In the past couple of years, sponsored videos on YouTube have lost all taboo. Where creators used to be lambasted for “selling out”, nowadays a brand deal is just another method of earning a living; and a lot of fans aspire to it.
But before you start .@-ing all your favourite brands in the hopes that they send you money, we thought you might be interested in the actual process of how a sponsored video gets made. So based on a little bit of experience, here’s everything you need to know about brand deals. Let’s do some business…
Step 1: First contact
The funny thing about most partnerships between YouTubers and brands is this: Neither will really ever talk to each other directly. Usually the brand go through a talent network or PR team; and then those people usually find themselves speaking to a creator’s management. It’s all a bit back and forth.
Regardless, the brand/their reps are usually the ones to reach out, and pitch the campaign; either to a network, who will find the right YouTuber for the job, or to a creator themselves that they want to work with. They will have a product or project to promote, an idea in mind of what they want the YouTuber to do, and a budget…
Step 2: Negotiation and contract
This step is where a lot of conversations fall short; because everyone is still a little confused about the going rate for sponsored content. Every YouTuber’s got a price; and if you’re used to a certain budget, there has to a be a good reason why you would accept a lower pay.
A lot of creators depend on their management to handle the negotiation of figures; but some don’t mind the hustle.
There might also be some negotiation of the time frame, how much the product appears or is mentioned in the video, what the actual content entails, and other quibbles before both parties are happy. Then the contracts are signed, and everyone is officially obligated to do business…
Step 3: Content creation
Once everything has been agreed upon and signed, it’s on to actually making the thing! YouTubers will be given a brief of Do’s, Don’ts and Please Mentions before they get anywhere near a camera. Even social posts have a degree of craftsmanship; they need a pre-approved caption and clear indication of sponsorship.
But videos have a few extra things to keep in mind; because if there’s anything you forget to mention or do while recording that you were contractually meant to include, re-shooting is going to be a nightmare. So it helps if a creator takes their time in producing something properly, rather than bashing it out.
Step 4: Approval and amendments
On a normal day, a YouTuber can just film, edit and post in a matter of hours; but working with a brand has some extra steps that can really drag out the process.
Creators will normally send over a draft of the finished product; which then has to go through a number of people working on the advertising campaign. And the more people who need to approve it, the more changes a YouTuber will probably have to make.
If you’re very lucky, the suggested changes will be minimal and an easy edit. If you’re unlucky, sometimes re-shooting the whole thing is necessary. Some YouTubers in this scenario might charge extra for a whole new video as freelancers would, but it’s case-by case.
Step 5: Release
Once all the changes have been made and the everyone is happy, it’s time to put the content out there in the world!
When sharing, creators will have set guidelines for disclosing sponsored content, depending on their country; in the UK, “Ad” is usually required to be featured in the title and video thumbnail, with some disclaimer at the top of the video description.
Sometimes in a campaign, the deal will include a video and a number of social posts directing to the video; which is why you’ll sometimes see YouTubers include #ad in their video announcement tweets. For creators, this is pretty much a bonus; as they would have tweeted the video out anyway.
Step 6: Debrief and invoicing
It’s not immediately over when the video’s out; there’s still some last bits of business. Before they’re paid, the creator needs to send over an invoice for the work; which includes the agreed rate or expenses for working on the project.
The brand or PR company might also need to see statistics on the sponsored video after it has been out for a few weeks; so they can see if the money they put into this brand deal paid off. This would be the creator’s responsibility to pull from YouTube’s Analytics feature.
Step 7: Payment
That sweet, sweet money comes rolling in and your favourite creator can eat for another month. Or buy a mansion in Brighton. It depends.