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How to Turn a Gifted Collaboration into a Paid Collaboration

Posted Mon Aug 21 2023 4 min read

Does this sound familiar?

“Hey! We love your content. Would you be interested in trying our product for free in exchange for a video?”

As a User-Generated Content (UGC) creator, you’ve probably seen this message more times than you can count. This type of content is known as a ‘gifted collaboration’, where brands gift creators products in exchange for content they can post on their social media.

On one hand, it can open doors to exposure, brand relationships, and some really cool products. But on the other hand, as you grow as a UGC creator, so does the value of your time, creativity, and content. At what point should you stop accepting gifted collaborations and move towards only accepting paid collaborations?

In this guide, you'll uncover the benefits of gifted collaborations, learn when it's time to stop accepting gifted collaborations, and gain actionable insights on how to turn a gifted collaboration into a paid collaboration. Ready to dive in?

The Benefits Of Gifted Collaborations

  1. Building Your Portfolio

UGC Creator Portfolio Video Examples

The biggest benefit to gifted collaborations for UGC creators is that they will help you build your portfolio. When you collaborate with a variety of brands, you build a diverse portfolio that will open the door to paid collaborations.

From showcasing makeup products in a glamorous light to making a quirky video for a tech gadget, your portfolio will present a wide range of content. This will help you close brand deals with companies from different niches.

On top of this, your portfolio will look more credible if you’ve collaborated with brands (even if gifted).

If you want to read an article on how to build a portfolio check out: How To Create a UGC Portfolio

  1. Networking Opportunities

Gifted collaborations aren't just about products; they're about people. Every collaboration is a potential referral waiting to happen. Today's gifted collab could very well lead to tomorrow's paid collab, all through the power of networking.

  1. Gaining Experience

Every new product is a chance to experiment and grow as a creator. Whether it's a new aesthetic, a different content style, or a unique script, gifted collaborations push you out of your comfort zone. They encourage skill development and experimentation, helping you grow as a ugc creator.

  1. Potential to turn into a paid collab

Think of gifted collaborations as trial runs. Brands are often assessing the ROI they get from your content. A successful gifted collaboration makes brands more inclined to invest in a paid partnership in the future.

Not all gifted collabs, will stay as gifted collabs.

  1. Free products

Let’s face it, everybody loves getting free products delivered to their door (Except maybe your dog who’s not too thrilled about the doorbell). At the end of the day, you could be getting a product that you genuinely enjoy!

When to Make the Transition from Gifted to Paid Collaborations

Visual transition from a gifted collaboration on the left to a paid collaboration on the right.

  1. Increasing demand for your work

The most clear sign to stop accepting gifted collaborations would be an increasing number of collaboration requests, especially from well-established or reputable brands. If you’re getting too many collabs to keep up with, it’s time to start charging for your content.

  1. Recognizing your value

As the quality of your content rises, so does its worth to brands. When you consistently deliver content that provides tangible benefits and clear returns for brands, it's time to seek fair compensation for your content.

The Art of Negotiating: Turning Gifted Collabs into Paid Collabs

Handshake symbolizing successful negotiation in transitioning from a gifted collaboration to a paid collaboration.

You’ve reached a point where you’re now ready to turn your gifted collaborations into paid ones. Transitioning a gifted collab into a paid one primarily relies on your negotiation skills. Here's how you can negotiate your deals:

  1. Be prepared to walk away.

This might sound scary, but it is your most powerful negotiation tactic. If a brand isn't recognizing your worth, it might just be time to (politely) walk away. Don't sell yourself short.

  1. Be professional

While standing your ground is essential, it's equally important to maintain a professional and polite tone. After all, today's 'no' can be tomorrow's 'yes', if you play your cards right.

  1. Show Enthusiasm

Be genuinely excited about the collaboration. Let the brand know how much you appreciate their product and how you can create content that will convert for them. Tease them with some ideas – it shows you mean business.

  1. Always Counter-Offer

If a brand isn't ready to meet your set price, always have a counter-offer ready. This shows flexibility and willingness to collaborate, increasing the likelihood of reaching a deal.

  1. Client Reviews and Success Stories

If you have success stories from past paid collaborations or reviews from brands you've worked with, share them. It adds to your credibility. You can use TrustUGC to collect and share reviews.

  1. Emphasize Your Unique Value

As you negotiate, it's crucial to stress the distinctive value you offer compared to other creators they might be evaluating. This could be rooted in your distinct creative style, your specialized audience, or the superior quality of your production. By underscoring these factors, you position yourself as their optimal choice.

According to a recent article on Harvard Business Review, emphasizing unique value propositions is a fundamental aspect of successful negotiations.

Gifted Collaboration Template Response:

Hi [Brands name/Contact Person],

Thank you for reaching out and considering a collaboration with me. I’m thrilled about the opportunity to work with [Brand Name], as [Brand Product] is something I’d definitely use!

At this time, I’m only accepting paid collaborations, as they best reflect the dedication, quality, and effort I put into each piece of content.

I'd love to explore a paid collaboration with [Brand Name]. Do you have a budget allocated for such partnerships?

Best, [Your Name]

Reaching Out to Past Gifted Collaborations

While new inbounds can be exciting, don't overlook the potential goldmine in your contact list – your previous gifted collab clients.

Previous clients know the results you can deliver with your content, which gives you more negotiating power.

Consistently delivering high-quality content to brands has long-term benefits. It's not just about the immediate collaboration but building a reputation for future opportunities.

Stay connected with past clients and periodically approach them about potential paid collaborations. Their firsthand experience with your work often translates into increased trust and willingness to collaborate on paid terms.

Wrapping Things Up

We all start somewhere. Those gifted collabs? They're your stepping stones, your building blocks in the vast world of UGC. But as with any journey, there comes a time when you've got to level up, shift gears, and get what your hard work truly deserves. If you're looking to find brands to work with, check out: How to Find Brands that Work with UGC Creators

Here's to turning those gifted collaborations into well-deserved paid ones. Cheers to your journey ahead!

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