How do you make money as a content creator?
This is the big question that all content creators face at some time in their careers. In this post, I’ll share the seven key decisions you need to make to earn money as a content creator. And I’ll share my example – as I’m tackling the same problem in my business as I recover from the pandemic.
1 Focus – What are you creating content about?
The first question you need to answer is what are going to focus on?
If you’re already creating and publishing content and your audience is growing, then you might already be clear about this.
If you’re not clear, then check out my recent videos where I’ve talked about:
- How to create your personal vision statement in four simple steps
- Mission statement examples from the best content creators,
- And importantly, Three simple ways to define your area of expertise.
One reason I created these videos was that I felt I needed to redefine what I was going to focus on. We all need to revisit this from time to time. You might want to revisit your focus too.
2 Why – The real reason you need to earn money from your content creation
The second big question is why? Why do you want to earn money from your content?
While there are lots of reasons why you should earn money from your content creation, there is one that stands out above all else.
We all have bills to pay so we naturally must earn money to stay afloat. And we all want things in life – we want a holiday, we want to eat out at restaurants, buy a new camera and so on. But the real reason you want to earn money from your content creation is sustainability. You need to earn money from your content creation so you can keep creating content.
This was my big challenge around my book summary service Book Rapper. I earnt enough money from it to survive, but not enough to sustain it. At various times, I had to take on other projects and other clients to keep it afloat. And I found this to be a big distraction. I felt like a human yo-yo – doing Book Rapper, chasing money elsewhere, doing Book Rapper, chasing money. In the end, it was all too much.
Surviving is good. Thriving is better. And sustaining your content creation is the best of all.
Are you surviving or sustaining your content?
3 How Much – The three targets you need to set
The third question is often forgotten or skipped. How much and how do you want to earn it? I suggest you set three targets.
- Break-even – Your break-even or survival level where all your bills are paid. My survival goal is $2000 per month.
- Sustainable – Your sustainable income target is where you can pay your bills and have a good cushion to keep you going. My sustainable goal is $4000 per month.
- Ideal – Your ideal level of income where you can do everything you want. My ideal goal is $10K a month. That’s enough for me to live in most cities around the world.
My money goals are modest compared to most people because I live a simple and minimal lifestyle. Your numbers will vary based on your personal situation and your lifestyle.
The second part of this question is how you want to be paid. The choice is between lump sums for example when you sell a program or a product versus regular payments in the form of subscriptions. Both have their merits.
How much do you want to earn? And how do you want to be paid?
4 Who – The three groups of people who may pay you
Your fourth big question to answer to earn money from your content creation is: who is going to pay you? There are three possible answers here.
- Platform – The first is the platform you are publishing on. For instance, on YouTube, they have ways that you can earn money. But for me, if you look at the stats on my YouTube channel, I’m almost a million miles away from monetising my channel. In over 12 months, I still only have 68 subscribers when I need 1000. And I only have 178 hours viewed and I need 4000. At this rate, it will take me another 20 years.
- Viewers – The second option is to sell directly to your viewers or readers. If you’re attracting an audience through your content whether it’s your blog, LinkedIn or YouTube then you can start to make offers to your viewers. Ideally, this will be a natural extension of your current free content.
- Clients – And the third option is to use your content creation as a portfolio of work to attract clients. You might think about your content as your resume. It shows what you have done and what you could do for others.
Fortunately, for me, while my YouTube channel still grows, I have been in business for a while and have an audience of past clients and colleagues I can make offers.
Who is going to pay you for your content? Is it your platform, your viewers, or new clients?
5 When – A key principle from the wisdom of Seth Godin
The fifth question is a tricky one because there is no right answer here. While timing is everything, it’s difficult to get the timing exactly right.
The question is: when should you start trying to earn money from your content?
The best piece of advice I’ve heard about this comes from Seth Godin. He’s published over 20 best-selling books on marketing. Seth said something along the lines of:
‘The earlier you try to earn money from your content, the less money you will earn.’
He explained this by saying there is a natural trade-off between trying to build your audience and trying to earn money. When you freely publish your content it’s easy for your audience. But when you start to make offers around selling something this adds friction and slows your audience growth.
If you want more on when to start earning money from your content creation let me know if you would like me to explain this further and create a separate video.
6 The Core Conflict and your ongoing challenge
Next, we have question number six. It’s an important question that will force you to think deeply about what you want and what you’re willing to do to get it.
It’s one that I struggle with. When I’m creating something for myself, I work faster and more freely because every creative decision I make is up to me.
But when I’m creating content or products for other people – especially when they are paying me – I must take into consideration what they want. It’s not a bad situation, but if I had to choose, I much prefer to work on my own projects.
This is the basic conflict we all face. It’s a conflict between earning money and doing what you love.
Question six is: how far will you sacrifice your art to earn money?
It’s not a question that you need a definitive answer to right now. Rather, it’s one of those nagging questions that you will have to keep answering along the way to find the right balance for you.
7 What – The core concept you need to decide what to sell
Now for the big question that you’ve all been waiting for – question number seven: What are you going to sell?
This is a deep and important question that deserves its own video. And I will make a separate post to flesh this out further.
But for now, I want to point you to a crucial principle that you must learn to make money from your content. It’s called strategic flow. I spoke about this in detail in the post Create a Service Offering You’ll Fall in Love With.
Strategic flow happens when one activity by a client naturally leads to the next.
If you want to make money from your content creation you need to create a natural next step for your audience to take. It’s often called an Ascension Curve or Strategy.
For instance, given this free video is about making money from your content creation the natural next step is to help you do this. In other words, the natural next step is to create a product or service that makes it faster, easier and better for you to make money than what this video provides.
It’s like a natural upsell. It’s like when you go into McDonalds and order a burger, the natural upsell is to also order fries and a drink. You’re no longer buying a burger; you’re now buying a meal.
By drawing a product curve or a relationship curve – as shown in the Service Offering video, you can plan the next steps for your audience so that you can achieve strategic flow.
And if you can do this, you’ll be able to make money from your content creation.
A Final Lesson
Well there you have it – seven questions you must answer to earn money from your content creation.
And as promised, in the next post, I’ll go into more detail about the final step of what product or service you need to create.
Before you go, I want to leave you with one final thought to consider.
Making money is like breathing. It’s essential for your business but it’s not the point of your business. And it’s not the point of your content either.
When you get clear about why you create your content everything else – including making money – will flow much easier.
More on Making Money as a Content Creator
For more detail on how to make money from your content creation, you might like these three posts:
- Three Simple Ways to Define Your Thought Leadership – it’s perfect for Content Creators too
- How to sell your service – 13 sneaky easy ways
- Create a Service Offering You’ll Fall in Love with
If you have any questions about this add a comment below and I’ll give you my best answer.