The popularity of social media as an effective marketing channel has created opportunities for many to turn content channels into full-time careers.
Building a large following of loyal and highly engaged followers presents you with two monetization avenues -- working with companies to build their brand awareness and promoting your own products or service. It’s fun and can be extremely lucrative.
Sounds like a dream job, right?
It is, but starting a career creating content on social media is difficult. The type of viral growth that leads to monetization opportunities requires high-quality content and something unique -- with millions of social media profiles competing for the same attention, you need to stand out.
Over the past few months, I've gotten to know Mariam Ezzeddine (@CookinWithMima), and I learned that, when she started her Instagram account, Ezzeddine had no social media experience or professional cooking background. Fast forward to today, and she is now one of the top food-related Instagram accounts in the world with more than 2.6 million followers. For those looking to duplicate her success, here are four tips to help you turn social media content creation into a full-time career.
1. Create content in a niche that you are both passionate about and active in.
Ezzeddine graduated college with a degree in criminal justice and never had any cooking experience until she and her husband moved to start a family. While living in Missouri, though, she couldn’t find the selection of European desserts she used to enjoy, which led her to make her own cakes and tarts. Throughout this process, she started to experiment, developing her own recipes.
Building a successful content channel requires you to be actively involved within the niche on a day-to-day basis. This way, you know what content is going to be best for your audience. You might not have experience in your niche right away, and that is fine. Spend time networking within your niche and focus on self-education -- it can be incredibly rewarding down the line.
2. Focus on what receives the highest engagement rates.
As Ezzeddine grew her account, she made sure to offer a wide variety of content, paying close attention to what posts received higher engagement. She then adjusted her strategy to feature more variety of the post-types that had the highest engagement rates.
Furthermore, when Ezzeddine first started the account, she focused more on the recipes and less on photo quality. She soon realized that the more time she spent on presentation and photo quality, the higher the engagement rate was. Remember, social media content, especially Instagram, is highly visual.
While you must create high-quality content, it’s ultimately your audience that determines what they deem to be high-quality. You can’t let personal opinions or speculation dictate your content direction. There is only one thing you should be taking into consideration, and that is engagement rate.
You should always be experimenting with different post-types and subtle changes. Little changes, like uploading a video if the majority of your content is images or incorporating emojis, can result in huge engagement spikes.
3. Treat content creation like a full-time job from the beginning.
From the beginning, @CookinWithMima was a full-time job for Ezzeddine.
When she isn’t taking care of her children and family, she is working on further developing her account. Regardless of the niche, treating your content creation as a full-time job is the only way you are going to create high-quality content on a consistent basis.
Additionally, when she was just starting out, Ezzeddine purchased a number of books and enrolled in various courses. All careers require skill development, and content creation is no different. Knowing how to take good pictures, have the best lighting and stage shoots can all be self-taught if you are willing to invest in yourself.
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4. Don’t focus on the money.
It can be easy to focus on the monetary aspect of having a successful social media channel, however, concentrating on monetizing your following can ruin the relationship. Ezzeddine began working with brands after her following was well established and doesn’t let collaborations or sponsored posts interfere with her main content.
If you focus on providing value, the money will follow, as monetization opportunities will never arise unless you build up a large highly-engaged following.