Oooh!!! Did you know that one of most searched for professions on Google is content creator? A few years ago the term didn’t even exist. Sure, writers moved on to become bloggers. Some of them even became wealthy. However, as the profession grew content creation required a whole heap of skill sets other than the ability to write, though it still remains an important skill.
The truth is a majority of online content creators are multi-passionate multitaskers. We write, film, tell stories on YouTube, roll out podcasts and bring visual stories to life. Content creators can also become influencers, working on their own businesses or for other brands.
HOW TO BECOME A CONTENT CREATOR?
Before I jump into what it takes to work as a creator I want to make the distinction between a hobbyist and strategist. The hobbyist creates content for fun, and the strategist is focused on crafting an ability to influence others in a way that drives her followers to engage. Most of the time, the two differ in the quality and frequency of their work as well as their intent. Neither is better than the other, it all depends on their respective objectives.
However, if you’re working on creating digital assets for a company, then how much you know about that company and how well you can communicate it is also a distinguishing mark. You can find out why I think knowledge is the most important asset you should have as a content creator here.
THE FIRST STEP: WRITE FOR HUMANS
Becoming a content creator does not begin and end with a piece of viral content. I can’t begin to tell you how many people had one viral hit and were never seen or heard of again.
The work happens way before that point.
In my case, I worked in PR at an executive level for almost two decades. I built a career on storytelling across print and broadcast media before starting my own public relations firm. I honed my ability to understand that your tribe and your ability to communicate to them in a way that promotes understanding is EVERYTHING.
So my best advice is to first learn how to write like a human being for another human being and this is where many content creators get it wrong and where large brands really suck.
Most people are used to using stuffy, lofty language. They forget that on the other side there is a human relaxing in front of the TV or sitting in front of the computer or eating while listening to a podcast. That person wants to be informed but also be inspired, or laugh or find something out quickly without having to read/listen to it twice. So if you intend to become an online content creator I’d suggest you forget everything you were taught about writing (well, not everything) and think only about the person you’re writing for.
For instance, I love the way Marie Forleo writes. She is the ultimate content creator in my books. She churns out videos, blog posts, books, courses but her work never feels stuffy. Her content is useful, very informative and entertaining. She swears, it works for her brand, and her followers love her for the daily value she brings to their businesses and lives.
ALL ONLINE CONTENT CREATORS WORK. Hard!
For the outsider looking in online content creation looks like a hell of a lot of fun. After all, the work is creative. As a content creator, I am always working in front of and behind the camera, writing something creative. I am on the phone a lot engaging, recording, sharing some kind of interesting visual and boy-o-boy does it look cool.
But that’s surface stuff. What people don’t see are all the proposals that need to be written, the briefs that need to be read, long hours brainstorming and finessing how to tell a story.
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK
There’s the practical stuff too: editing, learning full scripts, crafting captions, booking technical crews, meeting deadlines. It’s exhausting and many times, lonely. For instance, an online content creator can easily spend 14 hours or more daily producing, sharing and engaging. It is a full-time job that consumes time, energy and focus.
So if you want to be an online content creator understand that it will take a lot of your time. Like all jobs managing your work/life balance boundaries will become important. As you begin to think of this as a career option I want you to ask yourself: Do you like creative work as well as the numbers? Are you pumped looking and understanding metrics? Is styling, shooting, and editing images a skill you’re passionate about? Is writing something you enjoy? Is working alone fine (most of the times)?
These are all questions that can help you determine if pursuing a career in content creation is worth it, which brings me to my third question.
WHAT SKILLS SHOULD AN ONLINE CONTENT CREATOR HAVE?
Gosh, we can talk about the journalism, marketing or writing degrees that some content creators have or we can go down the route of chatting about the super creative geniuses who grew up on the Internet and have mastered the art and science of storytelling without stepping inside a university.
But guess what? I don’t want to discuss anything related to a degree as some content creators can come from a broad array of disciplines and some won’t even have had the chance to set foot on a campus ground.
SOFT SKILLS MATTER
For me, the soft skills matter in addition to your ability to write, communicate and have some kind of social media or video production experience or skills.
So in the realm of soft skills, the best online content creators are enthusiastic, multi-passionate and inquisitive. We hook up well with large creative teams but most times we go it alone and feel comfortable in our own skin.
I also think you can’t become a good online content creator if you don’t know how to communicate well, meaning you’ve got to know how to tell a great story that moves hearts and minds.
You’ve got to know how to evangelize your editorial calendar and get your brand out there on social media as well as gain media mentions and even guest post on big websites. Research will always be an important part of your work.
HOW IMPORTANT ARE FOLLOWERS?
We all get fixated with vanity metrics, even Kim Kardashian, though it does not always work out in her favour. However, I think even if you have a small number of followers with high engagement and have a lot of your fans talking back to you, then you can create an impact with the “small” numbers. Look, all content creators start somewhere and if there was a magic number to build your engagement I’d say it was ONE. Having one follower is a start. It means that someone likes what you’re saying. One follower represents a building block as an online content creator.
AS A CONTENT CREATOR YOU SHOULD VALUE ENGAGEMENT
For some, it is easy to blow up the numbers and for others, it’s a slow go. I’d say start where you are and try to head for 10K followers on the platform/s you think is important for your storytelling. But I also know content creators with less than 10k who work with brands because they are excellent at pitching or offering their services (such as styled photos or created content!). I believe if you have something to offer a brand and are willing to put together a good pitch, the number under your name isn’t as important as we are led to believe.
So focus on a high engagement rate over a bigger number of followers any day so start with what you’ve got and make sure your audience is double-tapping and commenting on all of your posts because you’re inviting them to engage!
UNDERSTAND NUMBERS IF YOU WANT TO SUCCED AT CONTENT CREATION
Being an online creator is such a blessing. You can work from home, live in sweats, churn out material and get paid to share the things that you love. You can also influence people to become more knowledgeable about your subject matter or encourage them to lead better lives. But remember how I began this post by making a distinction between the hobbyist and the online content creator who takes work seriously?
Well if you really want to make a name for yourself in the world of online content creation you’ve got to become obsessed with numbers.
I also think you can’t become a good online content creator if you don’t know how to communicate meaning you’ve got to know how to tell a great story that moves hearts and minds.
Stories Matter But So Do Your KPIs
Think of traffic you’re getting to your site but also consider how you’re generating leads from your site. This can represent an important ROI for the investment of your time. You’ve got to set up KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), know the numbers that determine your success and align your creative efforts with the outcomes you expect. You can choose to look at a range of metrics ranging from organic visitors, email newsletter signups, sales, and the likes.
It’s important to establish these to manage your expectations and measure your performance.
Hire an SEO strategist like I did to help add value to what you do on the content side.
Being an online content creator is a powerful thing, There is nothing like it and with that power comes a great deal of responsibility. You should use your power to cause ripples, change things, inspire people, share the things you love, share yourself with the world. Your tribe awaits.
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