About 18 months ago, Audur Banks had a lightbulb moment while scrolling through TikTok. The mom of two had recently quit a job she didn’t love, and was looking for work that provided both the flexibility she needed for her family and a decent income. When she stumbled upon a post about UGC (user-generated content), she knew she’d found what she was looking for.
UGC creators get paid by brands to produce organic-looking content — think product reviews and how-to videos — that get posted to the brands’ own channels rather than the creators’. “And that means you don’t need a ton of followers to do UGC,” Audur says. “You just need to be good at creating content.”
Audur loved the burgeoning community of helpful UGC creators she found on TikTok, and realized she wanted to help others the way they helped her become one. As a UGC creator educator, Audur introduces her audience to the ins and outs of this kind of content creation. Now, UGC is her full-time gig. She creates content for brands and casts UGC projects on their behalf, as well as coaches aspiring creators. What’s more, she has just released a free UGC mini-course on The Leap, and has a slew of other digital products in the pipeline.
We spoke to Audur about the perks of UGC, why it can be a more welcoming space than traditional “influencing,” and how brands should think about using their UGC creators in 2024.
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You’ve been a full-time creator for 18 months. Why did you decide to take the plunge?
Last summer, I quit a job I didn’t love. I’m a mom, and the hours didn’t work for me. I needed more flexibility. I wanted to try freelancing, and I started by blogging for brands, but honestly, that was really hard to get into. It was slow, and a lot of brands were moving those kinds of services in-house.
Then I stumbled upon someone on TikTok talking about finding UGC and quitting their job, and how you didn’t need a ton of followers to do it. I’ve studied business and marketing, and worked in social media management, and I just knew — this is it. And I never looked back.
And now you’re a UGC creator, but you’re also a creator educator on TikTok, teaching others the ins and outs of this kind of content. When did you realize there was an audience there?
At first, I didn’t really plan on getting into any kind of coaching. But after seeing that first post about UGC, TikTok of course started showing me more, and I just loved this community. There’s no gatekeeping. Everyone was so natural and totally transparent. And I realized I wanted to help others the same way that first post helped me.
Do you think there’s more transparency in the UGC space compared to other creator categories?
Compared to influencing, for sure. A lot of us who were starting to do UGC last year had maybe once wanted to be influencers, but for whatever reason, the followers weren’t there. Then we realized that with UGC, we could still make content and sell it to brands without needing a massive audience. A lot of “regular folks” felt invited to join in on content creation. And it’s less about building a personal brand, so it allows for more transparency.
You’ve posted about the trial-and-error process of learning how to create good UGC. Anything you’ve learned that you’d like to share to spare others all the trial and error?
I would love to do that — like, really love — but unfortunately my main recommendation is to just try everything and anything and see for yourself. And keep an open mind.
But something I wish I’d learned sooner is to not be afraid to negotiate your rate, and not be afraid to turn things down. I get the impulse to take every job you can — that’s real income — but you have to treat yourself as a business, too. You need to get organized and track your time to know how long things take you, so that you can have a sense of your capacity. Because the time it takes to create content can really vary with UGC. Even if it’s a simple concept, you might end up changing it halfway through. Track your time, and you’ll feel much more comfortable negotiating rates, because you’ll know how much work you can fit in a month.
Any advice for UGC creators who are just starting out?
Grab products from your house and play around with them. Film authentic reviews or how-tos, or whatever you’re comfortable with. Brands love seeing you make content with their product even if they didn’t hire you to do it. Make a free portfolio on a platform like Canva, and as soon as you start getting anything compensated — even gifted or low-paying collabs — start swapping out those earlier videos in your portfolio.
How are you approaching monetizing your content compared to when you started last year?
Last year, I was taking the UGC jobs I could find and hoping to find a retainer client, which is when a client pre-pays on a monthly or quarterly basis for a defined set of services or hours. But I realized that with kids, for me, I didn’t have the consistent availability to take on that model of client. I also learned that I’m really strong at creating ads. So I started to work on bigger ad-based jobs.
Again, it’s just about trying a bunch of stuff and seeing what works for you. UGC is such a great place to start as a creator because you can take it in so many directions, including influencing and social media management.
You’ve clearly put a lot of work into making sure this job makes sense for you and your family, but you’ve also got a lot of hustle. How do you safeguard against creator burnout?
Creator burnout is such a real thing, and I’m not gonna sit here and say I haven’t dealt with my fair share of it. And it’s easy for people who are more established to say “careful, pace yourself,” but it’s really hard to not hit at least one burnout when you’re starting out. A little hustle and a little extra effort can be the push you need to get where you want to go. I really prioritized my business during the first six months. It was a little chaotic.
Has that changed?
Now I really try to shut my work down once I go pick my kids up from school. And that’s another one of the benefits of UGC — it’s so flexible. You can set your own hours and your rates.
What are rates like for UGC?
The industry standard last year was $150 per video. Now it’s up to $200 or $250. And there’s nothing wrong with beginners asking for $250 if they’re confident in their content creation. And then just slowly raise your rates.
Don’t be afraid to ask for more money — you’ll be surprised at the amount of times people say yes. And also, going through a burnout will teach you to charge more.
You recently released a mini-course called “Is UGC the perfect side hustle?” So — spoiler — is it?
I think so! But it depends on the person, and this mini-course is designed as an intro for people who have never even heard the term UGC before. There’s a lot of great information on TikTok, but I wanted to create a simple, short, free resource to help people decide whether it was right for them.
Why did you decide to make it free?
It was an easy way for me to consolidate a few posts together to create an asset that customers could actually learn from. And I’ve got other products that aren’t free, like a new course on how to create a good UGC video. So if a customer gets through the intro course, then they can decide whether they want to invest a little to go more in-depth.
You designed your course using The Leap’s AI-powered digital product builder, and it sounds like you’re on a roll. What’s the process like?
The Leap actually makes the process so fun — more like social media content creation, which we all love to do anyway, versus sitting down and typing out a big old course.
Also, the aim isn’t polished perfection — after all, this is social media. People just want to hear you talk and answer their questions. And you can do that with The Leap. The AI-enabled course builder is amazing, too. You tell it your topic and it will help you structure your course step by step. It’s as easy as creating a couple TikToks or Reels.
Want to build your own mini-course, and have fun doing it, in no time flat? Try The Leap’s AI-powered digital product builder. It’s free!
What else are you currently working on?
I just launched a new Instagram specifically for UGC. And in addition to the mini-courses, I’m rolling out a fully fledged course for anyone who’s looking to start UGC and wants that extra hand-holding.
Where do you think UGC is headed in the next year or so?
Brands could do well to lean on their UGC creators for more creative strategy, rather than always going through a middle person. We know what works and what doesn’t, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity for experienced UGC creators, especially those who are into metrics, to move into freelance creative direction-type roles with brands.
And where do you see yourself as a creator in the near future?
I’ll still be creating content, but I want to be spending a little more time with my family. And helping moms find a way to work from home by doing something creative and fun so they can be there for their kids. Finding a job that fits your lifestyle as a parent is so hard, and I’m passionate about helping moms have a softer, easier life through UGC, because there is so much opportunity in this space.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Photo: Courtesy of Audur Banks