A picture of Chad Lubinski at the top of a mountain.

How To Make $8K Per Month From UGC On Instagram With Chad Lubinski

Want to make money with Instagram but you’re working with a small following? No problem!

Back in 2017, I spent more time trying to grow my Instagram account than I did working my full-time job.

And unfortunately for me, my strategies and time didn’t pay off. My following remained small, and my content creator paychecks were non-existent.

If only I knew then what Chad Lubinski knows now. Even before his following on Instagram took off, he was making GOOD money with the app.

Chad Lubinski hiking in the mountains.

We sat down with Chad for an interview to ask him how he was able to make money through Instagram using UGC, even when his follower count was low and he shares tips on how you can, too.

So, whether you’re brand new to social media and looking to get more from your Instagram efforts or you want more advice on how to grow as an Instagram UGC creator, you’re in the right place.

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    Tell us about yourself and how you got started with UGC on Instagram.

    At first, I wanted to be like an influencer. I figured the only way that you could make money on social media was to have a following big enough to get brand partnerships and affiliate deals, ad revenue from YouTube, etc.

    So that’s where I first started with the idea of creating videos and trying to make money.

    The problem was, as many people know, it can be tough to grow a following and I really struggled with that.

    In 2021, I went on this Colorado trail trip; it was three weeks through Colorado and we had been working from home during that time because of COVID. I had all this extra time before the CT (Colorado Trail), so I tried to grow my audience.

    Chad Lubinski in the foreground with Colorado mountains and a mountain lake behind him.

    I only had a few thousand followers at that time, and I thought, “I just spent 18 months trying to grow this following, and I don’t really have much to show for it.”

    At that point, I was dejected. However, a brand reached out to me; it was called LMNT Electrolytes, and they sent me some free product. They wanted me to try it, so I did and I loved it.

    I uploaded a quick story on my Instagram and I tagged them in it. And I did this a couple more times over a few weeks.

    To my surprise, they came back to me and said, “hey, we love your videos. We want you to create eight more just like this every month for us for $1,500.”

    And I thought, “are you serious?”

    I didn’t have a huge following at that time, but they weren’t asking me to post on MY account, they wanted me to post on THEIR account. And that was what changed my trajectory.

    Chad Lubinski sitting on a log in the woods with mountains and a sunset behind him.

    It didn’t matter how many followers I had, they just wanted original content to post on their account for their followers.

    That was the first light bulb moment for me. I thought, “oh, this is totally different than being an influencer.” You don’t need an audience. You make quick videos, and send them directly to the brand. Sometimes your face doesn’t even need to be in them.

    From there, I thought, “oh my god, I need to reach out to all these brands. I need to get on this bandwagon.”

    And that’s when I started to prioritize UGC because I knew that was the way I was going to get out of my job in criminal justice.

    What kind of content creator are you? What kind of content do you produce?

    I am an outdoor creator, whether that is travel, snowboarding, etc. Everything is around the outdoors because that’s what I love to do.

    Chad at the summit of a difficult mountain ascent.

    Once you start building up your portfolio (which is what we’ll talk about later), brands will see that. They’ll see your content from other brands and they’ll reach out to you directly wanting you to promote their outdoor products.

    The only real dead end you would hit as an outdoor creator is seasonality. As long as you have hobbies and activities that you do seasonally, you’ll be set because you can promote snowboarding or snow gear in the winter, then also promote travel and summer content as well.

    Do you make more with UGC during specific months of the year?

    It’s easier to create content in the summer because you have nicer weather to work with. In the winter, it’s harder to get out on adventures, so I’ll occasionally see my revenue dip a little bit.

    Chad Lubinski displaying his splitboard in the mountains as he shoots content for UGC.

    But as long as you have some sort of hobby for the winter, that will help you remain stable.

    On average, how much are you making per month with UGC?

    With UGC, I’ve been making anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 per month. My best months are $10,000, and average right now is around $6,000 per month (seasonality).

    This is something we’ll dive into later, but the best way to make money through UGC is avoiding one-off deals, or at least not doing them all the time.

    Chad with an ice pick in his hands at the top of a mountain.

    Of course, one-off deals are great for building relationships, and it’s the first step, but you really want to get on “retainer” with these brands so you don’t have to pitch to new brands every month.

    Being on “retainer” means like making 8 videos (like I mentioned with LMNT) and you’ll get paid a set amount every month.

    Having “retainer” clients gives you leeway and will make you feel a lot more secure. You’ll have income coming in every single month. “Retainer” is what I consider the gold standard in the UGC world.

    What does UGC stand for?

    UGC stands for user-generated content.

    Here’s how it works:

    A brand will ship you a free product. Then, you’ll create a video with the product. Next, you’ll send the brand the video, and they download it, post it on their socials, websites, blogs, wherever, and then they pay you.

    Chad rock climbing with red rocks behind him.

    It boosts credibility for them when they post that video as an ad or wherever they decide to use it.

    Is UGC something others could do, even with a small Instagram following?

    Absolutely! That is the power of UGC, and that’s what I like to drive home to people considering it. You don’t even need a social account if you don’t want. I’ve known people like that; maybe they don’t like promoting or using their own Instagram page.

    With UGC, you can make money faster, and it’s much more lucrative when you’re starting with Instagram and possibly trying to be an influencer.

    Chad and a friend getting ready to rock climb at the top of a mountain.

    Anybody can do it. Zero followers required.

    The only thing you need to be a good UGC creator is know how to make good videos. And then just developing a relationship with brands by over-delivering so you impress them to hopefully get on “retainer” with them.

    What are the steps someone needs to take to get started and make money from UGC?

    Let’s break this down into four phases.

    Phase One: Building Your Portfolio

    The first step is to identify likely candidates that would be good for UGC. And especially, you want to identify brands that are going to be more likely to say yes to your proposals.

    So, you’ll need to go on Instagram and find brands that have less than 15,000 followers. Those brands are going to be a great starting point for your first pitches.

    Chad at the summit of a snow-covered mountain

    Quick tip: when you find a brand you like, you can hit the drop-down arrow and it’s going to give you suggested accounts All those accounts are going to be related to that first one.

    Start to mark down your dream 15 (15 brands you would like to work with). We model this off of Russell Brunson’s dream 100, but we recommend starting with 15 brands.

    The No-Brainer Offer

    Next, you’ll offer them what we call the “no-brainer offer”.

    To start, you’re going to engage with their account for two, maybe three weeks. That means you should:

    • Follow them
    • Like their content
    • Post comments
    • Respond to their stories

    You want to develop that rapport. Particularly, responding to their stories opens up a dialogue in their DMs, so at the end of three weeks when you go to pitch, there’s history there.

    You’re not just this random person. So, DM or email the brand. You are going to offer to make them a free UGC video.

    Chad Lubinski sitting in the mountains with sun rays beaming down.

    From this free UGC video, the only thing you want in return is a case study of how the video performed, if they ran it as an ad or on their organic socials. Most brands would say yes to this, since it’s at least a $150 value (brands typically pay $150 to $350 per UGC video).

    This does a couple things for you. First, you can say that you worked with XYZ brand in your portfolio. You will grow that credibility.

    Next, you’ll have an actual case study of how that video performs that you can include in your portfolio, which is even more credibility. Not only have you worked with all these brands, but now there’s an actual case study of how your content performs. And typically, this is going to be exchange for a free product, another perk.

    Do as many of these no-brainer offers as you can.

    Phase Two: Free To Paid Content

    Phase two is when you start moving from free product into paid product.

    And that’s something people struggle with because they don’t like asking for money or like trying to say how much value they’re providing. Average price for UGC videos is $150 per video and can go up to about $350+ for someone that’s advanced.

    Chad sitting near a beautiful mountain lake.

    Phase Three: Getting On Retainer With Brands

    Phase three is the gold standard. This is where we get on retainer with these brands.

    Quick Tip: In phase one and two, when you’re working with these brands, you’re going to be over-delivering for them. If they’re asking for one UGC video, you’re going to provide them with one UGC video, but you’re also going to send them a few photos that they can use freely on their socials.

    Once you get on a retainer deal with these brands (for example, the deal I made with LMNT where I made 8 videos for $1500), I tell my students, depending on your expenses, two to three retainer deals is all you need to quit your job.

    Chad posing for the camera in the mountains.

    And you’re free. Free to buy a van, travel, whatever you want. With UGC, you can work remotely, which is great because now you’re getting different scenes for your content. So aim for 2-3 retainer deals.

    Phase Four: Build Your Personal Brand (Optional)

    The fourth phase is optional. This is where you build your personal brand on the backend if you want to be an influencer. This is great for income diversification.

    For people that want to do this, I recommend your focus for your first year be 80% UGC, 20% your own brand.

    As you continue year over year, the ratios may change because as an influencer, but you’re getting affiliate deals, you’re getting brand sponsorships, you’re getting ad revenue, etc. That can be lucrative, especially if you start selling your own products.

    Chad climbing up a mountain hand over foot with a friend behind him.

    Again, this is optional, but I always encourage this since being an influencer is more of a long-term business model.

    Of course, UGC can be good for long-term income as well, but it’s great for short-term cash flow.

    What additional tips could you provide for someone looking to use UGC as a side-hustle or full-time income?

    Tip #1: Pitch… A LOT

    You can’t just pitch to 3 brands and expect to seal a deal. That’s a no-brainer. Keep the expectation that the more brands you pitch, the higher your chances of actually getting a partnership. Every no is closer to a yes. Get as many eyeballs on you as you can, and make sure your expectations meet reality.

    I think a lot of people that try to be an influencer burn out because their expectation is that they’re going to go viral with their third Instagram post. That’s just not true.

    Chad splitboarding in the mountains in winter.

    Have the expectation that you’ll pitch brands for a year before you ever get paid. Although that’s unrealistic because you’re definitely going to get paid before a year, it works as your anchor.

    Anchor your expectations; something that’s really unrealistic to the point of not getting paid for a year. Because then, when you do get paid before that year is up, it’s a huge win, and it’s going to keep you motivated.

    Tip #2: Use LinkedIn

    You can also find a lot of cool UGC deals on LinkedIn. Find a brand on LinkedIn by searching for “creative partnerships” or “partnerships”… something like that, and you can connect with these brands on LinkedIn.

    Chad splitboarding in the mountains with rigid peaks in the background.

    Make sure your LinkedIn looks good. One of the things that I do is create a banner for my LinkedIn on Canva that says, “UGC creator, how many views I’ve had, how many sales I’ve generated, etc.”

    That banner is the first thing they’ll see when they click your profile.

    Tell us about your UGC course

    My UGC course takes you through the first three phases that we talked about above: the no-brainer offer, paid partnerships, and getting on retainer with brands.

    But not only that, because like I mentioned before, you have to be able to create good UGC videos for anybody to take you seriously and put you on a retainer. So, we have modules about how to create really good UGC videos, including shot angles, voiceovers, how to edit, etc.

    Chad rock climbing in the mountains while creating UGC content for Instagram.

    This is for those who want to go from a basic creator to someone that would be eligible to get on a retainer. That’s the first part of our course.

    The second part is optional, but we teach people how to grow their own brand on social media, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and podcasts. This is our branding blueprint course, so you’re essentially getting two courses in one.

    There’s over 100 videos that will help you grow on these social platforms. We have assignments that go along with the course, so it’s not just watching videos; there’s a checklist of which videos to watch and assignments to do after it. This holds people accountable.

    In addition to the courses, you’ll have access to our exclusive Facebook group, so you can connect with other creators and set up collaborations.

    We also include templates like a content calendar, hook database, brand outreach, etc.

    And as of 2024, we’ve added a new component for our students. We’ve created an agency called First Ascent Media. Here’s how it works:

    Brands will come to me asking about UGC videos. Since I don’t have the time to do it all, I connect them with my students. So, we are the connector between these brands and our students.

    Chad jumping from one boulder to the next.

    It’s a great way to get your feet wet and to connect with a brand that you probably wouldn’t have connected with. You’ll get free product, you’ll get paid, and then hopefully develop a relationship with that brand to get on retainer.

    I only facilitate these partnerships for my students, so that’s another big perk of our course.

    How can I learn more and sign up for your UGC course?

    Our course is currently $500, but if you use the code LAURA, we’ll bring it down to $300. Here’s the link where you can read more and sign up for 40% off:

    >> Outdoor UGC Masterclass & Branding Blueprint

    Where else can people connect with you?

    You can find me on socials at @chadahooche_. I’m most active on Instagram, but you can also find me on YouTube, which is my favorite platform. Follow me on Youtube here.

    I also host a podcast to called the Peanut Butter and Mountains Podcast, which you can find on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere you listen to podcasts.

    A HUGE thank you to Chad for all of the strategies and tips that he shared with us about becoming a paid UGC creator.