Followers: 1 million on YouTube
Has worked with: Microsoft, Elgato Gaming
Brad Overbey has one of those gigs you either dream about or roll your eyes at: he plays video games for a living. With a background in mechanical engineering, Overbey delivers analytic, info-rich game reviews (primarily for Activision’s Call of Duty series), and has built a following of more than 1 million subscribers, who have helped his videos generate more than 220 million views. That popularity has turned into sponsorships and partner deals with brands including Microsoft, LG, Elgato Gaming, and Monster Energy. He’s also play-tested games during their development and given feedback to game developers.
There are a lot of "let's players" on YouTube. How did you start your channel, set it apart from others, and gain the following you have today?
I set my channel apart from others by focusing on "in-depth" or analytical topics in gaming. I have an engineering degree so I put it to use breaking down games and offering the best advice possible. Anyone can make guides based on feel, but I do so based on hard stats. The focus of the channel has always been helping people play games better. That in itself set me apart, but I also took a different approach with honesty. Even before the FTC got involved, I always disclosed sponsors and was very honest with my fans about my business dealings so that they never feel deceived. I think that helped establish me as being more trustworthy than many other channels.
You've recently hit 1 million subscribers, but you've had sponsorship deals before that milestone. How did you start attracting and working with brands?
The very first sponsored deals I got were through my friends at Team Envyus. They introduced me to several companies who were starting to work with YouTubers and I signed on for some of their base sponsorship programs. A few of the deals I got were through formal business emails, but the vast majority were just meeting friends of friends.
Even in the digital age, who you know is just as important as what you know. A surprisingly easy to way to get a foot in the door with sponsors is just to compliment them in-person or on Twitter. Tell them you enjoy their project for whatever truthful reason and then talk about promoting it.
What is your advice to brands that want to work with content creators?
My best advice would be to treat the influencers as professionally as possible and be prepared to be flexible with your campaign. The vast majority of influencers with a large following are very professional about their business. They will get right into asking about rates, dates, and deliverables.
Being unable to provide these or being vague about them will you get you ignored. I get hundreds of messages per day. When people are vague, I just ignore the message. On top of this, they should be prepared to be somewhat flexible with their campaigns. Every single YouTuber, streamer, Instagrammer, or whatever, has a unique style of content. Trying to force them to radically change the content only harms the effectiveness of the marketing message. The more natural it is, the better.
And what advice would you give to content creators when they are approached by a brand for the first time?
My best advice for content creators is to get a contract and read every single line of it! Nothing will save you more time and trouble than knowing your contract or negotiating a more favorable one!