Tim Schmoyer is a longtime go-to resource for anyone growing a YouTube channel. Most people know him through his highly-followed VideoCreators YouTube channel. But he also has a family vlog, Schmoovies, that has chronicled the lives of Schmoyer, his wife, and their six children for more than 10 years.
Schmoyer has made a long-term commitment to helping YouTubers deliver messages that can change people’s lives. Numerous VideoCreators followers have built vibrant YouTube communities around their passions, and sometimes those passions become profitable. We asked Tim Schmoyer to give us some of his top YouTuber creator tips for doing brand deals.
1) Anyone Can Have Influence
Brand deals fall under the umbrella of influencer marketing, but Schmoyer prefers the word “creators” to “influencers,” because almost anyone can have some influence, regardless of how many people follow them.
“You could have a small audience and be super-influential with that small audience,” he says.
2) Internet Celebrity Doesn’t Guarantee Riches
Schmoyer says that not all well-known YouTubers and Internet celebrities are getting rich. In fact, far from it. He’s worked with many YouTubers who have millions of YouTube subscribers, and yes, they may be making a good living for a single individual.
But, Schmoyer says, “They’re not to the point where they can scale appropriately to really take advantage of the opportunities that are coming their way.”
One of his services is helping highly-watched YouTubers create strategies to delegate certain business tasks by hiring part-time or full-time staff, as he has. These people might perform duties such as business manager, video editor, audience development manager, and several other specialties that YouTubers usually have to do themselves until they can afford to grow as a business.
3) Be True To The Audience, Wherever They Are
Schmoyer says that when considering any brand deal, it’s important that YouTube creators also think about how other platforms they are active on could be included in the deal as well. For instance, should the promotion include a video on their YouTube channel plus an additional post on SnapChat, Instragram or Facebook? It might give the campaign more power. But, he says, this should only be done if it benefits the interests of the audience on a given platform used by the creator, because the experience desired by people following the creator, on a platform like Twitter for instance, may vary greatly from what they expect on YouTube.
“I always try to put the audience there first, serving them the best,” Schmoyer says. “And then, whatever I do publish, it’s got to be in a format that will serve them well. If we’re talking brand deals, then it has to integrate well with that.”
“The audience” is a common theme in VideoCreators’ helpful tutorials. With traditional media, the relevance to the audience of a promotion are less important – people will still watch a TV show if it has an annoying ad shown during the commercial break. But for YouTube influencers, the sponsorship is woven into the fabric of the YouTuber’s video and channel. Each recommendation they make is representative of the creators themselves – which is why these promotions are so compelling. But if any brand deal feels like a sell-out to the fans, they may reject not just the sponsor, but the YouTuber as well, losing the audience that creator has worked to hard to grow, while also hampering future earning potential.
4) Check Out Influencer Marketing Platforms Like FameBit
Schmoyer is sponsored and uses the FameBit influencer marketing platform, where influencers can sign up for paid brand deals and get free products. He says FameBit makes it easier for brands seeking to access many smaller YouTuber communities at once.
Also, he says. “I like that they make it easy for newer creators to be able to have access to stuff that is typically only available to larger creators who have teams or managers.”
5) Determine If Your Reach Is Large Enough
It’s hard to know when your channel has grown large enough to get sponsored. The minimum size really depends on your niche. For instance, there are many gamer channels, so the threshold for getting sponsorship will be higher for those. But if your channel talks about expensive niche products, like huge John Deere tractors worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and viewers are watching your videos as part of their buying decision, then you can get away with much fewer views per video. If your channel is all about a less-expensive item, like guitar picks, you may need a bit larger audience.
But across all categories, a good rule of thumb for starting to consider sponsors might be when you’re getting 2,000 views per video within a period of 30 days after posting, on average.
Overall, the less competition you have among other YouTube channels, and the more targeted your audience for the sponsor, the higher you will be able to charge.
6) Figure Out Your Price
Once you’ve started considering doing brand deals, how much should you charge? Importantly, what is the price that makes it both worth your time and the potential risk to your “social equity” that your audience will be turned off by multiple sponsorships?
Schmoyer recommends going to a site like SocialBlueBook.com to come up with a starting point for your first deal. If after the first two or three deals you do that price has no objections from brands, then you can recalibrate and begin to raise your price.
Importantly, your price should be based on not just on the size of your audience, but also the influence you have with that audience. This influence is based on how much they trust you and the reasons they’re watching you to begin with. Schmoyer has found that the channels people watch in order to learn how to do something can be more influential for products in their specialty than channels that are pure entertainment. Brands will pay more per subscriber for channels that inform and educate than those that simply make people laugh.
7) Create A Media Deck
Schmoyer also sells his own products on his website, so brand deals are just one part of his business plan. He responds to inquiries but doesn’t pursue them. When he does get inquiries, he has a powerful presentation that spells out his value.
For channels where sponsorship is key, and they’re going to go out and make sales, they should probably have a media kit, and begin by targeting brands that have already been mentioned on the channel. Find their chief marketing officer on their LinkedIn or Twitter or website, then reach out and present your case for your channel.
Schmoyer said that channels can make themselves more appealing to brands (and viewers) by having a clear and strong mission for the channel – they know what it’s about and they focus on that mission. In his media deck he has quotes that demonstrate that the mission is working.
Case studies will also help brands in your favor. But you don’t have to wait to get a sponsor to make these case studies. Rather, if you’ve already talked about a brand in one of your videos without being sponsored, you can demonstrate how many people watched, what they said in the comments, how many people clicked on an affiliate link, etc. Then in a cover letter you describe how you would move forward with the brand.
8) It’s OK To Negotiate
Contracts can be scary for anyone, and YouTubers are no exception. What’s the best approach?
“Definitely read the contracts and know what you’re signing. And yes, everything’s negotiable,” Schmoyer says. “As the creator, I’m the one in control. I get to ultimately decide what happens, not the brand.”
That doesn’t mean you have to refuse to negotiate on any point. But if either the money or what you have to do in return doesn’t match what you need, you should feel it’s OK to walk away from the deal.
Some creators who are with multi-channel networks have talent managers who will negotiate deals for them. Schmoyer has his own business manager do all those negotiations, for which he incentivizes her by paying her 30% of the deal on top of her normal salary.
9) Walk Away If Necessary
There are many reasons to say no or walk away from a deal. You don’t have to say yes to every offer, and you don’t have to do a brand deal with every video, Schmoyer says.
If the money isn’t enough, he’ll say no. He also doesn’t like affiliate deals where you only get paid based on the number of people who buy the product. In this, case the YouTuber takes on all the work and leverages their audience to promote a product, and yet there’s almost no risk or faith on the sponsor’s part, he says.
“If you [the brand] want to access my audience,” Schmoyer says, “you’ve got to believe in these people. You [the brand] have to put some skin in the game also.”
But he will also turn down products that don’t specifically fit his channel’s message and audience. For instance, while his channel helps people succeed by using video, a product that measures light temperature for the video camera wouldn’t quite be a fit. Only the creator knows his or her audience best, and is qualified to make this type of call on which deals are a fit.
If he doesn’t feel the product will engage his audience, or if he’s not excited about it, or if he feels the audience is getting overwhelmed with too many sponsorships, Schmoyer will simply decline to do the brand deal.
10) If You Don’t Like The Product, Don’t Do It
If a creator has over time shown allegiance to one type of product and criticized the competitor, the audience will reject the creator (and the brand) if they simply switch their opinion overnight. The audience simply won’t believe it. But if the product the creator once disliked has been significantly overhauled, the creator could get away with endorsing it, but only after fully testing it and using it over an extended period of time.
“I would never do a sponsorship for a product I dislike,” Schmoyer says.
11) Sell-Outs Do It Just For The Money
One of the key challenges for YouTubers is figuring out how to earn a living without selling out. But a “sell-out” isn’t always easy to define. Schmoyer’s definition?
“Someone who is no longer thinking about their audience’s best interest and maybe not even the brand’s interest. They are just thinking about their own [interest], which is money.”
12) Everyone Should Win, Including The Audience
As far as the content of the promotion, creators should only do something that’s in the best interest of both the audience and the brand. The creator has to step up and say what they think will work and what will not.
“Sometimes the brand just doesn’t know what’s best for them or for the audience,” Schmoyer says. “[The brand] has an agenda, but at the end of the day it should be the creator who decides” what format the promotion should take. In the end, the sponsorship may take more of an educational approach instead of straight promotion or advocacy. But it needs to work for all parties.
“You want the brand to be happy and confident about what they’re getting,” says Schmoyer. “But if they don’t get it or they’re just stuck in the mud about ‘this is how it has to be,’ and that doesn’t work for you, then you say no thank you.”
Brand deals can vary greatly in size and content, ranging from a quick shout-outs within a video to an entire video dedicated to the sponsor. Those that take entire videos should come at a significantly higher price.
13) Be Transparent And Disclose
Schmoyer points out that when you have a brand deal on a YouTube video, that you have to identify it as such in the advanced settings. This may mean that some types of advertisers will not advertise on this specific video.
In addition, Schmoyer says, you should always disclose to your viewers when a video has been sponsored. He says transparency is key.
“It keeps trust intact when you say, ‘Hey guys – these people were cool enough to sponsor this,’ or ‘I’ve been using this product a while, I reached out to them, and they decided to give it to me for free so I could tell you guys about it.’ Transparency is the main currency there.”
He also said that he doesn’t believe transparency hurts the sponsor, either. And we’ve pointed out in a previous post that the law requires you to disclose sponsorship in any influencer marketing campaign.
14) Do What You Promised
If and when you do sign a sponsorship contract, you must do whatever you’ve promised in writing. There are some extreme cases in which you can get out of it or renegotiate after the fact, but, says Schmoyer, “you will never end up working with that brand again.” So, maybe don’t do that.
15) Go Above And Beyond
Schmoyer said that he makes sure he goes above and beyond what’s promised in multiple ways, which can turn a sponsor of a single video into a long-term partner.
“The best thing is you make sure that the brand gets as much value from you as you can offer for the money that they are paying you,” he says.
Some of these extras might include sending a nice one-page report with graphs and stats about the campaign viewership results. This might be 30 days after the video ran, a good amount of time to measure impact. Add a note to say that you hoped this worked out for them, and that you’d be happy to work together in the future. These follow-ups will demonstrate that you’re both professional and organized, and interested in the sponsor’s success.
Schmoyer says this kind of service, communication and data can open the brand’s eyes to your value.
Sponsors will say, “Wow, we didn’t even realize that. Thank you so much. Can we do another one next month?”
“Heck yeah!” Schmoyer says.
Contact Dane Golden at HEY.com to inquire about our B2B influencer marketing and B2B YouTube marketing services.
Dane Golden is CEO of VidiUp, a video content marketing agency. His mission is to help brands get viewers to come back to their videos again and again through use of helpful how-to content, driving loyalty, conversion and ROI.