Over 50 million people consider themselves to be influencers or digital creators
It may feel like, everywhere you look, you're surrounded by digital creators, social media professionals and influencers. You’re not wrong! Nowadays over 50 million people consider themselves to be influencers or digital creators according to Influencer Marketing Hub which also estimates that the influencer marketing industry is set to grow to approximately $21 billion this year.
While the terms ‘digital creators’ and ‘influencers’ may seem interchangeable, they're not quite the same thing. In this guide, we'll explore what it means to be a digital creator, how it differs from being an influencer, and what it takes to become one.
What is a digital creator?
A digital creator is someone who produces online content across various platforms. This could include social media, blogs, podcasts, or videos. They create and share content that is authentic to them and their brand, and they usually have a specific niche or audience they target.
A digital creator is someone who focuses on building a community of followers, engaging with their audience, and sharing their often unique perspective on a subject.
How is a digital creator different from an influencer?
While there is overlap between an influencer and a creator, there are some key differences:
A creator is an individual who generates original and engaging content, unique to them and their personal brand, across various platforms, such as social media, blogs, YouTube, podcasts, and more. Their main emphasis is on crafting high-quality, valuable, and often niche-specific content that resonates with a particular audience.
Creators are known for their expertise, passion, and skill in their chosen area, whether it's photography, writing, art, cooking, or any other creative pursuit. Their goal is to entertain, educate, or inspire their audience through their content, often contributing something new and unique to the online landscape. A creator's income can come from a variety of sources, such as sponsorships, membership, merchandising sales, or ad revenue.
Digital creators are known for their expertise and passion, about topics like as food
An influencer, on the other hand, is an individual who wields a certain level of authority, credibility, and reach within a specific online community or industry. Influencers have cultivated a significant following on social media – often in the hundreds of thousands or even millions – and possess the power to impact the opinions, behaviors, and decisions of their audience.
While they may also create generalised content, the focus of an influencer is more on shaping perceptions and driving engagement around products, services, trends, or ideas. Influencers often collaborate with brands and businesses for promotional activities, leveraging their credibility and relationship with their followers to endorse products or experiences. They typically work with brands to create sponsored content, and their income is often tied to the number of followers they have.
How to become a digital creator
Becoming a professional digital creator requires a variety of skills and it doesn't happen overnight. It takes effort and commitment to build a successful brand.
You not only need to be arty and creative and have an interesting insight on your niche, but the most successful creators are highly focussed entrepreneurs and business-minded people with well-defined content and communications strategies.
You'll need numerous skills to be a digital creator such as a memorable presence on camera
Here are some of the most crucial skills you need to be a digital creator:
As a digital creator, you need to be creative in everything you do – the clue is in the title! Creativity includes coming up with new ideas for content, speaking well on camera if you are making video, creating eye-catching visuals – and this includes thumbnails for videos as well as attractive images on Instagram.
You’ll also need to be constantly finding new ways to engage with your audience, such as with Ask Me Anythings (AMAs) or sharing behind-the-scenes footage.
Clear communication is key when building a brand and therefore when progressing through your career as a digital creator. You'll need to be able to clearly communicate your ideas and brand message to your audience so you need strong interpersonal skills and clarity of thinking and speaking.
More business-minded communication is also crucial for professional digital creators; you’ll potentially be having meetings with brand reps and companies looking to work with you or sponsor your content, as well as with other creators you want to collaborate with. Getting your point across concisely and fairly is essential.
As above, having meetings with brands and fellow creators means you need to know how collaborative projects will work to benefit you and everyone involved.
Are you aiming to reach a new audience? Re-ignite the passion with less engaged members? Spark a debate? Perhaps encourage the sale of something? All of these require clever brand positioning, knowing your USP inside-out, and an ability to sell – both ideas and products.
Being active in collaborating with other digital creators in your niche is relevant here too. Collaborations can expand your reach, introduce you to new audiences, and provide opportunities for learning and growth. Attend industry events, join online communities, and network with like-minded individuals to build relationships and gain insights.
Being approachable and adaptable
Some people find it difficult or even painful to listen to feedback. But you'll need to welcome criticism (when it's constructive!) and use it as an opportunity to improve. Pay attention to your audience's preferences and adapt your content accordingly. Consistently evaluate and refine your work to deliver value to your audience.
The great thing about the internet is that it's easier than ever to acquire the necessary technical skills to excel as a digital creator in your chosen field. Listen to podcasts, read books and visit social media. Utilize software, tools, and equipment relevant to your craft. Here are some useful resources for aspiring digital creators:
Online courses and videos
In general, learning platforms offer a wealth of resources to enhance your skills -- for most industries in fact, not just the creator economy -- and there's always ample video content on YouTube.
Blogs and social
Social media is a great way to connect with your audience and promote your work. Make sure to create accounts on the platforms that you know your target audience uses; there's no point being on Facebook if your fans love TikTok!
Podcasts are a great way to learn about the latest trends in digital creation and hear from other creators. Some popular podcasts include The Creative Penn, The Accidental Creative, and The Colin and Samir Show.
Face-to-face networking with other digital creators is a great way to learn from their experiences and get advice. There are many online and offline communities and events for digital creators; for example, check out the Creator Conf event.
You'll need to practice consistently to improve your abilities. Utilize the software, tools, and equipment above relevant to your craft. It takes time and effort to become a successful digital creator so don't get discouraged if you don't see results immediately. Just keep creating great content and promoting yourself, and eventually you will start to see success!
Examples of successful digital creators
Rhett and Link: Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln ‘Link’ Neal III – just known as Rhett and Link – have been together since 2006. They created ‘Good Mythical Morning’, a comedy YouTube channel that discusses food and pop culture, as well as posting regularly on social media, and hosting the Ear Biscuits podcast.
PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg): Digital creator PewDiePie gained fame through his Let's Play videos and has become one of the most subscribed YouTubers ever. PewDiePie is known for his humorous and energetic commentary on video games.
Casey Neistat: A filmmaker and vlogger, Casey Neistat gained popularity for his daily vlogs, which showcased his unique storytelling style and adventurous life experiences. His creativity and cinematography skills have been highly influential on countless other digital creators.
Kevin Smith: Filmmaker, actor, comedian, and writer Kevin Smith got his big break when he directed, and starred in ‘Clerks’. He went on to create the cult characters Jay and Silent Bob with Jason Mewes. Nowadays he is a famous YouTuber, author and the host of numerous shows on his SModcast Podcast Network, including Fatman Beyond and Hollywood Babble-On.
Molly Baz: Author, recipe developer, and food stylist, Molly Baz launched her digital creator career at Bon Appétit magazine, where she developed and tested recipes, wrote articles, and starred in videos on the brand’s YouTube channel. She has since launched her own cooking brand, mollybaz.com which includes social media and a YouTube channel.
Scott Aukerman: The comedian, actor and writer is best-known as the creator and host of the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast. He created and starred in the series ‘Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis’ and has appeared in shows such as Parks and Recreation. He cofounded the Earwolf podcast network and has won two Primetime Emmy Awards.
Jacques Pépin: You don’t have to be young to be a digital creator! Jacques Pépin has been cooking professionally for many decades. His latest venture, the Jacques Pépin Foundation video recipe book, merges cookbook with video membership service, allowing you to watch celebrity chefs make meals in their homes, and print out the recipes if you want to follow along.
Gary Vaynerchuk: A serial entrepreneur, digital creator and motivational speaker, Gary Vaynerchuk (or Gary V) is known for his expertise in digital marketing and social media. He has inspired many with his insights on entrepreneurship, branding, and hustle mentality.
Conclusion: What is a digital creator and how it is different to an influencer
Being a digital creator is not just about creating content, it's about building a brand and engaging with your community or members. While it takes time and effort to build a successful brand, it's a rewarding career that allows you to share your unique perspective with the world.
The digital landscape is continuously evolving, so it's crucial to stay updated with the latest trends, technologies, and platforms. Adapt your content and strategies as needed to remain relevant and ahead of the curve.
It's also crucial to remember that Rome wasn't built in a day, and a digital creator career won't be forged overnight. You need to stay committed and be patient: building a successful digital creator career takes time and perseverance. Think years not weeks.
Stay committed to your craft, consistently produce quality content, and be patient with your progress. It's a journey that requires continuous learning and adaptation.
By finding your niche, building your brand, creating engaging content, and engaging with your audience, you can become a successful digital creator!
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