You need only sign up for LinkedIn job alerts to see there’s an ever-growing abundance of companies promising well-paid digital media jobs, many of which focus on content creation. It’s enough to make anyone ponder a career as a content creator.
But what does it take to be a content creator, and how can you embark on a career as one?
If you’re wondering if a job as a content creator is for you, want to build a business as a content creator, or are already on your way and want to up your game, read on for everything you need to know.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Content Creator?
- The What, How, and Where of Content Creators
- Five Things Top-Quality Content Creators Do
- How To Become a Pro Content Creator
- Get Paid
A content creator is someone who creates entertaining or educational material to be expressed through any medium or channel.
Content creation especially pertains to digital content, since that’s where the majority of content is consumed (and where the money is, if you’re looking to earn revenue through your efforts).
For businesses, content creation can mean crafting newsletters, emails, digital marketing materials, brochures, social media, articles, annual reports, advertorial, editorial, and company communications, and more.
To fully understand what a content creator is and does, it’s important to understand what “content” is.
In the publishing, communication, and art industries, content can be defined as all the information and experiences, such as writing, speech, or other various arts, expressed through a medium to communicate value to an end user.
More important for business, content is the stuff that users, readers, or viewers derive value from.
At its most basic level, content includes:
- The information and/or experience
- The medium/channel in which the information is delivered
- Any beneficial features the medium adds to the information or experience
It’s worth noting here that while the medium for delivery is essential to content, it’s not the most important part of the trio above. Information and experience are king. Without them, the medium has essentially no value. After all, what’s a YouTube channel without videos or your favorite magazine without articles or images?
More and more, businesses are understanding the value of working with content creators. They see that high-quality content inspires users to take action and can foster community and loyalty through interaction with the brand, its community, or both.
Everywhere you look, there’s content created by someone who probably got paid to create it. That copy on the back of your cereal box, the junk mail you tossed unopened, the slogan on your T-shirt, the morning newsfeed snippets, the video you watched on Instagram, the text you’re reading right now? It’s all content.
As a far-reaching field, content creator responsibilities can vary greatly, but they’re likely include some or all of the following:
- Writing, editing, blogging, and updating content for everything from brochures, and marketing and promotion materials to emails, websites, blogs, and more.
- Ensuring best SEO practices are followed for digital content so search engines like Google can find your content.
- Creating social media posts and managing social accounts, including responding to user comments and questions.
- Working with various company departments and sharing content ideas to aid with their content needs.
- Monitoring website and social media metrics.
Want to dig a little deeper into what content creators create? Here’s a list of some of the most ubiquitous content types:
- Blog posts
- Product copy
- Social media content
- White papers
Yes, that’s a lot of types of content. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a pro or have experience in all of them to build up a reputation as a great content creator. You need to find your niche based on your expertise and what type of content creator you’d like to be.
The Most Popular Platforms That Host Content Creation
Where does content appear? Here are some of the major media platforms that feature content:
- Internet (blogs, podcasts, websites, social media platforms, e-books, podcasts, etc.)
- Live events (conferences, performances, etc.)
- Printed materials (books, brochures, magazines, packaging, pamphlets, etc.)
- Smartphones (apps, internet access)
Only you know whether you’re more of a blogger, social media maven, copywriter, or broadcaster. So think about your interest and skillset as you consider which platforms you imagine your content being showcased, then consider the types of companies that hire content creators:
- Media (news, entertainment)
- Retail and e-commerce companies
- The hospitality industry (restaurants, clubs, music venues)
- Brands (pretty much everyone from food to fashion to pharmaceuticals to hotels to cities to hospitals)
- Bloggers/influencers (some of the pro influencers have teams)
- Celebrities (you think they do all the dirty work?)
Seem broad? It is, because every company needs to communicate to their consumers, and they need a talented, skilled content creator to help them do so.
That’s one of the beauties of content creation. Whatever you’re an expert in (aerodynamics, the ketogenic diet, sewing, foreign policy, productivity, you name it), there’s likely a need for someone to champion it through content creation.
Still, there are some things all skilled content creators have in common.
Successful content creators know there’s more to being in demand than writing the best content (though that’s a great start and works for some people, such as copywriters).
Follow best practices below to make sure you’re armed and ready to rule the world of content creation.
1. Get and Stay Current
Whatever your area of expertise is, you need to be on top of it, know the latest news, and follow the trends.
2. Know Your Audience
The better you know your or your client’s audience, the better you can communicate with them.
3. Use Shortcut Tools That Help You Create Awesome Content
Content creation isn’t just about crafting words. As mentioned above, it can be everything from managing social media to designing brochures to creating videos. If you’re up on the latest tools, you’ll know that there’s no reason to start from scratch when there are free online templates that do the heavy graphic design lifting for you.
Tap on any of the templates below to customize it to your liking or find more templates to work from.
4. Write Often
Writing and creative thinking are at the core of being a content writer and creator. They’re also muscles that need to be flexed regularly to stay agile.
5. Write for SEO
You can write the content that would bring Shakespeare to tears and still not get any traction if you don’t include keywords that help your work bubble up to the top of search results. SEO keywords ensure your content gets seen and has measurable results.
Once you know what type of content you want to create and for which type of industry, it’s time to get yourself out there and in front of potential clients. Here’s how.
Create a Portfolio
Sure, you can show potential clients your social media accounts (and you should if they’re awesome). But the pro move is to create and share a digital portfolio that features your best work. Don’t have work to show yet? Create some for imaginary clients!
Forget what anyone else says. It is who you know. Get yourself in front of the types of clients you want, whether at tradeshows, conferences, launch events, or any other gatherings and make friends in the right places. Online networking counts, too. Follow and comment on social media accounts you admire. Offer to collaborate. Feature and tag brands you want to work with. Keep it up and relationships will grow.
Don’t wait for jobs to come to you. Instead, actively pursue opportunity. Know a restaurant that could benefit from social media help or a boutique brand with mediocre newsletters? Offer to help boost their engagement (without stepping on toes).
Don’t Give Up
Growing a business and a solid client base takes time. Give yourself at least six to eight months of hustling before expecting results.
AI takeover aside, there will never be a time that content creation is obsolete. Any investment you make into your skills now will pay off continuously. Content creators can charge any number of ways: by the project, by the hour, or by the month as an independent contractor. They might also be a salaried employee.
Fees range widely depending on skills, local market rates, medium, and subject matter. In fall 2020, Glassdoor reported the content creator salary range as $35,000 to $73,000 per year, while freelancers managing social media accounts for clients can charge anywhere from $15 to $120 per hour.
Ask around to get a sense of rates you can reasonably charge and don’t undersell yourself. You can anticipate that as your skills grow, so will your salary.
Most importantly, get out there and start creating. The more immersed you are in the skills, tools, and community of content creators, the better you will get at creating epic content. Soon enough, you’ll discover that as a content creator, you hold the key to the engagement universe—and to making a living using your creativity.