Bonus - Listen to our episode of Blitz Growth with Matthew Karsten above, an example of a full-time content creator.
Youtubers, bloggers, personal coaches, podcasters, and similar creators are more prominent than ever before, and they are making a full-time living.
Recently you've seen the crazy figures of 9-year old YouTubers earning 8-figures from their videos and podcasts selling for $100 million+ (Joe Rogan).
Online magazines and news sites are now profitable by putting their content behind paywalls, and course creators make a living by passing on their knowledge.
So, it’s only natural to ask - How do you become a content creator and can you really do this full-time?
Well by the time you read this article you’ll know everything to get you started.
What do we mean by content, and what defines a "creator"?
In this day and age, people will distribute the majority of information through online channels and that information is what we call "content".
So, everything you see or hear online is a piece of content - YouTube video, Soundcloud clip, a blog post, a podcast. Pretty much anything.
And as more people turned to the internet to find their source of information, education, and entertainment, the demand for good content started growing.
The initial monetization pattern for content was ads. Blogs added things like "Adsense" to monetize, but Facebook turned that industry over. It became much more profitable to buy ads on Facebook than to buy random ads on random websites.
Therefore, putting content behind a paywall became the logical way forward.
When that came to pass, the "creator" industry really took off. This is because most creators can't pull in huge numbers, but even a small creator can get a percentage of his audience to pay for a digital product.
Essentially back in the day, unless you got millions of views, you really couldn't make a full-time living off being a creator, because advertising CPMS were tiny.
Nowadays, content creation is a job like any other and it's a very practical profession for many creatives.
For example, the creator that has 1,000 subscribers and gets them to pay $10 each month, can make $10,000 / month. Even someone who has 100 subscribers can make a full-time living if each subscriber pays them $50 / month or so.
It's much easier to get 100 subscribers than 1 million views. Therefore, the creator economy exploded.
As a result, more and more platforms online became welcoming to content creators. For example, YouTube provides you with a platform to create your own content (videos) and monetize it, and they get their slice of pie in terms of traffic and advertising money. They also added a subscription service in recent years where you can deliver premium content for a recurring fee.
Platforms like Spotify do the same thing – you have a digital product (song/podcast) and they give you a platform to share it worldwide. While currently they don't have a paywall option yet, most musicians / podcasters are turning to other creator platforms to monetize their premium audio.
The most recent examples are online news outlets and magazines that started putting their articles behind a paywall. The considerable success of the likes of Patreon is also proof that profitable, quality content is here to stay.
Types of Content
If you’ve ever strolled around the internet for a while (who didn’t?) you’d notice that content comes in various forms on all kinds of platforms.
That’s what makes it easier for a regular person like you to venture into the world of content creation. For example, you have something to say but you can’t put it into a written word you can make a video instead of blogging about it.
In fact, there are so many types of content that it’s hard to count them all. That may sound incredibly saturated, but it’s exactly the opposite. If you know how to deliver quality, you’ll always have an audience ready to listen to it.
Here are some forms that you could try out:
Written (or text-based) content is the oldest and incredibly popular type of content. These are usually blog posts, articles, case studies, long-form guides, ebooks, and such.
They are convenient, usually require only Google, Docs, and a keyboard. Furthermore, they easily mix with other content types (video/image/audio), and Google absolutely adores them.
Most popular written content covers narrow niche topics and forms a tight and personal relationship with their readers.
Also, many businesses use blogging as the focal point of their content marketing strategy – they have substance, boost authority, and are easy to drive traffic to the website.
Liz Stanley created Say Yes in 2006 and over time became one of the most influential mom blogs on the internet.
Platforms like YouTube allow you to create and promote your own video and monetize it. Thus, some of the richest people in the world started out as small YouTube content entertainers until they’ve amassed a huge, cult-like following.
Nowadays, video content is here to educate and entertain. A lot of content creators combine images, text, and video to create valuable courses for their audience.
Video production is evolving as well and platforms like Frame.io aim to streamline the process.
Visual content can also include infographics, web design, ebook cover design, stock photography, and a wide range of other digital products.
Twitch. tv evolved from a gaming-only streaming platform to one of the largest video streaming platforms on the internet.
Audio digital products come in the form of online radios, audiobooks, podcasts, and music.
A lot of up-and-coming musicians and independent artists started uploading their audio to platforms like Soundcloud or Bandcamp to promote and sell their music.
Shortly after big companies followed along. Now Spotify has almost 150 million premium subscribers, and at least twice as many users that listen to the platform for free.
Moreover, background noise is back in style. Hence the arrival of a new, incredibly successful audio format – podcasts. This convenient on-demand audio content allows you to sit back and relax listening to any niche you could imagine.
Of course, these are just some of the most familiar types of content a regular user will encounter. As technology improves the line between these types is fading more and more.
Today, creators are utilizing multiple types of content and use platforms that allow them to do so. But we’ll get to that.
Why Become a Content Creator?
You probably know that quote from The Dark Knight - If you’re good at something, never do it for free.
Well, the internet and the rise of social platforms made it easier than ever to monetize what you’re good at. Be it a gardener, a cook, rock climber, or fitness instructor.
If you succeed in creating a personal brand and grow an audience, you can do what you love, pass on the knowledge to others, and earn a lot of money! Brilliant, isn’t it?
In fact, you don’t need much convincing to start your membership website. All it takes is to look at some of the following end-of-2020 stats:
OnlyFans reported a massive $400m profit this year and the creators on the platform recorded more than $2 billion in sales.
The majority of reliable news outlets, online niche magazines, and premium blogs placed their content behind the paywall.
Content creators aren’t just making money with their content. They are launching food chains, fashion brands, pay-to-play podcasts, expensive courses, exclusive membership groups, and many more.
We’re entering the time where you aren’t only providing a product. Instead, you become the product, and at the same time, your audience becomes your customer.
The Role Of Audience In Content Creation
You know how they say - “Know your audience”? It is one of the main pillars of brand building and the same applies to content creators as well.
Your audience is your main asset when building a personal brand.
They come, pay for being a part of your community, engage with your content, bond with other members. And if you nurture them, they stay for a long time.
This provides a continuous revenue stream and social proof you can utilize when gaining new audience members.
However, it’s not always as easy as it seems. Building an audience requires plenty of effort combined with a little bit of luck.
Planting the Seeds
Before you even start creating content, ask yourself - who are the people that would “dig” your content?
Examples of this article can prove that any niche can have a decent amount of following if you know where to look.
Research all possible channels that can help you promote your content even before you start. When you do, keep communicating with your audience to see if there are areas that you could improve as well.
It’s crucial that you develop a distinct voice and form a bond with your followers regardless of the type of content you produce.
For example, AppSummo is a platform where you can find lifetime deals for business tools. You wouldn’t expect a tight-knit community there, yet their members identify themselves as Sumolings.
PewDiePie, the most subscribed YouTuber in the world calls his community “The Bro Army.” It’s what differentiates his fans from any other community.
Why You Should Own Your Audience
Did you know that most content creators are actually only renting out their audience?
Yep, you don’t own your YouTube audience, social media followers or page likes, nor podcast subscribers. Those are the property of Facebook’s, Google’s, Apple’s servers, etc. One flick of the switch and your entire community is gone.
On the flip side, you’ll always own your website and your email list.
That’s one of the main reasons digital entrepreneurs are moving to their own membership websites, while still “renting” platforms above for promotion purposes.
Gathering Your Audience at One Place
As you create your authority and online persona, your audience/followers’ numbers will rise.
Once you’ve acquired enough followers the best thing you can do is lead them to your website where you should offer some value in exchange for their email address.
That’s where membership websites like Kajabi enter the fray.
These special website builders ease the management of your digital product. They allow you to:
Collect your audience emails.
Put a part of (or entire) content behind a paywall.
This mother-turned-mentor managed to help thousands of lost moms improve their lifestyle to discover that it’s possible to achieve a family-health-business balance.
She distributes all her free & premium content to the audience directly at the website.
They have access to courses, training, apps, blog posts, videos, while also promoting her virtual events. Not bad!
Monetizing Your Audience
Owning a large audience means you can monetize in two different ways.
Earn profit directly from your audience: This is how most membership websites function. You offer them courses, paywalled articles, or other premium content.
For example, Foundr magazine used Vyper services to grow their email list and in return have a pool of quality leads that they can sell their digital product to.
Earn profit by renting your audience: Some digital entrepreneurs aren’t charging for their content but use their audience as rentable real estate.
Morning Brew and similar newsletters perfected this model.
Brew’s daily business digest has over 2.4 million subscribers and over 40% open rate. As a result, their advertisement space is in high demand, meaning they can charge higher fees for ad placements in their email.
After substantial YoY growth, Brew finished the year with over $20million in revenue. And their membership website consists of a landing page with nothing but an opt-in form that subscribes you to the newsletter!
There is also the option to look at brand deals, sponsored content etc.
This is one of the most common ways to monetize but you need to own your audience, have something unique and be able to work with the right brands.
We did an in-depth interview about brands and influencers working together and building win-win deals.
Tips To Become a Successful Content Creator
The habits of successful content creators are the same regardless of the industry and your content type.
If you want to turn your personal brand into a long-lasting legacy, here is some stuff to keep in mind.
1. Stay Relevant
There’s evergreen content and then there’s new, relevant stuff. Everyone will look for that one Joe Rogan Experience episode where he smokes pot with Elon Musk but is that all? Nope, he keeps producing interesting interviews every week and that’s what keeps his podcast so popular.
Unlike Rogan, your content will probably focus on one thing. And being an expert in something doesn’t mean that it will always stay the same. Stay in the game, follow new trends and be the first to present them to your audience! They’ll love you for that.
2. Keep Improving Your Skills and Production Value
This point relates to the above but is more technical. As you keep attracting more people and increasing traction, you’ll also need to show that you’re improving as well. Being relevant and well-informed is one thing, but improving your output is something else entirely.
For example, compare Mr. Beast’s first video with his recent plan to have a basketball match in the stratosphere. It’s a night and day difference in video and audio quality. He wasn’t sure of his future audience, nor did he know what his major video topics would be (the “internet philanthropy” that he’s known for).
Therefore, the most important stuff as a content creator is to keep investing in yourself. You are your brand, so make the most out of it. If you’re a writer, read a lot and improve your skill. See how other successful writers structure their articles and what kind of tools they use.
3. Quality Prevails
Consistency and staying relevant doesn’t mean that you should spam content for the sake of it.
Only by combining consistency and quality, you can achieve that reputation and traction that will attract new people to your brand.
Jennifer Louden created The Oasis, a membership website that helps writers unlock their creative potential. Her quality lectures amassed a huge following that she monetizes through paid subscription models.
Also, if you put your heart into something you can sometimes go toe-to-toe with competition on a much bigger budget.
Quality content is addicting. It boosts your authority in the industry and makes you the go-to person for everything related to your niche.
When you achieve that reputation, it is much easier for others to pay for the value you provide.
4. You Still Need Free Content
How will you attract new followers if you can’t convince them that you’re the best?
When you start making a buck from your content, you still need to remember that there’s an untapped audience somewhere out there. If you don’t provide them content that’s free and easily accessible, you’re definitely missing out.
That’s why in content marketing free content will always be the king. It’s easy to share and distribute, attracts organic followers and has the potential to go viral.
It’s what keeps building your reputation and also serves as a “demo” of what your paid content can offer.
Wired magazine allows you to read 4 free articles before asking for a subscription. However, once you start reading for free, you’ll probably want to grab some more.
1. Engage With Your Audience
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” – Berkley, 1710.
If you produce content that nobody engages with, is it really there? Without your followers, your entire venture might as well not exist.
Therefore, you need to forget about content creation as a one-way street. You need to cultivate, nurture, and grow together with your audience.
As mentioned, a lot of communities use made-up terminologies and identifications to make their followers part of a group.
But that’s not all. Most membership websites expand to various social platforms where content creators can directly engage with their audience. They respond to questions, receive feedback (both praise & criticism), host live webinars, and offer special promotions.
A well-treated audience will always bring more members and stay for a long time. On the other hand, if you don’t build a caring community, someone else will do it instead.
Becoming a content creator is easy. But maintaining it and monetizing it can be a tough nut to crack.
Fortunately, the new upcoming tools make it easier to converge different types of content into a single platform.
Furthermore, they make it easier for you to set up paywalls and membership subscriptions, payment gateways, as well as promote it to your target audience.
The first step is finding such a platform that’s tailored to your needs.
Hyax is one of the most recent selling platforms for content creators and digital entrepreneurs. If you’re looking for an all-in-one tool to create your membership and monetize it, you’d want to check this one out.
This website builder/selling platform will be the mainstay of your personal brand. Everything of value that you provide will probably end up on the platform. Thus, you got to choose carefully.
Then the question remains – How to make money as a content creator?
Here’s what you need to do:
Identify target audience: Who are you creating your content for? What type of content do they love? Where does your audience gather?
Research competition: Your goal is to get ahead of your competition. However, in the beginning, they will be your best mentors.
Start producing & promoting valuable content: Leverage your research to provide value and gain a following.
Think of membership models & pricing: Once you gain traction you can model your subscriptions or alternative ways of monetizing your content (advertising space for example)
Implement your membership structure using HYAX.
Promote membership: Offer discounts, free trials, and other benefits to your most loyal followers to start gaining your first paid members.
Stay consistent, make email drips, remain active in your membership group.
A Fulfilling Journey
It’s a bumpy road at first, but as your personal brand starts growing you’ll achieve something that would be impossible in your 9-to-5 job.
You’ll witness an environment where you can showcase your creativity and in return, you’ll gain profit and personal satisfaction.
The latter being the essence of content creation. Do what you love and get paid for it? Sounds ideal.
So if you have an idea and creative rush to start producing content, don’t waste a moment. It’s no time to be in two minds about it.
The new age of personal branding and content creation is ahead and it’s better to start now than playing catch up later.
Jack Paxton is the co-founder of VYPER, a marketing tool that helps brands build email lists, social followings, and revenue using viral giveaways, referral, and reward programs. After millions of dollars spent testing different marketing strategies at his marketing agency. He then also co-founded Hyax a fast, conversion & design-focused course and funnel builder for creators.