Choosing and landing the right brand partnerships
Brand deals come in many shapes and sizes. Learn the steps and strategies for landing a successful brand deal that aligns with your audience and channel.
Partnering with brands that complement your channel
When looking for branded content partnerships you want to find a brand, product, or service you truly believe in. Some brands may be an obvious fit because they’re things you use or promote on your channel already--but don’t limit yourself. Some of the best partnerships stem from creative meetings between a brand and creator.
Before approaching a brand about your channel or agreeing to develop branded content, it’s a good idea to:
- Research the brand and understand their values. It could be helpful to ask other creators who have worked with the brand and look at the type of videos they’ve produced. Make sure this type of content fits with your channel and audience.
- Listen to your audience. You want to protect the trust and authenticity you have with your community by making relevant videos. In other words, you don’t have to work with every brand who wants to work with you. Instead, put some feelers out. Has your audience asked you about specific products? Are there services they could benefit from? Ensure the brand will be a good fit with your audience before agreeing to next steps.
- Many creators have found success in creating branded content that aligns with their content, channel goals, and audience.
- Try finding a brand that you can speak about authentically.
See it in action
Finding brands to reach out to
There are several ways to discover brands and start building relationships.
- Sponsorship platforms are online marketplaces, like FameBit by YouTube, that help facilitate brand partnerships. Brands post ideas or campaign opportunities. Creators can search to find the ones that are a good fit and reach out directly on the platform. Sponsorship platforms are typically the quickest, most concentrated way to see opportunities for all channel sizes and genres.
- Proactively contacting brands is a manual process where you identify brands that are a good fit and then do outreach. If you don’t have a contact at the brand, you’ll need to do some digging (ex. LinkedIn or the brand’s website might be good places to find contact info.) Or, consider finding alternative ways to catch a brand’s attention, like tagging them on social media.
- Attending in-person industry or creator events (like VidCon, Playlist live, etc.) can be an opportunity to meet with brand representatives. While it’s more legwork and may cost you money, the upside is being seen and meeting people in person who could land you a partnership. Keep in mind that it’s not always the decision-maker at the event, but they may at least be able to put you in touch with someone. Don’t forget your business cards!
- As you grow, brands may contact you. While exciting, keep your audience in mind and don’t feel like you have to take every deal that’s offered to you. Remember to do your homework--look at blog posts and/or reviews of their products.
Strategies to help you get hired
Partnering with brands is a business so be prepared and professional when communicating with them.
Telling your brand-friendly story with a media kit
The first step is to prepare a brand-friendly story (or media kit). This could take many forms, like a one-sheeter, presentation, or deck. However you design it, be sure it’s easy to flip through. The key thing to communicate with this resource is who you are and why a brand would want to work with you. Other details you may want to include are:
- Statistics on your audience demographics and subscribers.
- Your accomplishments.
- Examples of your favorite content.
- Other brands you’ve worked with and statistics from these campaigns that you can share.
- Highlights of what you uniquely bring to the table.
- Your value and what you can do for them.
If you’re proactively reaching out to brands, via email or a sponsorship platform, be sure to send an introductory email that is both personal and professional. Your goal is to get a response and make it easy for the brand to say yes! Try to include specific details about your channel and how it could relate to the brand. Consider including:
- Your brand-friendly-story or media kit.
- Why your audience will care about their brand, why the brand could be a good fit and how reaching your audience can serve the brand’s needs. If your audience is already interested in the brand, you could link to the comments or show examples from your channel.
- Your vision of what a successful partnership looks like and creative suggestions for how you could incorporate the product.
- Examples of your previous content that was similar and successful, or upcoming content that would be a good fit.
- Details that could make a brand know you care about their success like: offering to post more on social media, putting affiliate links in your description, or offering innovative ways that you could use the product.
Don't be discouraged if you don't hear back
Often, brands will follow up when a new opportunity opens up down the road so don’t take it personally if they don’t reply right away. It’s courteous to send one quick, follow-up email that shows them you’re serious about wanting to work with them--but it’s probably best not to badger. Larger brands may need to get other teams involved so they may take longer to get back to you. Consider sending brands you like the most another email a few months later that highlights the successes that you have and how you still want to work with them.
- You might want to treat this process like a job interview since your goal is (most likely) to have a company pay you to produce content on their behalf that represents their brand well.
- You should set reminders in your calendar to follow-up with brands via email a few months later.
Pitching your idea when you hear back from a brand
Once you’ve connected with a brand and they’re interested in working with you, typically the next step is to develop a specific pitch. This is a proposal for your project that usually addresses the brand’s needs and ensures your goals and vision are aligned with theirs. Your pitch could include the core messages you plan to deliver about the product or service, enticing statistics on your reach and audience, and/or a few options for how you would execute it.
- It can help to be quick and professional with your response, as this could be the difference between you being hired and someone else. The brand wants to be reassured that if they invest in you, you will be dependable. Brands often have tight deadlines, so responsiveness is crucial and helps show them that you’re a good partner.
- Be deadline-conscious. Consider putting together an outline or timeline of what your schedule could look like, especially if the brand didn’t give you one. Ex. if I get the product on x day, then I will film on y and show you edits on z. They may appreciate your foresight.
- Ask the brand what talking points are important if they don’t give them to you. And are there things that they don’t want you to say?
- You can also ask if they offer special deals you can pass along to your audience. It’s helpful to remind them that content stays online a long time so it’s usually best if the codes don’t expire.
- Justify your pricing. For example, you can show them that you’re asking for a particular amount of money because “this type of video typically gets x amount of views and it costs $ to produce”. You can also mention how much other brands have paid you (if permitted).
- Remember, if you put branded content into your video (even if you’re not getting paid for the video) you may need to disclose this.
Setting a price on your branded content
First, be sure to assess what your costs will be (production crew, locations, product research, etc). Then, you can experiment with the pricing models below and see which one could be a good fit. Remember, the goal is to support your channel with extra income, not go into debt.
Here are a few pricing models for brand partnership compensation:
Cost per view (CPV):
- is a fixed cost applied to the number of views a video receives within a given time frame.
- Typically works best for creators who post on a consistent basis and have fairly consistent views.
- You can get an understanding of how many views a branded content video may get by calculating views from the last 30 days (or last 10 videos) and removing outliers--don’t make an estimate based on your top-performing videos only.
- is a way to get paid if you have a lot of fluctuations on your channel because the cost per view will change based on a target number of views. For example, you could receive 0.06 cents (USD) for every view up to 10,000 views and if your video goes above 10,000 you could receive 0.12 cents (USD) for additional views.
- This can make the brand feel comfortable because the creator is going to do whatever they can to reach the next level.
- Try calculating a lower-tiered CPV based on your lowest performing videos, and then calculate a CPV based on if you hit the higher threshold of views.
- is content-based pricing. Instead of getting paid based on views, you get paid to produce the video.
- Consider calculating a flat rate by estimating the costs of the video and balancing this with your number of subscribers and/or views. For example, you could estimate that the video will cost $500 (USD) to make and then you could add an extra $100 (USD) for every 10k subscribers on your channel.
- are a lightweight strategy where creators get paid to embed links to brands, products, or services in their video descriptions. (You can maximize on this by carrying affiliate links over video to video.)
- Affiliate links are a popular way to get started with branded content and often work for creators who don’t have enough of an audience for other types of pricing.
- They can drive conversions and lead to future brand deals. It’s usually a good way for brands to see how their products or services resonate with your audience.
- Creators can still choose a compensation rate in this model.
Content in exchange for free product
- is often a gateway to more sophisticated branded content deals. If you’ve never had a brand deal, this could be a great way to get started but it may not be beneficial if your videos have high production costs.
- This strategy could also be a good way for channels that do product reviews or show how things work to get access to gear or products they may not be able to afford on their own.
- It’s important to keep the value of your time and production costs in mind if you’re considering doing a video in exchange for free stuff.
Remember, even if you’re not getting paid by the brand, any time you get something in exchange for adding it to a video, you have to disclose this.