How To
9 min read

A Crash Course To Understanding and Becoming a Quality Content Creator

Soniya Khubchandani

June 9, 2022

The Internet has been around for over three decades now. Over these years, prominent publications and media houses were the primary content sources.

Not anymore.

Over the past few years, there has been a tectonic shift in the primary producers of information online.

Today, these producers are commonly known as content creators.

The ease and popularity of online publishing are fueling the rise of this online breed of people. Moreover, the monetizability of content and a growing online consumer base ensure that this group is here to stay and flourish.

In this in-depth article, we will deep dive into the world of content creators and give practical tips to become one.

Let’s get started.

What is a content creator? A working definition

A content creator is someone who is a primary stakeholder in the creation process of some content that is meant for distribution and consumption. The individual may create content to make money or as an outlet to share their passion with others.

For example, Marques Brownlee, also known as MKBHD, is a famous American content creator who shares tech videos on YouTube.

Popular digital content types that content creators produce and share online

Content can be any form of media. A creator is primarily known for certain types of content. Let’s learn briefly about all the popular ones, with an example for each.

Please note: The list of content types will change based on how you choose to classify them. For example, you can have types like vlogs, tweets, gameplays, reviews, etc. This list is created based on high-level content formats.

Blogs

Blogs are websites (or pages on a larger site) that are primarily characterized by content that’s frequently updated. Consider this the OG of online content. Blogs are still one of the most popular content formats used online.

As of 2020, there were a staggering 31.7 million bloggers in the United States alone.

For example, the Smitten Kitchen food blog, running for more than 14 years now.

Newsletters

Newsletters are like online newspapers delivered via email. This content format is prevalent in the B2B segment.

For example, Morning Brew. It started as a daily newsletter for young business professionals.

Morning Brew newsletter signup

Horizontal videos

A horizontal video, also known as a landscape video or wide format video, is a video that's wider than it is tall.

It’s still a prevalent video format online, thanks to YouTube.

Here is a horizontal video example from MKBHD.

Vertical videos

Vertical videos are all the rage these days, thanks to the popularity of TikTok and Instagram Reels. Many new-age content creators have made a following for themselves with this format.

Here is a vertical video example from YouTube's Shorts.

Podcasts

Podcasts are audio or video recordings of people talking about a particular topic on the Internet. They're like radio shows you can listen to at your convenience on your computer, tablet, smartphone, or MP3 player.

Podcasts have been around since the early 2000s, but they've only recently become mainstream. They're portable and convenient. You can download episodes and listen whenever you want, whether on an airplane or during a long commute home from work.

As more people become familiar with podcasts and better content is produced for them, their popularity has skyrocketed.

Here is an example of a popular podcast show online.

A video podcast example

Live streams

Live stream content refers to any video content that is broadcast live over the internet. This includes everything from movie trailers to sports games to political debates.

Live streaming has been around for decades, but the tools required for high-quality video production have only recently become accessible enough for everyday use.

Live streaming has become so popular because it allows anyone to broadcast their thoughts and ideas to millions of people worldwide. Getting started is easy because many of the services are available on mobile apps, so you can even broadcast while you're on the go.

Interestingly, 54% of live stream content is about games/esports.

Live streams on Facebook Live

Stories

Stories are a type of social media post that allow users to share collections of photos and videos with their followers. They’re similar to a status update, but look more like a collection of images from your camera roll than a text post. But the biggest difference between Stories and regular SM posts is that they are designed to be temporary, and typically disappear after 24 hours.

Snapchat introduced the Story format in 2013, and it quickly gained popularity among users because of its immediacy and intimacy. Since then, other social media platforms have followed suit with their own take on stories, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.

Example of an Instagram story on desktop

Photos

Photo posts are a popular format for content creators to use on social media. You can use them to share one or more photos with friends and family, but they also serve as an effective way to build your community and grow your following.

Memes

A meme is an image, video, or piece of text that gets copied and spread rapidly by internet users. A meme may take the form of a picture with an overlaid caption, or it may be text-based with no visual element. Memes are usually humorous in some way.

An internet meme example

What does a content creator do?

A content creator will be heavily involved in one or more of the key activities required in a content creation process. Let’s learn more about each of these tasks in more detail.

Content ideation

Coming up with new and exciting content ideas that will resonate with their target audience is an invaluable activity for any successful content creator. They may spend days brainstorming the perfect shot before filming any scene.

Content writing

Good writing is a prerequisite to the overall content development process. It requires command over the language, subject matter expertise, and storytelling skills. Writing is essential, whether it is about publishing a blog or writing a script for a video.

Content operations

Content operations is a term used to describe the processes and tools that help publishers manage their content. The idea behind content operations is to take care of the behind-the-scenes tasks that need to be done to publish, promote, and monetize your content.

For example, scheduling social media posts in advance is one task that content marketing managers may oversee.

Content design

Content design is the process of creating a structure for the content that will make it easy to consume by its audience. It’s how you take an idea and turn it into a valuable asset that can be shared with others–for example, transforming stats into an infographic.

Photography

Photography is a great way to express yourself and tell stories. It's also a great way to help someone stand out from the crowd, especially if they are a content creator.

Many creators who are focused on Instagram have good photography skills.

Videography

Videography is the process of capturing moving images on electronic media and storing them for playback. It includes both the production process and the post-production phase. Lighting, audio, composition, and editing are all part of the process.

Video editing

Video editing is an essential part of any video production. Whether you are editing home videos, a commercial campaign, or a feature film, the ability to cut and splice footage is critical. The editing process turns raw footage into a completed product that can be shared with others.

Content publishing and promotion

Content publishing and promotion is getting your content in front of your target audience so they can read it, share it, and hopefully be convinced to follow you.

When we think of content publishing and promotion, the first thing that comes to mind is writing a blog post and sending it out on social media, but as discussed, there are so many other ways to create good content and get it in front of people who will consume it.

Content monetization

Content monetization concerns earning money from your content.

The term has been used in the past to describe the business model of creating free content and then monetizing it through ads or subscriptions. But today, the term is used to describe any revenue made by a person or company that produces content.

For example, YouTube offers several ways for creators to monetize their videos, including ads and paid memberships.

Ten tips to become a successful content creator online

Now that you understand what a content creator is and what they do, let us give you some actionable tips to become one. 

You may already follow some of these in your journey to becoming a content creator. Acting on the rest will increase your odds of becoming a successful creator in your niche.

Focus on your target audience and purpose

The key to being a successful content creator is focusing on your audience and purpose.

When creating content, you must ask yourself who will consume it and why. That's because when you understand who your target audience is, you can tailor your content to meet their needs and interests.

For example, if you are creating financial advice content for millennials, you may want first to understand their motivation and how they prefer to get such content online.

Pick the right content formats

Content formats are the way you present your content to your audience. It can be in the form of a video, blog post, podcast, or even a book. Choosing the best format is crucial because it will help you reach your audience, build trust, and establish yourself as an expert in your field.

If you're not sure which content format is best for your audience, here are some tips:

  • Take an inventory of what content formats are available on popular social media platforms.
  • Start with one type at the beginning. For example, vertical videos on Instagram Reels.
  • Monitor audience comments and feedback.
  • Create more of what your audience likes.
  • Experiment with new content types periodically.

Understand your role in the content creation process

As we covered earlier, the content creation process is complex, with multiple types of skills needed. It would be best if you understand your core strength, for example, video editing. You can learn the other tasks over time or delegate them to others (freelancers or in-house teams).

[Suggested interlink] Related read: What is a content marketing agency?

Build a taste for good content

Creating good content first requires understanding what makes content "good". For example, to create humorous TikTok videos, knowing what makes a video funny is very helpful.

You can build this taste for good content by drawing inspiration from other creators and feedback from your loyal audience.

Experiment and take calculated risks

When you start as a content creator, you have to put yourself out there and take risks because that's what it’s all about. After all, if you don't try new things and do something different, you're just going to end up doing the same old thing repeatedly, and eventually, your audience won't be interested in what you're doing anymore because they've seen it before.

Stay authentic to yourself

But even as you’re experimenting, staying authentic is one of the most important things you can do as a content creator. Learn new skills, branch out, but always stay who you are.

It gives people confidence in what you're saying and helps build trust between you and your audience. When people know who you are and that what you say comes from a place of personal experience rather than just being something "you read on the internet," they'll be more likely to listen when you have the advice to share with them. Even if it is a piece of advice that goes against mainstream thinking or contradicts things they've heard elsewhere.

Build your audience

If you're trying to become a successful content creator, there are many things that you can do to boost your chances of success. One of the most important things is building an audience.

Building an audience is essential because it allows you to monetize your content and make money online. You'll be able to earn money from your website, YouTube channel, or other social media platforms if you have a healthy number of people that follow you.

Collaborate with other creators

Collaborating with other content creators can be a massive help to your career as a creator. It's a great way to expand your audience and get feedback on your work.

Here are some tips for doing a content collaboration:

  • Know who you want to collaborate with before you reach out. If they don't have a good reason to say yes, they won't say yes.
  • Make sure that whatever project you're working on is something that will appeal to both parties involved (or at least one party).
  • Don't try too hard; just come up with something fun that you both like doing together.

Leverage technology and tools

Technology has made it easier than ever to create and share content online.

If you are having a hard time keeping pace with your audience's content needs, try upgrading your toolkit. It should cover both the software and hardware you use.

For example, if video rendering times are high, invest in a faster machine. Similarly, if creating captivating hooks for your social media posts is sucking away time, try a free hook generator like this.

Monetize responsibly

As a content creator, you have the opportunity to work with brands in creative ways that benefit both parties. But it's important to monetize your content responsibly to avoid being seen as a sellout by your audience.

For example, be careful when using sponsored posts on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, especially if they contain affiliate links or paid promotions. Make sure to disclose sponsored links or mentions. Besides, you can even build credibility by explaining to your audience how you make money from the content they are watching to.

Closing remarks

If you came here to learn what a content creator is before pursuing this exciting career yourself, we hope you got some answers.

Your choice to take the leap will ultimately depend on your passion and enthusiasm.

The creator economy is thriving like never before, and there is ample room for creative folks like you. Start by creating something you love and put it out for the world to see.

With nearly 8 billion people on the planet, you will be surprised how many are genuinely interested in what you have to share.

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