As a YouTuber, it’s becoming vital to work with brands as a source of income. As CPM rates drop (or disappear, such as during the Adpocalypse), brand dollars help bridge the gaps. Done correctly, and a branded deal can grow your channel as your content/quality improves. Done incorrectly, and you risk your audience tuning out or losing confidence in you. Any branded deal needs to consider your audience first! So let’s run through a guide to working with brands as a YouTuber.

The Idea

Most brand deals start with an idea. Most of the time, it will be the brand coming up with an idea and finding content creators that fit. But, if you want to execute the best brand deals - they should originate from you. Developing an idea that you can then take to a brand can be difficult, but the result is an enabling of the content you want to create. It’s more work, but the result is often better.

The Pitch

If you’re being approached by a brand, they will start you off with a basic pitch. The pitch will include details about the campaign, ideas, what they want from you and payment. It’s designed to be beneficial to the brand, and your audience. Conversely, if you’re pitching a brand, you want to make sure that you’re selling the benefits of the partnership. Brands aren’t going to give you money because you have an idea - you need to explain why they should be involved.

The Discussion

The next step is to discuss the pitch. Whether you’re being pitched, or you’re doing the pitching - the first offer should almost always be declined. Doing so will almost guarantee better terms. During these discussions you’ll need to decide on timelines, deliverables and money. Will you get a flat rate? Commission? A promo code for your audience? Discuss all aspects of the potential deal and then get it in writing so that if there is any confusion, you’ll be able to refer to it. At the end of the discussion phase, you’ll come to an agreement for the sponsored campaign.

The Execution

Now, the fun part for most YouTubers - the execution of the content. Based upon what you’ve agreed to, you’ll create content around the brands’ product/message. The key to a great piece of sponsored content is to keep the viewer in mind. If you think it’s TOO much of an ad, try to fix that. The content should be like your regular content but offer something extra to your audience. That could be higher quality or a discount. You may need to show the brand first, but they may also trust you to your own devices.

The Payment

After you’ve posted the video, it’s time to get paid. Depending on how you’ve structured payment, you should know roughly when the brand will pay. Note that most accounting departments from big brands wait as long as they reasonably can to pay. As such, your payment will likely come within 30 days of the video being live.

The Relationship

As long as everyone was happy (yourself, the brand AND your audience), you can start to form a relationship with the brand. Working with the same brand repeatedly helps make the partnership work for everyone. Your audience will also appreciate the brand more than a single one-off campaign. Whenever possible, maintain the relationship with the brands that you enjoyed working with!