Live the Dream: Becoming a Successful Content Creator in 2020

July 26, 2019

Many people have harbored a wish to become a YouTube star or famous podcaster.

The art of content creation has become a many headed hydra in the past decade or so. It can range from independent personalities and blogs to the more recently prevalent role of content marketer at professional blogs like G2 and HubSpot.

Regardless of the type of content creator you aspire to be, there are some things you should know if you intend to build a career around this dynamic and fast-paced craft. Feel free to skip ahead to any of these sections if something in particular tickles your fancy:

What is a content creator?

While content creation can take many forms, the overall role remains mostly the same regardless of industry, organization, or platform of choice.

Content creation can be undertaken for its own sake or as part of a larger strategy for a parent business. For example, most podcasters produce their show to tell their story first and foremost, while a content marketer might produce articles for a blog to establish their own credentials in a particular field, promote a particular product or service, or raise awareness for a brand.

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Even with such wildly varying goals, the content itself needs to possess a certain artistry to ensure it resonates with the target audience (for reference, see my article on elements of a good podcast.)

Content creator skills

The word “art” might make the process of content creation seem a little daunting, but you shouldn’t let that scare you off. Like any pursuit, if you have the passion to get started and the time to practice, you can make unique, compelling creations that speak to your own unique experiences.

Content creation of any size or stripe requires two skill sets: internal skills and external skills.

content creator skills

Internal skills are traits that almost every content creator has to hone and perfect over the course of their entire career. These parts of the craft can be applied to any form of content you want to make, be it podcasting or blogging, and can serve you well in future career moves you might make!

External skills have a tendency to change based on the format you’re using to deliver your message. Different audiences will be looking for different things, and it’s crucial that you understand the tropes that define your format to best create content that will align with user intent.

How to become a content creator

Now that you understand the sort of work you’ll need to do to top your industry, let’s spend a little time discussing what you’ll need to get started:

1. Stay up-to-date on happenings in your field

Succeeding as a content creator means you must always keep your finger on the pulse of the industry that you want to produce content for. You have to actually be aware of the happenings in your field in order to say anything with an iota of relevance.

If you neglect to do this and relate your content solely to your experiences — valuable though they may be — you risk alienating huge swathes of your audience who are looking for opinions, analysis, or information on some of the newest trends and innovations in a particular space.

There are a couple of effective ways to go about this. If you’re making content related to business or for a larger organization, there are a myriad of publications related to almost any industry that you can comb through to find the new big thing.

For content creators in particular niches such as gaming, it might be a bit harder to find high-quality publications dedicated to your interests — though that has been changing in recent years. An avenue these folks can explore is to consume as much content as they can from other, high-quality creators. Of course, you need to incorporate your own intuition and analyses to these views when creating your own material, but they can serve as an excellent jumping off point.

2. Establish your own creative voice

There could be dozens, hundreds, even thousands of other content creators in your particular field, each one of them with a similar array of interests all trying to position themselves and their content as a definitive source of knowledge and insight.

So, how do you stand out from the crowd? As cliché as it might sound, the answer is already inside of your heart.

Luke in X WingAt the end Episode IV, Luke trusted himself and the force instead of relying on a computer to destroy the Death Star.

Your creative voice is the unique perspective that only you can provide on a particular issue or trend. While several articles can all cover the same thing, the way they convey that information will be the true test that differentiates them. Relating information to your own perspective and experience is a fantastic way to forge a genuine connection with your audience and keep them coming back for more of your sparkling personality.

3. Create as much as you can

Developing your unique and very special voice doesn’t just happen overnight, however. Did Gilgamesh reach the abode of Utnapashtim without having to spend twelve days wreathed in the most impenetrable darkness? Nothing good comes without strife.

It’s not that you don’t have a sense of what is good. In fact, if you’re considering making content for a living then your taste is probably pretty killer. Despite this, there’s always a gulf between what you know to be good and what you can actually produce; even veteran content creators feel this, though that gap has lessened somewhat.

To bridge this divide, develop a habit of creating content as often as you possibly can. Even if it never sees the light of day, constantly working with an idea from beginning to end will do wonders for your ability to authentically express yourself in your work.

4. Develop an audience persona

Your creative voice is a powerful tool for your content, but it won’t matter how witty you are if your content isn’t getting seen by the right kind of people.

You need to spend some time considering who cares about what, and craft your content accordingly.

5. Networking

This last tip has little to do with the process of creating content, yet is vital for any aspiring creator – network, network, network.

Spending some time getting to know other content creators or business representatives in your space can be an excellent way to make connections that can offer advice, guidance, and inspiration. Being a content creator means being embedded in the fabric of a particular industry or subculture. However, it’s important to recognize that no one can have a truly holistic scope on anything they do, no matter how much passion they bring to the table. Sourcing other opinions is a common way to combat this, and can provide unexpected career opportunities as well.

Content creator job descriptions

There are currently over 1,800 jobs listed on indeed, and they range from creating videos for YouTube to writing articles meant to promote specific products. While many content creators are independent entities, there is a growing demand for content creators to help support marketing campaigns across all industries.

Some departments only have room for one or two, while others might employ upwards of 20 content creators who will own their own pieces from start to finish. The role is truly determined by the needs of the company.

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Content creator salary

This is hard to answer cleanly, as many independent content creators can make nothing at all, while famous YouTube stars can easily become multi-millionaires. Often, sponsorships will be a huge part of this revenue.

Despite this, many content creators who do work for parent organizations can expect to make anywhere from $38,000 per year when they first start out to upwards of $75,000 later in their career, though this can vary drastically based on company size, industry, and location.

Now go write

Armed with the knowledge of what life might look like for you as a content creator, you now are one step closer to actualizing the dream of creating content for a living. The demand for insightful, authentic content will only grow as companies and individuals continue to strive to establish themselves as thought leaders in their given industry.

Check out G2's guide on how to build an online community for more information on how to leverage your audience.

Live the Dream: Becoming a Successful Content Creator in 2020 Do you think you have what it takes to become a content creator? Check out G2's guide on everything you need to know about this exciting and fast-paced profession!
Piper Thomson Piper is a former content associate at G2. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, they graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in Sociology. Their interests include podcasts, rock climbing, and understanding how people form systems of knowledge in the digital age. (they/them/theirs)

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