From TikTok dance trends to product reviews, social media has lots of content from the average user — not just influencers.
Brands have noticed the value of what users offer — relatable, down-to-earth videos — and they’ve started a trend of hiring authentic UGC creators to film content. You might even be halfway through a user’s video before realizing it’s an ad.
If you've ever watched those ads and thought, "I could do that," there's good news. Anyone can become a UGC creator, regardless of your following or experience. Let’s explore the fundamentals of UGC and the pivotal steps to becoming a creator.
What Does UGC Stand For?
UGC, or user-generated content, is branded content that a company’s followers or consumers create. It can come from two sources: organic, unsolicited content that the brand asks creators for permission to repost, like honest product reviews, or paid content it specifically asks creators to make.
On various platforms like Instagram and TikTok, ordinary people often showcase themselves wearing or using a product, whether that’s a makeup item or new software. Their genuine reaction resonates with the people who find the video, influencing them to check the product out or even buy it. Brands have noticed this effect and now, instead of hiring full-time, well-known influencers, they choose to work with UGC creators for their authenticity.
What Is a UGC Creator?
UGC creators are the people offering brands genuine content. Many start unpaid or by allowing brands to repost their original videos. That’s because they might decide to build a portfolio to showcase what they can do before reaching out to brands or waiting for companies to notice them. This process can always happen organically — for example, if you’re genuinely excited about a product and want to make a video just because. However, brands can also ask creators to make content for them in exchange for payment or free products and services.
4 Leading Benefits of UGC Creation
UGC offers a level of connection that in-house content often can’t offer. These are the top four advantages:
UGC creators usually promote a product or service naturally instead of reading from a script. Audiences view this as more authentic and trustworthy than professional, brand-created content. It feels like they're getting a word-of-mouth recommendation about a product or service from someone they know rather than being sold a product in typical advertising forms.
From the brand’s perspective, UGC is often a lot more affordable than typical marketing content. When they’re looking at influencer marketing, they’re paying for that person’s audience along with their talent. UGC creators, on the other hand, often don’t have a large following and only charge brands for the content itself.
UGC contributes significantly to sales because it acts as social proof. Consumers trust that the content they’re viewing is from real people like them making valid claims about the product or brand, while brand-produced content has a much clearer bias. Since UGC doesn’t look as much like an advertisement, audiences are also more likely to engage with it and make a purchase.
Producing content in-house is demanding for small businesses and marketers. When they rely on UGC creators to make content instead, brands don’t have to worry about going through that process.
Brands might even hire multiple UGC creators at once, building up a reservoir of content they wouldn’t have the time and resources to produce themselves. Then those companies can post consistently, increasing audience engagement and brand recognition. They’ll also have more content to use as ads — not just organic social.
How to Become a UGC Creator in 6 Steps
UGC can be lucrative — if you put in the work. Here are six essential steps to take if you’re interested in becoming a UGC creator:
Start by consuming as much UGC as possible, carefully analyzing each video to see what it does well (or doesn’t). This will help you understand what engaging, strong UGC looks like and how to make your content stand out.
Research the types of brands you want to work with and products you'd like to promote, spotting any niches that might work for you. Be realistic about what you like and don’t like so your reactions seem as genuine as possible later on. The goal is authenticity, so be true to yourself.
Once you’ve narrowed down a niche or list of brands you’re interested in working with, analyze their content and consider:
- What’s working — Which type of content gets loads of engagement and views? Is it unboxing videos? How-to guides?
- Posting frequency — Does the brand post UGC regularly?
- What stands out — Is there an element that draws your attention as a viewer? Is it the humor, the high-quality editing, or the storyline?
- Target audience and brand voice — Does the company’s voice and target audience align with your style and interests? Do you feel like you can authentically discuss its products?
- Content gaps — Are there gaps in the company’s content that you could fill, like TikTok or Instagram Reel tutorials?
2. Choose Content Platforms and Equipment
Decide on the platform or platforms you want to focus on based on your niche, most likely Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok. Short-form videos are a staple of UGC because they’re brief but engaging to draw more viewers in, while posts are static but clear endorsements of a product. Choose one type of content to start so you don’t overwhelm yourself.
Then, start building your setup. Although you could start creating with a smartphone alone, producing high-quality content will help you stand out. This may require:
- Lighting — A standard ring light is usually enough, but an open window with natural lighting also works.
- Microphone — Get a microphone to improve audio quality.
- Camera — If you do use your phone’s camera, make sure your shots look clean. Investing in a professional camera is a great choice if you’re committed.
- Backdrop and props — Choose a background that serves as a neutral space for creating content. You can also gather props that are relevant to your chosen niches.
3. Make and Edit Content
At this stage, practice makes perfect. Choose a few products that interest you — or even some you have lying around your house — and start filming. Try to match the style to the videos you enjoyed in your research, but let your personality shine. It’s the pull that will make brands want to hire you.
Using natural but effective editing of TikToks or Reels can help you tell an exciting story about the product and get brands to notice you. Apps and tools like Captions can help you perfect your content and look more professional. Add captions to your YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and other videos to make your content more relatable and boost engagement.
Captions can also help you create a look and video style that’s specific to you and the brands you work with. Choose custom fonts, colors, and placement so that when viewers see your videos, they immediately know it’s you. You can also add a unique sound to your content with AI Music.
4. Create a Portfolio
After perfecting your content creation skills, start compiling your portfolio. Now that UGC marketing is more popular, brands are more likely to work with creators who have samples of their content to show.
While getting your first UGC contract may be a long road, you won’t know the possibilities if you don’t start. Post your content on your own social media accounts and tag brands you'd like to work with, like a skincare review or an apartment tour that highlights your favorite products. Just in case, store your content somewhere else that brands can easily access if interested, like a personal website or Google Drive.
5. Find Brands to Work With
Actively seek out and begin pitching your content to brands. To do this, you'll have to:
- Search for the company's contact information — This is usually on the company's website.
- Create an email template to pitch yourself — This template should introduce you to the company, mention why you'd like to work with them and include a link to your portfolio.
- Send out emails to brands — Email or DM all the brands you want to work with. Customize your message based on the company so they know you care about their mission.
- Keep a record — Track all the emails you send and responses you receive. This keeps you from accidentally spamming brands or forgetting to reach out to a company you love.
While you don’t need a large following to become a UGC creator, scaling your audience may help you reach brands if you’re having a hard time initially. By engaging with your content, your followers can help get your content on search pages and gain brands’ attention.
6. Use UGC Creator Platforms
If you aren't having much luck with your cold emails, sign up for a UGC creator platform. These spaces can host your portfolio content, connect you with companies more directly, and show that you’re serious about your work.
Here are some of the leading platforms:
- Trend — This is a free marketplace to find opportunities, even if you don’t have a large following.
- UGC Shop — UGC Shop is an agency and creator collective in one. Use this platform to find gigs testing and reviewing products from ethical brands.
- Influee — Use this platform to access opportunities and manage your content library at the same time.
- Fiverr — Fiverr’s a popular on-demand global marketplace for freelance jobs across industries.
How Much Do UGC Creators Make?
There's no standard UGC creator salary. The amount people make varies depending on their level of skill and experience, the brands they work with, and the type of content they create. People with strong reputations might also be higher earners.
Compensation also depends on how long you work with brands. Some may pay a UGC creator to produce a one-off piece, but they also might present an ongoing contract for several pieces of content over a set period, which inevitably pays more.
If you’re unsure of what to charge, a common formula is time spent on content multiplied by an hourly rate. Engage in some trial and error and negotiate with brands to get close to a figure you'd be comfortable with. You may get paid low fees at first, but if you demonstrate your skills with content that converts over time, companies will start paying more for your expertise.
UGC Creator FAQs
The best way to become a UGC creator is to get your hands dirty and start creating. That’s the only way to build up your portfolio and gain brands' trust. If you’re still unsure about posting UGC, here are the answers to some common FAQs:
How Many Followers Do I Need to Become a UGC Creator?
It doesn't matter. Since most companies repost UGC on their own accounts, they’re not relying on your follower count. That's the great thing about UGC: anyone can do it, even if you have a small following. You can even get started with a new UGC-specific account.
How Do I Find Brands That Use UGC?
In addition to the UGC platforms we’ve mentioned, you can search for opportunities on social media platforms themselves. For instance, on Twitter, search #UGCcontent or #UGCcreator. You might also find opportunities by scrolling Instagram or TikTok if other UGC creators mention specific brands they liked working for.
Can I Become a UGC Creator If I Have No Experience?
You don't need content creation experience to become a UGC creator. Anyone can do it if they identify their niche and put in the time to create great, targeted content that offers genuine opinions about products.
Content Creation Made Easy With Captions
Take the stress out of UGC creation with Captions. Make your videos stand out with automatic captioning, compress files and export them in the formats you want, and even correct eye contact during editing. Captions also has AI capabilities that make studio-level content creation 10x faster — whether you want to enhance your speech or get through color-grading quickly.
You don’t have to be a professional to create high-quality content. Use Captions to tell stories that audiences love and keep brands knocking down your door.