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How to Become a Content Creator 2021 – Beginner’s Guide

by | Last updated Sep 17, 2021

If you asked young people today what their dream career path is, I’m sure many would reply that they want to become a content creator. Only 10 years ago, that wasn’t even a real job. Now it’s a billion-dollar industry and more and more people want to profit from the great benefits that come with it.

This article explains in detail how to become a content creator, what types of content you could create, how much money you can make as a content creator, and it gives you the best tools and tips for becoming a successful content creator.

 

What is a content creator?

Let’s start with a quick content creator definition:

A content creator is a person who creates educational or entertaining pieces of content. That could be texts, videos, audio files, images, or other types of graphics, like infographics.

The content is usually in one specific niche, for instance, fitness, outfits, gardening, true crime, motherhood, or gaming.

By showing these pieces of content to their audience, content creators can make money via sponsorships, affiliate marketing, ads, or through selling their own products.

Woman taking a selfie

Is content creator a real job?

If your definition of “a real job” is that you can make enough money to pay your bills, then yes, being a content creator is a real job. Content creation can be seen as part of marketing, where you produce content to monetize it though e.g. selling related products or sponsorships.

However, it may not be a real job in traditional terms, i.e. you don’t need to have a certain degree or skills, you usually don’t have the typical 9 to 5 work schedule, and you often don’t have a boss because you are working for yourself.

That’s why you can hear many older generations say things like “These people are just taking photos and hanging on their phone all day – It’s not a real job!”.

But, as said, in today’s fast-changing world we have many new income opportunities that don’t qualify as a traditional job. However, they require just as much work and can make just as much money, if not more.

 

What are the benefits of being a content creator?

The reason why being a content creator is so popular is because it comes with many benefits, for example:

  • You can create content from anywhere in the world at any time
  • You don’t need to have a specific degree, skills, or experience
  • You can start it at any age and with any background
  • It is a very low-budget business that doesn’t require much investment
  • You can start it as a side hustle and scale it from there
  • You can turn your hobby into your business, so it’s great fun for many
  • Your income opportunities are endless

Woman at desk with laptop, camera and ringlight

How can you become a content creator?

Sounds good so far? Now let’s see how you can become a content creator by clarifying the most important questions:

What type of content can you create?

As mentioned before, there are different kinds of content you can create:

  • You can write articles and start your own blog
  • You can take photos and showcase them on Instagram
  • You can make videos and create a YouTube channel
  • You can create short video clips and upload them on TikTok
  • You can record audio files and start a podcast
  • You can create graphics, such as infographics, and show them on LinkedIn or Instagram.

Also, note that you don’t necessarily need to start your own media presence to become a successful content creator. You can also work for others and create and sell content on demand. The freelance platforms Upwork and Fiverr help you find potential clients.

 

What skills or degree do you need to become a content creator?

This is one of the reasons why this career path is so popular: You don’t need to have specific skills or any degree to become a content creator!

You don’t even need to finish school to start this career. That’s why many teens today are able to make money and become famous on certain social media platforms. They create content, such as videos or images, as a hobby and for fun. Eventually, they become so good at it and so popular, that they make much more money than their parents.

 

What experience do you need to become a content creator?

As mentioned before, you also don’t need to have any type of experience to become a content creator.

After a while though, you will get better at things like photo or video editing. Your experience then helps you become more efficient and create better content so it is more entertaining or helpful to your audience.

Woman with podcast microphone and headset

What equipment do you need to become a content creator?

What type of equipment you need strongly depends on the type of content you want to create:

  • If your content is text-based, e.g. blog posts, then you mainly need a computer. That’s it.
  • If you want to become a podcaster, you need a microphone and a computer to edit your audios.
  • If you want to become an Instagram content creator, you could take your photos with your smartphone or go for a proper camera. It may also be worth investing in good lightning, e.g. a ring light or softboxes. Depending on your niche, you may need additional accessories, e.g. kitchen utensils if you are in the cooking niche.
  • If you want to become a YouTube content creator, then you need at least a good microphone (audio quality is essential here!), Again, you could use your smartphone to film or get a camera. In the beginning, you could also use natural light from a window or buy softboxes.

As you can see, you don’t need much equipment when you want to become a content creator. Especially in the beginning a computer, smartphone, and a microphone will do.

You can always upgrade and buy more advanced equipment later. But I recommend starting with what you already have to see if you enjoy this type of work and if you see yourself doing it in the long run. So don’t feel the need to buy expensive tools right from the start.

 

Who can become a content creator?

Literally anyone can become a content creator. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you live, what education you have, or what your interests are.

If you have a niche that people are interested in and if you are willing to put in the work, acquire new skills and improve as you go, you can become a content creator and make money with it.

 

What can you earn as a content creator?

The income opportunities of content creation vary greatly. From people who only make a couple of dollars with content creation to people who make six figures every month (!) everything is possible. It strongly depends on your individual situation what your income could look like.

The following examples will give you a better idea of how you can make money as a content creator, how much you could charge, and how much popular content creators make.

How do content creators get paid?

There are several ways how content creators can get paid. Again, this mainly depends on what type of content they produce. Here are the most common ways to make money as a content creator:

  • Sell own products: Content creators can create and sell their own products, e.g. online courses, Photoshop presets, social media templates, or merchandise.
  • Affiliate marketing: Creators recommend other people’s products and services and get a commission for every item that is sold due to their promotion.
  • Ad placement: Content creators can place ads on their websites or social media channels and make money with that placement or if people click on these ads. Popular ad networks would be Google AdSense or Mediavine.
  • Sponsorships: Companies pay content creators to talk about their products or services. This can either be within a piece of content, e.g. a YouTuber might quickly introduce a product “Today’s video is sponsored by NordVPN. It’s the best VPN service out there and I highly recommend it” before continuing with the video. Or the entire piece of content is sponsored, e.g. a blogger writes an extensive review about a company.
  • Memberships: A content creator can have a membership site or a Patreon where people pay a monthly fee to access the content.
  • Freelancing: Content creators can also sell their work to companies, for instance on freelance platforms such as Fiverr.

Woman doin yoga and getting filmed

How much does a content creator charge?

How much you can charge as a content creator depends on several factors:

  • How experienced and skilled you are.
  • What niche you are working in.
  • How fast you can create content if you’re working as a freelancer.
  • How big your audience is, for instance, your social following.
  • The quality of your audience, i.e. the country they are from, how engaged people with your content are, etc.

To give you a few examples:

  1. An Instagrammer with 20,000 followers could charge USD 200 for a sponsored post containing the company’s product.
  2. A freelancer on Fiverr could charge for a short video he creates based on an existing blog post about USD 50.
  3. A blogger could charge about USD 300 for a sponsored article, which is a review of a company’s service.
  4. A YouTuber could make USD 200 in ad revenue for a video that has 100,000 views.

But please keep in mind that those numbers are only very rough examples to give you at least some vague ideas of what a content creator could charge! As said before, it completely depends on different factors how much money you can make exactly for your individual situation.

 

What do popular content creators earn?

I know that many of you want to hear how rich exactly you can get as a content creator. That’s why I want to give you a couple of real-life examples of successful content creators.

Just note that those creators have been around for years and improved their skills slowly over time. Also, some of them outsource work, such as video editing or finding sponsors. That means they have professional help which they have to pay for, so the expenses are much higher, too.

If you are just starting, you should not compare yourself with their level of content quality. By all means, use them as an inspiration for what is possible and learn from their strategies! But don’t expect to make that much money anytime soon if you are just at the beginning.

Ok, with that warning in mind, check out these numbers for motivation:

How much money can you make as a YouTube content creator?

  • Graham Stephan: After 4 years on YouTube and 2.5 million subscribers he made about USD 1.9 million in 2020.
  • Cathrin Manning: In 2020 she made about USD 206,000 with 300k subscribers on YouTube.
  • Nate O’Brien: In 2019 he made about USD 220,000 with 360k subscribers.
  • Shelby Church: She, as well, made about USD 220,000 on YouTube in 2020 with 1 million subscribers.

How much money can you make as an Instagram content creator?

  • Biaheza: Across 5 different Instagram channels he has 3.6 million followers and makes about USD3-5k per month selling shoutouts only.
  • Liz Eswein: With more than 1.2 million followers she can charge up to USD 15,000 per post.

How much money can you make as a TikTok content creator?

  • Dixie D’Amelio: With 32 million followers on TikTok, she made USD 2.9 million in 2020.
  • Josh Richards: He made USD 1.5 million with about 20 million TikTok followers.

How much can you make as a blog content creator?

  • Michelle Schroeder-Gardner: With her blog Making Sense of Cents she made USD 131,000 in March 2017.
  • Jeff Proctor: In January and February 2019 he and Ben Huber made USD 348,000 with their blog Dollarsprout.
  • Create and Go: In their third year of blogging Lauren and Alex made USD 1,664,000.

 

What are the best tools for content creators?

Most content creators will need equipment, such as a computer, phone, and microphone. Also, there are several tools that are extremely helpful in producing high-quality content efficiently. Here are some examples:

  • Audacity: A free audio editing tool that’s very helpful for editing podcasts or audio files in general.
  • Photoshop: A popular software to edit photos and other images.
  • Canva: An online tool to easily create marketing material, such as banners, thumbnails, images, or other graphics.
  • OpenShot: A free video editing tool for professional YouTube video editing.
  • InShot: An app that is popular for short video editing on your phone, for instance, for TikTok videos.
  • WordPress + Siteground: WordPress is the most common open-source software to create beautiful websites for blogging. Along with that, you need a hosting company, e.g. Siteground, which is very popular and reliable.

Woman in front of camera

Tips to become a successful content creator

Becoming a successful content creator involves a lot of practice, trial, and error, and improving constantly. However, there are a few tips that can help you reach your goals quicker:

  1. Niche down: Try to find your niche, become an expert or the go-to person in a certain field of expertise. People will know you for your skills and know what to expect from you when watching your videos or seeing your images and texts. That makes it easier to target your specific audience and create content that they like.
  2. Never stop learning: No matter how good you are already, always make sure you keep improving your skills and knowledge of your industry, may it be video editing techniques, photography skills, or industry-specific knowledge, for instance, about cryptocurrencies.
  3. Be personal: General content can work for big companies. But I’ve found that, particularly with small and new content creators, people want to get to know the person behind the content, their story, successes, and struggles. So don’t be too abstract but tell your audience a bit about your own experience with the topic you are talking about, too.
  4. Be relatable: Yes, you should make it personal but also create content that people can identify with. For instance, instead of creating a video with the title “This is how I, Jane Smith from Denver, do my hair”, create something in the line of “Quick hairstyles for short and thin hair”. You can still speak from your experience but the second version is more relatable.
  5. Use other social media channels: Even if you decide you want to become a YouTube content creator, make sure to use other social media channels, e.g. Instagram, as well. This allows you to show other sides of your personality, too, without risking losing YouTube subscribers, that are not interested in areas other than your niche.
  6. Be willing to test new strategies: Maybe you’ve done TikTok videos for a while and you’re successful with your strategies and everything works fine. Still try to test other things, too. Maybe don’t only do dance videos but also dance training or voice-over videos in your niche. These could turn out to be even more successful, so give it a try.
  7. Keyword research: You think you know what your audience wants to see and create content accordingly. But don’t rely on your gut feeling alone and do keyword research, e.g. with Ahrefs, to find out what EXACTLY your audience wants to see. This helps you to create content they will love even more.
  8. Work with analytics: This goes along with keyword research. Look at your analytics, e.g. YouTube or Instagram analytics, or Google Analytics if you run a blog. This gives you a better understanding of your audience, i.e. their age, location, interests, what times they are online, etc.
  9. Collaborate with other content creators: Don’t think of other content creators in your niche as competitors and avoid them! Instead, reach out and connect and collaborate with them. Together you could create great content and it will give both of you extra exposure to potential new followers.
  10. Get a business mindset: If you want content creation to be your main source of income, you need to treat it as a job and not as a hobby. Come to terms with the fact that content creation needs lots of work. You need to organize your content, schedule your tasks, check numbers and analytics, deal with potential business partners, such as sponsors or affiliates, and you need to do paperwork, like doing taxes. Although content creation can surely be fun, you need to be professional about it, too.

Woman with headset and microphone

Denise Mai

Denise Mai

Founder of Digital Nomad Soul

Hi, I’m Denise – a travel addict and remote work enthusiast. I have been traveling the world since 2008 and explored, worked, and lived in more than 80 countries. To me, there is nothing better than the freedom and flexibility that comes with a location-independent lifestyle.

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