July 2, 2024

Dos and don'ts of brand deals for video creators—from real creators

We asked successful YouTubers for their best tips on scoring brand deals, including how to find them, who to partner with, and what to charge.
July 2, 2024

Dos and don'ts of brand deals for video creators—from real creators

We asked successful YouTubers for their best tips on scoring brand deals, including how to find them, who to partner with, and what to charge.
July 2, 2024
Alec Opperman
In this article
Start editing audio & video
This makes the editing process so much faster. I wish I knew about Descript a year ago.
Matt D., Copywriter
Sign up

What type of content do you primarily create?

Videos
Podcasts
Social media clips
Transcriptions
Start editing audio & video
This makes the editing process so much faster. I wish I knew about Descript a year ago.
Matt D., Copywriter
Sign up

What type of content do you primarily create?

Videos
Podcasts
Social media clips
Transcriptions

‎If you’re a YouTube creator with a growing following, you may have considered making some extra money with brand deals. Brand deals can provide vastly more revenue than YouTube AdSense alone, but it can be hard to know where to start, or how to successfully pull off a sponsorship without alienating your audience.

First, what is a brand deal? Brand deals are usually negotiated directly with brands, and consist of some kind of promotion on a creator’s social media. That could mean anything from simply reading an ad to making a whole bespoke video to align with your sponsor.

If you’re looking to do more brand deals, consider some of the following:

Make sure the content fits

The best brand deals will make sense to your audience, and creators looking for sustainable growth should be judicious about what kind of deals they take. Unrelated products or services might interest some of your viewers, like a cookware sponsorship on a travel channel, but these poorly targeted deals will likely pay less, clash with your content, and not provide much value to your viewer.

Sponsorships that pair well with your own content allow for better, more customized deals that pay better and can complement your content. Creator Ash Xu makes video thirst traps of everyday items, and frequently uses this creative prompt when working with sponsors like Dove.

Don’t wait for brands to come to you

This is especially true if you’re in a niche space. Depending on the value of that audience, you may not even need a huge audience to be valuable to brand partners. 

Creators might expect brands to reach out and flood their inbox—and this does happen. But you don’t need to wait. A go-to strategy for many creators is to approach the products and services they love using, which allows them to promote them enthusiastically and honestly. 

Don’t roll over to creative demands

The people buying sponsorships from creators are likely not creators themselves, and don’t understand your audience as well as you do. These buyers will sometimes make creative requests that directly conflict with a good viewer experience, or even your integrity as a creator. 

Advertisers may sometimes ask that you functionally blur the line between your editorial content and the ad. In some niches, audiences are used to this. In others, viewers will revolt. Other times, advertisers might ask for frequent mentions of a product that seem forced and unnatural.

Remember, your reputation and brand is at stake. Never be afraid to push back on deals that force you into making worse content, even if you may lose it.

“The best way to avoid conflicts before they happen is to be intentional about working with brands that you believe also will put the audience first, act in good faith, and are aligned the values and ethics shared by you and the audience,” creator coach Roberto Blake said via email.

Screenshot of a Roberto Blake video
A recent YouTube video from Roberto Blake

Gather your own data on rates

That’s the advice of creator Katie Steckly, who advises creators to “start charging something” and experiment to figure out what the best rates are. There may be resources that suggest certain costs of brand deals, but those may vary widely depending on your niche, audience, and the kind of integration. It won’t hurt to look at those resources, but they’re not the ultimate source of truth.


A recent YouTube video from Katie Steckly

‎“You’re really worth what someone says yes to,” says Colin Rosenblum on his podcast Creator Support

But Roberto warns against a short-sighted approach to pricing brand deals.

“Too many creators price based on valuing their views or trying to use a CPM model, since that is what they are used to being paid via platform revenue sharing,” he said. “They don’t consider things like opportunity cost, production cost, licensing, the value of their time in meetings and revisions with the brands.” 

Consider an agency or manager

Creator agencies and talent managers represent a roster of creators and pitch those creators to sponsors and ad agencies. There are pros and cons to working with one. The biggest con: they’ll take a cut of the deal. The biggest pro: it will be someone else's job to pitch your content all day, and develop relationships with sponsors, leaving you to make the content you love.

“This is one of the reasons why I love having a management team so much because they do all the negotiating, they come to me with what a brand is willing to pay,” creator Cathrin Manning says about her own brand deals.

“My advice to those looking to work with agencies is to do your research and to remember that standard industry practice is for the agency to take 20% of what they bring to the table,” Roberto says, “But they are not entitled to what you earn on your own.”

Agencies and managers can also orchestrate larger deals with multiple creators, giving them more leverage at the negotiating table.

Recent YouTube video from Cathrin Manning

Don’t ignore the fine print 

There are lots of secondary items in a brand contract that every creator (or their manager) should be reviewing and negotiating. One of those is usage: can a sponsor take your branded video and run it as paid advertising on their own channels? Can they broadcast portions of it on TV? You might be ok with all these scenarios, but if the sponsor is requesting it, it’s valuable, and you may want to negotiate extra fees.

Another issue is exclusivity. Some brands will try to limit your ability to work with their direct competitors. For long-term deals, this is perfectly reasonable if the compensation reflects the ask. But creators should be on the lookout for exclusivity clauses, and try to negotiate for more money when appropriate.

Negotiate package deals

Many creator-sponsor relationships crumble because of one bad experience. Videos flop, the algorithm is fickle, and it’s hard to promise any advertiser a certain amount of views on a single video.

Creator Support co-host Samir Chaudry suggests doing deals in 3 to protect against the variability in video performance. These package deals let the advertiser get the benefit of the aggregate performance of several videos—maybe there’s a flop, but maybe there’s a huge hit to balance it out. 

Package deals and longer-term relationships also allow you to iterate, and figure out what works best for the audience and sponsor.

Alec Opperman
Alec is a producer and writer. He is the former head of the YouTube channel Wisecrack and a Vidcon Featured Creator.
Share this article
Start creating—for free
Sign up
Join millions of others creating with Descript

Dos and don'ts of brand deals for video creators—from real creators

‎If you’re a YouTube creator with a growing following, you may have considered making some extra money with brand deals. Brand deals can provide vastly more revenue than YouTube AdSense alone, but it can be hard to know where to start, or how to successfully pull off a sponsorship without alienating your audience.

First, what is a brand deal? Brand deals are usually negotiated directly with brands, and consist of some kind of promotion on a creator’s social media. That could mean anything from simply reading an ad to making a whole bespoke video to align with your sponsor.

If you’re looking to do more brand deals, consider some of the following:

Make sure the content fits

The best brand deals will make sense to your audience, and creators looking for sustainable growth should be judicious about what kind of deals they take. Unrelated products or services might interest some of your viewers, like a cookware sponsorship on a travel channel, but these poorly targeted deals will likely pay less, clash with your content, and not provide much value to your viewer.

Sponsorships that pair well with your own content allow for better, more customized deals that pay better and can complement your content. Creator Ash Xu makes video thirst traps of everyday items, and frequently uses this creative prompt when working with sponsors like Dove.

Don’t wait for brands to come to you

This is especially true if you’re in a niche space. Depending on the value of that audience, you may not even need a huge audience to be valuable to brand partners. 

Creators might expect brands to reach out and flood their inbox—and this does happen. But you don’t need to wait. A go-to strategy for many creators is to approach the products and services they love using, which allows them to promote them enthusiastically and honestly. 

Don’t roll over to creative demands

The people buying sponsorships from creators are likely not creators themselves, and don’t understand your audience as well as you do. These buyers will sometimes make creative requests that directly conflict with a good viewer experience, or even your integrity as a creator. 

Advertisers may sometimes ask that you functionally blur the line between your editorial content and the ad. In some niches, audiences are used to this. In others, viewers will revolt. Other times, advertisers might ask for frequent mentions of a product that seem forced and unnatural.

Remember, your reputation and brand is at stake. Never be afraid to push back on deals that force you into making worse content, even if you may lose it.

“The best way to avoid conflicts before they happen is to be intentional about working with brands that you believe also will put the audience first, act in good faith, and are aligned the values and ethics shared by you and the audience,” creator coach Roberto Blake said via email.

Screenshot of a Roberto Blake video
A recent YouTube video from Roberto Blake

Gather your own data on rates

That’s the advice of creator Katie Steckly, who advises creators to “start charging something” and experiment to figure out what the best rates are. There may be resources that suggest certain costs of brand deals, but those may vary widely depending on your niche, audience, and the kind of integration. It won’t hurt to look at those resources, but they’re not the ultimate source of truth.


A recent YouTube video from Katie Steckly

‎“You’re really worth what someone says yes to,” says Colin Rosenblum on his podcast Creator Support

But Roberto warns against a short-sighted approach to pricing brand deals.

“Too many creators price based on valuing their views or trying to use a CPM model, since that is what they are used to being paid via platform revenue sharing,” he said. “They don’t consider things like opportunity cost, production cost, licensing, the value of their time in meetings and revisions with the brands.” 

Consider an agency or manager

Creator agencies and talent managers represent a roster of creators and pitch those creators to sponsors and ad agencies. There are pros and cons to working with one. The biggest con: they’ll take a cut of the deal. The biggest pro: it will be someone else's job to pitch your content all day, and develop relationships with sponsors, leaving you to make the content you love.

“This is one of the reasons why I love having a management team so much because they do all the negotiating, they come to me with what a brand is willing to pay,” creator Cathrin Manning says about her own brand deals.

“My advice to those looking to work with agencies is to do your research and to remember that standard industry practice is for the agency to take 20% of what they bring to the table,” Roberto says, “But they are not entitled to what you earn on your own.”

Agencies and managers can also orchestrate larger deals with multiple creators, giving them more leverage at the negotiating table.

Recent YouTube video from Cathrin Manning

Don’t ignore the fine print 

There are lots of secondary items in a brand contract that every creator (or their manager) should be reviewing and negotiating. One of those is usage: can a sponsor take your branded video and run it as paid advertising on their own channels? Can they broadcast portions of it on TV? You might be ok with all these scenarios, but if the sponsor is requesting it, it’s valuable, and you may want to negotiate extra fees.

Another issue is exclusivity. Some brands will try to limit your ability to work with their direct competitors. For long-term deals, this is perfectly reasonable if the compensation reflects the ask. But creators should be on the lookout for exclusivity clauses, and try to negotiate for more money when appropriate.

Negotiate package deals

Many creator-sponsor relationships crumble because of one bad experience. Videos flop, the algorithm is fickle, and it’s hard to promise any advertiser a certain amount of views on a single video.

Creator Support co-host Samir Chaudry suggests doing deals in 3 to protect against the variability in video performance. These package deals let the advertiser get the benefit of the aggregate performance of several videos—maybe there’s a flop, but maybe there’s a huge hit to balance it out. 

Package deals and longer-term relationships also allow you to iterate, and figure out what works best for the audience and sponsor.

Featured articles:

No items found.

Articles you might find interesting

Product Updates

How Motion Agency Use Podcasts to Drive Content Marketing for Clients

For Tristan Pelligrino, co-founder of B2B content agency Motion, podcasts are the solution to his clients’ content marketing problems. He and his team at Motion produce content on behalf of their clients, primarily large B2B service providers and consultancies like Qu, Tyfone, and COTA Healthcare.

Video

How to make a documentary on YouTube that's worth watching

Learn the 4 main types of documentary you'll encounter on YouTube and understand how to craft a narrative that grabs the viewer's attention.

Video

The 10 best webcams for streaming in 2024

External webcams are essential video equipment for creators who livestream. We've picked out the best webcams for streaming and broken down the specs so you can choose the best device for you.

Video

Learn the 10 best video cuts every pro editor should know

Video cuts are used to edit transitions in films and videos, they play a key role in storytelling. It’s on the editor to choose the best types of cuts for the narrative.

Podcasting

How To Mix Music: Make Your Recordings Sound Like A Hit Song

After reading this article, you’ll probably want to dive right into mixing your own music. Here is a one step-by-step approach and some tips to follow as you learn how to mix a song or audio.

Video

Producer vs director: What’s the difference?

In the world of cinema, the terms “producer” and “director” are often used interchangeably. While both play pivotal roles in the creation of a film, they serve distinct functions. 

Related articles:

Share this article

Get started for free →