How to find Brand Deals for YouTube Influencers – and Pick the Right Ones for Your Channel
When you’re working on monetizing your channel, brand deals are a fantastic opportunity for YouTube influencers to generate an additional income stream.
Working with brands comes in many shapes and forms – from affiliate marketing to sponsorships.
Monetizing your channel this way has several advantages.
For one thing, unlike with ad revenue, the size of your audience is not the main factor for the size of your income.
Instead, it’s your viewers’ engagement that matters. For instance, the engagement rate of micro-influencers on YouTube is around 1.64% – over four times the 0.37% of mega-influencers with millions of subscribers.
In addition, brand deals can provide a more predictable income than ad revenue, which can vary considerably from month to month. One reason is that 56% of brands prefer working with the same influencer again once they’re convinced of the quality of their work.
But how do you get started working with brands? How do you identify brands to work with? And how do you pitch and negotiate a deal?
Here’s your run-down.
Pinpoint Brands for Collaboration
The first step in the process of landing a brand deal is to find brands that you’d like to work with. Besides their products, their values and mission are also important.
One of the most crucial preconditions of successfully working with brands as a YouTuber is that you stay authentic. Stick to your aesthetic. Otherwise, your audience will quickly become disenchanted.
Even the most successful YouTubers – with millions in income – have to stay on top of their personal branding.
The easiest way to go is to start with brands you’re already using. Take a look at the products you trust and love, then put those companies on top of your list.
Alternatively, check which brands other influencers in your niche work with. You can do a cross-platform comparison and look at any network, from TikTok to Instagram.
Finally, you can aim big and go from there. Compile a list of your dream collaborations – brands that you’d love to work with in the future, even if you’re not quite there yet. Then, visit their site on Instagram.
In their profile, on the top right, you’ll see an option named “Suggestions for You” in the drop-down menu:
This will give you a list of similar brands to check out! Some of them may well be in reach for you.
Prepare Your Portfolio, Media Kit, and Pitch
Once you’ve got a few brands you’d like to work with, it’s time to reach out.
Your outreach strategy ideally has three elements: your portfolio, a media kit, and a pitch message.
In your portfolio, you showcase the work you’ve done so far. If you’ve never worked with brands before, that’s fine! Then, it’ll be a list of your best and most popular videos.
After you’ve worked with a few smaller brands, you can also include examples of how you integrated these brands into your content, as well as testimonials from the brands themselves.
Your media kit contains information on your success as a YouTuber. Include statistics like follower counts (and their evolution), engagement rates, and view counts. This helps brands assess whether your reach is sufficient for their purposes.
Your pitch is the core element of your strategy. You might skip the media kit and still get a response and land a deal. A missing pitch or a generic one, however, will get your messages binned.
That means your pitch should be a carefully crafted message that outlines:
- who you are
- why you love the recipients’ brand
- why you’re a fantastic fit for a collaboration
- and a call-to-action, such as setting up a meeting for further discussion.
While your pitch needs to include all of this information, it’s also important to keep it short and sweet. Whoever will be reading your mail is busy – and they won’t slog through a novel to get to the point.
If you’re unsure about how to write a great pitch, you can check out examples from influencers who’ve succeeded. At the same time, make sure to customize it to the brand you’re aiming at.
Identify Contacts and Reach Out
Next up, you need to pinpoint the people to send your pitch to.
Typically, this will be the PR or social media manager of the company you want to work with. You can use both Google and LinkedIn to identify the right person and get their contact details.
Once you’ve identified a point of contact, drop their name and details into a spreadsheet.
Then, you can draw up an email template for your outreach campaign. This will save you some time in the long run. However, make sure that you personalize every message by using the recipient’s name in the address, and including details of the brand you’re reaching out to.
Heads up: Don’t attach any PDFs to your mail. These increase the likelihood of it ending up in spam folders, and, anyhow, they’re hard to read on mobile. Instead, link to resources such as your media kit and portfolio.
Finally, send out your mails and note the outreach date in your spreadsheet. If you haven’t heard back from them after a week, send a quick follow-up email.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back from the majority of brands you reach out to! As a rule of thumb, for every 100 pitches you send, you’ll get a response from 10 – and get a positive from 1.
Carefully Vet Offers From Brands
When you do hear back from brands, it’s easy to get excited and agree to whatever terms they propose.
Don’t. Instead, take a step back, breathe, and carefully vet the offer they made.
For one thing, make sure that the pay they offer is fair. Unfortunately, many brands take advantage of the booming creator economy to exploit influencers.
To make sure that brands treat you equitably, you can check in with other influencers – either in your network or using dedicated platforms. One of them is F*** you pay me, which aims to be a Glassdoor-like resource for influencers to share information on brands.
You should also be looking out for red flags – especially if you receive an offer out of the blue from a brand that you didn’t reach out to personally.
Many influencers get messages from scam brands. Watch out if a pitch:
- doesn’t address you personally, or uses your account name or handle
- just says “DM to collab” or similar
- has minimal information
- has bad grammar
- requires you to pay for “ambassador kits”, shipping, or anything of the sort
These are some of the major signs of a scam.
Alternatives: Signing Up For Influencer Platforms
Finally, another way to find brand deals is to sign up for platforms whose job it is to connect influencers with brands.
Usually, you create a profile and list all of your information – from your niche to your audience’s engagement.
If a brand is looking for YouTube influencers to work with, they can then check your profile and reach out via the platform.
The downside is that many platforms have minimum requirements when it comes to follower counts and engagement. In addition, it’s a pretty passive approach, with you waiting for brands to come to you.
If you’re just getting started working with brands, doing outreach yourself is a more proactive way of making sure you get your first deal soon.
At the end of the day, brand deals are an awesome opportunity for YouTube influencers to generate a solid income stream.
To get started working with brands, you’ve got to put in some serious time and effort to pinpoint brands, craft an outreach strategy, and vet offers.
However, doing it properly and being selective about who you work with pays off in the long run – and you’ll be able to find fantastic collaborations that benefit both you and the brands you work with.