Want to make a living creating content online? It’s entirely possible to earn multiple six figures as a content creator, living life on your own terms while sharing your knowledge and experience with an audience that can’t get enough of what you have to say.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to get started as a part time content creator, earn money doing what you love, and grow your business.
Consider this your content creator checklist to help you understand the pros and cons of being a content creator!
What exactly is a content creator?
As the name implies, a content creator is someone who creates content that's educational, entertaining, or informative. This content is then shared through different channels depending on your goals as a creator.
When we talk about content creation, we usually focus on digital content, that is, content such as podcasts, videos, books, and courses that share your knowledge in digital formats.
But it can also include the social media posts you share on a daily basis.
The creator economy has grown immensely in the past couple of years - with over 50 million creators (and counting) running their businesses online, and content creation is at the heart of this industry.
The good news is, anyone can become a content creator, but as with any skill, it takes dedication. Knowing what’s ahead will better prepare you for creating imaginative, interesting, and unique content on a consistent basis. Let’s take a look at what you have to look forward to as well as some potential drawbacks to be aware of.
The pros and cons of being a content creator
Knowing how to create and monetize content is a valuable skill. But there’s no easy button. Before we explain how to get started, here’s what you need to know about being a content creator:
Being a content creator comes with a number of benefits:
- You can work remotely and create content from anywhere in the world.
- You can set your own hours and work when you want.
- There is a low barrier to entry.
- No specific skill set is required.
- It doesn't matter how young or old you are or what your background is.
- Digital content is easy to create and publish. So anyone can leverage their knowledge and experience to build a fan base and the income that comes with it.
- It takes time to build an audience for your content.
- Failure is part of the process.
- There’s no such thing as overnight success.
Keep in mind, the content creators you see online have spent years honing their craft. Their early work was hit or miss because they were experimenting with content types, formats, messaging, and style. Be prepared to go through the same learning curve.
Remember Chewbacca Mom Candace Payne? Before she went viral with this…
LAUGHING CHEWBACCA MASK LADY (FULL VIDEO)
… Her content mostly featured pictures of her family and their antics. Now, her message of joy permeates everything she creates — including books, recordings, and training programs.
Similarly, most successful content creators pursued multiple business ideas that failed before they found success. Be prepared to test several ideas and use failure as an opportunity to learn and iterate.
Bottom line, it can take time to begin generating money. So it’s a good idea to have a reliable income source while you get started creating content and learning how to monetize it.
What types of digital content can you create?
Digital content doesn't just refer to words typed on a screen, like emails and blog posts. It refers to any kind of content, including:
- The information itself
- The channel you want to convey it through
- The features of the channel that add to the experience when consuming the content
As a content creator, you can create free content, such as podcasts, blog posts, social media posts, and videos. But you can also create digital products to sell online. Think:
- Paid newsletters
- Online forums or communities
- Paid memberships or paid podcasts
- Online courses
- Downloadable digital products (PDFs, graphics, etc.)
With the right platform as the basis for your content creation empire, you can see which type of content your audience engages with most — and then create more of it.
What skills does a content creator need?
Although some skills are specific to a particular medium, there are certain skills all content creators need. Let’s look at a few of these in more detail.
Being and staying current
Content creators have their finger on the pulse of their industry, staying current on the trends and issues that affect their audience.
Successful content creators know their competition. They follow other influencers and content creators on social media and read news and updates about their industry. And before distributing content, they study the platforms to see what’s trending and what’s connecting with their audience.
That doesn’t necessarily mean they emulate their favorite influencers. Instead, they watch and learn and add their unique spin or experience to the mix.
Staying current in this day and age means being able to pivot quickly, to switch up your focus at a moment's notice. That means reading other people's content and learning what topics people are searching for.
As you continue to learn and grow, your digital products will evolve and improve. People will seek them out because they trust you to keep them updated on the latest news or techniques.
Deep understanding of your audience
A big mistake creators often make is forgetting to think about their audience before themselves. You need to know and care about them. You need to see things from their perspective. That means understanding what they know, what questions they have, what keeps them up at night, the information they search for, and how they consume information.
Great content creators don’t simply recycle other people’s content. They create their own — making sure it’s distinct and original. They put their unique perspective on their topic or solution and deliver innovative solutions that only they could offer.
Roger Love is a good example of this. As a vocal coach, he teaches people how to communicate more effectively — from vocal techniques to inspiration to raise their voice.
He can do this because he knows his audience and has created his own unique language that they understand.
The ability (and time) to create content consistently
The more content you create, the better you’ll get at your craft. But if you want eyeballs on it, you need to create consistent content.
On social media, the algorithms favor creators who publish high-quality content frequently. That’s because social platforms want to keep people scrolling. So they reward posts that engage and entertain. Content that’s simply a remix or repost of someone else’s original work often gets buried.
It’s the same on your website. Publishing more than 16 times per month attracts nearly 3.5 times more traffic than publishing content "when you have time." That’s because search engines reward creators who show up consistently.
How do you do this? Set a schedule for your free content — and stick to it. Then create one or two digital products, like a PDF or guide, with a goal of growing your product suite with courses, memberships, newsletters, and more.
To succeed as a content creator, you need to be customer focused. You need to care about helping your followers, and take time to build relationships with them.
One of the best ways to do that is by building an email list and delivering your content directly to their inbox. For that, you’ll need a good CRM or customer relationship management system.
A good CRM not only tells you who your customers are but why they look to you for content and what they want from the content you produce. You may have people who are complete beginners, people who are in the middle, and people who are super advanced and very knowledgeable about your niche. You need to have content that appeals to and engages all of them.
Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking
Content creation is both an art and a science. You need to create unique solutions and messaging. Your brand needs to stand out from everything else in your industry. For that, you need bold creativity.
Don’t worry about perfection. Focus on your audience. Take this TikTok by Keenya Kelly.
But there’s a science to understanding how your audience responds to a particular message, which means you’ll need to test different ideas. For instance, use keyword research to identify the topics people care about and Google Trends to identify what’s hot.
From there, think about ways you can leverage those trends and topics in your own content creation. What can you bring to the table that no one else has?
To turn followers into fans and ultimately customers, you need to communicate clearly and persuasively. As we’ve mentioned, you’ll do this on social media, your blog, and emails, as often as you can.
The point? To build relationships and drive sales.
The best way to convert readers into buyers is to paint a picture for them. Show them how their lives will be different and improved because of your product or solution.
Remember - keep the focus on them rather than on you. Think about how you can help people achieve the results they’re looking for. Then create content that shares simple solutions and quick wins.
As you create content and engage with your audience, you’ll learn more about them and the types of content they want. The key - keep an eye on your metrics and engagement insights!
If your audience is engaged, you know you’re on the right track. Little or no engagement tells you that you need to adjust your content strategy.
It takes flexibility to adjust course as you’re building your business. But it ensures you create content that your audience loves!
How long does it take to become a content creator?
If you’re already creating videos, podcasts, PDFs, graphics, or any other form of content, congratulations, you’re a content creator!
Becoming a content creator is that easy (really). Just pull out your phone and start recording a video. Write an ebook or course. Start a podcast.
To be a content creator, you only need to be sharing your thoughts, ideas, and solutions on a regular basis. The challenge is monetizing your content.
It’s a good idea to let your audience know as soon as possible that you offer advanced solutions for a price. That trains them to look beyond your free content.
So start with free content shared on social media — on Instagram or Twitter, for example, to build an audience. As your engagement grows, you can identify the problems your audience struggles with and direct them to your website, course, mailing list, or membership as a way to alleviate those problems.
They say necessity is the mother of invention. Creating a product to solve your audience’s problem is where you can start to figure out your monetization strategy. It may be a course, a coaching program, or an ebook — any digital product that you can charge money for.
How much can a content creator make?
Content creators have virtually unlimited income potential, but the earnings can vary widely from person to person. Many earn a few hundred dollars a month as a part-time content creator. Others are able to replace their salary and take the plunge to make it their full-time job.
Your choice depends on your situation and how you choose to monetize your content. Here are four options for making money as a content creator:
1. Creating your own products
If you have knowledge or experience that would benefit other people, create and sell your own digital products: ebooks, templates, online merchandise, and courses.
When selling your own products, you get to keep all your profits. So your earning potential is largely determined by the price point of your products and how many you sell.
2. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketers promote other peoples' products and make a commission for every successful sale. With this approach, you create content and possibly a landing page to generate interest in the affiliate product, then send people to the official site to make their purchase.
Affiliate marketing is particularly useful for new content creators. While you’re creating your own course or digital product, you can generate an income promoting other company’s products.
Know that affiliate programs can come and go and commissions can change, which is why you shouldn’t put all your proverbial eggs in the affiliate basket.
3. Paid advertising and sponsorships
If you have a lot of web traffic or a big social media following, you can monetize it with paid advertising and sponsorships. With this approach, people pay you to promote their products to your audience, either through product mentions or ad spots.
Work your usual magic, but feature the product or brand you’re promoting. That keeps your audience happy while helping you put extra dollars in your bank account.
4. Memberships or coaching programs
People happily pay to feel like they’re among their peeps. Once you’ve built an audience, you can monetize it by creating a membership or coaching program, and providing ongoing support within the membership area.
Content creator checklist
If you want to become a successful content creator, there’s no better time than now to start. It’s okay to work part time, generating income as a side gig. Then, when you’re established, make it your full-time job!
Here’s the content creator checklist for getting started:
✅ Niche down and specialize
The best content creators are those who specialize in a specific niche. Maybe you’re interested in cryptocurrency, or you're the go-to person for gluten-free snacks for kids. When you specialize, you’ll become a recognized name within that industry, reduce your competition, and become an industry leader.
✅ Stay informed of current events in your niche
It's not enough just to specialize in your niche. You also have to keep up with news, trends, and changes within the industry.
For example, no one could've foreseen the massive surge in online ordering and delivery brought about by the pandemic. This forced businesses large and small to rethink how they fulfill orders so their customers could feel safe and secure.
Always remember that the market can and will change — frequently and suddenly. Stay flexible and adaptable. Pay attention to what other thought leaders in your industry are talking about and why that's important.
Stay open to innovation, and always stay informed.
✅ Read, research, and recognize great content
The best content creators don't just consume content in their own niche. They pay attention to what their competitors and other influencers are doing — even if it’s not directly related to their industry.
Over time, this gives you a sixth sense about what’s working and what’s not. You’ll quickly recognize content that’s mediocre versus content that wows.
It's not enough to notice it though. Accomplished content creators take a step back and ask themselves, "What are the qualities that make this content great?"
You'll find the best content follows a certain formula. It's the perfect balance of:
- Educational (without being boring)
- Informational (without being overwhelming)
- Entertaining (without going off topic)
Creating this kind of content takes a lot of practice, but it also takes a lot of reading and research to know when something stands out as truly stellar.
✅ Create content with a purpose
Start creating content. Even if it’s not great, build the habit of consistent content creation.
Every piece you create should inform, advise, or entertain. But it also has another job that many people forget about in their quest to be creative. Content must have a purpose. And that purpose is to convert.
Include a call to action on every piece of content you create. It may be a micro-conversion, such as following you on social media, clicking through to a landing page, or subscribing to your newsletter.
Don’t try to turn people into customers in just one step. Great content creators develop content that guides the user along every step of their decision journey. Like Keenya Kelly’s free downloads, which build trust and relationship with her website visitors:
Check out our guide on how to create compelling content!
✅ Be personal
Your content shouldn't read like a university lecture. It can be fun, playful, and kooky so you can express your unique personality.
So yes, get to know your audience. But let them get to know you too. Share information like:
- What is your experience in your niche?
- Why did you choose it?
- What do you do that no one else does?
- And why does that make your content worth paying attention to?
Answering questions like these will help you establish your own personal brand!
✅ Keep experimenting and growing
No matter what type of content you create — a course, a membership, or any other type of content — you should never stop experimenting, trying out new ideas, and creating new types of content.
- Test new products and monetization methods, so you can expand your content business.
- Try new marketing techniques, so you can get in front of new audiences.
- Continue to engage with your audience, so you know how their needs are evolving and what you can create to support them.
Get started with Kajabi
As with any business, there are pros and cons of being a content creator. But as you’ve seen, the pros typically outweigh the cons.
The secret is to focus, not just on creating content, but also sharing it with the world. And for that, you need a platform that helps you create, market, and sell your content while delivering a great customer experience.
That's where Kajabi can help.
Kajabi offers you a wide variety of tools to get you started growing your content creator skills. It gives you everything you need to build a thriving content-based business, from a drag-and-drop web builder to intelligent marketing automation pipelines, a robust email marketing service, and podcast tools. Plus, even more!
Try out everything Kajabi has to offer risk-free for 14 days at no charge - sign up today for a free account. Ready to get your feet wet as a professional content creator? We thought so!