How to become a digital creator

Becoming a digital creator is one of 2023’s hottest career paths. It’s an especially great fit for wannabe digital nomads and those who seek location independence.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through how to become a digital creator in 2023.

We’ll look at the pros and cons, the exact skills you need to be awesome, and how you can make life-changing money from sharing your experiences with the world.

I’ll also throw in an actionable 8-step digital creator roadmap so you can hit the ground running.

Why should you listen to me? Well, I’ve been creating online since 2013, across a range of platforms including blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and email marketing.

In 2020, I built a blog that has now replaced the income from my full-time job. And I’m also a professionally-trained journalist, with work published in several international media outlets, including Al Jazeera and the Telegraph.

Ready? Let’s go!

What is a Digital Creator Anyway?

A digital creator is anyone who produces public-facing content across a range of online platforms.

These could include:

  • Blogs
  • YouTube channels
  • Instagram videos
  • Facebook groups or pages
  • LinkedIn posts
  • Twitter updates
  • TikTok videos
  • Podcasts
  • Multimedia content
  • Films
  • Online courses and other digital products
  • Digital artworks

As you can see, “digital creation” spans a wide range of different platforms and mediums. The most successful digital creators typically produce high quality content across multiple platforms.

They develop a personal brand identity and message that’s consistent across all platforms, and then learn how to monetize it in various ways (which we’ll explore later in the guide).

What’s more, a successful digital creator often makes use of a wide range of skills, from writing to video editing to graphic design.

But the good news is, the barrier to entry is lower than ever before.

You can become a successful digital creator using free tools and social media platforms available to everyone.

Why Do Digital Creators Matter?

As a digital creator, you have the potential to achieve huge reach and a massive audience.

One of the most successful digital creators ever, Mr Beast, has over 160 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. With numbers like these, it’s easy to understand how influential a digital creator can become.

Alongside that influence comes the ability to earn money. Luckily, you don’t have to reach Mr Beast’s level to generate a healthy income for yourself.

For example, in 2020, I created a blog about relocating abroad for second citizenship. It now brings me the equivalent of a full-time income every month.

I’m not a millionaire yet, but that blog has undoubtedly transformed my lifestyle for the better. And, as I continue creating content, it has the potential to grow and grow.

It’s not only about earning money. Becoming a digital creator also gives you the opportunity to teach people something you’re passionate about.

Sharing your knowledge and experiences can help other people improve their own lives – which is a fulfilling and satisfying way to spend your time.

Pros and Cons of Being a Digital Creator

The pros

  • Low barrier to entry – you just need a computer and/or smartphone to get started
  • You get to share your skills, interest, and life experiences with the world
  • There are lots of different ways to make money from digital creation
  • Potential to build a big audience and make a lot of money, or build a more modest ‘lifestyle business’ – the choice is yours
  • It’s great for those who want a remote work lifestyle or who don’t want a boss
  • You’re never bored as there’s always something new to work on
  • You’ll learn and develop a wide range of skills

The cons

  • It’s easy to give up too soon before you see any results
  • It takes a lot of confidence to create and share content publicly
  • You need patience, consistency and discipline to see success
  • People may criticize or even troll you
  • Working from home all the time can get lonely
  • You may feel overwhelmed and lose your way
  • Digital creation can be a highly competitive space, depending on your niche

How Does a Digital Creator Get Paid?

Digital creators can get paid in many different ways – it’s up to you.

Here’s an overview of the most common methods:

  1. Running display ads on your website or blog
  2. Promoting products in your content and earning commission from affiliate marketing programs
  3. Getting paid by brands to feature them in your content (known as brand deals or brand partnerships)
  4. Sponsorships, for example a brand sponsoring your weekly email newsletter
  5. Selling your own digital or physical products via your content
  6. Selling your services via your content, for example, coaching or consulting sessions
  7. Leveraging your content as a way to generate leads for freelance projects

7 Essential Skills for Successful Digital Creators in 2023

#1. Writing online

For most digital creators, writing online is one of the most fundamental skillsets in your toolkit.

It doesn’t matter what medium you use to create online – writing is bound to be involved somewhere. For example, YouTubers and podcasters write scripts, while bloggers write long-form article-style posts.

To succeed as a digital creator, you should practice your written storytelling skills, alongside classic copywriting techniques. You’ll need both to be successful.

#2. SEO (Search engine optimization)

It’s all very well writing great content, but you need to make sure your audience sees it. Having a blog that’s optimized for search is the ultimate way to do this.

By doing proper keyword research before you start writing, you’ll know exactly what to write about, targeting different subjects your ideal audience is already searching for.

Then, all your blog post has to do to succeed is give them the answers they’re looking for (just like when you typed “what is a digital creator?” into Google, and landed here).

It’s also important to structure your posts properly so Google’s bots know what you’re writing about.

SEO doesn’t have to be super technical or overwhelming. My guide to SEO for bloggers and creators is a great place to get started.

#3. AI prompting

AI has exploded onto the digital creator scene in 2023. It’s got tons of incredible capabilities, from writing content to generating original images.

So as an aspiring digital creator, should you be worried about AI? In my opinion, no.

But it’s important to learn how to leverage it to its full potential. One of the best ways to do that is by learning how to write high-quality AI prompts.

Getting the right prompts means the difference between churning out bland, repetitive and obvious AI content and creating something sophisticated, interesting, and valuable.

What’s more, prompt crafting will likely become one of the most sought-after skills of the coming decades.

My advice? Fire up the free version of ChatGPT and start learning to prompt.

#4. Marketing and sales

As a digital creator, you can have truly remarkable content, but without effective marketing and sales strategies, your work may still go unnoticed.

Marketing allows you to showcase your creations to a wider audience, while sales techniques help you convert that audience into loyal fans and customers.

In an era where social media platforms and content saturation are at an all-time high, successful digital creators must navigate through the noise and find ways to stand out.

Understanding marketing principles such as audience segmentation, brand positioning, and digital advertising can give you a competitive edge.

By strategically targeting your ideal audience and crafting compelling messages, you can attract attention and build a loyal following.

Sales skills are equally crucial for monetizing your digital creations. Whether you’re selling merchandise, digital products, or services, knowing how to effectively communicate the value of your offerings is key.

Persuasive copywriting, persuasive storytelling, and mastering the art of the sales pitch can make all the difference in turning your casual followers into paying customers.

#5. Video creation

Why are video creation skills so essential for digital creators?

Firstly, video has the power to convey emotions, stories, and information in a way that other mediums can’t.

It allows you to create immersive experiences, captivating your audience’s attention and leaving a lasting impact.

Whether you’re a YouTuber or a TikToker, or just shooting brief explainers for LinkedIn, video can propel your creator brand to new heights.

What’s more, video creation allows for diverse storytelling opportunities.

You can experiment with different formats, such as tutorials, vlogs, short films, or animated content, tailoring your approach to suit your unique style and message.

Video also offers a wide range of monetization avenues. From brand sponsorships and product placements to ad revenue and merchandise sales, the potential for generating income through video content is substantial.

By combining your video creation skills with marketing and sales techniques, you can create a sustainable business model as a digital creator.

#6. Repurposing content

Repurposing content is another essential skill for digital creators in 2023.

Instead of creating new content from scratch every time, repurposing enables you to breathe new life into existing pieces.

You could repurpose a blog post into a podcast episode or YouTube video script, where you can delve deeper into the topic and engage listeners in a more conversational manner.

Or, you could transform a longer LinkedIn post into a series of tweets, capturing attention and delivering key messages in a concise and engaging format.

Repurposing content also enhances your efficiency as a digital creator. It allows you to make the most of your efforts by leveraging existing assets, focusing on refining your core ideas.

This not only saves time but also ensures a consistent message across different formats, strengthening your brand identity and recognition.

For example, a successful webinar can be repurposed into an ebook, providing your audience with a convenient and comprehensive resource that they can access at any time.

Likewise, a series of blog posts on a specific topic can be combined and repurposed into an online course or ebook, offering a structured and immersive learning experience for your audience.

Once you get used to content repurposing, you’ll naturally start spotting loads of different opportunities to repurpose your stuff.

It’s a must for every digital creator who wants to master their environment.

#7. Being well-organized

Digital creator life is full of shiny objects, new tools and exciting ideas pulling at you from all directions.

It’s really easy to get distracted by these and forget to do the meaningful activities, such as creating content on a regular basis.

That’s why being well-organized is such a critical skill for digital creators. Treating your digital platform like a business rather than a hobby is the best mindset to adopt for success.

You should always set aside time each week to create your content. For example, I like to schedule all my LinkedIn posts for the week on a Sunday evening.

I publish at least two blog posts every week, sometimes more. I make sure all my keyword research is done before I write. That way, I’ve got a nice bank of keywords ready when the time comes to write a new post.

How to Become a Digital Creator in 2023: My 8-Step Creator Roadmap

#1. Define your niche and audience

Choosing your niche can often feel like an insurmountable challenge. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a couple of pointers to guide you in the right direction.

First, if you want to make money from being a digital creator, it’s important to choose a niche where people will pay for your content to solve their problem. My guide to the 12 most profitable niches will be a useful start here.

As a rule of thumb, niches in health, wealth or relationships are generally the easiest to monetize. But don’t worry if that’s not the right fit for you. Another good area to mine for niche ideas is your own life experience.

Have you gone through a major transformation that others would be interested in?

This could be any one of a whole range of things, such as learning to play the piano, moving to another country, or learning to speak a foreign language.

For example, I built a successful blog based on my personal experience relocating to another country on a quest for second citizenship.

In these cases, you don’t have to be the ultimate expert to teach others about your journey. You just need to be one step ahead of your intended target audience.

#2. Pick your primary platform and ‘outposts’

Next up, decide which platform you want to use as your main digital creator hub.

I recommend a search engine based platform, either YouTube or a blog, combined with one social media ‘outpost’, such as LinkedIn, Threads, or Twitter.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to create all new content. You’ll be repurposing a lot of it.

It’s easy to choose between YouTube and blogging. Do you feel comfortable on video? Or would you rather stay behind the scenes, writing about your area of expertise on a blog?

Whichever one you choose, aim to publish either a new video or a new blog post every week.

You can then chop up key messages from that piece of long content and reuse them on your favourite social media ‘outpost’.

For example, I use this blog as my main digital creator hub. I aim to write at least one long form blog post every week.

Then, I take key insights from that and use them to create shorter posts on LinkedIn, which is my preferred social media platform.

#3. Start building your personal brand

Choose around three core pillars to talk about, each one geared towards your broader message.

Most of what you say online will revolve around these pillars. By using this approach from the beginning, you’ll develop a strong and consistent personal brand over time.

For example, my pillars are: 1) SEO and blogging for creators, 2) making money online, 3) becoming a digital nomad.

These pillars compliment each other quite well while also reflecting authentic aspects of my personal experience and life story.

In contrast, flip-flopping around between lots of unrelated topics will make it almost impossible to build an engaged audience (unless you’re extremely entertaining!)

#4. Get comfortable with basic SEO

Effective SEO doesn’t have to be super technical. As a digital creator, knowing just the basics will transform your ability to reach, engage and monetize your audience.

First of all, SEO is only relevant if you’re planning to start a blog or YouTube channel. Both platforms leverage search engines to bring relevant audiences to your content.

On the other hand, you don’t need to know SEO to use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.

But, keep in mind, once you stop posting, you’ll slip out of sight and your audience might forget you. In contrast, blog posts and YouTube videos have much greater longevity.

Here are some of the key SEO terms you’ll need to know for starters:

  • Search intent – understanding what people want to find when they type a search term into Google
  • Keyword research – knowing how to find interesting and relevant topics that people are already searching for, so you can write posts or make videos about them
  • On-page SEO – how to structure your blog post or YouTube video in the right way, so search bots can easily understand the content

#5. Start building your email list

Building your email list is a critical step to become a digital creator who makes money.

Funnelling your audience onto your email list allows you to connect with them at a way deeper level than mere social media.

And, if you’re planning to sell an online course or other digital product, building an email list is absolutely essential.

Your email list is an ‘owned’ asset, as opposed to your social media channels, which are only ‘rented’. Hence, your email list is immune to the algorithm changes or sudden shadow bans common to social media.

To get started easily, hop over to ConvertKit and create a free account. This is where you’ll start building your list. You can use ConvertKit’s free plan until your list reaches 1000 subscribers.

Create a basic signup form and encourage people to join your email list regularly, in your social media content, blog posts, or YouTube videos.

#6. Learn to repurpose content

I already talked about the importance of repurposing your content across different mediums and formats.

Now I’ll provide some specific examples of the repurposing pathways I most commonly use.

  1. Blog post optimized for search, turned into a YouTube script
  2. Blog post optimized for search, turned into a LinkedIn post (this works best with “how-to” guide posts. I just cut out the “step by step” part and combine it with a powerful hook to make it work for LinkedIn)
  3. Blog post optimized for search, converted into an issue of my email newsletter
  4. LinkedIn text post turned into a LinkedIn carousel (I always use Canva for this task)

These are just a few of the different ways you can chop up, expand, and repurpose a single piece of content into multiple different formats.

Personally, I prefer to start with a search-optimized blog post, because this gives it a longer runway to be indexed and ranked by Google.

Important: don’t be afraid of repeating your message time and time again in different ways. It’s easy to feel shy about this (I did). But the best creators push past their shyness and gain confidence in constantly promoting their core message.

#7. Interact with your audience and build community

The best creators have a warm and engaged relationship with their audience. So take some time to interact with your audience and build a sense of community.

You can do this in several different ways.

For example, replying to comments on your LinkedIn posts, opening up the comment section on your blog posts or YouTube videos, and replying to your email list members when they write to you.

Not only is audience interaction a great way to create rapport (which eventually leads to more sales), but it’s also a good way to future proof your digital creator brand against the potential negative effects of AI.

After all, building community is something the robots aren’t so good at (yet).

#8. Track what’s working (and what isn’t)

During your creator journey, you’ll want to keep an eye on what’s working and what isn’t.

There are lots of metrics to think about, but here are a couple of the most important ones.

If your main platform is a blog, then you’ll want to look at your impressions and clicks, and track how they translate into traffic over time. SEO is a long game, so don’t expect instant results as soon as you hit publish.

If you’re posting every day on LinkedIn, track which posts attract the most engagement.

And how much of that translates into newsletter signups, or people buying your product (if you have one for sale)?

Once you start offering a digital product for sale, then sales will become the most important metric to track.

But you don’t have to do this straight away. Many people focus on building an audience for a few months before starting to sell.

Basically, whatever works, do more of it. And whatever doesn’t work, examine it closely to find out why.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a digital creator will bring you a lot of freedom.

But it can also be a confusing and stressful path, with many directions to take.

Start by choosing your niche carefully, based on something you’ve experienced yourself and know a lot about, which also has potential for monetization.

If in doubt or stuck, always take a look at the competition. If other people are doing similar things, that’s a good sign you can do it too.

Make sure you create content on a platform you enjoy, so you can keep doing it for the long term. Finding success as a digital creator doesn’t happen overnight.

You need discipline, consistency, and patience to get there.

Don’t be discouraged if your first few posts get very little response. This is completely normal. Keep going, and you’ll make it eventually.

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