Have you ever been scrolling through your social feed, came across a creator working with brands and getting paid to travel the world, and wondered how you could do the same? Is there a secret club you need to join to get these opportunities? Some kind of magic trick that all these influencers know and aren’t sharing with you?
Never fear, future professional content creators, we’re here to break down exactly what you need to know to make it in this business.
We’ve been fortunate enough to be working as full-time travel bloggers and content creators for 10 years, partnering with some of the world’s biggest brands and teaching others to do the same.
Recently, we had the privilege of mentoring the four emerging creators who won the World Nomads Content Creator Scholarship, and showing them how to turn their passion into a career which has been a truly rewarding experience.
Now, we’re sharing with you some of our biggest tips on how to become a professional creator so you can follow in the footsteps of our fantastic winners.
If you’re ready to start #LivingYourBestLife, these are the 10 things you need to know.
Here’s the thing, being a general ‘content creator’ isn’t enough these days. Competition is high and trying to get your work in front of the eyes of potential clients is difficult when establishing yourself.
To stand out you need to be doing something different. Finding a niche as a content creator is incredibly important, and will help you position yourself in the market as an expert brands want to work with.
Do you love hiking? Create a content series on your favorite treks, hiking tips and gear advice. Consider yourself a responsible traveler? Share posts on how to find the best eco-lodges, what to look for when picking hotels, etc. Being the go-to person in your field is far more valuable than trying to cover everything.
Whatever you decide to niche down into, make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. Your passion will shine through in your content, making it attractive to your audience (and future partners).
Make sure that whatever you publish on your social media, YouTube or website looks fantastic. Having high-quality photos and videos is essential, and there’s really no excuse for sharing out-of-focus or dull content.
Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you need to go out and spend thousands of dollars on specialized camera equipment. A modern smartphone is more than enough to shoot stunning content, and if you learn the basics of photo editing and color grading you’re already going to be miles ahead of the competition.
We live in a world that is flooded with an endless amount of content. So, what can you do to make yours worth engaging with? By ensuring every piece of content you publish is educational, entertaining or exciting.
Teach your audience about something new, or inspire them to try something different. You can do this by telling them about a new attraction or activity in a particular destination, showing them something they haven’t seen before, or sharing tips on how to do something, such as taking a particular style of photo.
If you’re not teaching them something, entertain them by producing work that makes them smile, laugh or think. A piece of content that your followers will rewatch or share with their friends is what you want to publish.
The final part can be content that is just beautiful and exciting to look at. A clip of a stunning landscape at sunset, an animal behaving in a surprising way or a moment in time worth documenting is worth sharing with the world.
If your content isn’t giving any value, don’t expect people to come back for more.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the number of likes, views, followers and subscribers you get, and this can have positive and negative effects on both your content and well-being.
When you’re growing, you feel great. But when things stagnate, you often feel deflated, especially if you’re comparing yourself to other creators. Don’t worry, it’s absolutely normal, and every creator goes through this, even the biggest ones that you look up to and think are crushing the industry.
As hard as it can be, it’s important to not get caught up in the numbers game. Otherwise, you may find yourself chasing trends that you don’t actually enjoy, getting upset over engagement, or worse, stop creating altogether.
You’ll be much happier if you can ignore these numbers and instead focus on creating beautiful content that you’re proud of.
If you want to stay relevant you need to always be developing your skills and adapting to change to become the best creator possible. Photos are disappearing from social media feeds and being replaced by short-form video. Does that mean you should stop taking photos? Of course not. Photography is a very valuable (and enjoyable) skill to know. Does that mean though that you should start learning how to create engaging short-form videos? Absolutely!
You don’t need to become the top Instagram reel producer on the planet. But, if you can confidently include this deliverable in your contracts with partners, alongside all the other skills you possess, you can upsell packages and become more valuable than the next person on the list who can only do one thing.
At the end of the day being a professional content creator is work. Yes, it’s the funnest, coolest job you’ll ever have, but it’s still a job.
Working with clients isn’t just a matter of showing up to a location, posting a phone selfie to Instagram and collecting pay cheques (despite how we all make it look). A brand campaign can take days or even weeks of planning, storyboarding, upskilling, creating, collaborating, editing, engaging and reporting at all kinds of random times to present a finished product.
If you want to do this professionally, be prepared to put in the hours, especially in the early days when you’re building your brand.
How do you actually get paid work as a creator? Do you just post some TikToks then wake up to an email one day offering you a paid trip to Paris? For the very rare person, yes. But for 99% of the creators you see out there, the work comes from reaching out and pitching to brands.
This doesn’t mean sliding into a company’s DMs with a “Hey, want to work together?” and expecting them to throw plane tickets and money at you. You need to learn the art of the pitch and do your own research on what the brand might need and why you are the right person to give it to them.
Every business is different, so spend some time thinking about what you can offer a brand that would suit its marketing goals. This might be providing photos and videos in exchange for a product or giving them access to your audience (if relevant) in the way of social media posts.
Consider your own brand as well and if it matches the company you’re pitching. If your account is about make-up, asking for a free hotel for a few nights in exchange for an Instagram post probably isn’t a good fit, no matter how big your audience is. It also doesn’t make sense to your followers, and you need to remain authentic.
One day you’re going to grow to a point where you don’t have to pitch anymore and instead, brands will come to you with a constant stream of opportunities. But until then, pitch, pitch, pitch.
If you’ve managed to lock in a brand deal, sponsorship, trip or product review with a partner, go above and beyond for that client and give them the best return on investment (ROI) possible.
It’s a real privilege to work with brands, and no matter how big your numbers are or how high the quality of your content is, it’s not something that should be taken for granted.
Over-deliver for every client, whether that’s the number of posts you do or the production quality of your content, and ensure that your partner is happy with the exchange.
Why? That client may work with you again on another, potentially larger campaign, they may recommend you to other people in the industry, you’ll create a fantastic portfolio to pitch to other partners, and you’ve left a good impression for the client to want to work with other creators in the future.
And very importantly, always strive to be a pleasure to work with. Never be a diva.
To get better at your craft you need to be creating regularly. Get out and shoot as often as possible, and set yourself deadlines to get your content to the world.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be publishing something every single day. Don’t forget you have a life outside of social media to enjoy too! However, sticking to a schedule, even if it’s one post a week, will ensure you get many more hours of practice in, as well as give your audience an idea of when to expect something new from you.
At the end of the day, the biggest piece of advice we can give is to just have fun with creating content. If you’re not enjoying yourself you’ll burn out very quickly, and your audience can tell if you’re not having fun.
And remember that overthinking every little aspect of content will probably mean it never gets shared. Is the caption just right? Did I color-grade that clip perfectly? Are the transitions seamless?
Chances are the elements you’re thinking the most about are things that the viewer will never notice, or if they do notice, isn’t enough for them to care about. Get the content as good as you can make it without spending too much time on it, then upload it for the world to enjoy.
Navigate travel writing earnings and expenses with the expert guidance of New York Times contributor Tim Neville.
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