The "content creator" term gets thrown around quite a bit in the online space. Most people usually have a vague understanding of the term and may not be able to clearly explain what a content creator truly does. If you do not get what someone means when they say they are a content creator, you are not alone. So, what is a content creator?
A content creator produces content for the (digital) media. The "content" could be an article, video, image, audio, email message, etc. Content creators usually have a journalism background, but individuals with subject matter expertise and/or a penchant to create also make solid content creators.
Creating content is a skill. Not everyone who can stitch together words or shoot a video is a content creator. Keep reading to learn what it takes to be a good content creator, the different types of creators, how much content creators make, and how to make a living creating content.
Types of Content Creators
A content creator – who could be a DIY blogger, YouTuber, podcaster, social media influencer, etc. – disseminate content in different forms and shapes, which include:
- Articles and blogs
- Images and infographics
- Industry news pieces
- Audio and podcasts
- Social media posts
- Email messages
Content creators can also be categorized based on their content dissemination approach and style. The knowledge, experience, and skill set of the content creator ascertain the kind of audience they appeal or cater to. Here are those distinctions.
Educators break down a concept or task into multiple parts so that their audience is able to understand and absorb the information. These creators carefully pick their words, examples, and illustrations to offer increased clarity. Educators fancy writing step-by-step articles, producing marketing content, making FAQ documentation or contributing to existing ones, creating screenshots to illustrate things, etc. Most of the 'how-to' content found on the Internet are courtesy of these content creators.
Insiders are intriguing individuals who like revealing information that is not in the public domain to the general public. They like to discuss the inner workings of specific things. They possess both understanding and access to complex data due to their employment or social status. For instance, an employee of a company or a board member publicly sharing specific information about their organization can be referred to as an "insider".
An insider typically puts fresh or confusing data into context and explains it in easy-to-understand language. These content creators usually back up their content with actual data to validate their spread of knowledge. Their content creates a sense of curiosity and exclusivity that their audiences relish.
A questioner is someone who asks questions to people in positions of authority and power. They question because they generally want to know and share that information with their audience. Questioners usually do not take any piece of information on face value. They like to dig deep and research. These are your fact-checkers who you could rely on to differentiate quackery from the truth.
An expert is someone who knows everything about their field or subject of interest. Experts are the ones who people turn to when they need concrete advice. A content creator is dubbed as an "expert" for the knowledge they have amassed primarily through experience. An expert creates content to clarify things or correct incorrect information they come across.
Compared to an expert, the amateur content creator is at the other end of the spectrum. They know very little, have just started, and learn as they dispense information. Newbie creators learn the trade as years pass, and a significant increase in the quality of their content becomes apparent during this period. The popular tech YouTuber, Marques Brownlee, started as an amateur. He now arguably makes the best videos on everything tech.
The reporter takes note of things with a birds-eye view and provides the larger picture. They offer more context to a topic so that it becomes easier to understand for the layman. A reporter explains a topic from the outside. They do not go too in-depth but offer a solid foundation. Their objective is to make their audience think, curious, and go looking for answers themselves.
Cryptographers have in-depth knowledge or information about a topic but choose to dole out information to their audience with restraint. They tend to talk in circles and vagueness, leaving their audience to do some guesswork. These content creators typically charge a premium for access to their best or more comprehensive content. As a result, a cryptographer is always looking to convert readers into buyers with their content.
Salesmen are content creators who convince you to act or reflect on a topic in a certain way. And to do that, these creators produce content that's loaded with information. Their content, which usually is a blog post or video, invariably has a question as a title such as "Why You Must…" These creators do not just observe or announce a particular thing, but they do the research to prove the legitimacy of the information to their audience.
How Much Do Content Creators Make
Unlike the past, content creation is now as mainstream as any profession gets and the kind of money these creators make is proof. However, the pay scale is extremely broad – with many making peanuts and some raking in hundreds and thousands of dollars. There are multi-millionaire content creators as well.
The ones making the maximum moolah are individuals who view content creation more than just as a pastime or a thing they do for the love of it. The amount of money content creators make depend on the kind of content they create and also the monetization model they use.
The following are some popular methods to make money through content:
The ads on blog pages, YouTube videos, etc. are direct advertising methods. The advertisers pay content creators money for ad views or clicks on the ads. Affiliate marketing is another approach wherein creators get paid commissions for items that get sold via affiliate links placed in their posts.
Content creators creating content to promote brands and products are referred to as influencers. Influencers get paid to create marketing content such as blog posts or videos about a particular product. Unlike direct advertising, influencers work closely with their advertisers and, therefore, get paid better too.
Content creators giving websites rights to use their videos and images in their content for a fee is a form of content syndication. For instance, music bloggers could share concert pictures with bigger news websites for financial compensation. Not all syndication is paid, however. Some creators share their content for the exposure the larger website may provide to their work and their brand.
Premium Content Creation
Some content creators make content purely for their premium subscribers. Several content creators, in fact, have multiple content tiers. The free tiers are for their regular audience and the premium tiers for subscribers who pay to consume their content. Most YouTubers create a Patreon account for their channel so that they could create exclusive content for their paying subscribers.
Finding a Job as a Content Creator
Content creators can work freelance or be hired by a firm as in-house content creators. Some clients work with professional writing agencies if they have large, ongoing content requirements. If you are looking to get hired as a content writer, you can look for a content writing position in a company or venture out on your own. Before you choose your employment path, there are certain things you must know.
Working as a Freelance Content Creator
The freelance community is bigger and more robust compared to in-house content creators. As a freelance content creator, you can work with multiple clients simultaneously and also choose to sever ties with existing clients without any red tape or major repercussions. Just keep things professional and cordial to not mar your reputation within the community.
A freelance creator gets paid by the hour or per project. Unlike an in-house creator, a freelance creator will only receive payment for the work done. Various other benefits that salaried professionals usually receive such as perks, bonuses, medical leave, etc. won't be part of the compensation.
Working for an Agency
Unless you have established yourself as a content creator or are a brand by yourself, finding content creation jobs as a freelance creator can turn into a routine. If you have clients who like your work and have more work to offer, you should be good. But if you typically associate with people with short-term content requirements, you would be constantly on the lookout for fresh work.
If you don't want the uncertainty attached to finding work as a freelancer and also do not want to be a full-time employee, working for an agency is your ideal middle ground. By associating with an agency, you do not become the employee of a company and also will not have to regularly scour the Internet for work.
Creating content is not merely discussing a topic on hand – it's knowing how to approach a topic and giving it a unique twist. New content cannot be just paraphrasing already existing information or rephrasing words or sentences. A fresh perspective must be provided. Content creators who know their game do just that.
Successful content creators blend different tools and call upon varied sources to learn what audiences would like to know or are looking at. They realize that any content can be useful and relevant only if it resonates with its audience, fulfills a need, or discovers an outlet.
Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.