My Recent Video Bombed. Will Sponsors Hate Me?

How to explain lower engagement to sponsors and stop them lowballing you at the negotiating table.

4 Minute Read

As a creator, do you ever feel like you wanna try new stuff but you’re worried about how the content will perform?

I mean, what’s a potential sponsor gonna think if they see a couple of recent videos with lower views/likes/shares than normal?!

I was answering a Reddit AMA the other week when somebody asked a great question about exactly this topic:

How do you explain lower engagement to prospective sponsors to stop them lowballing you at the negotiating table?

Especially if you’re trialing a new series that you know will gain traction eventually but needs a few weeks to gather momentum.

Well before we get to that, there’s something you need to do right away…

Ask the brand one critical question.

What if I told you that two-thirds of the time the amount you charge a sponsor should be completely detached from views/likes/shares your content gets?

Strap in because I’m about to take you on a magic negotiation carpet ride and blow your mind...

One of the most critical things I teach is that what you charge for a sponsorship depends primarily on the brand’s goals.

You cannot provide a compelling proposal until you understand what their success metrics are.

You need to understand what the brand is trying to accomplish with their campaign when they first reach out because your proposal/pitch should change based on their goals.

So let me explain the three possible “goal types” every brand has when they approach you about partnering on a campaign:

  • Conversion: this is about driving a measurable action like sales, downloads, app installs, coupon redemptions, clicks, etc.
  • Repurposing: this is where the primary reason a brand wants to partner with you is to reuse your content in other ways (beyond you uploading on your platforms) such as embedding on their website, reposting on their social media, or using it for paid ads.
  • Awareness: this is where the brand just wants to “get the word out” about a new product launch, etc.

Conversion Campaigns…

If a brand approaches you about a conversion-focused campaign, they won’t understand (or care!) about the evergreen strategy you’re employing by trialing new types of content.

Their primary consideration is gonna be the performance of your posts over the last 30 days because that’s the metric/time horizon they will be judged on by their boss (or their client, if it’s an agency).

So if some of your recent content has drastically less engagement than usual…you guessed it:

They’ll probably offer you less than usual.

But, actually…isn’t that fair enough?

You shouldn’t just expect a brand to pay you a ton of money if you’re not gonna provide the ROI they’re looking for based on their campaign’s success metrics.

Don’t get mad about the fact some brands simply won’t be able to negotiate because they’re beholden to internal CPA (cost-per-acquisition) metrics that are set in stone.

The good news is that this is only one possible scenario…

Repurposing Campaigns…

When you ask a brand “what does success look like to you?” and they tell you that they just really love your content and are hoping to use it for paid ads…

They’re running a “repurposing” campaign!

Therefore, your pitch should NOT be:

“OK well here’s my rate for one YouTube integration and one TikTok."

If that’s your response, it’s gonna seem like you weren’t even paying attention!

Instead, your pitch should become:

“Awesome! I can actually make you five 30s videos that I don’t even post on my channel which you can use to run A/B test ads on your own site.”

This means that the amount of money you can charge for this deal is now completely detached from your average viewership, how many subscribers you have, etc.

Your platform becomes your portfolio, illustrating that you can create compelling content for them to use however they please!

So even if you’ve been experimenting with your content and some recent videos have below-average views, this doesn’t have any bearing on what you charge them!

Awareness Campaigns…

Now, if a brand approaches you trying to raise awareness of their latest product or service, you absolutely should explain your current strategy and that you’re experimenting with new content.

Although the benefits might not be immediately obvious to the brand, it’s up to you to try and educate them.

For example, if you have any previous videos that started off with low views but turned out to be slow burners that eventually gained decent momentum, show these to the brand.

This will reassure them that they’ll continue to get exposure long after you post the content… even if it’s a little slow at the start.

You can also explain that YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world (after Google).

So an integration with your content (even if it has low initial views) is a good long-term play for building the brand’s “Share of Voice”.

The joy of an awareness campaign is that the influencer marketing manager who you’re communicating with is not gonna have their boss breathing down their neck asking:

“How many conversions did we get?! I need to refuel my yacht this week!”


The point is, your pricing should not be governed by your vanity metrics on social media in this scenario. It’s all about illustrating to the brand the opportunity for continued exposure that’s in front of them.

So don’t force brands into a box…

If there’s one thing I hope you take away from this, it’s that no two sponsorships should cost the same amount.

When you give brands a preset package, you don’t make them feel special.

What you’re actually saying to them is:

“Hey brand! This here is a tiny little box of how you can work with me. I hope you didn’t eat a big lunch because I’m about to stuff you in it.”

how brands feel looking inside that box

Does that feel good to the brand?

No, that does not feel good to the brand. 😂

And what’s more…you’re leaving cash on the table!

Remember…one size does not fit all.

Because when you offer a brand a bespoke package, you’ll almost always come away richer.

Thanks to George Blackman for contributing to this piece.

Justin Moore | Creator Wizard