What is UGC? (User-Generated Content Basics)

The information contained in “What is UGC? (User-Generated Content Basics)” is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not to be construed as legal advice. Reading this article or relying on information from this article does not ever create an attorney-client relationship between you and Katherine Jaquith (aka Kate Cooper). Please speak with a licensed attorney for personalized business advice.

If you’ve spent any time on TikTok or Instagram in the past couple of years you’ve probably seen brands running ads that look like they’ve been created by ordinary people using a product. You’ve also probably heard people talk about becoming a UGC creator and you may be wondering- what is UGC?

To put it simply, UGC is an acronym that stands for “user-generated content.”

UGC is a type of content creation that showcases real people using or talking about a product or service. It’s not a high-production photo or video shoot. It’s organic and relatable content that is often filmed with nothing more than a phone, which makes UGC creation an accessible side hustle or income stream.

This post dives into the details about what UGC is; who can become a UGC creator; and what you need to get started.

What is UGC?

What is UGC?

User-generated content, aka UGC, is primarily short-form video content featuring someone using or talking about a product or service. It can also include photo or long-form video content. This content is posted on social media and can be used to run ads.

Traditionally, brands have sourced UGC from customers sharing and tagging the brand on social media. It turns out that organic content like this performs well for many brands because the use of the product in the content creates an element of trust with consumers.

Over the years the influencer marketing and content creation industry has evolved. While some brands still source organic content from social media, many brands have begun hiring content creators to create UGC.

By hiring a creator, brands can provide more direction and guidance in the creation of the content, including specific talking points they want the creator to make. Hiring UGC creators also allows brands to negotiate licensing rights to use the content in paid media. 

I like to think of content creation as a giant umbrella with a bunch of different services underneath. UGC is just one of the services that you can offer. Other types of content creation services include influencer marketing, brand photography, videography, blog writing, copywriting, and email marketing.

Wildflower field in Glacier National Park.

Who Can Create UGC?

In theory, anyone can create UGC. There’s no degree, level of experience, or social media audience size required.  But creating compelling UGC content that yields a strong ROI (return on investment) for the brand, is a skill that can take time to master. If you’re a creative person with basic video editing skills and a knack for copywriting, then UGC may be a stream of income worth exploring.

One of the benefits of getting started as a UGC creator is that you can begin working with brands immediately. Unlike being an influencer, you don’t need to have an audience to begin creating and monetizing UGC content. The content itself (and the right for the brand to use it) is the value that you’re providing. 

With that said, you will likely need to have some sort of social media presence to help stay up to date on the latest social media trends, showcase your work, and reach out to brands. 

If you are an influencer with an established social media presence, adding UGC creation to your list of services is a great way to diversify your income as a creator. Depending on the brand you’re working with and your influence within a specific niche, you may even be able to charge more for your content because consumers already know and trust you (in other words, your likeness provides additional value!).

Bowman Lake, Glacier National Park

What Do I Need to Get Started With UGC?

1. Content Creation Skills & Comfortability in Front of the Camera

Anyone can get started as a UGC creator, but it’s not a pursuit that is going to be for everyone. The two most basic things you really need to get started with UGC are content creation skills and comfortability in front of the camera.

This doesn’t mean you have to be some super experienced content creator, but you need to understand how to craft content that converts. It takes marketing savvy to craft a compelling hook. It’s not uncommon for brands to request multiple “hooks” or “CTAs” (aka calls to action) during a campaign to test different messaging and see what performs best (tip: providing extras like that can allow you to charge more as a creator!).

When you create UGC, you’re essentially creating marketing materials for a brand. It may feel salesy and unnatural to script and film content, especially in the beginning. Being comfortable selling in front of the camera is an essential skill for a UGC creator.

2. Phone

The purpose of UGC is to make an ad look organic and authentic, so using your phone to create content is really all you need to get started. With that said, I recommend having a recent phone model to take advantage of the latest camera technology.

When it comes to editing UGC videos, there are a ton of different apps you can use. If the content is going to be used on a specific platform, like Instagram or TikTok, you can edit videos directly in the app. This can be helpful for selecting and syncing videos with commercially approved audio. Both apps also allow you to save videos to your phone while in draft mode. If you’re looking for more advanced editing features you can use apps like CapCut or InShot.

While a phone is the only tool you need to get started, you may want to invest in upgraded content creation accessories as you become more experienced. Items like a ring light, tripod, backgrounds, and other props can enhance the quality of your content.

3. Content Creator Contract

After negotiating and securing a deal with a brand, it is important to memorialize the terms of the agreement with a written contract. It’s important to always have a contract when working with a brand as a content creator so you have a road map for the campaign, and to protect yourself in the event of a dispute.

The Legal Influence has an attorney-drafted DIY Content Creator Contract Template that is specifically designed to help protect UGC and content creators.

Have questions about being a UGC creator? Let me know in the comments!

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