Brand deals are an important part of any creators life if they want to make their creations their career. More than YouTube ads, or Patreon support, Brand Deals will usually pay higher amounts for less work.
But, that money doesn’t come without strings attached. When you decide to explore a potential brand deal, there’s a lot of things to consider before signing. This is a decision that will have a direct impact on your community, your brand and the future of your creative career – so it should never be made in haste.
What do they want?
When discussing brand deals, it’s important to first know what the brand wants. Do they want a video? Many videos? Presence on all your social media accounts? Are they looking for a minimum number of views? Do they want direct sales? How many? Knowing exactly what they want will help you determine what to charge for the partnership. You can (and should) also negotiate at this point. Find an amount of promotion that you’re comfortable with that won’t feel oppressive to your community.
What do you get?
Once you know what they want, they will likely also present you an initial offer. Many brand deals for smaller creators will offer a product in exchange for promotion, while cash is more common as your influence grows. That said, even if you are small – you can still ask for payment. As for the initial offer, you never want to accept what’s first presented. Instead, ask for more, or if they're unwilling to provide more, negotiate less promotion. In the end, never accept a deal that doesn’t feel worth it – another will come along.
What’s the timeline for deliverables and payments?
Make sure any brand deal you have comes with a contract. That contract should lay out all the details of the agreement. If anything is missing, or the brand wants to avoid it – don’t do the brand deal. Regardless of how small a brand might be, in business having contracts is of the utmost importance.
One thing to make sure that is explicitly laid out is the timeline for everything. When you need to post if you need to get approval, and the payment terms (21 days/30 days). Timelines in a contract help to avoid any issues with when things need to be done.
How much control do they want?
Most brands will want more control over the content than you should be willing to provide. While having some oversight over the main sponsored message is fine, asking for complete control is an overstep. When doing a brand deal, it needs to be authentic to your voice and the way you speak. If you start throwing in PR/Marketing written terminology, your audience will take issue with it. It’s not worth it to sell your voice if you can’t have creative control.
Does the deal stay true to you and your brand?
When doing a brand deal, you must never sacrifice your integrity for money. The brands that you work with should be ones that you are comfortable with, confident in and have been using already. A marketing campaign with a brand you’ve never heard of can be a true nightmare.
The brand wants your audience to buy it – and if they do, will their experience be as good as yours? Will their investment in a product that you’re promoting be worth the money? If you can’t stand behind the brand – don’t stand in front of your audience promoting them. Brand affinity is a huge deal for any creator getting into a brand deal.
When to say no?
When do you say no to a brand deal? Any time it doesn’t feel like the right fit! If you’re thinking you should get paid more, or they are asking too much, or you don’t love the product - don't do it. If for ANY other reason you're not feeling committed – just say no! There’s nothing worse than trying to create content that you’re not passionate about and adding a brand deal into it, can make it even worse.
Last but not least, when doing brand deals – DISCLOSE THEM! If you’re in the USA, the FTC has very detailed requirements for disclosure. Countries around the world are adding their own requirements, often based upon the FTC. In a word – if you are given something (whether that is product or money), disclose that this is an #AD. Don’t try to hide it. Don’t use confusing language. Be overt and honest about it. Your audience will understand, appreciate and respect you far more than if you try to hide it and they find out later.