Sponsorships… the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In the past few weeks, there have been some interesting conversations happening on my channel and Instagram about sponsorships. How to do them, whether people like them, and for me, if they’re actually worth it. So I want to talk about sponsorships… the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Sponsorships… the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Sponsorships... the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Want to watch a video version of that post? I’ve got you covered!

This conversation stems from my “My Channel is Dying” video, because a lot of people gave me feedback that they didn’t like that I had sponsors on my channel. To be fair, I absolutely see a correlation between when my channel started “dying” and when my views decreased.

It’s confusing for me because I watch a LOT of YouTube. And the creators that I watch all have sponsors, and many of those sponsors have nothing to do with their content or are the same in every video. So hearing people say they don’t like when I have sponsors was confusing.

That feedback made me pause, so I went to my community tab on YouTube and my Instagram. Overwhelmingly, people told me that they don’t give a flying fart about sponsorships (about 80%+ on all of my polls).

So, that was different feedback than I got on my video. And that led me to the question of whether or not sponsorships and the good, the bad, and the ugly are actually worth it.

How sponsorships work

Either a brand will reach out to you, or you will reach out to a brand, and ask for a collaboration. The creator will agree to talk about their product or service in a video in exchange for a certain amount of money.

Sponsorships are a SUPER common way for influencers to make money. I’ve done an entire video on how to get sponsors and work with them as a small creator that you can watch here.

My journey with sponsorships

I have personally viewed my YouTube as an arm of my business. So I see it as a content creation platform that helps me grow my brand. As I move forward, I’ve shifted that focus to try and change my mindset to be a “content creator” rather than a business owner who creates content.

When I viewed my YouTube as an arm of my business, sponsorships didn’t make sense. The whole point of my channel was to direct people to my email list or Instagram so that I could convert them to a sale. As a content creator, sponsorships are obviously much more natural.

Then, about 6 months ago when I started to make that mindset shift, I agreed to take on more sponsors. As a content creator, I get pitched a LOT for sponsorship deals, so it was easy to seal the deal.

Contracts are involved!

Sponsorships are a legal matter – so there are contracts involved. You have to fulfill your end of the deal and it’s a transactional relationship between two businesses.

Some sponsors may want to sponsor one video, others will want one video per month for a period of time, or maybe more.

For the last six months, I’ve had a big chunk of the content I’ve posted on YouTube be sponsors.

How I choose sponsors

I would NEVER work with a sponsor that wasn’t fitting for my audience. If y’all couldn’t use or benefit from the product or service, I’m not doing it.

When I asked people on my “My Channel is Dying” video why they didn’t like when I have sponsors, several people said it was because they didn’t integrate natively with the video. So, let’s talk about that.

I’m SUPER picky with who I choose to work with as a sponsor. I made sure that they were useful and specific to my audience, and I tried to integrate them with my video.

However, because of the way contracts are set up, you have to say certain things and include specific talking points. So I can’t just mention the sponsor for one second and be done. And, because of the way contracts are set up, if I had integrated the sponsor perfectly with each video you never would have gotten useful content from me.

I get the frustration, because there are some creators whose sponsorships I always fast forward. But I also watch creators whose sponsors never have anything to do with the video and it doesn’t bother me. So I can see both sides of that argument. 

The good with sponsorships

It’s money, ya’ll!

Sponsorships are an additional stream of income to add to your (hopefully) diverse income streams. And it’s a fairly easy way to make money as well.

They’re specific

Sponsorships can also be more specific to the audience than the ads that Google throws in on their own. If I had 4 ad spots in my video, I could remove 2 of those Google ad spots and replace them with my sponsor who is hopefully more relevant to my audience.

You’ll probably make more money from sponsors than AdSense

First, if you’re a small creator, sponsors can help monetize your content earlier than you can on the platform itself. But you will also probably make more money from a sponsorship on a video than you will from the Google AdSense on the same video. That isn’t always the case, but it definitely can be.

The bad of sponsorships

The viewers might not like it

We talked about this earlier, but viewers may decide that sponsorships turn them away from your content. And your views might hurt because of it. If this is your case, it might not be the best situation for your channel. Seeing a correlation between when I started using sponsors and when my views dipped (though I don’t think it’s the main reason) makes me hesitant to use them.

I’d rather focus on making my content better and sell my own things through my videos than use sponsorships.

Sponsorships can be inauthentic

If you’re trying to natively integrate your sponsor into the content, sponsorships can seem super forced. And depending on contract requirements, the content can feel forced as well. Then, it feels super icky as a creator and it’s hard to put your whole heart into it.

Sponsorships... the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The UGLY part of sponsorships…

This is the NUMBER ONE reason I’m backing off of sponsorships. (Number two being I see it in my analytics).

Sponsors can be REALLY hard to work with!

Brands and sponsors can put really strict restrictions on your content that make them difficult to work with. As a content creator, I’m NOT here for that. I don’t like to be controlled.

I know what works best for my audience, and it’s almost insulting that the sponsors don’t see that.

I’ve worked with some great sponsors (and some bad ones). But even the best sponsors have had requirements about what I have to say or how many times I have to mention them in a video. And the worst ones have been WAY worse than that.

I had one sponsor reach out to work with me, and I knew the best way to integrate their product into a video for my audience. They said it sounded great.

When I sent them the video for approval (because that’s typically a requirement of sponsors), they said NO. And sent me a list of BANANAS requests that I needed to include in the video that were not specified in the original agreement.

So I did some of the things that they asked for in a second iteration of that ad spot. They still didn’t approve it, so I cut their spot, pushed it to another video, and published the video without them. It did really well, and unfortunately they missed out on that spot.

They came back the third time with a list of NEW requirements that were super picky. So, I told them I didn’t want the product or to do the sponsorship anymore. It was pointless information that my audience wouldn’t have liked and that video would have done poorly.

That is not the kind of sponsor I want to spend my time on. I could likely make more money from selling my own products than a partnership with someone who is so difficult to work with.

And that’s sponsorships – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Sponsors and brands should TRUST creators to know their audience and integrate their products and services accordingly. But unfortunately, that’s not where we are.

And I’ve made the decision not to have sponsors anymore

For me, with the good, the bad, and the ugly in mind, it isn’t worth it to continue.

Sponsorships are a NORMAL part of content creation, and it’s how many creators are paying their bills. And there is not a single thing wrong with that (although I do hope YouTubers are diversifying their income).

I want to break the idea that sponsors are bad, because it allows us to watch a ton of free content on the Internet!

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