two pieces of content, and ask them to choose which one they would like without the watermarked. Make sure both are good and geared towards paid ads. Have you researched the brand? Do you understand the target market and their pain points? Will it convert? 



2. Film a batch of additional content and include it watermarked in the same Google Drive folder. Once they see what’s possible, it’s hard to unsee. An email might look like this: ‘You can find attached the deliverables from our gifted collaboration. I loved the product and felt it could really lend to solving a number of different pain points. You can find these in the same folder available for purchase. Please let me know if you’re interested and I can draft up a contract.


How To Transform Gifted Into Paid Collabs

Gifted isn’t always bad. These partnerships allow you to receive free products while gaining experience, building relationships with brands and showcasing your skills.


But, you can’t do gifted forever.


If a gifted brand reach out for another paid campaign, let them know that due to your tight availability you’re only taking on paid collaborations at this time, and do they have any budget available for the campaign?


By treating gifted collaborations with the same level of professionalism and effort as paid gigs, you can open doors to future paid opportunities.


Remember, the key to success lies not only in the content you create but also in the relationships you nurture with brands. Being adaptable, proactive, and professional will undoubtedly pave the way for a thriving career, whether through gifted collabs or paid partnerships.

Kirk Axley

Kirk Axley is the founder of The UGC Club. With nearly 10 years of digital marketing experience she set out to create a community that helped UGC creators learn the ropes (without having to spend a penny).

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