Content creation is now a viable career path for many; over 50 million people self-identify as content creators and over two million are professional full-time creators. This figure will only grow as more and more professionals in the creator economy gain experience and non-traditional career paths continue to rise in popularity.
But in order to succeed as a full-time creator, you need to treat your business as, well, a business. Managing your finances, auditing your processes, and creating a road map will help keep you organized and focused.
Wondering if you’re ready to take the plunge into a full-time career as a content creator? Here are the key strategies you need to implement to take your business to the next level.
Monetize Your Passions
If your content is monetized, meaning you’ve enabled ad revenue from platforms and expanded into brand deals, you’ve already completed a huge step on the road to becoming a professional creator. Without income coming in, you don’t have a career yet—you have an expensive hobby.
Part of any sustainable business includes tracking your time, your expenses, and your income. Getting a complete picture of your overall finances as a creator will help you gain clarity as to what avenues of monetization are most profitable and fulfilling for you.
If you’ve already monetized your content, do a detailed audit of your profit (not just your revenue)! If you’re struggling with this or have anxiety around numbers and budgeting, you can always partner with a bookkeeper and/or accountant who specializes in finances for freelancers and small business owners.
Once you’ve got all your financial ducks in a row (determined revenue and profit), ask yourself the following:
- Is my income consistent month to month?
- Am I seeing growth year over year?
- Is this a pace of work I can sustain?
- Is each individual stream of income sustainable?
- Do these streams of income align with my goals?
- Do I have three to six months of savings to operate my creator business and for my living expenses?
- Am I receiving inbound inquiries from brands and partners alongside my outbound pitches?
If you’ve answered yes to these questions, congrats! You’re in a great financial shape to transition into a full time content creator career. If not, don’t despair.
Be honest about your future goals and what is and isn’t working. Make tweaks to your monetization strategy instead of starting from scratch. Use this financial audit as an opportunity to address any gaps in your financial planning and build a foundation for a long-lasting career.
Prime Your Business for Growth
If you’ve begun treating your creative side-hustle as a business, you’re in a good place. What do I mean by treating your content creation as a business? Well, if you’ve…
- Created clear, repeatable routines for content creation
- Built back-end systems for admin and automation
- Followed a regular schedule for everything from content creation, pitching and finances
…you’re running a business that you can scale. If you feel like there are some bottlenecks within your processes, they’ll only get more and more prominent as you grow. A positive next step is addressing any time-wasters, like:
- Manual invoicing
- Cumbersome or outdated software
- Disjointed communication with team members or clients (i.e.; brands or fellow contractors, like video editors or graphic designers)
These bottlenecks might seem insignificant on a small scale, but you’ll want to make your job as easy as possible when you go full time. Take some non-billable hours to assess any roadblocks that come up in your content creation side hustle and get solutions in place before you leave your current job.
Engage and Nurture Community
Community engagement is at the center of what it means to be a full-time creator . Build trust with your audience and you’ll earn true fans– audience members that are so passionate about the work you do that they’ll consistently support you.
If you have a community that regularly engages with you through messages, comments, sharing your content or joining your streams, it’s time to sit down and evaluate if your community is effectively monetized and responding well to your content. Here are some questions you can mull over:
- What are common pieces of feedback I receive from my audience?
- Have I addressed and implemented this feedback consistently and effectively?
- Is my audience satisfied with any products or services I release?
- Is my audience comfortable with the brands and organizations I partner with?
- What percentage of my audience purchases from me? (And how frequently?)
Feeling like you haven’t quite mastered community engagement or selling to your audience? Revisit your offerings, your content, and survey audience members. It might be difficult to hear their criticism at first, but without your audience’s transparency, you won’t be able to implement the feedback you need to build a full-time creator career. Listen to what your community is telling you, and find a way to marry the content you love with what excites your audience.
Measure Your Metrics
While measuring your analytics day to day might be a little excessive or overwhelming, regularly checking your performance week to week and month to month to identify trends is incredibly important. Being honest about how your work is received is critical if you want to pursue content creation full time.
If you focus on vanity metrics (such as likes on a post or follower counts without engagement rates) you might fall short of your goals when you transition to full-time creator work. Make sure you get a complete picture of your analytics by delving into engagement rates per post, your overall profile and click-through rates to any long-form content or other CTAs (call to action) you’ve included in your content. While there may be some small dips or even spikes here and there, you’ll want to see a general upward trend before plunging into the deep end of content creation.
When auditing all the platforms you’re present on, it might help to get a little old school and print off your analytics and mark them up. I know most of us don’t own printers, but that’s what your local FedEx Office is for. There’s something about seeing things off a screen and on paper that can help with processing. Set aside a few hours and assess past quarters and years you’ve worked as a creator. You’ll want to ask yourself:
- Is my engagement decreasing, steady, or increasing? (Both quarterly and annually.)
- Is my reach decreasing, steady, or increasing? (Both quarterly and annually.)
- Are any products and services I’ve released making consistent sales? Are they decreasing, steady, or increasing?
- Are there any particular seasons that stand out in my business? (i.e.; lots of sales of a course during the fall, or more affiliate income in the winter.)
- How do I find consistent growth or sustainability when there is an outlier, whether seasonal or personal?
If you’ve noticed consistency and steady growth across your channel, you’re in a great position to continue investing in your career. If you’re noticing stagnation or negative growth, try to identify more specific trends. Where patterns are popping up? Is your static imagery falling flat, but your short-form video skyrocketing? These are areas of your creator business you’ll need to address before going full time.
Manage Your Time
If you’re maxed out on time between your full-time job and creator side hustle, something’s gotta give. Auditing your non-billable hours (managing your finances, pitching to brands) and billable hours (creating branded content, filming and editing) as a content creator will give you insight as to what your workdays really look like and how you can maximize your time.
Feeling burnt out, or just like you can’t do it all? Here are some time management questions that will make your schedule a little lighter:
- What does my current schedule look like? Before setting a schedule for full-time work, audit your time without judgment. What time is being wasted?
- What tasks do I most like? Most dislike? Can you delegate these, or would these tasks be more efficient if you create content full time on your own?
- Would it make sense to delegate and grow my team while at another job?
- Am I at a point where adding team members (like video editors, graphic designers, managers, etc.) is necessary for me to sustain or even grow my career?
It’s easy to think you can do it all– and you might really want to– but it’s a recipe for burnout for many of us. If you’re at a point where you have little time to spare between your work and side hustle as a content creator, get clear about where you’re headed and what’s most important to you.
Ready to Take the Plunge?
After putting in the work to audit your current creator side hustle, you’ll be creating full time before you know it. The good news is that once you get there, we have several creator solutions that can help you maximize your time and Go Bigger.
If you need more tips on creating a sustainable business as a full time content creator, check out this article on becoming recession-proof.