How Content Creators Make Money + 14 Ways You Can

As I was reading an email this morning, something caught my eye that I immediately identified with. The quote from a content marketing survey was, “Not making a killing, but making a living.” As the survey went on to reveal what 1,000 content creators (of every type – bloggers, video creators, social media users, podcasters, low-content publications, etc.), niche, generation and income level) had to say, I was fascinated at how much I saw myself in the data.

I’m guessing you will, too, whether you create content as a primary part of your business or as a sideline.

See if you relate.

  • Content creators come in every age range from twenty-somethings to 60+.
  • They use content marketing to earn either a part-time or full-time income (over 50% are full-time).
  • Their biggest challenges included: getting content found, how to monetize content, content marketing and publishing regularly.

Does that sound something like you?

But what really impressed me was their take on independence. They may not be making a killing with income right now, but they are making a living. And they are happy. They have freedom in their businesses, in how they make money and – most importantly – how they spend their time.

But, as we all know, money is a requirement in this world, so let’s look at how content creators make a living.

How Much Do Content Creators Make?

As with every industry, the income range for content creators is wide. However, after a growth period of roughly 18 months, the survey quoted average revenue at over $100,000 and the median revenue at about $50,000 per year.

How Do Content Creators Make Money?

There are lots of different ways! Some involve monetizing the content directly. Others come from content creators using content to bring in clients for other money-making opportunities.

Most commonly:

1.  Paid ad insertion (social media, YouTube, your blog, your site)

This type of content marketing only works well to monetize your content if you have a good number of followers. After all, without people to click those ads, you won’t have any earnings.

2.  Affiliate marketing/links

Finding affiliate products that relate well to your audience can be a fairly easy way to monetize content. There’s no need for a website and there’s no products to create, but you do have to have someone to recommend those affiliate items to.

On a platform such as YouTube, you can optimize your videos to be found in search and attract an audience that way. It will take a little extra work.

3.  Creating books (writing them or low-content, etc.)

You can either sell your bound books on your own website or on sites including Amazon, Etsy or others. Most self-publishers these days rely on print-on-demand outlets (including Amazon KDP) so they don’t have to order and pay for hundreds of copies upfront.

4.  Speaking fees

Companies of all sizes frequently hire speakers to come to their locations and train their staff. Use your excellent communication skills and get paid for your knowledge by accepting on-site speaking gigs. The organization that hires you typically pays for your presentation and your travel/lodging/meal expenses. If you love travel this could be a fun way to see some exciting cities for free.

5.  Online events

Typically, not a direct-pay method. The way online events work is that you create content and present a topic (normally a video or slide presentation) on a topic related to the event niche. Some events allow you to offer a free opt-in or a paid offer at the end of your session. Others do not. However, your contact information will be given to attendees who can connect with you if they want to know more about what you provide.

6.  Live events

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Very much like online events except you travel and speak in person. Unlike speaking fee gigs, you normally cover your own expenses for travel, meals and lodging for live events. You may or may not be allowed to offer an opt-in or discount offer. While live events are fun and offer great networking opportunities, it can be difficult to gauge ROI especially at no-pitch events.

7.  Coaching

Guess what. You know things that other people don’t know. Those people are willing to pay for someone to hold their hands and guide them through various processes. In a nutshell, that’s all coaching is: helping develop someone else’s abilities so they can then solve problems/do things themselves. Create your own coaching plans (with live calls, email support or whatever else you are willing to offer) and get paid to help others.

8.  Consulting

Similar to coaching, consulting involves you helping the client solve problems/do a thing. You offer your opinion/suggestions and oversee as the client does the work. Again, you can create whatever type of consulting packages you want to offer.

9.  Course creation

This gives you a way to use paid content creation to earn a living. By developing your own training courses (small or large), you can attract people who want to work more deeply with you for a fee. Courses can be live or delivered as on-demand training.

10.  Sponsored content

This can work two ways. First, someone else can pay for space on your website/YouTube channel, etc. You publish an article or video created by them on your site for a fee. The second way involves that content creators publish an article/video/etc. in cooperation with brands. The article directly or indirectly promotes the brand and they pay you to write the article and publish it on your blog/site/channel.

11.  Becoming brand ambassadors

Taking sponsored content to the next level will give you the chance to become a brand ambassador. This normally happens after you’ve successfully worked with a brand on sponsored content and the love what you’ve done. Becoming a brand ambassador gives content creators a chance to mention/promote the brand in numerous places throughout their span of online reach for a larger fee.

12.  Creating printables, digital downloads and POD products

You can also monetize content by turning it into printables, digital download and/or print-on-demand (POD) items. Making a checklist from a blog post or creating easy, downloadable smartphone wallpaper are two simple ideas. Here are more.

13.  Offering exclusive/paid content

You can also bump up your income by creating content that is only for paid members. This might be in the form of monthly courses/training or more in-depth videos/blog posts/podcasts. Think of it as your free content being the beginner level and the exclusive content being for intermediate and advanced followers.

14.  SEO

Content marketing can also come in the form of search engine optimization (SEO). Well-optimized videos, blog posts, podcasts or other content can build your audience by attracting people who are specifically searching for topics your content covers.

Download the entire survey from The Tilt here.

How long does it take to make money as a content creator? According to this survey, most had a six-month wait to make their first dollar. Then it took around 18 months to earn some sort of a living.

That tracks with my experience way back in 1999 when I started.  I think it was about two or three months for me (but that was in the very early age of the Internet when things weren’t so crowded). I did work 18-hour days for about 18 months before I went full-time online.

Whether you’ve been doing it for years, but not making much progress, or you’re just getting started, try some new ways to make money as a content creator and watch your online business grow!

Have questions about how content creators make money? Talk to me below!

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