If you’re tapped into today’s digital world, you’ve heard all about digital creators (also referred to as content creators). A lot of the conversation revolves around what they’re up to: things like what interesting new trends and issues they’re talking about, and how they’re engaging with their fans and partners.
Perhaps one of the most interesting conversations is how they’re making a living financially. It’s true that many of the top digital creators we see are making millions of dollars a year putting out content.
So how do they do it—and how can you get a piece of the action? Sit tight, because we’re going to cover it all.
What is a digital creator?
Digital creators are individuals who create online content and share it across various platforms. Their content may feature images, video, and even written text. Digital creators distribute their content across channels like TikTok and YouTube, as well as owned websites, to reach a greater audience.
In recent years, independent digital creators have had greater opportunities to earn money from the audiences they’ve cultivated around their content. They achieve this through brand partnerships, advertising, merchandise, and gated or paid content on platforms like Patreon. As a result, more people, not just the highest-level influencers, can pursue a profitable career as a creator.
How to become a digital creator
The path to making a solid income as a content creator isn’t always easy. But it is possible. Let’s look at the basic steps to help you get started on your digital content creation journey.
1. Choose a niche
Having a focused, specific niche is a key to building a loyal audience. When it’s clear what kind of content you’re going to deliver, your audience knows what to expect. It’s also a quick and efficient way for them to know you’re a digital creator worth following.
To choose a niche, ask yourself questions like:
- Which topics are you an expert in? (Or which can you become an expert in?)
- What are your interests and passions?
- Which niches seem like they’ll be fruitful for you to join?
- What’s popular right now? What do people want to see?
2. Choose your archetype
As you’ve likely noticed, digital content creators come in many different “flavors,” partly based on their archetype. Here are a few of the top archetypes you can embody as you’re creating content:
- Performer: on-camera personalities like musicians, comedians, and actors
- Virtuoso: experts like chefs, medical professionals, fitness experts, tech professionals, and home renovators
- Maker: DIY gurus who make handcrafted goods like jewelry, ceramics, and furniture
- Artist: those making art across several mediums, like photography, painting, sculpting, filmmaking, writing, and animation
- Enthusiast: this is a crossover that mixes with other archetypes—a hobbyist or someone who’s knowledgeable and passionate about pretty much anything, like books, travel, fashion, plants, celebrities, or animals
3. Build your studio
While building a studio may sound intimidating, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on high-end equipment. It makes more sense to work with low-budget equipment, especially when you’re first starting out.
You can even use your smartphone camera if it’s decent. As for lighting, a well-lit room or an inexpensive ring light will work. You can find a solid microphone for less than $20. And for your background, consider a space in your home or office that’s appealing to the eye—not too cluttered or busy, but one that shows some personality.
4. Start creating content
The next step is to make some magic. At first, you might feel a bit awkward or unsure. Just keep going until you find a rhythm that works for you (and discover what kind of content your audience likes, of course).
For some, it helps to choose a specific time every day to work on digital content creation, whether that’s recording videos or brainstorming content ideas. Don’t limit yourself to specific types of content—in addition to videos, you can also create high-quality content in the form of podcasts, social media posts, and more.
5. Generate engagement
This is where strong digital marketing strategies will have a big benefit for your growing brand. If you’re doing it right, the work for generating engagement might even be as involved as your work creating content in the first place.
Here are some tips to generate engagement for your brand:
- Get active on your social media platforms: engage with followers and other digital creators to build relationships
- Always respond to comments people leave on your content
- Follow relevant accounts in your niche to stay part of the conversation
- Partner with other digital content creators to increase your reach and get in front of new audiences
- Cross-promote your content across different channels
6. Monetize where you can
There are lots of ways to make money as a digital creator, so keep an eye out for the right opportunities for your unique situation. Here are some of the top ways to make some cash:
- Sponsored posts: mention a brand in your digital content in exchange for payment or free stuff
- Affiliate marketing: promote another company’s products or services and get a commission for every sale you brought them
- Collaborations: team up with other personalities and brands in exchange for payment or free stuff
- Merchandise: create your own brand of items to sell to your audience
- Subscriptions: get a paying following through sites like Patreon or your own website
As you’re starting out, create a press kit you can use to pitch yourself to brands. Before you know it, the tables may turn and brands may start reaching out to you.
7. Measure, analyze, optimize
You’ll never get better if you do the same thing all the time. As you go, look at your analytics to see how your brand is growing, using the analytics functions inside your YouTube channel, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and/or whatever platforms you’re posting on.
Pay attention to the strategies that work and the types of posts that get the most engagement across your social media platforms. Double-down on those strategies and tweak the ones that don’t. Then do it all again (and again, and again …) until you’ve reached your goals.
Get out there and start creating
When you’re first diving into the world of content creation, it can be overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you know you’re making the right choices, choosing the right strategies, and forming the right partnerships?
To be completely honest, you simply can’t know until you try it and see if it works. But the good news is, you can always iterate as you go. Continually improve what works and tweak what doesn’t until you’ve hit the sweet spot.
Digital creator FAQ
What does a digital content creator do?
Digital creators create content for various online platforms, including websites and social media. This encompasses crafting texts, creating visuals, and editing videos. In order to do their job well, digital content creators must have a comprehensive understanding of online trends, be well-versed in various content formats, and possess an acute attention to detail. Additionally, they must be able to think creatively and develop new ideas that will attract audiences.
How does a digital content creator make money?
Digital creators have multiple income streams. They make money through affiliate marketing, sponsorship deals, advertising, digital services, and selling digital products (such as online courses).
How can I become a digital creator?
To become a successful digital creator, you will need to become familiar with different digital media formats, including audio, video, graphic design, and photography. You must also understand how the different tools and hardware used to create digital content function. Plus, you may need to acquire specific skills, such as video editing, animation design, or coding, depending on the type of digital content you aim to produce.