How Content Creators Can Turn Their Creativity Into a Career
Don't limit yourself to low-paying freelance gigs to try to make ends meet. Here's how to build a meaningful career.
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"Content" is a fairly broad term, but it is one that is increasingly important in today's digitally connected world. Content — and content creators — can be found via blog posts, YouTube videos, Instagram feeds and more.
For some people, the content they produce is a hobby or a way to connect with like-minded individuals online. But for others, their creativity could easily serve as the launchpad for a successful (and lucrative) career. No matter what your niche — or your preferred medium — content creation could be your key to a brighter future.
Start developing a career mindset
It all starts with how you think about yourself and your content. To turn this into a career, you can't think of yourself as simply a creator. You must view yourself as a brand or business, and then take on the role of a marketer to promote yourself and your content.
This mindset is how Joe Rogan made an estimated $30 million off his podcasts in 2019. It's how social media influencers can charge other brands thousands of dollars for a single sponsored post.
They don't view what they do as a hobby. They evaluate everything from a business perspective and treat every action as if they were a business owner. Because in reality, that's what they are.
Related: 7 Tips for Emerging Creative Entrepreneurs
Find the right platform
To start growing your career as a content creator, you must choose a core platform and identity. What do you want to talk about? Who do you want to reach? What type of content do you want to share?
The answers to these questions should serve as your guiding principles in determining the type of content you create, as well as the primary platform you use to share it.
Naturally, some of this will come down to your preferences — and there's no real right or wrong answer here. If you would rather produce audio content, go into podcasting. A 2020 report from Nielsen expects the podcasting audience to double by 2023, showing just how much growth is possible.
Those who prefer a more visual approach could use photography or videos, which can be uploaded to social media or live streamed through other platforms. Twitch alone had an average 2.15 million viewers watching live content at any given moment during Q3 2020.
Finally, don't underestimate the power of the written word. Blog content is still remarkably popular, and could easily serve as the springboard to ebook publishing and other writing opportunities.
Highlight your unique personality and perspective
Once you have a platform and niche picked out, you need to find something that will make your content truly unique. During a recent phone conversation, Assaf Lev, co-founder and CEO of Locals, noted, "With many content creators, their uniqueness stems directly from their personality. They have strong opinions, and they're not afraid to share them. While some platforms may attempt to censor certain opinions or perspectives, I've seen that content creators who aren't afraid to be bold and different tend to be the most successful at building a loyal audience."
To find success, find your core message. Make sure the content you are sharing is something you are truly passionate about — something you believe in. Audiences can identify when you're not a believer in your own content, and they'll ignore you for it.
Of course, it also helps if you have a unique way of presenting your content. Whether that's an impeccable sense of humor, a flair for dramatic voiceover work or something else entirely, be sure to leverage these talents in your own content. There are likely plenty of other people covering the same niche you are. Be unique and audiences will flock to you.
Related: Can an Artist Ever Be an Entrepreneur?
Identify monetization options
With a career mindset, you should naturally be concerned with how you are going to make money from your content. While your selected medium or platform will have some influence on which monetization options are available to you, there are several ways you can generate revenue, regardless of whether you're creating videos or blogs.
Subscriptions are a way to generate recurring revenue from passionate audience members. A monthly subscription helps build a consistent source of income that will grow as your audience grows. While this can be highly lucrative — and help you turn a profit almost immediately — it isn't necessarily a good fit if you target lower-income audiences.
Advertising revenue can vary by medium. Sponsored posts, affiliate links and pre-roll video ads are just a few ways you can generate income without charging your audience. The larger your audience, the more brands will be willing to pay for advertising opportunities associated with your content. Though this more traditional approach to advertising can become quite lucrative, it generally takes more time before you start making real money this way.
Many content creators use a mix of revenue generation tactics. Determine which options you are most comfortable with. Be wary of monetization options that could alienate your audience. You don't want to risk driving your audience away for want of a few extra dollars.
Are the masses ready for your content?
Becoming a successful content creator doesn't happen overnight. It requires persistence as you develop your talents and hone in on your core message.
As you take a business-like approach to your content creation, you will find the audiences that crave the type of materials you produce. From there, monetizing your content and turning it into a worthwhile career is not that far away.