It’s official: becoming a content creator is a viable (and potentially lucrative) career choice. Over the past few years, there’s been an obvious shift in focus as brands and businesses have put greater focus on their relationships with creators, building curated creator content into their marketing plans alongside – and sometimes in place of – more traditional methods.
In 2021, the creator market exceeded $104 billion: a figure that continues to grow daily. And this success isn’t just down to an influx of new and inspiring creators hitting the scene. It’s because they know their unique audiences, and how to leverage their action through engaging content.
So if you’ve been wondering how to make money as a creator, these are our 8 top tips.
1. Engage with paid partnerships
The main source of income for most creators is through brand deals and paid partnerships with other businesses. This makes up the majority of the creator economy revenue and is a great option for creators who have built a following, but might not be ready to launch their own business or products yet.
Collaborating with other brands starts with relationship building. Not all creators are being flooded with collaboration invites from businesses – it can take time and patience to develop a good and transparent relationship with the brands you’d like to work with. It’s important to only partner with companies that feel aligned with you and your audience, otherwise they can feel disingenuous and will alienate your followers.
Content creators that can prove they have an engaged audience can easily find brands to partner with. This often comes in the form of a shared campaign, where the creator will promote the brand’s products on their page either in return for money or free goods. Some partnerships take the form of social media takeovers, advertising campaigns, or ambassador deals which can limit the other brands the creator is able to work with.
To engage in paid partnerships successfully, it’s essential that you have a strong understanding of how your audience perceives you and your brand, a good relationship with your followers, and the ability to create a unique experience that will benefit the brand partnership and land with your audience.
We do this with our creators over at Genflow Talent. See this latest collab between Steph Hui, Addison Rae & Google.
2. Create your own business
The goal of most creators is to eventually launch their own brand – and so it should be. Running a business is the second largest income generator for creators right now, and that’s only one of the benefits. It’s also an important step towards fully owning your brand’s identity.
If you have a particular niche, your business could be related to that. For example, many beauty creators go on to launch their own cosmetic lines.
Plenty of creators also launch businesses based on their online communities. This is a response to the audience-first approach where creators build their audience and then cater to their needs. Building an engaged following is the first step to any successful creator page. To turn it into a business, consider how you can monetize the benefits that your audience gets from being a member of your community. For example, do you share tips and tricks, life hacks, expert advice, or product reviews that they might be willing to pay for?
3. Apply for creator funds
There has been a recent boom in platforms introducing creator funds, which helps creators to generate more income the more they put out content. This has proven to be a huge success and is now the third most popular stream of profit for creators.
The TikTok Creator Fund is probably the best example of this kind of fund. Launched in early 2021, it is a way for the platform to share some of its profits with the creators who are acing the algorithm. It started with an initial investment of $200 million and aims to accumulate $1 billion to share with its top creators over the next three years.
Users have to meet a set of eligibility requirements to receive a cut of the fund, including adherence to community guidelines, views, engagement, and sometimes region-specific performance. So check out the creator funds available that you might be able to profit from, simply by using your favorite platform.
Here's how creator funds work:
4. Build affiliate links
Affiliate links are a great route for creators who want to start monetizing their page, especially if they don't yet have their own products or services to sell. Joining an affiliate program can get creators exclusive access to exclusive new content and deals for their audience. It’s fairly low effort and makes you money while offering benefits to your followers.
Build a relationship with a brand that you feel is well aligned with your own identity, and join their affiliate program. This usually means becoming an ambassador for their brand – so it involves less control than being your own business or sharing a joint campaign, but you’ll get a cut of each sale you make for them.
You can share an affiliate link on your own website, on your social channels, or anywhere that your audience engages with you. It’s like making money while you sleep.
5. Sell your own merchandise
Selling your own products is like dipping a toe into running your own business without the commitment. You can do limited drops of your product or service to see how it’s received by your audience. And if things go well, you’ll have a good idea of how your business could work.
Merchandise often conjures the image of branded t-shirts and other products, but you have full control over what you sell. It could be services or a subscription or an exclusive item with specific appeal to your audience – for example, limited edition signed sneakers.
Some creators are even moving into the world of NFTs, and designing their own collections for their followers to invest in. These often come with perks like fan club memberships, access to events, and other exclusive benefits.
Think of this as a way of dipping your toes into building your own business - releasing merch to your audience could be a way of testing out how well they'll receive your products. Whatever merch you choose, just make sure it’s attractive and covetable to your audience.
6. Get ad-share revenues
Ad-share revenue refers to the income that creators earn by displaying paid advertisements on their digital platforms, like websites, social channels, and apps.
It’s a passive way to generate a fairly reliable income stream, especially if you’re active on video sites like Youtube.
Advertising on social media is also a great way to expand your reach – so even if placing an ad costs you more than it makes you at first, check out how many new followers you’ve gained.
As social media grows, it’s becoming harder than ever to promote content organically, so for many creators taking advantage of ads is the first step to turning a profit.
7. Create subscription options
If tangible merchandise isn’t your bag, you might be able to make money through subscriptions. Patreon, Only Fans, and the recently launched Instagram Subscriptions are just some of the options for creators looking for an opportunity to monetize their audience through exclusive content.
Usually, it’s only the most loyal fans that will subscribe to this kind of content. But it’s especially useful if your brand is positioned as an expert in a certain field. Everyone from beauty bloggers to gamers to podcasts is taking advantage of their audience’s love for exclusive content.
Subscribers will sign up to follow your how-to guides, tips and tricks, and extra content that isn’t released for free on your usual social platforms. Just make sure that any content you hide behind a paywall is of high value to your subscribers, otherwise, they might settle for your free content instead.
8. Carve out your niche
Focus on what you’re good at, and it’s likely to go well. The creators that tend not to succeed in monetizing their content are usually those who stray too far from what connected them to their audience in the first place.
For example, a vintage fashion page might find that its followers dwindle if they begin sharing the high street or fast fashion looks. The world of content creation is incredibly competitive, but the benefit is that you can make money simply by being yourself – so long as you have a strong vision of who that self is.
So whenever you’re putting out new content, consider whether it aligns with what your audience expects of you. That’s not to say there’s no room for evolution, but your main goal should be to keep your audience engaged. After all, consistency is the key to success. And it can be the key to making money as a creator, too.
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