UGC Creator looking for side hustles.

UGC Red flags: What To Look For When Working With Brands

UGC Creator looking for side hustles.

Working with brand deals and creating user-generated content (UGC) can be both exciting and challenging for content creators. We’ve all been there: that first inbound that lands in your inbox. $150 for an organic video. You’ve never heard of the brand. But it looks legit.. Kind of. The only problem is, they want you to buy the product first, and then they’ll reimburse you. Legit? 


Short answer, red flag 🚩 And it’s one of many.


Today, we’re shedding light on the biggest red flags to watch out for when collaborating with brands. 


By identifying these warning signs, you can avoid potential pitfalls and ensure your only working on legitimate projects. Let’s dive in.







🚩 Lack of Upfront Payment

One of the most significant red flags is when a brand is unwilling to pay at least 50% of the contracted payment upfront. If you were a freelance website designer, you wouldn’t start work on a project without receiving a deposit. You just wouldn’t, so why should UGC be any different? You’re delivering a legitimate marketing service, and to ensure you’re fairly compensated, you should receive a partial payment before starting any filming. 


By insisting on upfront payment, creators can avoid the risk of non-payment or dealing with unreliable brands. If a brand is unwilling to do this, you’ve got to consider how difficult it will be to get them to pay on time. 


FYI, for some bigger brands, this might not be possible. Finance departments may have 30-day payment terms in place or something similar, but you’ll be able to get a feel for how professional they are just by their response.

🚩 No Contract

Without a contract, there can be confusion and misunderstandings between the creator and the brand. It is paramount you have a UGC contract in place that clearly outlines the terms and conditions of the collaboration, including usage rights, compensation, and content specifications. A contract ensures that both parties are on the same page and protects the creator’s work.


No contract, no filming. If they aren’t willing to sign your contract — ask yourself why?

🚩 Moving The Goalposts

If a brand tries to add additional requirements after the contract has been signed and work has begun, runrun for the hills. This unexpected request can lead to scope creep and unpaid work. Of course, mistakes do happen and brands may realize that they do want additional hooks or different angles.


To avoid missing out on any compensation for extra work, send all final videos with watermarks until the additional payment is made and maintain communication with the brand throughout about expectations.

🚩 Use Of Unfamiliar Language

You need to understand the terminology used in brand deals. 


You should be cautious when encountering unfamiliar terms like whitelisting, boosting, or perpetual rights: these are normal terms to be thrown around, but can carry hefty additional fees as they do come with risk for the creator. It is crucial to research and comprehend these concepts fully before agreeing to them, as they can impact your content and how it is used by the brand.


This isn’t necessarily a red flag for the brand, but more a warning sign for you as a creator to ensure you know what you’re signing up for.

🚩 Paying For The Product

Do. Not. Pay. For. The. Product. This scenario is akin to being hired for a job and then being expected to cover the expenses. You are a contractor, not a customer and that needs to be maintained throughout. If there is a legitimate reason as to why the product needs to be paid for and ordered by yourself, ensure it’s covered in your 50% up front deposit.

To maintain professionalism and fairness, creators should recognize their value and charge accordingly, avoiding situations where they are required to invest in the products they are promoting.

🚀 Keep Your Wits About You

Navigating the world of brand deals and UGC content creation can be challenging, but by being vigilant for these red flags, you can protect yourself and your work.


Upholding payment practices, establishing clear contracts, understanding industry terminology, and avoiding paying for products are essential steps to foster successful collaborations and maintain a professional relationship with brands. 


By prioritizing your worth and following these guidelines, you can confidently build your career while delivering high-quality content to clients.

Further reading

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

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