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I had never even heard the term content creator early in my career. You were either a writer, a video producer or maybe an audio editor. Nowadays, all of those roles are types of content creators. And people wonder: Do we need content creators, how do we use them, and what makes sense? I’ll discuss the topic in this article, including:
- Definition of a content creator?
- How many content creators are there?
- What makes a good content creator?
- What makes good content?
- Why is content creation important?
- Can anyone be a content creator?
- How do we know if we need content creators at our company?
What is a content creator?
At the most superficial level, this is a person that produces assets that are shared with an audience. A person shooting YouTube videos and building a channel fits here, as does a multimedia journalist and a corporate writer. Essentially, any person producing content types for public consumption fits here. A non-exhaustive list:
- Video or still photographer
- TV producer
- Podcast producer
- Host of a podcast
- Social media influencer
Lumping all these specialties into one term is probably somewhat oversimplistic. Even saying somebody is a writer doesn’t necessarily fully explain what they do. There are:
- SEO writers
- Blog writers
- Email specialists
- Speech writers
- TV producers who write scripts for anchors to read on-air
Indeed, they all have in common that they are writing down words, but the end user and skills to make them work vary. That doesn’t mean some people can’t cross over into different writing categories, but it’s also good to remember that each has differences.
The different levels of creators
There’s, of course, a spectrum of the level of creation all of the varying levels of creators produce. There are creators that:
- work inside companies and create content on their behalf.
- are making a full-time living creating content through sponsorships, projects, ad revenue, and the like.
- make some money from their content – and the revenue streams can be similar to full-time creators, except it’s less.
- simply do it as a hobby and don’t have an immediate goal of monetizing it.
How many content creators are there?
A quick show of people with content creator in their profile on LinkedIn shows over 900,000 results in March 2023.
That’s a decent number but it also doesn’t include people who don’t list content creator specifically in their profile. Similar roles could be content designer, content strategist, writer, etc.
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What makes a good content creator?
Professional creators produce content for themselves, their brand, and a company working in tandem or on behalf of a company. All content creators, no matter their specialty, should have:
- a basic foundation of skills in the type of content they are creating. For example, a certain level of writing skills is necessary for anyone who writes content – no matter the channel. They don’t have to be the next Edgar Allan Poe, but a basic foundation of the right skills certainly is needed.
- the desire to look for ways to get their content to perform.
- communication skills – because they have to talk to internal and sometimes external stakeholders.
- interested in learning new things. For example, I grew up as a text-based content creator and expanded my skills in other content types. Maybe not to an expert level, but better than no skills.
From there, creators look at understanding the target persona and what content can help those personas. They know how those people talk and what words they use, and they create content that is helpful to them and builds a connection to the creator and/or the company.
These creators might not be the person who came up with the content strategy, but they have to understand it and create content against it.
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What makes good content?
Good content creators understand what makes good content and how to create it. At the most basic level, good content is relevant to the audience when they need and want it. So, for example, if I share a short blog post that answers a specific question to a problem my audience has at that time, that has the chance to be good content. Now, there’s a certain level of correct grammar mistake-free presentation that is expected as well.
But just because something is presented well or looks great doesn’t make it good content. That part is the bare minimum and then the alignment to what the audience needs and wants is what makes it good content.
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Why is content creation important?
Good content creation is important because it helps brands stand out and not just in the short-term. Good content creation enables companies to use their content anywhere and for different purposes, including SEO, sales and outbound campaigns.
All those are needed to make marketing a long-term success for a company.
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Can anyone be a content creator?
In theory – yes. In practice – it depends. For example, can subject matter experts create content? Of course, they can, but it depends on what they are trying to accomplish with it.
For example, most experts can write an article about a topic they know much about. But is that article also optimized for SEO? Probably not. Would it work on social? Maybe.
Another example is: Can experts record a solo podcast and talk about a topic? Probably. Recording options are more accessible than ever. But do they have the time or expertise to produce a podcast that is the best it can be? Unlikely.
So I recommend a collaborative model where subject matter experts work together with creators who are good at the type of content you are after. And also that is good at the system you are in.
For example, some companies operate in a drive-through marketing requests model. Somebody has an idea; they send it to the content team and ask for it to be done. I’m not a fan of this model as it assumes the request follows a strategy and doesn’t just come from a Eureka moment in the shower. However, that system certainly can work where a layer of collaboration and strategy is involved.
Another example is where it’s a bit more collaborative, and the overall content strategy keeps all the goals it’s trying to achieve and help with.
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How do we know if we need content creators at our company?
Chances are, your company does need some and maybe already has some who are unofficially filling that role at times. But at some point, the process needs to be formalized. Once a strategy is in place and somebody owns that, the options include:
- Hiring freelancers or an agency when content needs to be created
- Adding to the overall headcount through a mix of full and part-time employees
- A blend of the two
All the options have advantages and disadvantages. For example, some content agencies are pretty pricey, and ultimately you might be able to hire a mid-level writer for just the cost an agency would charge for a dozen or so content pieces.
Now, if those content pieces drive immediate results, maybe it’s worth the investment. But if they don’t, the ongoing effort of an in-house team might be more fruitful.
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All companies have great stories to share. But, unfortunately, sometimes they don’t get shared at all or not in the most effective way. That’s where expert-level content creators can help companies level up that strategy – no matter the channel.