Do you have something to say (or show) to humanity? Nowadays it’s easier and cheaper than ever – just become a content creator!
But how, and is it easy, and can you make money off it? As we’ll see, the answers are that it’s easy to start, but hard to succeed and even harder to make money. Still, it’s an amazing journey, and I recommend it to anyone that has a true passion for it.
Let’s dive in!
Amazing Ways to Be a Content Creator and Speak to the World
What Is a Content Creator?
As I’ve seen it used, the phrase refers to a person that creates (and usually self-publishes) digital content. Examples would be bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, or e-book authors. The content is mostly published on the internet, whether on a website or social media.
I’ve never seen the phrase used to refer to traditional book authors or people who work for an organization (like journalists), so I would not call them content creators (even if they technically create content).
If you consider yourself a content creator but don’t fit this definition, please don’t feel excluded. I don’t think it’s a formal, dictionary phrase, and it’s pretty flexible.
What Does a Content Creator Do?
A content creator makes digital content. For example, it can be in the form of the written word (like a blogger), visual (like a photographer), audio (like a podcaster), or audiovisual (like a YouTuber).
Creators also publish their content on the internet.
Why Become a Content Creator?
Because it’s the easiest way to talk to the world, and you get to bypass middlemen such as publishers. Also, it’s a way to follow your passion without risking it all.
Think about it: if your dream is to have your own restaurant, the unfortunate reality is that, once you open the place, you have a limited window of time to succeed. You’ll probably need to work there full-time, and have high costs.
On the contrary, creating content costs little, and you can do it in your spare time. You have the huge advantage of time. On the downside, there’s not the pressure to succeed right away (assuming you want to make it your job), so you have to be very disciplined to not give up.
Personally, I love writing on this site as a second job. As a lawyer, I only get to talk to judges and other lawyers (for the most part). Here, I have a much broader audience.
Five Ways to Be A Content Creator
Now that we’ve seen what a content creator is and what some of the advantages are, let’s check out five specific types of creators:
Blogger, Writer, or Journalist
That’s me! If you love writing, write! You can do it in a variety of ways. The first is by starting a blog. On the upside, it’s pretty easy to set up and quite cheap (no more than a few hundred dollars per year if you go bare-bones). You can monetize it if you want, and have complete control of everything. Also, you can publish anonymously if so inclined.
On the downside, it can be very hard to get popular as a blogger. It usually takes years to get to the point where you have tens of thousands of monthly readers and are turning a profit. Moreover, you have to be fairly tech-savvy to keep a website running.
As an alternative, you can publish on another website, such as Medium. The good thing is that it takes away the hassle of running your own site and potentially lets you access a bigger audience right off the bat. The bad is that you have less control over how you publish and monetize your pieces.
If you ask me, I prefer to have my own site and publish on bigger sites as a guest writer. That way, I own and control my writing 100%.
I can’t emphasize this enough. When you publish on someone else’s platform, whether it be Medium or Instagram or whatever, you don’t fully control your content. At the end of the day, your account can be shut down, usually for any reason. Keep backups, and be careful.
Yes, I made up that phrase (e-author). LOL. An e-author writes long-form content (books), as opposed to articles and blog posts.
If your ideas take up more than a few thousand words, this one’s for you. Plus, you have the luxury of time, and there’s not as much pressure to keep to a regular publishing schedule.
Still, as with blogging, the reality is that it’s easy to publish an e-book, but hard to “make it”. But don’t be discouraged. Fortunately, this is a passion that you can follow in your spare time, and persevere until you succeed.
Perhaps the best-known kind of content creator is the YouTuber. If you’re inclined to make video content, it’s an amazing way to express yourself because you can do so much. From car reviews to travel, you can cover practically anything.
On the downside, making quality videos is difficult and requires skills in terms of how to shoot, lighting, editing, etc. Perhaps you could do like a lot of YouTubers and shoot at a home studio that you set up once, and then occasionally at other locales.
Either way, at the higher levels, most YouTubers opt for professional-grade shooting and editing. But that’s a long way off – start slow, and build up.
Twitter is a great way to broadcast quick ideas and thoughts right away. Also, it’s very suited to starting conversations with both random people and internet friends, and getting fast feedback on something.
However, I’m wary of Twitter because tweets are so short and you usually have to be sound-bitey (if that makes sense) to get attention. Also, there’s a lot of trolling, spam, and meanness, and your tweets can follow you forever; even if you delete a tweet you come to regret, someone might have screenshotted it or otherwise saved it.
Indeed, the bigger you get, the more scrutiny there’ll be on you and your tweet history.
But hey, some people love it and do very well on it. That might be you!
So this is a new role that combines photography with other jobs, including editing and marketing. It’s kind of crazy: you take the pictures, edit them, post them, and interact with others.
There are many kinds of successful Instagram accounts, from traditional models and influencers to others focused on arts and nature. As long as you have something compelling to create or photograph, you can do well on Instagram. Plus, if you’re successful, brands can pay you tons of money to be their influencer (more on that below).
From what I’ve seen, most big accounts have thousands of posts. So, prepare to take lots of pictures!
If you like to speak and interview but don’t need to be seen (only heard), you can become a podcaster. It’s probably easier to do than YouTube, and you can find a huge audience. After all, lots of folks now listen to podcasts in their cars, rather than music.
Also, since it’s not visual, you don’t have to worry (or pay for) videography, lighting, video editing, and all that jazz.
So if talking to humanity is appealing to you, give it a shot!
Content Creation Tips
As a content creator myself, this is the best piece of advice I can give you – creating content is easy; becoming successful and popular is extremely difficult and takes a long time (usually, years).
So, you must have a passion for it and truly love putting yourself out there on the internet. It’s extremely rewarding and will lead to lots of personal growth, but it can also be pure drudgery if your heart is not in it.
Be Patient and Start Slow
Please don’t start a YouTube channel with thousands of dollars of fancy new video equipment. There’s a good chance you’ll eventually find it’s not for you, and all that equipment will end up obsolete and gathering dust.
So, start slow, even if with your phone. Make some videos or write some blog articles, and see if you really love it. After a few months, you should have a much better idea of whether it’s your thing.
You Will Improve With Time
Marques Brownlee is one of my favorite content creators. He’s a tech-focused YouTuber who’s become crazy successful and famous (his channel has over 10 million subscribers)! He’s also done something that’s super inspiring to me as a fellow creator: drawn attention to his first-ever video, from circa 2009. Check it out:
Look at him now:
Like Marques, your first creations won’t be professionally produced and ultra-polished. They might even look a bit homemade.
But that’s the journey, friend. You simply can’t apply standards of perfection to yourself when you’re beginning. Virtually no one on earth turns in a stellar performance on anything with no experience.
So start, put yourself out there, and don’t be afraid of your first attempts!
You Might Want to Keep it a Secret at First
Oh, and one more thing: when you begin, I suggest that you don’t tell your frenemies that you just started a blog or YouTube channel.
I know this one person that started a blog a few years ago and broadcast it to everyone she knew. I don’t know if she knows this, but a lot of her supposed real-life “friends” started making nasty anonymous comments on the blog and making fun of her behind her back.
She doesn’t blog anymore (I don’t know if it was because of that, though).
My takeaway is that a lot of people out there suck and will try to tear you down when you’re at your most vulnerable. Don’t put yourself through that. Wait until you’ve had some success, and then tell everyone you know.
Yes, You Can Make A Lot of Money!
This can make you rich. But it’s a long, hard road – and most won’t be able to make it their job. In fact, to my understanding (and I’ve been doing this since 2016), you need to be much better than the top 1% in your chosen content-creation field in order to “make it big”. It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy and takes time.
If you make it, though, life is good. You’re famous and your own boss, and can probably work from anywhere.
Let’s drill down and take a look at the income possibilities for content creators on YouTube, Instagram, and a blog.
PewDiePie (probably the most successful YouTuber ever) makes about $15.5 million per year. Not bad for a job that didn’t even exist a few years ago!
Anyways, there’s a handy income calculator here that you can use. For example, it says that if you have 50,000 daily views, you can expect to make about $71.25 to $118.75 per day. (You can probably make more if you promote products and services within your videos).
A site called Petal reports that “it’s somewhat of an unspoken rule that influencers can expect to be paid $10.00 for every 1,000 followers they have, once they hit the 100,000 threshold”. I understand that this is per each post made in partnership with a brand.
One takeaway? Serious monetization on Instagram starts at ~100,000 followers. For example, accounts with around “…250,000 to 500,000 followers have hit the jackpot of Instagram influencing, with possible earnings averaging at $670.00 per post” (source: Petal).
As far as I know, serious blog income starts at around 25,000 visitors per month. At that level, you can make around $1,000 monthly in revenue, though it depends on many factors.
If you want to make six figures each year, you’ll usually need traffic in the hundreds of thousands of visitors every month, at minimum. The sky’s the limit, though: top bloggers can easily make $1,000,000+ (but it’s a very small minority of bloggers).
I think these numbers may actually understate your income potential since, if you make it big on one platform, you’re probably big on other platforms. For example, if you’re very successful on YouTube, you probably also have a big Instagram account. So, I would take this into account when thinking of becoming a content creator.
How Long Does It Take to Make Six Figures?
Based on what I know from the blogging world, and assuming you’re starting from scratch and will do this part-time, I’d say 5+ years. If you have specialized knowledge or a large ad budget or are already famous, maybe 1-3 years.
Suffice it to say that financial success as a content creator takes hard work and a lot of time for most people.
Summing It Up
If you’ve got the time and passion for it, I wholeheartedly encourage you to start your journey as a content creator. It’s incredibly fun and rewarding, and you’ll meet people all over the world that you wouldn’t otherwise.
If you’re just in it for the money, I’d recommend you look elsewhere, unless you’re a pro and know what you’re doing. For it’s a long and difficult road and not a way to get rich quick.
The good thing is that you can find a way to create content that fits your personality and preferences. You can write, or do audio and/or video or photography. It’s up to you.
So don’t be afraid, and take the leap!
Are you a content creator? Do you want to be one?