Last year was a pivotal year for several industries, a year of massive transformation across numerous sectors. One key among them was how India is creating and consuming social media content.
Today, thanks to low data prices and increasing internet penetration, anyone can create digital media and reach an audience worldwide.
Do you have a knack for creating text, audio, video, or any visual? You can be a content creator too!
Even though it may not appear like a big deal, the democratization of content creation and distribution is a breakthrough. Remember? Not so long ago, we needed a middleman to broadcast any information or opinion.
Most of you have probably heard the phrase content democratization. However, what does it mean? How can you establish your presence and build an audience? Keep on reading to know more!
What is Democratization of Content Creation?
According to a web definition of content democratization (3), it is easy to access the production, editing, and distribution of digital media to the general population instead of the traditional content model from media professionals.
It can also include offering rewards and revenue to content creators.
In other words, it opens whole new career opportunities for people to build an audience and display their skills even with no previous experience in producing content or a strong media presence. Yes, both would help you grow quickly, but they are not necessary.
As we mentioned previously, creators, including you and me, would have to go through one or many approvals and mediators to share our content. Thanks to the inception of platforms such as YouTube, Shutterstock, and Patron, who created spaces that minimize obstacles creators traditionally face, we can easily monetize our skills.
And today, with new tools and platforms being introduced in the creators’ market every day, we are allowed to leverage the freedom to the next level.
Leading Platforms Democratizing Content Creation
Unless you live under the rock, you already know Google’s YouTube, an online video-sharing platform with over two billion MAUs, monthly active users (4).
It is worth highlighting that YouTube is also one of the most visited websites, with more than a billion hours of videos being watched every day and more than 500 hours of video uploads every minute! In short, YouTube is a big platform where you can create, explore or learn anything that interests you.
Since its inception in May 2005 (5), there have been numerous highlighting talents, even from the remotest corners of our planet Earth because of the platform’s voting and sharing nature.
Examples include the massive success of our beloved Indian YouTuber, Bhuvan Bam, known for his YouTube channel, BB Ki Vines. He started creating videos with a phone camera. However, with his skills, hard work, and patience, he has gained more than 3.5 billion views so far (6).
Today, his subscribers’ count has reached a whopping 21.2 million (as of October 12th, 2021), and he now owns his own production house. His first original web show, Dhindhora, released on October 14th, has been India’s most awaited show (7).
Other examples of people finding success via YouTube include Justin Beiber, Lily Singh, Gaurav Chaudhary (Technical Guruji), and Sandeep Maheswari, to name a few.
YouTube consistently works with creators, conducts workshops, and trains emerging YouTubers regarding content creation and monetization.
One of its most notable services is YouTube Studio (8) which offers numerous tools, tips, analytics, and various other features helping creators manage their YouTube channels. There is also YouTube Creator Academy (9), where creators’ can learn new things from various courses, especially beginners.
Launched in 2013 by Sam Yam and Jack Conte, a membership platform offering business tools to artists and creators to run subscription services. Fans and other supporters pay content creators as a part of a membership. These supporters are referred to as patrons.
Within 18 months of its launch, it gathered over 125k patrons, hitting over a 1 million USD monthly payment breakthrough. Since then, the platform has expanded significantly, boasting over 6 million patrons (over 4 million of them have joined in the last three years), supporting over 200k creators.
In the past two years alone, about 50k creators joined the platform. And with increasing support, the monthly payouts of creators have also witnessed a 68.42% increase over the past year (10, 11, 12, 13).
Medium is a blogging platform launched by Biz Stone and Evan Williams in August 2012. The platform helps amateur and professional writers to reach new and wider audiences.
Medium has a vast range when it comes to content. It is like Twitter, but with long-form content and a friendly environment, similar to WordPress or Blogger.
The part social and part blog-post platform offers writers a unique connection mode with their audiences. Notably, Medium has more than 400k paying subscribers, with subscription prices ranging from 4.99 USD a month to 50 USD a year, making Medium an attractive platform for content creators (14).
Some More Examples
Several apps similar to those mentioned above serve as excellent examples for democratizing content creation.
For instance, Dailymotion, an attractive alternative to YouTube, offers almost identical features and content monetizing facilities. It boasts more than three hundred million active users, with over 150 million videos and about 3.5 billion average number of monthly Dailymotion videos (15).
Another similar platform includes Vimeo, which is considered an ideal platform for niche creators looking to build a community (16).
Shutterstock, our go-to platform for high-quality images, is also not far behind when it comes to democratizing content creation. It has more than 1.9 million active customers, a worldwide network of more than 650k contributions, and 360 million images (17). You can also consider it as a third-party platform to sell your images. Notably, the site also offers tons of resources, tips, and guidelines to advance your skills and career.
Leveraging the Trend
Here is how you can be a content creator in the platforms mentioned above or millions of others available across the web to monetize your skills, create a digital presence, and reach audiences worldwide.
Few things to know about content creators:
- A content creator is anyone who creates digital media assets, including but not limited to video, audio, text, for a specific audience.
- Companies often hire services of such creators to generate brand awareness and build loyalty. Heard about influencer marketing? Yes, that’s it.
- You do not need to be a communication major or a professional degree to be a content creator. You can make a successful career through your content and by building an audience.
- But, you will need excellent communication skills, relationship building, and storytelling arts. It will be useful to find your way around SEO, social media marketing, WordPress, etc.
- It takes time to grow the audience, learn from feedback, and stay consistent in your efforts to be the sought-after creator in your niche.
Keep on reading to know more about leveraging the trend and be a high-quality content creator. (We have mostly referred to textual content creation, but these ideas are also valid for podcasters, video creators, or any other kind.)
If you are a content creator, one of the mistakes you can make in your career is working for companies that deem content creation a commodity.
Except for a few decently paying gig works (18), it should not be in your cards.
You may wonder whether there is a way to make a decent some at the beginning of your content creation career at all? Well, it turns out there is!
Start by niching down.
Don’t try to reach millions, instead keep focusing on those 100 -1000 true fans you would love to have a conversation with.
Whether you are producing videos for your YouTube channel or starting your blog or podcast, you need to niche down to take your content creation work to the next level.
It will lay a strong foundation for you to scale your audience or your income as you progress.
You will be overwhelmed if you set huge goals for yourself, whether producing videos or writing. There are chances of you backing out even before you start a project.
However, in reality, the key to flex your creativity is to show up regularly and reach mini-milestones.
You do not need to write 1000 words every day if you are getting started with a blog. Instead, try putting down about 100 days and build a streak of the same.
The key is to set the bar so low that there is no resistance to prevent you from showing up!
Maintaining such streaks will help your confidence, allowing you to gain momentum. It is especially essential at the start of any creative project. For example, once you start writing those first 50 words, you may get the inertia to keep on writing. You never know; you may even finish an entire article.
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits (19), chose a frequency to publish two articles a week at the start of his blogging journey. It paved his way to becoming the bestselling author and a successful blogger.
If you feel like you don’t have any good ideas or wish to give up, do it anyway!
Find Inspiration From Others
No, don’t plagiarise anyone’s work. Instead, scout creators and influencers from your niche or industry and try to follow their style.
Maybe you are a writer and wish to be like J K Rowling or a video creator who admires Palki Sharma. There are many aspiring creators like them. However, they both have unique characteristics that you can adopt by dissecting their work.
You can do it for any of your favorite creators and find how they use punctuation, frame arguments, narrate stories, sentence structures, etc.
Of course, as an artist, you can’t be a clone for these people, but you will find your own voice and style in the process.
Remember, often in highly crowded spaces such as marketing and entrepreneurship, your authentic voice is your only defense against competitors.
Track the Performance of Your Content
Everything aside, content is primarily a marketing channel. It means, whether you are writing, or making videos, or part of any other creative project, it is essential to help your business, and you need to track the performance of your content.
You can measure various indicators, including but not limited to traffic, brand awareness, leads like demos, production trials, newsletter signups, and sales.
You can install tools such as GA, Google Analytics to keep track of your content performance and insist all your clients do the same. Apart from your website, you can also check the performance of your other social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, etc., for dedicated analytics (20).
Consider setting up KPIs, key performance indicators to evaluate your content according to your goals. It can also include things such as product trials, newsletter signups, and average engagement rate.
At the end of every month or so, you can check the performance of your content against your relevant KPIs and find out:
- Your best performing content type
- Your worst performing content type
- Behavioral difference between your mobile and desktop visitors
- How many of your articles, videos, etc. a typical website visitors check out when they come to your site
Create What Makes You Proud of Yourself!
All data aside, as a content creator, you need to build a strong work body, something you feel excited about, and something you feel proud of. And it can’t happen with “safe” or “proven” career choices and frameworks.
Take risks and allow your curiosity to guide you. Often, data may suggest; otherwise, it may not even seem to have a financial potential. However, it would be best to remember that your portfolio reflects your creative potential and would lead you to career opportunities of that scale.
As we mentioned, honing your content creation skills alone won’t take you to the next level. You need something called meta Knowledge (21).
“Metaknowledge is knowledge about how your career works. For instance, which skills matter, which doesn’t, how you can best demonstrate your talent in your industry, and so on.” – Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work (22).
Hence, make sure you understand the content marketing business.
You will need to network with influencers to build a reputation for yourself. Have a decent-sized email list and snag appearances in your industry’s publications via guest posts, collaborations, interviews, etc.
It is not only about gathering social proof but understanding the writing an established brand would expect. Keep refining your skills and focus on your overall quality.
Often, more than creating content, collaborations, relationship building, and influencer outreach will help you in the long run. Starting an email list to secure your creative career also works.
Remember, as businesses need to consider their customers first, you need to take an audience-first approach as a creator.
It is about finding the right inspiration to create content and find joy in the process regularly. Be sure to have a balanced mixture of your instincts and data.
The key to successfully leverage content democratization is not to keep publishing alone. Instead, you also need to equally focus on building an audience, collaborating with other creators, building relationships, and keep improving your skills.
In the process, don’t forget to use various online tools that can automate tedious tasks for you. For more information, read our previous story, Best Content Marketing Tools For Your Startup (2021).