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Content Creator 101: Complete Guide for Brands AND Creators

A pro content creator goes beyond making and publishing digital content. They use that content to build an audience and generate revenue.

Colleen Christison, Sam Lauron April 17, 2024

Wondering how to become a content creator? One that not only gets paid but gets paid well?

Well, good news, my friend: you’re in the right place!

Content creators, whether freelance or in-house, are in high demand. And in 2024, there’s no sign of that demand slowing down.

In this post, we’ll discuss exactly what being a content creator means and the different ways you can apply that title to yourself.

Plus, we’ll share a step-by-step process for becoming a content creator, how brands can find creators to work with, and which tools you’ll need to get started.

Bonus: Download a free, fully customizable influencer media kit template to help you introduce your accounts to brands, land sponsorship deals, and make more money on social media.

What is a content creator?

A content creator is anyone who makes and publishes digital content. While anyone with an Instagram or TikTok account is technically a creator, professional content creators take it one step further. They use their digital platforms to build an audience and make money from their content.

The term “content creation” has blown up in the past few years, especially social content creation. But it encompasses a wide range of activities.

If you’re interested in becoming a digital content creator, we’ll take you through a few of the most common types of digital content creators.

Note: These content creator categories can (and often do) overlap. For example, you can be an influencer, a photographer, and a vlogger.

Influencers or brand ambassadors

Content creators who want to monetize their personal brand may be called influencers or brand ambassadors. These creators may be life coaches, speakers, or anything else that allows you to profit from your personal brand.

An influencer content creator on LinkedIn

Source: Annie-Mai Hodge on LinkedIn

As a solo brand ambassador or influencer, you’ll likely take photos or videos, write captions, and develop your social media strategy. You’ll be a jack of all trades when it comes to content creation.

Social media managers

“Social media manager” is a broad title and is often treated as a catch-all for social media tasks.

A social media manager’s duties cover a lot of ground. These roles often handle everything from content creation and campaign planning to social listening and reporting.

Freelance social media managers often niche down to the skills they’re most interested in. But those just starting out can expect to touch on every aspect of content creation. If this sounds like you, be sure to bookmark these customizable social media templates.

Here’s more on what you can expect as a freelance social media manager.


Copywriters and content writers cover a huge spectrum of content creation. As a writer, you can monetize articles, blog posts, brochures, web copy, email marketing copy, news pieces, voice-over scripts, social copy, ebooks, or white papers, to name a few.

The opportunities are vast, and, like I always told my mom, every industry needs a good writer.

For example, Elna Cain is a writer and content creator who shares daily tips about writing and freelancing.

A writer content creator on X

Source: Elna Cain on X

If you decide to become a copy or content writer, you might need to develop more content creation skills. In most cases, it won’t be all writing. For example, if you’re going to write for websites, you should brush up on SEO best practices.

Photographers and videographers

Social media apps require engaging images. That means the digital world always needs more photographers and videographers.

Photo and video freelancers often choose to become Instagram content creators, and bigger brands often outsource some of their social media asset production to creators.

Websites, blogs, and e-commerce sites are great sources for potential work. Stock imagery sites also need visual content.

Below is an example of a freelance photographer who shares his work on the free stock image website Unsplash.

A photographer content creator on Unsplash

Source: Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Vloggers and streamers

Thinking about monetizing your daily life? Vlogging or streaming might be for you.

The difference between the two is slight. A vlogger is someone who creates and publishes video blogs. A streamer, however, is someone who broadcasts themselves on a live stream or posts a video after the fact. Streamers may play video games, put on tutorials, or conduct interviews, while vloggers typically share long-form videos that have been edited.

Take Rachel Aust, for example. She is a YouTube content creator who publishes vlogs that show her daily life.

Designers and artists

Artists and designers have always been visual innovators. Those skills are even more important in creating content for the online world.

To be successful, you’ll need to know how to tell a story through your posts. You’ll use elements like color, light, and composition to create visually appealing content.

Instagram is a natural place to flex your artistic muscles. With a beautifully designed feed, you can reach a wide audience and generate some buzz for your brand. Many designers use the platform as an online portfolio to showcase their work.

Take Bonnie Christine, for example. Bonnie is a surface designer who shares her work on Instagram, but she’s also a creative business coach for creators.

a designer content creator on Instagram

Source: bonniechristine on Instagram

How do content creators make money?

To give you an idea of how much money content creators make, the average salary for a content creator in the US is $56,815 per year, according to Glassdoor.

Content creation can vary widely, making it tough to pinpoint exactly how much an average content creator’s salary would be without getting specific. You’ve also got to consider market rates, medium, and subject matter. And if you decide to niche down within a specific industry, you can raise your rates.

The amount of money you can make as a content creator varies depending on *how* you make money. Here are the different ways that content creators make money.

Brand partnerships

Most successful content creators earn money through brand sponsorships, which can drastically increase their salaries. For example, YouTuber MrBeast, the world’s highest-earning creator, made $82 million in 2023.

Brand partnerships typically involve creating content, also known as sponsored content, that promotes a company or product yet also aligns with your brand.

For example, Tori Dunlap, the author and money expert behind HerFirst100K, shared a paid partnership with Capitalize, a financial service.

A financial content creator on Instagram

Source: herfirst100k on Instagram

The key to securing brand partnerships is to have a highly engaged audience and only partner with brands that resonate with you and your audience. Doing this increases the chance of high-earning sponsored content opportunities.

Brand partnerships on TikTok can net you $80,000 and up.

On Instagram, macro-influencers (over a million followers) can make $10,000–$1 million+ per post. Micro-influencers (10,000–50,000 followers) are looking at $100–$500 per post.

Ad revenue

Ad revenue is another common way to make money as a content creator. This is especially common on video platforms like YouTube, where ads can be displayed throughout a video.

Different platforms have different payment ranges for creators. YouTube, for example, will pay you between $0.01 and $0.03 for an ad view. That means you can make roughly $18 for 1,000 views. According to Credit Karma, the average YouTuber salary for those with at least 1 million subscribers is $60,000 per year.


If you’re making money on platforms like TikTok or Instagram, you might as well create a Patreon account. With Patreon, you can convert followers to subscribers and further monetize your brand. If you’re a micro-influencer, that could be roughly $50-$250 extra a month.

Whether you use Patreon or another type of subscription platform, you’ll likely want to create exclusive content in exchange for signing up for a subscription. For example, if you’re a business coach, you can create an ebook, an online course, or offer one-on-one coaching calls.

Or, if you have a podcast, you can offer extra episodes, ad-free episodes, or early access for subscribers, like this true crime podcast.

Content creators can earn money from Patreon subscriptions

Source: The Reasonable Doubts on Patreon


Another way to diversify your income as a content creator is by creating merch. Think mugs, t-shirts, and stickers. This avenue works well if you have an identifiable logo or have coined a tagline that your audience associates with you.

You can also create merch that relates to your niche or industry. For example, freelance writer Kat Boogaard offers freelance-related mugs and other merchandise in her online shop.

Freelance content creator selling merch

Source: Kat Boogaard

3 skills content creators need

While the specific skillset you need depends on your niche, there are some skills that every content creator must hone to succeed.

These skills will help you build your audience, share your work, and run a business effectively.


No matter which medium you create with — whether that’s writing, design, or social media videos — you have to be a good storyteller.

Being able to captivate your audience is the key to building relationships with them.

To become a better storyteller, start by consuming stories from your favorite creators and influencers. Find people who captivate you and make note of how they do it.

Do they reel you in with a dramatic hook? Or do they share relatable anecdotes that make you feel seen? Maybe they grab your attention with humor.

Identify your favorite storytelling methods and practice using them in your own content.

Social media

Even if you aren’t a social media influencer, you still need to understand the ins and outs of social media to be a successful creator.

Social media channels help you build an audience. If you plan to use community platforms like Patreon or email marketing tools like Mailchimp to share more direct content with your most loyal fans and subscribers, you need social media to attract those subscribers in the first place.

Not to mention, most brands that partner with creators expect you to promote them on social media, so it pays to be savvy on at least *one* channel.

Some social media content creation skills worth practicing are recording Reels, writing engaging captions, and creating simple graphics.


If you want to land brand partnerships or collaborations, you must know how to pitch yourself and your work, especially when starting out.

You’ll need to have an elevator pitch ready to share when conducting brand outreach or talking to a potential partner. Make sure your pitch is succinct yet covers all of your skills and accomplishments as a content creator — while also showcasing your personality.

This is another reason why an influencer media kit is essential to have. Keep your kit updated with your audience metrics and recent projects so it’s ready to send whenever a brand reaches out.

How to become a content creator

While the paths to different positions may vary, there’s a general process you can follow to become a social media content creator.

Here are four steps on how to become a content creator.

Step 1: Develop your skills

You probably already have an idea of what type of content creator you want to be. Now, you just have to hone or develop your skills.

Practice creating content for brands you know and love. Say you want to be a copywriter, for example. Try executing a mock creative brief to show off your skills. For example, you could write a product description, a social media post, and a headline to promote a new shoe launch. Or, if you want to be a graphic designer, you could create a mock advertisement to promote said shoe launch.

You can continue to develop your skills through courses. There are plenty of online courses that will walk you through different types of content creation.

Or, reach out to other content creators whose work you admire. Ask them for advice on how they developed their skills or (if they’re open to it) to look at your work and provide feedback.

Step 2: Create a portfolio

Once you’ve started building those skills, it’s time to show off your work. Start an online portfolio to share some of your best samples with prospective clients or employers.

Just starting out and don’t have anything to show? Share some speculative work (that just means “make something up”). Or, if you created anything noteworthy while developing your skills, you can publish it here.

Your portfolio doesn’t have to be fancy. You can even host them for free on Squarespace or Wix.

If you’re building your personal brand as an influencer and not, say, a videographer, you can create something similar to a portfolio, an influencer media kit. Do you want to attract brands who want to partner with you? Show them how you’ve partnered with other brands in the past and outline your audience demographics and engagement metrics.

A UGC content creator's media kit and rates

Source: Life with Michelle

Whether you’re creating a work portfolio or an influencer media kit, be sure to link your social media accounts and make your contact information easy to find. And, you’ll want to have a solid brand pitch deck in your back pocket.

Step 3: Start hustling

You can find prospective clients almost anywhere. Start by networking or reaching out to job postings or freelancer-needed ads.

You could even try pursuing opportunities you see in your daily life.

Perhaps there’s a website you’ve noticed that needs new banner ads. As a burgeoning graphic designer, you could cold email them and pitch your services.

Here are five more ideas for finding new work:

  1. Join as many freelance Facebook Groups as you can. Clients may post work needed, or you could forge valuable professional relationships.
  2. Post your portfolio or your elevator pitch in relevant online spaces. If you specialize in travel photography, look for travel groups online.
  3. Niche Slack groups are a great place to network with other content creators and potential clients.
  4. Actively share the content you create on social media, whether that’s YouTube videos, photography, or writing.
  5. Be active on LinkedIn and create posts with keywords relevant to your industry and title so potential clients and collaborators can find you.

Step 4: Get paid

Pricing yourself when you’re just starting out can be tough. Take a look at your market average to get an idea of what others in your experience range are charging. While it’s tempting to offer a low price to get your foot in the door, try not to undersell yourself at first! Content creation is a valuable skill that the right brands will pay for.

If you’re looking to get hired in-house at a corporation as a content creator, research the industry average for your position. That way, you can weed out job positions with salaries that are too high (expectations may be beyond your skill set) and too low (get paid what you’re worth).

If you’re looking to freelance, be sure to have signed written contracts with your clients. Include your payment terms and penalties for late payments.

How brands can find a creator to partner with

We’ve gone over the ways you can become a content creator, but what about brands that want to work with content creators?

You may be interested in using influencer marketing to help amplify your business, but might not know where to begin.

Here are a few ways and resources to find content creators that align with your brand and mission.

Examine your current following

Start by looking at your followers to find people who are already fans of your brand. Partnering with people who know, like, and trust your company helps the partnership feel authentic because the creator will be excited to promote you.

Check out your tags and mentions to see who’s already talking about your brand and showcasing it on their page. Once you’ve identified a few possible creators, analyze their following, audience, activity, and engagement to see if they could be a good fit.

Keep in mind that they don’t need to be mega influencers. If they seem to have a lot of influence with their audience, you can work with content creators with a smaller following.

Look at social listening data

Next, go deeper by analyzing your social listening data. Social listening goes beyond monitoring your posts by examining the overall social landscape, which can include industry trends, brand sentiment, and competitive analysis.

With Hootsuite Insights, for instance, you can get a detailed look at brand sentiment and trending topics to conduct consumer research and understand who your audience interacts with. You can also use this data to identify specific thought leaders and influencers in your industry.

Use an influencer marketing platform

If you’re ready to take your influencer marketing to the next level, consider using a dedicated platform to help you manage your program.

With a platform like Upfluence, for example, you can find and analyze thousands of influencers across all social channels to find the best match for your campaign.

And because Upfluence integrates with Hootsuite, you can streamline the process by managing your influencer content and UGC all in one place.

Becoming a content creator is more accessible than ever. Whether you want to make a name for yourself as a social media influencer, create one-of-a-kind art, or captivate an audience as a vlogger, follow these steps to find success in the world of content creation.

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By Colleen Christison

Colleen Christison is a freelance copywriter, copy editor, and brand communications specialist. She spent the first six years of her career in award-winning agencies like Major Tom, writing for social media and websites and developing branding campaigns. Following her agency career, Colleen built her own writing practice, working with brands like Mission Hill Winery, The Prevail Project, and AntiSocial Media.

By Sam Lauron

Sam Lauron is a freelance writer who works with B2B and SaaS companies in marketing, ecommerce, business, and related tech. With a background in editorial writing and content marketing, she uses her communications and research skills to produce helpful content that inspires and informs readers.

Read more by Sam Lauron

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