Many people dream about working as a content creator and quitting their day job to follow their passion. After all, some of those people on BuzzFeed and YouTube really seem to live a pretty easy life working from the beach. But be wary: working as a content creator is not for everyone.
The reality is that content creation – if you don’t have a proven track record – is incredibly competitive. Only the best can make a living from it. You’ve got to learn how to create content, how to market yourself, and how to invest wisely if you ever hope to make a living from content creation.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, so don’t hang up your content boots yet! Whether you’re just getting started or a pro, we’ve got tips on how to become a content creator.
It can be a very lucrative career if you know what to do. In fact, there are few things as highly prized in today’s knowledge economy as a talented writer or a good content creator.
What Kind of Content Creator Are You?
The first step to becoming a creator is to figure out the type of content you’re comfortable creating.
As a creator, you’ve three obvious options for delivering your content: text, video, and audio.
A blog is the perfect way to tell your story only through text. It’s the easiest to set up, needing just your story and some pictures. Podcasting is a good fit if you enjoy talking to people and like recording your voice. You must be a little more tech-savvy than writing your blog post, but it’s a rewarding format that can help you build a niche audience. The last option is video, which is arguably the most engaging and immersive storytelling experience out there. If you choose video, you can use a video platform like YouTube as your primary distribution channel.
Choose one depending on your strengths and weaknesses. A good practice is to repurpose your content into all three formats, but don’t treat all of them as your primary medium unless you have the resources and knowledge to do it. Spreading yourself too thin will only slow you down and dilute your efforts. Focus on creating quality content rather than volume.
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As much as each creator’s style is unique, they all have a few things in common. Incorporating these tips and high-performing habits can only do you good.
Transition into a full-time career
Many successful blogs and YouTube channels started out as side projects. I don’t believe any of the creators became successful overnight.
Although your day job might not be fun, it still pays the bills. Keep your job and work on your side project until you make enough to survive on it. There are two benefits to this approach:
1) You can check if there is a market demand for your product/service
2) Sometimes, what appeared to be your passion might lose novelty and become a tedious chore
In either case, you’ve still got your day job until you figure out what you really love.
Passion for your niche
The most common trait in successful content creators is the passion for their niche and a drive to help others. It’s essential to have a niche that you’re passionate about.
Simplify the heck out of things
Successful creators know how to simplify complicated stuff. From the product to the service, the way you explain things is a direct reflection of your brand. If you can simplify something that seems complicated, then you’ll always be able to communicate your brand to your audience.
No matter what you’re writing about, unless your target audience is very specific, always write for a general audience. The first step to writing excellent copy is to define your audience.
Have a process
Creating a content strategy and a seamless content creation process is half the battle. You don’t want to just start writing because then it’ll feel like a mindless chore. Start by identifying the goal you want to achieve. Then create a content strategy to reach that goal.
When working with customers as a freelance writer or a contractor, you might not have much of a say in the decision-making process, but always try to understand the end goal. You can offer more value by suggesting ways to repurpose your main content into smaller chunks that work for social media.
Study your audience
If you’re spending time and money creating content, you want it to make an impact. But how can you make that happen if you don’t know who you’re talking to? To create content that resonates, you need to know who you’re talking to.
An audience persona is a profile of your audience. It describes what they’re like and how they’re feeling. It gives you an overview of key demographics, patterns of behavior, and the motivations behind actions. This way, when you write content, you’re talking directly to that person.
Stay away from copycat content
If you’re a copycat, you’re already behind your competition. Your audience will get bored with the same old information, and your efforts towards content marketing will result in failure. According to Content Marketing Institute, businesses that use content marketing experience twice as much growth as those who don’t. If you’re serious about making it big, you must do your research and put in the time. Most importantly, you must also be original. You can’t just copy your competitors. If you want to succeed, you need to be authentic and creative.
Establish your own voice
Quick reality check: you’re not the only content creator in your industry. That means you’re not the only one offering the advice, observations, and thought leadership your industry is asking for. There are lots of things you can do to stand out from others in your field:
- Diversifying into a new medium
- Promoting your content on various channels
- Gaining experience and trust over time
Even then, your competitors are doing the same thing. What you can bring to the table that nobody else can, is your own personal voice.
Readers click on your content for the information, but they come back for the personality.
Writing about cybersecurity? Don’t just offer fresh insight on today’s malware; offer analogies and personal stories of data breaches that justify your insights and that only you can offer. The brand you write for might restrict you from writing an opinionated or overly informal piece, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in the unique perspective that inspired you.
Learn how to blend your employer’s guidelines with your own creativity, and you’ll become a much more successful content creator in the long run.
Above all, you need to work hard. No one succeeds without effort, so embrace a strong work ethic and persevere. The biggest mistake is giving up right before you hit the jackpot. Content marketing is a slow process, but once you start seeing success, it compounds.
Burnout is real. It happens to a lot of creative people, especially those who work long hours. When life gets crazy, it may feel impossible to keep things going, and the rewards of working towards a goal can fade away. It can take a toll on your performance and leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. The best way to deal with burnout is to be aware of it and take care of yourself.
Here is an excellent guide from Healthline about identifying and preventing burnout.
Have specific goals
Make a list of the top few things you want to accomplish. If at all possible, keep these goals under 10 items. Why? Because research shows that the brain prefers to work with small chunks of information to keeping one big goal in mind. If you focus on too many goals at once, you’ll lose track of your progress. Instead of setting one general goal like “build organic traffic” or “increase social media traffic,” set micro-goals like “publish five new blog posts per month” or “increase social media engagement by 5%.” Go all-in on that goal.
It might be tempting to do everything at once, but stay focused. Make sure everything you do gets you closer to that goal. Maybe it’s the newsletter you always wanted to send or scheduling a weekly meeting with your team. Whatever it is, make it a part of your routine.
Keep up with trends
Content creation, no matter what industry you’re in, requires listening. The only way to develop meaningful content for your audience is to understand what is happening in your industry and how it affects them. The best ones know the pulse of the industry because they keep an ear to the ground. See what other online content creators are doing. Be the first to come out with relevant industry news to position yourself as a thought leader.
Now you know how to become a content creator. Find your passion. Use it to spread your awesomeness.