So You Want to Be A Content Creator

You’ve always been a creative person. You’ve been itching to flex. You’ve been wondering if all the student loans you’ve accumulated were really worth it for you to just sit in a dreary office staring at an excel sheet all day. You scroll through Instagram and think, I could do this.

But what is this?

This is content marketing in the digital space.

What is it really? To put it simply: you ideate and make cool stuff to help brands move their products/message.

That’s what I do.

When I tell people I work in social media and digital content, the first thing I hear is: oh so you’re just on social media all day? Or they ask me how they can get into it. The former, the answer is yes, but no. The latter, well -- we’re getting into that.

1 - Yes, I am on social media all day.
No, it’s not mindless browsing through my feed.

It’s actually purposeful browsing. You’ll be spending a chunk of your time going through the pages of brand after brand, perusing their content. Thinking about what they’re doing and seeing how you can make their innovations work for your own client/brand. In other words, competitive analysis.

2 - You don’t need the newest, most expensive equipment.
But you do need vision.

The most common question I get from someone looking to move into this field is what camera they should buy. People will tell me they’re ready to drop all sorts of cash for the hottest, latest, newest. But really, you can start on an iPhone.

It’s not about how much your equipment cost. You can work your way up to that. What you need is an idea, a point of view. Ask yourself what is look + feel you’re going for and how can you get that across? Similarly, what is the brand voice and how can you convey that?

3 - The best content creators are storytellers.

The world and the internet is full of information. Spend even a few minutes online and you’ll be inundated with offers, content, and pitches. How can your content stand out? Tell a story. Because everyone loves a good story. They like to be swept away into a narrative. Create a world, a mission, a protagonist, a lifestyle  -- and you’ll have people asking how they can be a part of it. The best content is not simply visually appealing; it pulls the audience in and wraps them in a story they’re invested to see the ending.

4 - Diversify your portfolio.

Animations, graphic design, art direction, photography, copywriting, on-cam personality, brand marketing.

If you can do it all, you’re more likely to be the one they hire. You’ll also be more self-sufficient. Invest in yourself and you’ll see the best return.

5 - It’s a lot of work. Do you want it bad enough?

This is an important question and not many people ask it of themselves. Starting is easy -- sustaining momentum is the challenge. But where there’s a will, you’ll find your way. I started my career as a freelancer, in an oversaturated industry, at a time when the tide was moving away from print and rising in digital. Everyone wanted a piece. Flash forward many years -- the industry is even more saturated. What keeps me standing? I still want it as bad as the day I started.

6 - Be an active listener. Your audience will tell you what they want.

Whether it’s your own followers, your brand’s followers, or a client’s followers -- the people will speak. Please listen. They’re your target audience. They’re the ones who are going to sustain your brand. They’re the ones paying your bill. The most successful content creators know their audience like the back of their hands.

7 - Get real.

In a sea of heavy marketing, authenticity wins out. So go ahead, break that fourth wall. If you’re a writer and you hold back -- believe me, an audience can tell. If you’re a photographer and you shoot without aim -- trust me, people will know. I know it’s a hard thing to be vulnerable, even to one person; but offer the world your truest self and you’ll see the difference.

Being a content creator isn’t easy.

But nothing worth having comes easy.

Ready to take the dive? Start by going back to #5 and ask yourself:

do you want it bad enough?

Don’t miss Arnelle’s article on how to be your own boss.